I wanted to share this clip of author Chimamanda
Adichie’s speech about Single Stories. I thought her words were really powerful and something writers should keep in mind if they value realism in a story. Even if they don’t value realism, they should keep in mind that what they write has the power to spread ignorance or spread knowledge, and they shouldn’t take that power lightly. Her words resonated alot with me since I want to be an author someday. I put in bold the parts that are most relevant to our usual topics of discussion here.

Here are

Chimamanda Adichie’s words Quoted:

“I come from a conventional, middle class,
Nigerian family. My father was a professor. My mother was an administrator. And
so we had (as was the norm) live-in domestic help who would often come from
nearby rural villages. So the year I turned 8, we got a new house boy. His name
was Philip. The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was
very poor […] so I felt enormous pity for Philip’s family.

Then one Saturday we
went to visit and his mother showed us a beautifully patterned basket […] that
his brother has made. I was startled. It had not occurred to me that anybody in
his family could actually make something. All that I had heard about them was
how poor they were so that it had become impossible for me to see them as
anything but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them […] When I left
Nigeria to go to university in the United States […] 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

[…] that is how to create a single story: show a people as one thing and only
one thing over and over again and that is what they become.

It is impossible to talk about the single
story without talking about power.
There is a word […] I think about whenever I
think about the power structures of the world and it is ______. It’s a noun that
loosely translates to ‘to be greater than another’. Like our economic and
political walls, stories too are defined by the principle of ______; how they
are told, who tells them, when they are told, how many stories are told… are
really dependent on power.
Power is the ability not just to tell the story of
another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.”

Stories matter […] Stories have been used
to dispossess and to malign but stories can also be used to empower and to
humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people but stories can also repair
that broken dignity
[…] when we reject the single story, when we realize that
there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise
.”

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