The danger of a single story – a Ted Talk

This video had a strong impact on me.  I have come to realize that in the last couple years of reading, I have barely reached out to novels or non-fiction written by a voice from a different culture than mine, not intentionally, but it was a jarring realization all the same.

It was this that she said that has inspired me to change my reading habits:

“Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, “secondly.” Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story.”

“Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.”


About Geeky Book Snob

Learning stuff since birth. Happy introvert who likes socializing when she's not busy being an introvert who likes to read.

Posted on August 28, 2013, in Videos and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I watched that video too a few months ago because I was browsing TED and I read (and loved) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book, Purple Hibiscus a few years back. Absolutely beautiful and thought-provoking. I have to admit, I got a little teary at some parts, which was terribly embarrassing since I was at work and trying TED out as a project (as I work in an academic library) but it was worth it 🙂 You should red Purple Hibiscus too if you haven’t already. It deals with some heavy themes but it’s a beautiful and very memorable story

  2. Half of a Yellow Sun is a very complex and enriching novel. And yes, we should step out of our cultures every once in a while, it won’t kill us!

  3. Half of a Yellow Sun is fantastic – and this talk has touched chords I don’t think I can describe properly, thank you for posting it. During a clear-out before a family house move a few years ago I came across a pile of drawings I had done while still at primary school in Edinburgh. Not a single black or mixed or Indian person anywhere despite my half-Malawian heritage, only likenesses of what I mostly saw around me and in books, coloured in with those Crayola crayons called ‘skin’ colour… I had tears in my eyes at Adichie’s description of her first stories. Thank goodness for all of us that eloquent voices like hers exist to tell the stories that need telling.

    • Ok, Half of a Yellow Sun is on my list! Like you, this video too touched a chord with me. In a sense, it really put me in my place. Since this video I have been scrutinizing what I ingest, especially as it relates to media and advertising. A certain Canadian brand of clothing is advertising on tv right now – for teens and young children. All the people in it are white. I have First Nations blood coursing through my body (my great-grandfather was Cree) but I grew up predominantly in a ‘white’ culture. I now am seeking out other stories, stories outside of the close minded ones that view First Nations culture in a negative light. I want to seek out other perspectives, stories, cultures, views, and beliefs outside of my own.

  4. Reblogged this on dreampunk geek and commented:
    This is worth watching. I feel like she says something that I already knew, but put in such a way that I had my “ahha!” moment.

  1. Pingback: Being open to other perspectives in storytelling | Geeky Book Snob

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