Adichie: Stereotypes and ‘The Single Story’

“The single story creates 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.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Adichie’s take on stereotypes and ‘the single story’ is useful for BIPOC writers. Stereotypes are untrue. But she argues that the singularity of these stories based on a stereotype’s falsehood is the more significant problem. BIPOC writers should understand that these false stories inhabit the uncritical minds of people through the narratives they consume. These single stories take hold in the wider imaginary of any culture and society. They then become biased ‘truths’ in the minds of individuals.

The antidote to this noxious process is to have writers create counter-narratives that challenge these mainstream false, single stories. We all know that there are more perspectives to any one story. Historically, when the conquerors write the history, their perspective reigns. This perspective justifies, validates and disseminates itself as ‘THE truth.” By doing so, it silences and devalues the stories of others. So, it is imperative that we BIPOC writers construct narratives, whether through historiography or fiction, that provide the ‘other’s’ perspective. This quote, taken from her TED Talk, has strengthened my belief in how I approach writing and my commitment to challenge the existing ‘single stories.

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