I recently rewatched Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk on “The danger of a single story”, and found it to still ring true and relevant. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.
Here is a brief summary of Adichie's talk: We tell one story of a person or people repeatedly until “that is what they become”. The issue with this is that we “rob people of their dignity” and ignore the several other facets of this person or group of people so that it becomes impossible to think of them as anything else. It’s a clear expression of power used to “dispossess and malign” rather than to “empower and humanize”.
It occurred to me that there are four specific roles we play in a single story - storyteller, lead character, bystander and audience.
At any point, we may occupy one of these roles, whether in a story about ourselves or in a story about others. Each of these roles come with responsibilities that I highlight below. I use a single story about a person to illustrate this, however, these roles and responsibilities also apply to single stories about groups of people.
Regardless of the role we are in, we have a responsibility to act consciously as it relates to the dignity of ourselves and others! Start by reflecting on what role(s) you play in single stories, what actions (or inactions) you take, and what the impact of those actions are. In your reflection, observe without judgement, then act consciously towards your goal. I'll be rooting for you as I embark on the same journey!
This blog represents my experiences and convictions as at when I wrote them. As I grow, my perspectives may expand. Take and share only what resonates with you, and leave the rest. Happy reading!