Tuesday, March 6th

06 Mar

We will be viewing Chimamanda Adichie’s speech from Ted Talks.  You will follow a template and compose a response to be posted onto your Nonfiction. (click here to see my sample)  Her speech is a personal narrative that talks about her life and some of the life lessons she has learned.

Who are you?

Describe yourself in one sentence.

How do you think that others would describe you?

Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

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.

Here are some of the talking points that I have identified from the speech.

  • I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading: All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow,
  • Now, this despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria.I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow, we ate mangoes
  • how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children.
  • But because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye I went through a mental shift in my perception of literature. I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature.
  • So what the discovery of African writers did for me was this: It saved me from having a single story of what books are.
  • So the year I turned eight we got a new house boy. His name was Fide.
  • I was startled. It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family could actually make something. All I had heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor.
  • My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well,
  • She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music,” and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey.
  • I must say that before I went to the U.S. I didn’t consciously identify as African.
  • 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.
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Posted by on March 6, 2012 in Curriculum


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