By Dr. Amos Zumo
A small disagreement can transform into a violent confrontation with surprising speed. Contributors to this escalation (transformation) include: stereotypes as well as emotions, polarization, enemy images which break down communication between parties and then build ideological walls which become impossible to bridge. These then become flashpoints ready to boil over at the earliest provocation if not defused carefully beforehand. Anecdotal experiences from the Liberian civil war seems to validate this assertion.
Hence as we attempt to embark on a new road in Liberia, it has been thought out that if the various ethnic stereotypes/concepts are voluntarily brought to the front burner (by interested individuals) , their origins researched, and then debunked through solid public education, then it is believed that their embedded explosive charges can be defused harmlessly- making them to have no role again in conflicts or conflict escalation in Liberia or among Liberians wherever they may be.
Besides the general problems Liberians normally discussed, stereotypes in Liberia are used to start classroom or play ground or sports arena fights. We hope awareness can get rid of this. God knows, the kids need all the time to catch up not poking at each other. At least if we can help minimize this problem, we will all be better.
Also it is increasingly used in Liberia for housing discrimination, educational discrimination or even health and sanitation discrimination, etc.
Long term problems include mental health issues; self esteem issues ; economic issues which ultimately affects our national GDP and also contributes to continued blue collar and white collar crimes (ie. since they say this, we will just continue doing this etc.
Of course eventually, with some time I would not mind getting my hands on the blood samples of people subjected to various stereotypes and do some biochemisty to see if any induced biomarkers are there or in the intermediate term to have myself or other Liberians in an MRI machine (fMRI) and have various stereotypes and slurs announced over the loud speaker and see what parts of the brain is affected. But this is way, way down the line. I think this will make a good study.