My Second Story: A Reflection Of 'The Danger Of A Single Story'

My Second Story: A Reflection Of 'The Danger Of A Single Story'

"Stories have been used to dispossess and malign, but stories can also be used to empower and humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity."


For my study abroad program in Morocco, I had to watch this TED Talk and write a response journal. I could have written a response novel!

I am a bit of a TED Talk fanatic. I am sure most of us have either stumbled upon this video ourselves or had it assigned to us for homework. Either way, this video has a message that is so valuable, we should watch it again and again.

Before, during, and after my travels to Morocco, I was asked questions like, "How many terrorists did you see?" and "how many bombs and guns did you see?" Aside from terrorism, it was hard for people to believe that Moroccans have electricity, cars, phones and running water. Even before my travels, I was not as ignorant to think these things or ask such questions.

Not once was I worried about my own safety or in fear of terrorism.

Even after I had returned, I would start crying because no matter how many amazing things I said about Morocco, people still wouldn't believe me, as if I was lying to them. Because of the media and news platforms covering terrorism through an extremely narrow lens, our nation has become brainwashed to the idea that terrorism only exists in Islamic countries and that if anyone claims to be a Muslim, they must be innately evil.

We tend to ignore how many mass shootings happen in America that are not tied to Islam. If an American kills hundreds of innocent Americans, is that not terrorism? Why do we tend to brush off these events and focus on 9/11 and similar attacks?

In my first two weeks abroad, there was a man who killed 5 women in a bank execution style just because of a "broader desire to hurt people." Is that not terrorism? We continue to ignore the statistics showing that native-born Americans are the real ones invoking terror in our nation.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke about "the danger of a single story" and how if we only listen to one story about a people or country, we close our hearts and minds to the idea that they could possibly be anything different. For Adichie, when she arrived to America from Nigeria, so many people she met were shocked that she spoke English and knew what a stove was. She points out that so many people don't even know that Africa is a continent, not a country.

She, as a woman who grew up in Nigeria her entire life, was told by a professor that her novel was not "authentically African" because she wrote about people who drove cars, were not starving, and had an education. Her professor said that they could not be African because they were "too much like him."

Why are we so surprised to discover that people from different religions or countries are just like us? Why can't we just simply know and believe that Muslims are people just like us?

Why do we only believe the single story so deeply that we think that reality is a lie?

She tells us how to create a single story: "Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become."

She says, "power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person." We tend to hear a story about one person, just one, who seems so different from us, and we apply that story to all the people of a certain population. In a single moment, we make one story the only story. When doing this, the only population we tend to forget is our own as white Americans.

Adichie had a student come up to her and say what a shame it is that Nigerian men were all physical abusers based off of the character in her novel. Her response was that she had just read American Psycho and it was a shame that all young Americans are serial murderers.

Why are we quick to apply a stereotype to another population so quickly and believe it so surely, but we become hesitant and offended when a stereotype is applied to our own people?

We don't allow ourselves to read, learn, or believe anything outside of the stories we see on the news. By allowing ourselves to be brainwashed by mass media rather than learning to form our own opinions only further enforces the stereotype. Adichie said, "The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete."

We, ourselves, ruin the credibility of a people without ever meeting them. From the couch in our living room, we determine the nature of a people and alienate them without first thinking that they could possibly be people just like us.

Adichie says the consequence of a single story is, "It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar."

"Stories have been used to dispossess and malign, but stories can also be used to empower and humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity."

We force stereotypes on people from different nations, backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions and we tell ourselves that this is reality while anything about white Americans is "fake news."

I am here to defend Morocco and its people. I am here to share stories about Moroccans and other Muslim people that are so far from the single story we have heard, but so much closer to the truth.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Barefoot Wine Instagram

Have you noticed that you're drinking a lot more than you used to during the Pandemic? You're not alone.

I too in recent weeks have noticed that I'm drinking more than normal, and earlier in the day. I've started having a glass of wine with lunch a few days a week, something I never used to do. Although, a recent Odyssey survey shows that most Americans are starting to drink between 4 and 8 pm.

Keep Reading... Show less

These Phoebe Buffay Outfits Prove She's A '90s Fashion Icon — We're Replicating EVERY Single One

In case you needed another reason to love our favorite coffee shop singer.


I've always been described as the Phoebe of my friend group — not just for being a vegan, animal-loving people pleaser, but also for the false sense of confidence in my singing and athleticism.

I consider it a compliment to be labeled a Phoebe. Besides her general warmth, I was always drawn to her hippy-chic vibes and passion for environmentalism before it was even cool to be vegan or to care about the planet. The way she carelessly ran through parks flailing her limbs without a care mimicked her effortlessly eccentric style.

Keep Reading... Show less

'Tis the season for wedding fun and if you're hosting or helping plan a bachelorette party for the bride-to-be, you're going to want it to be a blast. Whether it's a social distance soiree or a virtual party, games will always spice up the time with the gals, so if you're looking for a fun and easy one to get the party started (and everyone drunk), this game is for you.

What's the name of the game? "Drink If: Bachelorette Party Edition." Here's how it works.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Talked To My Friend About Her Cystic Fibrosis And Wow, CF Patients Are WARRIORS

Not many people can say they've had a double lung transplant.

Alissa Katz

Forty percent of the United States lives with a chronic disease. These diseases are unique in their own way, but one thing is the same — every individual who lives with a chronic condition faces obstacles because of their disease.

Not only do these illnesses require a lot of education for the individuals who have them, but for the community as a whole. The more we as a society know about these diseases, the more well-rounded (and ideally, helpful) we'll be. If anything, we'll have a greater appreciation for the strength individuals with chronic conditions show on a daily basis.

Keep Reading... Show less

We've all been there... your brain was telling you "bad idea," but your heart was saying "but what if..." and now you're heartbroken. Whether you were actually in a relationship with the person or you never made it passed the "talking stage" before he broke your heart, it still hurts!

The good news? You're not alone and things will get better. Here are a few TikToks that will motivate you to move on, no matter what stage of the breakup process you're in.

Keep Reading... Show less

How To Create A Summer Reading List On Odyssey

Books are the perfect summer companions.

It's officially summer 2020, and yes, we're still in the middle of a global pandemic, which means a lot of your free time this summer is probably going to involve watching Netflix. But you can't take Netflix to the pool or on the beach.

Keep Reading... Show less

You Can Rent Kevin Jonas' New Jersey Home On Airbnb, Along With All These Other Celeb Pads

If I'm going to be working from home, it's got to be glam.

I'll be honest, I've never been too big into modern pop culture — I'll take "Citizen Kane" or a movie starring Humphrey Bogart over Brad Pitt any day. But I've watched just about every architecture, interior decorating, and home documentary available on the Internet. I lust after a luxurious pool, backsplash, or mountain view as though the more I watch, the more I can manifest my streaming fantasies into a future reality.

Seeing the beautiful homes is one of the reasons I watch The Real Housewives of New York and Beverly Hills. While the women throw drinks in each other's faces, I'm eyeing the Charlotte Perriand lounger behind them. When someone drunkenly falls into a pool, my focus is mostly on the marble finishes lining it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments