WHITNEY CAIN, PHD

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rejecting the single story

. . . 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.
— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my favorite writers.  Her books, Americanah and Purple Hibiscus among them, are so gorgeous I can hardly stand it.  She is also a gifted speaker; see for yourself by clicking the link below to her Ted Talk, “The Danger of the Single Story”.  In her talk, she says, “. . . 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.” Her focus is on place, but I find the lesson equally as important for recognizing peoples’ stories.

It seems so easy, though, to accept the single story.  Amidst the sound bites and the “busyness” of this life, the time it takes to consider an alterative story – let alone several – seems a luxury.  But taking the single story as truth actually offers me no luxury.  Accepting the single story puts me on a fast path to judgment and narrow thinking about others and myself.

Adichie’s paradise is in taking the space and time to reject the single story and entertain the possibilities of multiple narratives. When I accept that all of us have many stories, I can connect and think more generously – about others and myself.  

So, here’s to all of our stories.  May we be able to see the possibility of all the stories people and places hold.  May our stories be lessons, cause to connect, and – at least eventually – windows to hope.

References & Resources

Link to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's July 2009 Ted Talk, The Danger of the Single Story:  https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?language=en

Purple Hibiscus: A Novel
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Whitney Cain