Healthy communities building a living local economy shatter stereotypes. Karen immigrants from Burma become a vital part of the local food supply chain. Dreadlocked Rastafarians enjoy lunch outside with close trimmed professors. Artists from the South Bronx and Central Appalachia share their common struggles and make together art that speaks to both home communities.
Conversely, stereotypes undermine community. The define certain people as “the other,” not to be trusted, responding to different stories and myths than “we” do. Regressive forces – Nazis make a handy example – use stereotypes to amass power at the expense of the majority.
Although five years old, this article examines the effect of stereotyping on Appalachian communities.
A rich literature about the hillbilly image exists. You can start with this online lecture from Matt Blake at Cal State Chico or Anthony Harkins’ Hillbilly : A Cultural History of an American Icon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).
A Radical Localist knows the deleterious effects of stereotyping and takes stands against stereotypes.