Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Danger of a Single Story

Listen to Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie's speech at TED in July of this year. Adichie's thesis is that we tend to stereotype other people if we know only one story (aspect) about them, so it is important to learn many different stories about others. She ends her speech with these words: "Stories have been used to dispossess and malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity."

Adichie tells several stories in her TED speech. You can go directly to those narratives from here by clicking on the Open interactive transcript link to the right of the words About this talk. When you click anywhere in the transcript, the video will begin again at that part of the speech.

Try clicking on the following:
1. The beginning: "I'm a storyteller...." The narrative begins with "I grew up on a university campus in eastern Nigeria."
2. "I come from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family...." The narrative begins with "So the year I turned eight, we got a new houseboy."
3. "But I must quickly add that I too am just as guilty...." The narrative begins with "A few years ago, I visited Mexico...."
4. "I recently spoke at a university...."

There are many other small anecdotes throughout the entire speech. Perhaps you will have time to listen to all of it at home.

As you listen, observe the use of the various verb tenses and aspects.

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