The novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gives a wonderful TED talk about the human inclination to tell a “single story” about others, especially those we barely know. When she left Nigeria for college in the United States, her roommate was surprised that she spoke English so well and knew how to use a stove. “Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity.” The roommate’s single story of Africa was one of tragedy and poverty.
Single stories are the stuff of 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.” (more…)