Discussion: The Dangers of a Single Story


In my HAMLIT class, we watched a very important Ted Talk.  I believe that the topic applies to everyone in our school and society today. In “The Danger of a Single Story”, Chimamanda Adichie strongly addresses and discusses the issues of today’s society; explaining how a stereotypical story can degrade one’s self-worth. She encourages her audience to make their own opinion about a person, rather than basing it off someone else’s point of view or a stereotypical story from the media.

She begins her Ted Talk by referencing a couple of stories throughout her life. One that stood out to me was a story of her roommate, who felt bad for her just because she came to the United States from Africa. Adichie is trying to address the amount of stereotypes that people base their opinions on, and is encouraging her audience to change in this aspect. In the beginning, Adichie says, “She had felt sorry for me before she had even met me” (Adichie).  This powerful quote allows her audience to understand how her roommate, who had never even met her, allowed herself to create a stereotypical opinion on who Adichie was based off where she was from.  Many people fall into ignorance based on media and gossip they hear from friends, not allowing themselves to look further. A second powerful message that Adichie conveys throughout the Ted Talk is that stories have great power and can be used to lift someone up, or to bring someone down. She states: “Stories can break the dignity of people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity” (Adichie). Stories, whether popular or not, influence the way people see each other; whether that be different nations, political leaders, or simply a classmate you don’t know. Stories do not define a person; they simply reflect the opinions of those surrounding them. You should define yourself.  Through Adichie’s powerful messages, she is inspiring her audience not to fall into a trap of stereotypes and single stories, and to be the change that they want to see in the world. I feel that often we chose to treat others the way our friends treat them. Allow yourself to get to know people and create your own opinion of others. Be kind to others, always. 

To watch the Ted Talk, click this Link: