“The Danger of a Single Story”

Last week, we discussed some of the common stereotypes of feminism. These narratives about who a feminist is or what feminism aims to do might be one problematic “single story” that we’ve grown up with in our culture. The single story of feminism paints this picture because, of course, the sinlge story of Western culture is also patriarchy.

According to Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie, we get a single story when we show a people as only one thing over and over again. Such stories shape what we think of others, but also how we understand ourselves. Stories have power – they can malign, but they can also heal. Watch Adichie’s talk below to understand how.

Chimamanda Adichie: “The Danger of a Single Story”:

QUESTIONS

  1. Adichie states that we are impressionable and vulnerable in the face of a story, especially when we are young. In American culture, who do you think is most “vulnerable” when it comes to a single story written about them? Why?
  2. Can you think of dominant single stories about groups of people within America or about America itself?
  3. How can we help change these single stories? How can we facilitate what writer Chinua Achebe called a greater “balance of stories” in America?
  4. What intersections do you see between Adichie’s “single story” and Brand’s “microaggressions“?
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