Basically, this will be a post on all the things that have popped into my life this week that have reminded me of what Chimamanda Adichie calls “the danger of a single story.”
Firstly, I was reading Tom Gauld’s graphic novel, Goliath, wherein he tells the classic story from Goliath’s point of view. The book reminds us that every story has many sides, and that the truth – not to mention empathy – is never found when you listen to just one.
Later, I was reading a post on Laura Frey’s Reading in Bed blog about the analysis of her reading habits in 2013. She had created a goal of reading more female authors the year before,and in 2014 one of her goals is to read more authors of non-white/non-North American descent. I haven’t done the analysis that she has, but I know I would be sadly lacking in African and Inuit authors.
Now, Inuit novels are a little tougher to find, and I could simply say that I don’t deal well with books on darker or more depressing topics, and that many African authors that have been deservedly lauded write about fairly dark topics, and I could leave it at that. But, wow. That rubs me the wrong way. Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk on the danger of a single story explains entirely what makes me determined to add more African and Inuit authors to my reading list. It is a well-thought out, funny, and engaging talk and I highly recommend you check it out.
She tells us of how she grew up with only British children’s books, of not getting the story of any Nigerians until she was older. She tells of moving to the US and only hearing one story of the Mexican immigrants and how it blinded her to the many other Mexican stories. She tells of her first roommate in the US, who couldn’t believe Chimamanda spoke English and listened to Mariah Carey, and who clearly had heard only one story about Nigerians.
Which reminded me of Matika Wilbur’s Project 562, which seeks to take photographs of the modern Native Indian (in the US) so we don’t only have the story/image of the feathered elder. She speaks (also in a TED talk) about how surviving disappearance is only possible by creating more than one story for yourself (not quite in Chimamanda’s words, but almost).
All of these people are putting the message out there better than I can, so read their work, watch their speeches, listen to their stories.