Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Ted Talk

The Danger of a Single Story,” a speech given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a captivating speech that discusses why only knowing a single story about someone or even something can sway the way people view it. One phrase that really caught my attention was, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” I’ve never really thought about stereotypes that way before listening to this TED Talk, it never occurred to me that maybe people are prone to thinking this way because they just don’t know any better. How can you expect someone who has never lived the way someone else has or experienced something other than what they know as “everyday life,” to be able to make any sort of judgement besides a stereotype.

I think this TED Talk is really important. I think the way Adichie explains the single story is amazing. She never talked down on people and didn’t get angry with people for not knowing. Instead, she would rather tell more stories to educate those who only know the single story. An example of this, is when she discusses a time she spoke at a university and a student assumes that all Nigerian men are physical abusers like she had written in her novel. She then states that although it would’ve never occurred to her that someone would think this way just from reading her novel, that it didn’t make her better than that student.

Having only a single story of a person leaves a lot of things unknown. You can’t truly say you know someone without hearing more than a single story about them. I think it is important to know more than this single story because, like the famous quote “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” states, you can’t jump to conclusions without really getting to know them.

To conclude, a beautiful quote from Adichie, “The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

 

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