The Danger of a Single Story

In this video, the acclaimed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses her upbringing and the stories she was surrounded by as a child. She reflects on how they affected her. Even though she grew up in Nigeria, she was surrounded by Western literature. She loved to read and write stories, but they were similar to the stories that she read. They were about white people, in the snow, drinking ginger beer and eating apples.

As an author of stories about Africa, and being African herself, she recentered around African literature when she got ahold of it when she was younger. Suddenly she felt represented and more connected to her reading.

In this TED talk, Adichie warns against the “single story”:

“The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.”

Adichie’s words apply to Disney. With the evolution and growth of television and movies in children’s lives, Disney is a socialization agent unto itself. Disney still dabbles in racist and sexist stereotypes (see: Tangled and Princess and the Frog) and as our children consume these stories, they become perceived truth.

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