single story: the one track mind

“Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” Chimamanda Adichie, in her TED talk, discussed how when we think of a culture and a people in one way and one way only, that is what they become.  Using examples from her own experience, she detailed how through word of mouth, media, and other instances this “single story” emerges.  Upon watching this, I began to think of all the forms of media and stories I had heard that create my single stories, thinking about the frequency of them.  Used in advertisements, constantly, are photos and images of African safari scenes, or scenes of poverty, depicted in advertisements in order to help save them. So, my single story for this country is that they are basically indigenous people, who need saved.  When, in reality, majority is self sufficient and just as knowledgeable as we are.
This concept of a single story also gets me concerned about the use of the word culture to describe a group of people.  Culture is a definitive term, although the definition is dynamic, because while people change, the concept of the culture does not necessarily.  Also, if people are shoved into culture categories, this just enhances this one track thinking that Adichie discusses here.  Culture is not definitive and not restricted by geography or race or age.  I have done that not only about foreign places, but even different cultural groups within my own country.  For example, when I was younger, I went to Catholic school because my parents depicted to me that the public school in my area was dangerous and not a good environment.  That idea was reinforced over and over again, so when I moved cities, and moved to an are that had a safe public school, I did not want to go and switch school because I had the idea that public schools were dangerous and not a good environment.  That was my single story about public schools, until I learned better. 


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