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[VIDEO] TED TALK: THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY - By By Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , who is a Nigerian novelist, writer of short stories, and nonfiction.

Posted by: sam abrams

Date: Friday, 01 March 2019

TED TALK: THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY

 By Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , who is a Nigerian novelist, writer of short stories, and nonfiction.

In 2008, Adichie was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. She was described in The Times Literary Supplement as "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [who] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature".[4] Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017.
When the novelist was growing up in Nigeria, she was not used to being identified by the colour of her skin. That changed when she arrived in the United States for college. As a black African in America, Adichie was suddenly confronted with what it meant to be a person of color in the United States. Race as an idea became something that she had to navigate and learn.[11] She writes about this in her novel Americanah.

She received a bachelor's degree from Eastern Connecticut State University,[12] with the distinction of summa cum laude in 2001.[13]

In 2003, she completed a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University.[14] In 2008, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University.[15]


Adichie spoke in a TED talk entitled "The Danger of a Single Story", posted in July 2009.[52] In it, she expressed her concern for underrepresentation of various cultures.[55] She explained that, as a young child, she had often read American and British stories where the characters were primarily of Caucasian origin.

At the lecture, she said that the underrepresentation of cultural differences could be dangerous: "Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature."[55]

Throughout the lecture, she used personal anecdotes to illustrate the importance of sharing different stories. She briefly talked about the houseboy that was working for her family whose name is Fide, and how the only thing she knew about him was how poor his family was. However, when Adichie's family visited Fide's village, Fide's mother showed them a basket that Fide's brother had made, making her realize that she created her opinion about Fide based on only one story of him. Adichie said, "It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family could actually make something. All I had heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them."[55] She also said that when leaving Nigeria to go to Drexel University, she encountered the effects of the underrepresentation of her own culture. Her American roommate was surprised that Adichie was fluent in English and that she did not listen to tribal music.[56] She said of this: "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."[55]

Adichie concluded the lecture by noting the significance of different stories in various cultures and the representation that they deserve. She advocated for a greater understanding of stories because people are complex, saying that by only understanding a single story, one misinterprets people, their backgrounds, and their histories.

Adichie spoke on "The Danger of a Single Story" for TED in 2009.[52] It has become one of the top ten most-viewed TED Talks of all time, with more than fifteen million views.



Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
www.ted.com
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