How might we begin to “reject the single stor[ies]” in our lives?


The basis of Ms. Adichie’s talk is that the things we’re exposed to that we allow our impressionable selves to absorb colour the lenses in which we view the word, and thus rob us of the privilege of an unbiased view of the world and people around us. Ms. Adichie provides firsthand examples of single stories, also known as stereotyping. When she was a child learning to read, western literature was what was readily available to her, and thus “she wrote exactly the kinds of stories she was reading” and allowed the foreign work to become her new perception of literature, the way it should be written, and the characters that she should portray. Though the stories may vary, their bases are clear. In each instance, only one piece of information or perspective was given. Thus, that is what people like Ms. Adichie or her college roommate learned to base their opinions on. It’s not a matter of blatant disregard of knowledge, but simply coming to conclusions based on the information most convenient to your person. Ms. Adichie understood her roommate’s point of view when she said that “if [she] had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all she knew about Africa were from popular images, [she] too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people . . . dying of poverty and AIDS . . . and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner”.To reject these stereotypes, we must have the will to open our eyes to the world around us and educate ourselves so as to do justice by those who are subjects of single stories. When something is presented to us, we must consider it a part of a whole or the genesis of a new bout of information. In this way, we can save ourselves from the dangers of a single story.