Chimamanda Adichie gave a wonderful talk about how we humans stereotype each other and see the other through our negative single stories or negative personal experiences which not only rob people of their dignity, but also create walls that separate us from each other.
Some excerpts of the talk to reflect on:
“I wrote exactly the kind of stories I was reading. All my characters were white and blue eyed.”
“I realized that people like me, girls with chocolate skin and kinky hair that could not be formed into a pony tail could exist in literature.”
“Their poverty was my single story of them[Nigerian family].”
“She felt sorry for me even before She saw me.”
“No possibly of a connection as human equals.”
“[Africans]…waiting to be saved by a kind white foreigner.”
“My professor told me that my novel was not authentically African…I did not know what African authenticity is… My characters were like him and drove cars.”
“Show a people as one thing and as only one thing and that is what they become.”
“Stories are defined by who tells them. ”
“If you want to depossess a people the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and tell it secondly. Start the story with arrows of the Native Americans and not the arrival of the British and you have an entirely different story…”
“But to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experiences…it is not that they are untrue but they are incomplete…There are other stories that are not about catastrophies…[The single story]It robs people of dignity.”
What Adichie shared about the stereotypes that she faced as an African are true for Muslims, Arabs and Muslim women in particular who are constantly perceived as in need of being liberated by kind white foreigners.
“Stories can be used to humanize. Stories can be used to repair the dignity of a people…When we reject the single story…We regain a kind of paradise.”
Please visit Change the Story