I recently watched a Ted talk where the talk was given by a Nigerian Novelist named Chimamanda Adichie who is a Nigerian Novelist. In the talk they discussed what was known as the danger of the single story.
The single story is a story that represents a person before you meet them based on various things about that person that can include country of origin and race which is what is mainly discussed in various forms of media. Adichie begins talking about the books they read from childhood that where British and American in origin. These stories become then what the author identified to in their early years until they read African books. The African books were very different to the books they previously read because they only knew stuff of Nigeria from British and American text. In the text their people are poor and uneducated and need a white character to pick them up.
This development in her childhood creates a single story for others in her society, when she encounters them they are yes poor but not uneducated or useless. The same happened in here later years in Mexico when she encountered Mexicans. The key factor is she had other opinions of them before she met them which were negative only. The single story as seen is negative opinion for all powered by continuous negative stories. This fits with what the French historian Voltair once stated “The history of human opinion is scarcely anything more than the history of human errors” (Kreiger 2007, 112).
According to Adichie the single story is powered by when it was told, how many times it was told and how it was told. In this respect I feel Adichie is truly correct with this concept of the single story because I myself see examples of it every day. As of the time I write this there are multiple single stories about immigration in Eastern Europe, law related problems in America and locally homelessness. I see people every day recently talk about people as they have heard from multiple news stations who only focus on the negatives. The stories I hear are every day being told multiple times by many news stations and told in various ways each day that are majorly negative.
I would try to avoid the worst of it but you can’t escape the single story if such scenarios exist around you in a time where the internet is vast enough to give the news to all. I believe I am prone to the single story and have fallen for it based on what I read, see and hear on the screen each day each week. The single stories create what I believe is a negative stereotype that I see as unfair by the way it manipulates people’s minds to believe some are only capable of creating problems for themselves and for others.
I feel that the single story is virus like the cold that spreads from person to person. I believe that the cure would be to actually talk to the people being victimised and know how they truly feel. The true problem is I believe that once you are cured you are only going to get sick again.
Voltair Quote – Richard Alan Kreiger (2007) “Civilization’s Quotations: life’s Ideal”, Algora Publishing , pp. 112