Knowing that I’m desperate for all things that discuss literature and race and how the two interact/intersect, the thoughtful & loving Ruth Long tweeted me early this morning with a TED talk from Chimamandi Adichie, which discusses the “single story,” or a format that all stories fit. In Adichie’s case: with white protagonists, who enjoyed snow, talked of the weather and ate apples, when Adichie and her family never saw snow, ate mangoes and didn’t talk of the weather as it was not necessary. Adichie was an early reader and writer, and when she wrote, she wrote of what she’d read: American and British children’s books devoid of girls of dark skin.
This is particularly poignant to me, because it is exactly why I’m working on the thesis I am: because when I read the speculative fiction I loved so much, I was hunting for the aliens of dark skin who were caring and diverse, like the protagonists. Then, I realized, I shouldn’t just be hunting for aliens who may/ perhaps/ hopefully represent me, but that there should be/could be protagonists who do the same.
But Adichie goes much deeper than just this sentiment of the danger of a single story, but of the ripples of this danger, including but not limited to a questioning of authenticity. It’s more than worth the 17 minutes you spare to listen to her.
Lovely TED Talk for a lovely Tuesday. It will stay with me as I search online catalogs today for minority authors.