Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dangers of a Single Story

Adichie talks about the problem of a single story. She talks about growing up reading British literature. Growing up reading British literature transferred into her writing. She wrote stories that mainly consisted of white characters with blue eyes that ate apples and talked about the weather because it’s all she knew. She talks about characters drinking “ginger beer” even though she had no idea what it was or what it tasted like because she had read about it.

This portion of TED Talk reminded me when we went to YIA for the first time and we went into the room on the first floor with all the posters. There was one poster with a visual representation of the percentages of books with white, Latino, African American, Native American and Pacific Islander children.Not reading literature that can relate to you can cause “unintended consequence of not knowing that people like me could exist in literature”. I think this can apply to all types of media; arts, movies, social media, magazines, and more. Not seeing figures you relate to causes you to think it is the norm and that people like you do not exist in “that light” of the world. 

A single story is defined as seeing someone repeatedly and only in one form. After stereotyping and individual and confining them to this form, it is what they become. Confining people to stereotypical beliefs is a danger and promotes non accepting attitudes. With the recent attacks on Paris I feel there is a lot of truth to this and people’s attitudes and the harm a single story can do. There have been quite a few people who have stated on record that Muslims are to blame and that the US cannot take refugees because all Muslims wish to harm others. Labeling Muslims in an entirety as terrorists is extremely unfair and uncalled for.
A single story can create being social unaware and socially incompetent. Not knowing more than what you see will create harm in the world. Not being open to different cultures and experiences inhibits one’s personal growth and understanding. When you only know one side or only hear one thing than you have created a single story and have unintentionally done harm to yourself and your community.When given the chance to share your story, you can create another dimension, therefore abolishing the factor of a single story. I think as Youth Workers we need to be able to create an atmosphere that is open and has multiple dimensions and understandings.

Interning at Youth In Action, I see the great work that a youth organization can do. With youth at the forefront, they are given opportunities to break down those stereotypes and learn and develop their stories with the help of each other and the people they come in contact with. I know personally, when I leave Youth In Action, I always feel extremely jealous of the opportunity these youth have been given and the experiences they have gained in such a short time because of this amazing program. The youth at Youth In Action teach me so much more than the lessons they create, they open up the idea that not only can I have an impact on them but that I can learn so much from youth as well. Youth Workers do not always have to be facilitating and at the forefront to create and impact and add a dimension to the story. We are all have a piece to give when creating a story and each piece is individual and unique and contributes to the next series of events to promote understanding and a broader horizon. 

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