How might we begin to “reject the single stor[ies]” in our lives?


Stories play a huge part of our life. In some cases, we might argue that stories influence our lives too much. In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story”, Chimamanda talks about how much stereotypical stories in the United States influence how she is seen by the citizens there. She comes “from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family,” and isn’t what we may assume about all Africans. Many people assume that Africans are poor, live in poverty, are dirty, and many even think that they are savages. Chimamanda’s story shows how her life in Nigeria wasn’t like this. This especially supports her quote, “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.” This quote is very important because it exemplifies Chimamanda’s young life- she wasn’t poor or anything. She is correct when she says the story creates stereotypes, because when we see something, we will often believe it to be true. Because of this, we think it’s the full story, when in reality it is just a small section of a larger reality. They aren’t necessarily wrong, but they are just incomplete. In order to really understand, you must comprehend the big picture. Assumptions aren’t going to get you anywhere. “[…]there are other stories that are not about catastrophe, and it is very important, it is just as important, to talk about them.” Most often, the stories about devastation and catastrophe are the ones that are heard the most. Because of this, we don’t get to see the positive side of the situation, and thus we begin to make inferences that only accommodate the partial truth. This is why it is important to understand that it is equally important to listen to the less-heard of stories that aren’t about devastation, or mishaps. It is then that you will be able to reject the single stories, and not fall vulnerable to the stereotypes written there. Then, you can accommodate not single but multiple stories in your life, and see the larger whole.