Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

In this superb talk, Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie eloquently discusses the dangers of cultural preconceptions.  With no overlapping stories to change these preconceptions, these single stories can be definitive.

"Show a people one thing over and over," she says, "and that is what they will become."   Start the story of the native Americans with arrows, and not with the arrival of the British, and you begin a single story that defines a people.  Or, start  the story with the failure of the African states rather than the creation of these states by the colonial powers, and you begin a single story.

We need overlapping stories to dispel the stereotypes created by  single stories. While Africa has problems including war and starvation, there are other stories, equally important. "The consequence of the single story," Adichie notes, "is this: it robs people of their dignity."

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