4/18 A Single Story

Q: Adichie says in her TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story, “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.” Give an example from Americanah that shows a possible stereotype, like an immigrant as an illegal worker, and then gives it a context that offers the more complex and humanizing truth behind that stereotype.


“The Danger of a Single Story” is a subject that I feel comes up very often in Americanah. One example I can think of is when Ifemelu is in the hair salon and they want to relax her hair. Her hair is something that she takes pride in and something that makes her who she is. The woman in the hair salon says that the people who are of her culture all have their hair relaxed. Ifemelu says she doesn’t want her hair relaxed but the woman at the salon insists that she should to “fit in.”

In the end she ends up succumbing to the pressure of having her hair relaxed and styled and she absolutely hates it and has a rough time with the process. She has a harsh reaction to all of the chemicals and she becomes very upset.

Although this doesn’t seem like a “stereotype” the woman in the hair salon didn’t take into account that people can break out of “typical” cultural things and do their own things.


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