In the speech “The Danger of a Single Story”, Chimamanda Adichie breaks down stereotypes. She does this by stressing the importance of seeking diverse perspectives.  

Throughout the speech, Adichie tells of her experiences as a Nigerian woman and how people have assumed things about her based solely off of her nationality. Adichie expressed the importance of learning one’s story and not assuming what one’s story is strictly based on stereotypes and cliches. 

“Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person,” Adichie said. 

Personal Experiences

One experience that Adichie recounted was when she moved from Nigeria to the United States of America for college. When she arrived in America, Adichie found that her roommate had developed a ‘single story’ of being from Africa. 

“She had felt sorry for me even before she saw me. Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning, pity.”

While Adichie had to deal with people in her life constantly creating a ‘single story’ for her, Adichie also admits that she has been guilty of assuming stories for others as well. When Adichie traveled to Mexico a few years ago, she found that she “had bought into the single story of Mexicans” and had found that “immigration became synonymous with Mexicans.”

Opinions on the Speech

Trevor Satern watched a recording of Adichie’s speech. He said that although she did a great job at delivering the speech. However, he believes that “she shouldn’t have to give a speech addressing this topic.” 

“Don’t categorize people into where they come from, because they are not all the same. Just be a decent human being,” Satern said. 

Miranda Ahrendt watched Adichie’s speech as well, and was able to make personal connections with people assuming one’s story. 

“I had some ignorant friends in high school. When we had an exchange student, they would assume things. Assumptions that they were poor strictly because they weren’t from America were common,” Ahrendt said. 

Adichie had one goal of giving this speech, to try and attempt to eliminate assumptions about others based on a single fact. 

Adichie said, “I would like to end with this thought: That 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.”

I strongly encourage others to watch this TED Talk. I have watched it twice for class related assignments. People learn more and more each time that they watch it. Are you guilty of creating single stories for other people?

I have also been made aware that there are opposing viewpoints of Adichie, some of these are listed in an article posted by the New York Times.

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