Oct. 11th, 2009

dmp: From the Dobrininskaya metro station (Faded Glory)
Gems from this speech by Chimamanda Adichie as part of the TEDtalks series (typed out myself, though I really want a transcript of the whole thing):

"I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men where physical abusers like the father character in my novel. I told him that I had just read a novel called American Psycho, and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers.

Now obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation but it would have never occurred to me to think just because I read a novel in which a character was a serial killer that he was somehow representative of all Americans, and this is not because I am a better person than that student but because America's cultural and economic power, I had many stories of America...."
"The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete. They make the one story become the only story.

Of course Africa is a continent full of catastrophes--the immense ones such as the horrific rapes in Congo or the depressing ones such as the fact that 5,000 people apply for one job vacancy in Nigeria--but there are other stories not about catastrophe, and it is very important--it is just as important to talk about them. I've always felt it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place or that person. The consequence of the single story is this: it robs people of dignity."
"Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people but stories can also repair that broken dignity."

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