Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Danger of the "Single Story"

The realtor who helped me find the house I live in today, I met more than 20 years ago 
under totally different circumstances.  

She had been invited to speak at our elementary school, during Black History Week, about the continent on which she was born, 

She stood in front of a gym full of students and spoke into the microphone with a soft voice, 
a soothing accent, 
and a slide show projector.   

Students watched and commented quietly to each other about pictures of the Africa they'd expected: dusty roads, 
women in tribal attire, 
and barefoot children.  

they soon were amazed to see pictures of 
bustling cities, 
new Mercedes, 
and Nike sneakers.  

Cee Cee's point was to expose our students to more of Africa in order to change their mindset and appreciation of it.    

She understood the meaning of a term I've just become aquainted with, "single story".  

When we know only a "single story" of anything or anybody, 
it can lead to stereotypes.  

She wanted to break the stereotypes our children held of both Africa and it's people.

Today, there is another woman, 

Chimamanda Adichie,  

sharing the same message in a way that helps us realize,

we too,  

may be creating stereotypes in our minds 

and passing them on to our children 

when we place too much weight on the "single story" we think we know, 

rather than dig deeper 

to find it is simply 

one chapter 

of a much larger book!


  1. That was really powerful and insightful - thanks for sharing (and I liked your intro too...)

  2. Thanks writearoundnow.
    Ted had it right with this one.
    It is an idea worth spreading!