This morning I watched an amazing TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who is a Nigerian author that has won many awards over the last decade. Listen or watch her lecture she gave on stories titled "The Danger of a Single Story" in July 2009. Listen or watch the lecture before reading my comments below. My comments will make a lot more sense after you have had the chance to hear what she says.
I was not expecting the message she gave. I really enjoyed her way of incorporating "stories" into how we see and create stereotypes. Below is a quote from her lecture that I really loved.
The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
This is so true in most of our lives. I don't think there hasn't been a time in anyone's life where they haven't taken a single story about a culture, religion, race, gender, nation, etc. and placed a stereotype on them. I see this every day. Just because someone is a Muslim does not mean they are a terrorist. Just because someone is gay doesn't mean they are flamboyant or don't want marriage and a family. Just because someone is a feminist doesn't mean they want to overpower men. Just because someone immigrates to the United States from Mexico doesn't mean they are here illegally.
I have always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place or person.
We cannot truly appreciate a person, a place or a culture without engaging in all aspects, not just one. There are many things that make me who I am today. There are the good stories and the bad. Next time you place a stereotype on someone think about all of their qualities that make them who they are, not just the that is present. Next time you place a stereotype on a group of people, think of them as individuals with their own personal identities instead of one body of people.
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