Or, Why Our Stereotypes Are Dumb and We Should Open Our Minds
It seems like everyone wants to write the blog Ten Things You'd Never Do In the U.S. And there's nothing wrong with that post, with admiring what is exotic. It's impossible not to notice what is so different from what we're used to!
But I want us to remember, too, that not everything is the "exotic," different, black to our white. Nothing is that simple. So here's a list of seven stereotypes, many of which I held and which are commonly held, but which are simply not true.
Stereotype: Sub-Saharan Africa is hot and dry. There are huge savannas with blowing golden grasses, parted by the long legs of giraffes as they pass baobab tress on their route to the watering hole. The sun beats relentlessly.
Reality: In the West Region of Cameroon, there's a rainy season and a dry season - and in rainy season (March to October) it gets COLD. I mean, it's not winter. (To my students, I explain winter in the U.S. as being like living in the freezer for three months. They are mind-blown by this idea.) But I head to buy long sleeves and sweaters and jeans because I didn't pack them! I have even been known to wear a *borrowed* airplane blanket like a wrap skirt over leggings. And yes, I have gotten compliments on that wrap skirt…
|...turns to the red mud of rainy season.|
|The red dust of dry season...|