written by BRICE HOGAN | IDEAS, LEARNING
We live in a very complex society. Different attitudes, different cultures, different languages. We are a true melting pot of diversity. So when I came across the documentary called Hillbilly it piqued my interest because we have a common notion of what that label means.
My perception and appreciation for the diversity and culture in this film opened me up to a more elevated idea of the culture of Appalachia. Society often dismisses these people because they view them as a "Hillbilly" or "What Trash".
These labels hurt and hinder a vibrant misunderstood culture. The move really champions the truth over the stereotypes that are typically perpetuated by our society.
When we label people there are a few things it does. It creates distinct groups of people and how we identify them.
Labels also create certain perceptions about a person because they are grouped with people that have similar beliefs, ideas, and physical attributes.
Labels are somewhat useful because it allows our minds to identify things quickly without really diving into the back story.
That is the danger thought is that because we have been feed stereotypes for generations we feed into that and it's easy to dismiss someone because they are a Hillbilly, Democrat, Republican, drug attic, gay, straight, unemployed, etc... The political labels alone create so much controversy because of the strong feelings.
All these do is put someone in a box based on their behaviors or beliefs. What I find interesting is that when label others we end up limiting our curiosity and being dismissive just because they are [insert label].
Think about it from your perspective. Imagine if someone said something limiting about you. It feels a bit unfair. You are certainly more than your label. You have complex emotions and beliefs that transcend the label someone attaches to you.
In the movie, it shows there are Hillbilly's that are white, African American, poor, rich, academics, musicians, and other categories of people. They have strengths and weaknesses like many of us do.
Dismiss the Assumptions
The problem with labels is they boil down something complex into something simple. You can see why it's hard to see past the label we assign. We assume that because someone is "wealthy" they are a snob and don't have problems and someone who is a "good person" is actually struggling with some demons.
Assumptions dismiss the little nuances we have as individual human beings and to try to lump that into one group really does not do anyone justice.
Focus on You
There are over 7 billion people on this planet. Each one is individually unique in every way. There are no carbon copies. Even twins, though identical in every way, are much different in their personalities and beliefs.
Be flexible with your perceptions about other people, be inclusive, be curious it's often times when we open ourselves up to the other side of the coin and dismiss our assumptions we can actually find something of real value...a human being behind the label.