The Dangers of Stereotyping

“You are just being too sensitive,” said the white man I told that his broad generalisation of Africans is racist. First of all, a white man (most privileged group of people all around the world) has absolutely no right to tell me what is or is not racist because they get treated like human beings wherever they go; they are treated with respect and given the benefit of the doubt, so they have NO firsthand experience with racism.

I have heard several versions of his statement from various people when I call them out for stereotyping: “It was just a harmless joke. You take things too seriously. Chill” are just some examples of replies I have gotten. Now, I will be the first person to tell you that I used to be guilty of stereotyping. I genuinely thought I was just being funny, and I never once stopped to think about the effects of my “jokes.” It wasn’t until I moved to Turkey that I realised just how dangerous putting a group of people into a box could be. Apparently in Turkey, most of the black girls living there, are sex workers (there is no statistic backing up this claim but that is how stereotyping often goes), so now, Turkish men have decided that all black girls living in Turkey are sex workers. This very “harmless” broad generalization, is one of the reasons I prefer staying indoors (I would even say that I hate going out). Whenever I go out, I always run into several men who try to solicit me for sex or who make very lewd comments concerning me. This is very disturbing and dangerous; it makes me feel very unsafe.

I remember one time I went to a bargain shop in Istanbul with a friend. I found a piece of clothing that I liked and I decided to ask for a lower price (cos it was a bargain shop). The shopkeeper said he would sell it to us for a lower price if we have sex with him (disgusted face emoji). I am 100% sure that the man would never say such a thing to a Turkish girl no matter how scantily clad she may be dressed (This by no means an endorsement for the harassment of scantily clad women and girls). There have also been instances where some guys would “tap our current” (for non-Nigerians, tapping current means to touch a girl’s boobs or ass, usually without permission). I am sure the people that say “black girls in Turkey are prostitutes” do not mean to put black girls in dangerous situations (at least I hope they don’t), but unfortunately, there are people that take that statement and run away with it.

Putting an entire group of people into a box is very dehumanising. Within any group, there is diversity; people have different opinions, personalities and ways of reacting to things. There is a popular saying in Nigeria (maybe also around the world) that goes “Even identical twins are not the same.” We if can accept the fact that people who share the same DNA, are not similar in all aspects, why then do we not extend that fact to other groups of people. I urge anyone who reads this post, to think very carefully before stereotyping people because your “joke”, may have real life consequences for someone else.

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