Who Gets to Tell Your Story?
In her TED talk “The Danger of the Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reminds us that “the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Her focus is on literature specifically and media in general, and she argues that when a particular group—a nation, a culture—is shown as one thing, “as only one thing, over and over again,” then “that is what they become.”
As a reader and writer who might describe myself as gay, Italian, or any number of other identifiers, I take Adichie’s talk as a call to action. As a reader, I hear: Be promiscuous in your choice of stories that are set in other countries, or that represent cultures and experiences different from your own; seek a wide range within each country or group; and don’t allow yourself to be convinced of any group’s essential ethos.
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