Monday, May 23, 2011

Reflections on the Single Story

Nigerian Novelist, Chimananda Adichie, in the youtube video I linked Friday, spoke about something she calls "The Single Story."
As Hannah commented, Chimananda spoke a mouthful.

I love the way she displayed how much stories affect us and how important stories are to our lives. I also appreciate her caution to us concerning "The danger of the single story".

The story she told about the house boy from a poor family illustrates the impact of hearing only one story over and over again. When she was eight, her mother always spoke of how poor this family to the point that Chimananda couldn't think of him in any other way. How poor this family was became "the single story" of her understanding of them. That single story became so embedded in her that when they went to visit that family, she was shocked at the beautiful basket the houseboy's brother had made. And she learned that poverty was not their only story. They were also hardworking. And as she told the story, I could see that they were also handy, artistic, and creative. There was so much more to their story than being poor.

Chimananda said, at the 9:25 mark that the way you create a single story about a person, family, or people group it that you show them "as one thing and only one thing over and over again and that is what they become."
Chimananda warns us of the danger of the single story. And as she spoke I saw and understood the truth and wisdom of her words and began seeing the danger she spoke about and some of it related to the things I've been trying to get across.

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