Stereotypes are not (necessarily) untrue – but they are incomplete: The Telling of a Single Story

by Milla — she=he

“Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. 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 place, we risk a critical misunderstanding.” TED

I saw this speech today, and it represents a lot of my thoughts at the moment, about my identity and how I relate to others. It’s a reflection on power, and the telling of stories – how they are told, and who gets to tell them. In many ways I’ve become ‘a single story’, in the minds of others, as well as in my own mind, and I want to break out of that, I would like to be understood as ‘more’, and as well receive others as ‘multiple stories’. Break free from the labels.

As Chimamanda Adichie says in her speech, “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”.

From an interview with the writer: “Generalizations are always reductive, I think, because they shrink you from a whole to a mere part. I am Nigerian, feminist, Black, Igbo, and more, but when I am categorized as one, it makes it almost impossible to be seen as all of the others, and I find this limiting.”


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