How accurate are stereotypes? When someone says they are from a certain place, is the person immediately associated with the stereotypes inherent to that place? DeltaDays’ Living Library tackled this question, challenging the stereotypes that everyone so readily accepts.
The Living Library was an informal roundtable discussion, starting with attendees making name tags for themselves that were meant to read like a book title. The idea behind the activity was to make the discussion like reading a book of a particular participant’s life. Any participants could ask any question of the others, getting to know them better and trying to better understand the truth behind the stereotypes that are so commonplace in our culture.
A woman from Alaska was asked if the stereotype was true that all Alaskan women are strong and assertive. She acknowledged that yes, Alaskan women tend to be very strong and assertive. She said that it comes with the territory; being from Alaska means you have to be tough and resolute. She explained that, when you walk out to your garbage can to kick a dog out and realize the dog is actually a bear, you quickly learn to use large-bore firearms.
The takeaway from Living Library was that, while not all stereotypes are false, many accepted stereotypes in our culture are based on half-truths and misconceptions. All stereotypes have some basis; they are all rooted in fact. The important thing is to get beyond the stereotypes and see the truth behind them.