The Danger of the Single Story in Today’s Society

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk about the danger of the single story never fails to leave me moved. So much of what she says is relevant in today’s society.

Adichie explained how her experiences as a child showed how vulnerable and impressionable children are in the face of the “single story.” It made me wonder how many parents, specifically in the U.S., are unaware of the impact they have on their children– not only impacting them with their own words, but the kinds of media they expose them to. I immediately thought of the Disney films I grew up watching– and the blatant lack of diversity amongst characters. Aside from a select few, the majority of Disney princesses are white. This is a huge problem. What kind of message is that sending to little black girls or other minorities? Or even white children? They’re being told a “single story”– that to be a princess, you must be skinny, beautiful, and white. Too often these words are synonymous with one another.

My INTD class freshman year was called “Black Girlhood” and in it we read picture books that targeted young African American girls and hair care. I was made aware of an issue I didn’t know existed because for me, white hair was everyone’s hair: this was my single story.

On another level, I immediately thought of the widespread fear happening in much of America right now regarding Syrian refugees and even Muslims in general. How unfounded this fear is, yet how easily perpetrated the stereotypes are that drives this fear, because of the single stories that have been told.

I think if people educated themselves and opened their minds to the thousands of stories around them, half of these issues between different peoples would not exist.

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