Vanessa Razo Vazquez
Professor J Arredondo
3 September 2017
In “The Danger of a Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about what a “single sided story” means to her. Adichie goes on and explains how some people believe that others are exactly what society portrays them to be. Adichie gives us an example of this by telling us a story about how her first days of school went here in the United States. Her American roommate was shocked once she heard her speak English and when she found out that she listened to Mariah Carey, instead of her so called “tribal music.” “My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story, there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.” For all her roommate knew was that Africans come from a very poor country, and struggled with diseases, hunger, child labour etc. She believed this because that is what they painted out Africa to be, according to what we call western literature in America.
As a matter of fact, Adichie lets us know how one of her professors told her that her novel was not “Authentically African,” she then became very confused as to what that meant because she did not think that African authenticity was even a thing. “The professor told me that my characters were too much like him, an educated and middle-class man. My characters drove cars. They were not starving. Therefore they were not authentically African.” That just goes to show how her Professor himself was someone trapped to “a single story,” and how Africans were always looked at different as if they did not have the power to be so much more than what they represent.
In addition, Adichie also tells us how she became a victim to the single story. Adichie went to visit Mexico during a tense time in the United States when there were debates going on about immigration. She had heard several stories about Mexicans as people who fleece the healthcare system, sneak across the borders, etc. While on her trip to Guadalajara she felt surprised when she started noticing that the people there were not the same as they appeared to be proclaimed in America.
To summarize, Adichie ends by telling us how a single story can get created by showing people as one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become. For this reason, “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.” Single stories create stereotypes and people believe these stories until they see with their own eyes that not everything is what it seems.
This Ted Talk acknowledges the importance of culture and the importance of other people.
Vanessa Razo Vazquez