Multifaceted Stereotypes

As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, “the problem with stereotypes is that they are incomplete.” Our perceptions are so easily influenced by one story or a single photo. As a young child I thought that everyone in Africa was poor. My school was a supporter of UNICEF, so the photos I saw and the videos we watched highlighted poverty. When you are trying to raise money for those in need, you only focus on the heart wrenching pictures. Instantaneously, I categorized all Africans as poor naked people. This is most definitely not the case. For the majority of our trip in Ghana, we have seen lots of wealth in the city of Accra. In 2015 it was reported that 2,900 individuals were worth more than one million dollars or 4.6 million cedi. There are huge beautiful homes and expensive cars. But, there is also poverty. A disparity of wealth exists just like you would find in any other country.

What I find most interesting is that many Ghanaians assume that America is a “land of gold.” They have only heard the single story of success. They have never heard the failures, the stories about the cycles of poverty, or the lack of job opportunities. Ghanaians think of America as the land of gold, even though Ghana was previously named the Gold Coast.

 

Cape_Coast_Castle_Courtyard_02_Sept_2012
The Cape Coast Castle is nestled on the Gold Coast.

 

The American stereotype is incomplete. For the majority, the Americans that travel to Ghana are wealthy. They have the money to fly halfway around the world, so they are viewed as rich people. This causes a discrepancy because it categorizes all Americans, which partially explains why my Ghanaian professor, Dr. Kwami, was shocked with the homelessness in America while she was studying. As storytellers and travelers, we cannot solely focus on one side. Wealth exists in both America and Africa, but so does poverty.

On this May Experience, my four person group focused on this topic for our project. We wrote a short essay entitled, “Gold Lenses: Ghanaians’ Perceptions of the U.S.

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A glimpse at what my group wrote.

In addition, we made a video that highlights three Ghanaian interviewees. Our multifaceted project provided a solid foundation with multiple layers of opinion: creating a strong and powerful dynamic.

Media misconstrues our thoughts and opinions, which is why traveling is of such high importance to me. Truly experiencing the country of Ghana on my own has opened my eyes to the vastness that exists here. Ghana is rich in culture, cocoa, and love!

 

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