Reading Between the Lines (or, the Dangers of Single Stories)

For this Blog post, I want you to “read between the lines” and work to analyze and examine the material that is NOT found in a story.  Specifically, you are to write 2-3 paragraphs of careful, in-depth analysis, and the aim here is for you to:  1)  Use your critical thinking skills to build upon the ideas of Chimamanda Adichie in her well-known TED talk on “The Danger of a Single Story”  2)  Practice your skills in critically reading a story of your choosing – skills of the very kind you will be using for your next formal writing assignment.  With these goals in mind, here’s what I want you to do for your Blog post:  First up, I want you to pick out a narrative “text” that is either written BY someone from another culture, or written ABOUT some person or occurrence from another place.  You might, therefore, select a literary story or some other form of media narrative (a feature news story or even photograph would qualify here).  To borrow from Adichie’s words, in reality “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”  So, in looking at your chosen story, what other stories are there but do not get told?  What are some of the most important gaps or omissions in your chosen story, and how can you tell?  Perhaps more importantly, what are the ramifications of these gaps for what the reader perceives to be the “reality” of the situation, the “truth” of the society in question?  Putting things even more simply, if you “read between the lines” and deconstruct the narrative (in terms of what is seen but also NOT seen), what do you find – and why is this so important??

31 thoughts on “Reading Between the Lines (or, the Dangers of Single Stories)

  1. Following the theme of Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk, I have chosen a picture of children in Africa. I am not from Africa, nor have I ever been to Africa. I am an outsider looking in. I do not know a lot about children in Africa, and I do not know about their living conditions. In the picture, there are three children in grass skirts. As an outsider looking in, you could assume that they are poor or that they could not afford clothes, but we can not be sure that it is true. You may also assume that they are just children dressing up and having fun, we can not be sure though. There are many stereotypes about African people and children. There are stereotypes that they are not privileged, poor and even malnourished.
    It is important to understand that there is not always just one side to a story. When you read a story, or see a picture there is always a few sides to the story. There is the writers side, the photographers story, the readers side, and even the character’s side. The reality of it is, there is never just one truth. It is important to take the time and evaluate the situation before making assumptions, because you never know the truth behind the picture. The truth behind the picture of the children, is that grass skirts are part of their culture and it doesn’t mean that they are poor. They are embracing their true beliefs and their culture. By reading between the lines, you will come to find that things are not always what they seem to be, and that there is so much more to every story.

  2. CJ Middleton
    Narrative Blog Post

    During World War II, the British displayed posters with slogans on them encouraging their country about the war. On a specific poster the slogan states, “We beat ’em before, We will beat ’em again.” This is referring to how the British has defeated Germany during the first World War. They are reminding the citizens of their victory; so they do not forget that since they were able to beat the Germans before they will be able to do it again. What the “story” fails to tell the viewer is how Germany has changed. They began to be recognized as Nazi Germany, which took less than two months to seize power of the majority of Western Europe. All under the control of the dictator, Adolf Hitler. Who had the evil plan of genocide, so who knows what twisted tactics he would utilize in war to be victorious.

    Those excluded factors are exactly what Aldiche’s refers to in her talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.” For example, a young, healthy, fit man is walking down the street and notices the sign poster. He could think to himself, “Hey, I should sign up to fight this war, we’ll pull it off again.” That man gains the confidence that his country will be successful once again. Of course he will think that because his father just beat them not even two centuries ago and since they are the same his country will win once again. The reason it is so dangerous is because many people that go into the war believing they will be victorious again. Which would lead to them walking on the battlefield like they own the place and end up being annihilated. People will gain risk, thinking they will make it back home from war to their families. Just because the poster assures them an easy victory. it could be different if the poster mentioned how Germany is ready for revenge on Britain. Then it would motivate the soldiers to train harder and prepare for Germany once again. Viewers of “stories” should be aware of all circumstances so that there is not only one story. Even a simple poster can display a single-sided story.

    Works Cited Staff. “Battle of Britain.” A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 02 Nov. 2015.

    “World+war+2+posters+british – Google Search.” World+war+2+posters+british – Google Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2015.

  3. Building upon the ideas of Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk, I have chosen a picture of a white family of four. I am not white, yet, I have seen and also associated myself with white families. After reviewing the picture, it can give off the impression of a typical, happy, and successful white family. Also, as an outsider looking in, it’s true to believe that the mother and father are happily married and love their children with all their hearts. In addition to the mother and father both having high paid jobs and a well maintain house. Yet, I do not know much about being a part of a white family but, I do know that there are a large variety of stereotypes and assumptions of people of any race.
    Considering the fact of “reading between the lines” of this picture, the smiles on each family member face may be one absolute lie. The beautiful mother of the family may be partaking in an affair or the son may be getting bullied at school. In addition to the dad may not have a job or just got laid off. Never judge a book by its cover and also always remember there are always two sides to every story. A single picture as the one I analyzed, or any other source of media give the audience a single story to believe about different ethnicity. It is very important to also remember to take the time and evaluate the concept before making assumptions. “Read between the lines.”

    Work Cited:

  4. War, we think of it as bloody, gruesome, unforgivable, and some say unnecessary. All wars have at least two sides pitted against each other. We think of those two sides to be sworn enemies to the end, but are they really? In World War 2, America was fighting against Germany, and during Christmas of 1943, an American Bomber pilot encountered another German fighter pilot, which the German fighter pilot had the upper hand. The German fighter pilot spared the life of the American bomber pilot, and 50 years later, both men reunited and became friends. You see what we neglect to remember is that even in times of war, we are all still human with emotions. When we think of war we think of only two sides being enemies. We fail to think that each side is doing their duties to their countries. So once the war is over, what happens to both sides? Do they really want to continue fighting when one side has already won? Enough blood has been shed and in their minds, they may not want anymore bloodshed over something that may be resolved by other means necessary.

    Going back a bit before World War 2, on December 24, 1914 during World War 1, we had British and German troops that were fighting in the mud trenches in France. During midnight, German troops starting to sing Christmas carols, and their enemies joined in. Common grounds were met during that time. Christmas brought truce between two enemies, and then once Christmas was over, enemies were what they were once again. During that truce, two opposing sides were able to come together and celebrate a holiday that is thought to be peaceful and family orientated. In some ways, their can be some peace during times of war. We only see the bad, the gruesome, the parts that make us infuriated and want to hate the other side. Yes, those things are there, but we also need to think for ourselves.

    We depict war as terrible and unforgiving, we have seen the future that came after a war, such as World War 2. Today we find some Japanese soldiers and American soldiers making peace with each other. They were fighting for their countries and each of them respect each other’s professionalism. Others still cannot find the strength to reach out because the memories are too painful for them. When we see them shaking hands and smiling, we do not see the pain and sadness behind the smile, but they try to put it behind and move forward. We only see the one side that is presented to us. We need to look at the bigger picture, to think critically that there are always two sides to a story.

    Work Cited :

  5. To build upon the TED talk from Chimamanda Adichie about “The dangers of a single story” I chosen a picture of a white well to do family of four a mother, father daughter and son and a article that goes with it. From the picture and the article it gives a good look of a well to do white family even though I am not white but have some friends that are from a well to do white family and I can give my best to describe a well to do family. In the picture it shows the happy family of four in front of a nice big white house with trim bushes and trees. From my point of view there are so many stereotypes that goes into a white family and culture and that goes with assumptions as well but that could be in any other culture or family.
    The way I am reading in between the lines is that this upper to middle class family picture could just be them faking their happiness. Even with the big nice cookie cut house and maybe white picket fence they might have troubles in the family. Like the father of the picture they could be getting a divorce between the mother but don’t want anybody to know. Also the children could be getting in trouble like the daughter might be getting in trouble at school and the son could be getting in trouble with the law. This is why we shouldn’t make stereotypes for other people. There are pictures of different families with different ethnicity that the media puts up that they want you to see and make you have a stereotype of that ethnicity like that picture that I analyzed. I think it is important to look at a pictures from both sides of the story because a single story or picture could put the wrong image of a person in there. Also that’s why we should read in between the lines of stories and pictures and evaluated them and not just believe what you see or hear.

  6. To continue from Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk; I chose a picture of four children eating off the ground with their bare hands. These four children look like they may be related based off of their facial appearance and resemblance of one another. The picture was taken by a photographer who took a trip to India. As someone who is not from India nor have I ever been to India, I look at this photo as mind blowing. It seems as though these children are poor based off of the fact that one of the young boy’s who is eating is completely naked and physical smaller than the average boy his size in America. Another part of this image that may contribute to the assumption that these children are poor is the dirty off white newspaper that they’re eating off of and the small portion of food that they are trying to equally share amongst each other.
    As an outsider looking in, the assumption would be that these children are siblings who live in a very poor town with no parental guidance, and are forced to take care of each other as well as find a way to feed each other so that they do not starve to death. However, as an outsider who has never been to India, that assumption/single story can change if we were to actually take a trip to India and witness the atmosphere surrounding these children. One assumption could be that the young boy who I mentioned was naked, is practicing a part of his tradition that requires him to be stripped of his clothing on certain days. The off white newspaper that the children are eating off of can be their country’s way of eating, or in India can be their definition of a “plate” compared to what America’s definition of what a “plate” is. The small portion of food that the children are sharing can be the very last part of what could of have been a big meal that the photographer did not catch. In “our” eyes, as Americans we may think that these children are suffering and starving but in reality this may be there daily way of living without complaining. We tend to make assumptions about other cultures/country’s based off of what is portrayed through media instead of questioning the accuracy behind what is being portrayed. And because of this, we tend to create our own single story to make our assumptions seem accurate in the end.

  7. I want to continue to branch off on Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk about how the whole continent of African is perceived to be filled with poor, starving people. Here in American we don’t get to see all the riches that Africa has to offer. All we ever see is the starving, sickly looking people. We only get a portion of the true story. Truth be told, there is famine everywhere but the media chooses to solely focus on Africa’s famine. If we had the whole story we would see that it is only certain parts that are extremely poor and there are other parts where people have what they need. Everyone sees the African people as savages who live in huts but in reality they have big beautiful houses and cities as developed as ours.
    I typed in ‘perfect family’ on google and the images consisted of mostly white families of 4. The photos had a mother, a father, a daughter, a son, and a dog. But who says they they’re a perfect family? The parents could be having financial or marital problems or the kids could be doing poorly in school. The dad could be beating on the wife but we would never know because we don’t have all aspects of that family. There is just a picture where they all look happy together and that might not be the case. We’re just outsiders looking in.

  8. Brandon Munoz

    I have chosen a picture of Usain Bolt after winning a race. He is from Jamaica and the only story we see from the picture is that he is a fast black male. It enhances the stereotype that he is supposed to fast because he is black. In this case the stereotype is true, but according to Chimamanda Adichie, the stereotype is incomplete. I do not know much about Usain Bolt, but imagine if we did not know his history. Imagine, he was adopted by a white family and he had paid for top training and he was not naturally gifted. In the picture he is happy but what if he is not happy because he still has poor family in Jamaica. Right there was a time I assumed they are poor just because they are Jamaican because I know only one story.
    Chimamanda Adichie said, “All of these stories make me who I am.” I connected this to Usain Bolt because he must have stories of situations that gave him a major setback in life. That same setback made him stronger and eventually made him successful. These setbacks made Chimamanda Adichie stronger as well. The stories they feel that deprives them of their culture make them feel alienated. They get back up to thrive and become a better, knowledgeable situation.
    Looking in on the feelings, it is something I have felt before so connecting to only knowing one story is easy. Every race, gender, and culture has one story known, but a million and one stories ready to be read. People need to take time to see the point of views from every aspect imaginable to create a better understanding of culture.

  9. To build on Chimamanda Adichie Ted Talk, I chose a picture of a jock beating up a nerd. Adichie stated “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Multiple medias, such as television and movies, only show jocks as dumb students who make fun of nerdy kids. In the picture it shows the idea of what a jock should look like, primarily male who is buff and good looking which this is not always true. Females can be considered jocks but it is not common to use a female in a sports setting because of our stereotypes on women. You can just focus on the jock and his story that is being shown in the picture, but their is two stories in this picture. The story of the nerd tends to get over looked just like how they are in real life. The nerd is overlooked because when you think of a nerd you don’t care for their story you just feel bad for them or only think of them when you need answers to a paper. Both students are show in a one story way not their realistic story.
    This picture shows how poorly we are aware of people’s full story and how quickly we are to stereotype. We don’t try to dive in deep to find out what people’s full story is because it simply takes too much time and effort. It takes a lot less effort to just assume and label someone. Imagine you’re walking down the hall and catch someone yelling at someone and not saying nice things. It’s easy to decphier this person is a mean person and everytime after that you look at them differently and only as a mean person. Now you don’t know if that person was just having a bad day and had to get it out. We are used to making quick assumptions that affect the way we look at people or situations. Now everyone has a full story from the time they are born and everything in-between until where they are now. People go through a roller coaster of events that shape them and the way they think. If you quickly assume you miss out on the way they are and act. If you keep a open mind and try to get to know someone you would come to a new realization of who they are and have a better sense on their “full” story.

  10. After watching Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk you can really see how dangerous a single story can be. Many people judge others off of their single stories instead of focusing on the many other stories an individual has. There can be many positive stories but people mainly focus on the negative ones. The single story is normally a stereotype that someone is framed into because of this one story. I have decided to choose a picture of an Asian student sleeping in a classroom. The story being shown breaks the stereotype of Asian students. The stereotype is that “Asian students are very smart.” We see this stereotype in the media, the example being that they are always advancing in academics. When you think of Asian students you think that they are always working and very scholarly because of that single story. This picture though breaks this stereotype.

    The stereotype of the Asian student can be true however that is not the case for everyone. If you look deeper Asians are everywhere they can be in schools like Harvard or in an unprivileged school setting. How can one story fit for thousands of people around the world? Some Asian students grew up in a well-educated environment where some have not. Every individual is different. Although our society primarily thinks Asians are well educated that is not the case for every student. People need to be more open minded about these stereotypes. They are not always true. You may get the wrong impression of someone just because of this stereotype. Like Adichie states in her speech not everyone falls into their “single story.”

  11. Branching off of what Chimamanda Adichie’s TED conversation about “Single Stories”, I have chosen to write about a professional athlete. I chose to write about Professional Football player, Dez Bryant, because, when we look at him we see him as the best Wide Receiver on the Dallas Cowboys. The reason why I chose him is that not many people know about what happened to him in the past. The average football fan would never be able to imagine what he’s been through or even care about it. They tend to see one side of him when he’s on the field and not bother to care about his off-field life. Some may assume that he had a loving family growing up and that he never suffered any life changing moments. With Dez Bryant, that is not the case.
    Bryant’s mother was only at the age of 14 when she had him. Being a young mother, she had to rely on her own mother to help raise him. While this was happening, his mother ended up serving an 18 month jail sentence for selling crack cocaine. Without his mother and the financially poor grandmother, Bryant ended up bouncing house to house until he was finally able to attend college. Bryant wasn’t alone as he was with his brother the whole time. Some could say that he was practically raised by his bother having been the younger of the two.
    People do not tend to look at the history of these athletes and just look at their present selves. By knowing their story, you can truly appreciate their passion for what they do. Bryant is often known for yelling on the sidelines of a football game. Viewers automatically assume that he’s yelling negative words but, those players who he is yelling at will say that he’s doing his best to help them get motivated again. This allows those players to perform better and to help give his team a better chance at winning the game.

    Work Cited

  12. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I believe that. I chose a picture of Serena Williams celebrating one of her many wins. On the surface its another win for Serena, she’s a gifted athlete and looking at the picture you can see that. Serena was the second African American woman to win the Grand Slam title and has won the U.S open twice. Looking at pictures of Serena you just think about all the wins but behind the picture is all the hard work Serena put in to accomplish all the things she did.
    Serena is a very talented athlete but that doesn’t mean she didn’t have to put a lot of work into it. Serena started her tennis career at the age of four entering a tennis tournament in hopes that she was as talented as her mother and father had both hoped for. And of course she was, and over a span of five years she won 46 tournaments. It wasn’t all just winning for Serena she had to deal with some major knee injuries hold her back at times, but she kept her eye on the prize and continued to win. On the surface of the picture you just see a winner you don’t see all the hard work and dedication that athlete had to put in to get where they are today .

  13. Being an outsider looking in, i chose a picture of the holocaust for this blog post. I chose this picture because not only is it one of the biggest events in history, it has tramuatized the victims and their families. Being an outsider looking in, we do not realize what those prisioners had actually went through. Even though there is not a lot of factual evidence from those who survived, we are only able to see pictures. I chose a picture of the prisioners looking outside of the barbed wire fence. Just looking at the picture, we can assume a number of things. For one, we know for a fact that they were treated badly by the German, but at the same time, we assume and questioned what went on when seeing the living conditions they are in. Having only a single pair of clothing, no shoes, and being nothing but skin and bones, we realize how harsh this was but will never realize what it was actually like because we were not physically there; and becuse of this, we can only rely on the stories we hear and what we learn from the history books.
    When I look at the picture, I notice their distraught look on their face. I notice that their dirt covered bodies are all that they will ever look like, thinking they are going to shower, when they are really only going to die. Relating this to “The Danger of a Sinlge Story,” we know that there are many sides to one story. There is the victims story, the Germans story, the photograohers story and the chilfrens story. Each of these stories is still scary, but also still true and create a danger to everyone. Between the lines, we know that the Holocaust was such a horrible historical event, and even when it ended, it still carried on and today, we still learn about it. We will never know the reality of this event, but I personally, had met a Holocaust survivor and it was one of the most eye opening experiences I’ve had, the woman still had her number tattooed on her arm and told the horrific stories about the things she went through.
    Today, we live in luxury. We will never know what went on unless we read about it in the books. This single story has many sides, but each side will always have a right and a wrong, and each side will always have a little bit of truth hidden between the lines.

  14. Single stories impact viewers in dangerous ways. For example, through pictures, we are given no text and expected to respond based on assumptions. By doing so, there can many different stories articulated. The real story through media or just moments captured do not detail on the real story. Key facts are left out so the reader can presume judgment on the piece. As an effect from this portrayal in the media, viewers are harmed by thinking they know the reality of the world around them.
    Like most news stories today, information is always left out. We are left to think how credible our main source of information really is. In particular, the story in which the news reporter Brian Williams mentioned about being in the Iraq War. He mentioned on television that he was in the war and the plane he was on got hit. He later then apologized for giving an inaccurate story. For the many people watching, this created an entire story that followed based on what he said. By creating a made up story, this contributed toward the viewers creating more racial and religious stereotypes toward Muslims. Because of the made up stories behind the media, there has been countless stereotypes that follow. By not receiving reliable and detailed information, a story becomes misunderstood. This then limits the perspectives we have on others locally and all over the world. When first hand experience is limited, there are always misguided perspectives from other sources that allows us to think we know everything. The reality is, there are always multiple sides to a story and the truth of a story is not revealed unless there are first hand accounts.

  15. Purvi Patel
    Poverty in Sri Lanka, I choose a picture of five poor kids eating from one bowl full of rice. When we look at that picture we would assume that they are happy, because they are smiling. We would also think that they are sharing food, which is a good thing. But what we don’t understand is the story behind it. We have a tendency to make assumptions or judge something as soon as we see it. We never really try to see the story behind it. There can be another side of it that those kids didn’t have food for many days and when finally they have food they are actually sharing it and eating it with satisfaction. The smiling faces can be the joy of having food.

    We don’t know how I feels to be poor, but we do know that staying hungry is not an easy thing to do. When we don’t get food on time, we always look for something. Then imagine those kids who don’t have anything to eat and they finally get something, there happiness will be on could nine. We can’t judge a book by its cover; this picture reminds me of this line. We see pictures everyday of something and we make assumptions, but what we don’t do is that we actually take time and understand the meaning or story behind the picture. Every picture or article has stories behind it. We can’t just assume one thing and consider it to be true. As Chimamanda Adichie talks in “The danger of a single story”. There can be more than one side of a story.

  16. Zach Chapman
    Narrative Blog

    Martin Luther King jr. is one of the most well known people that ever lived in this world. He fought for the African American race and for them to have equal rights. We all know the his story but what else happened in his life. We know that he gave the famous I have a dream speech and that he was killed by being shot. But what else happened that goes sort of untold. Like what his family had to go through every day or what was happening when he was out giving speeches or leading the marches that were taking place.

    Obviously black people back then were already treated badly but did it get worse for the King family because of the following that he had? Did his wife and children get even more backlash when they were out in public. White people hated him and hated everything that he stood for.The entire black race was being punished for what King was doing but was his family and friends the ones receiving the most grief? I assume that they were because they probably did not have the same leadership qualities that he had to stand up to an impending force that he might have faced.

  17. I read an article about a sixteen-year old boy named John who attempted to bomb his high school killing as many students as possible, killing the school liaison officer, and lastly killing his family. He was planning to carry out the worst massacre in U.S. history. The plan was not successful because a 911 caller reported seeing someone she suspected breaking into the storage locker, which was where John placed the bombs to attempt the school bombing. People thought that John was just a crazy angry teenager who wanted to cause trouble and mass destruction. What most people do not realize is that teenagers with these types of violent thoughts are basing them off of something else. Usually people with these types of thoughts feel as though no one cares about them, that there life isn’t going their way, or maybe want to get revenge on people who have affected them negatively in life.

    The question that most people wonder is how the parents of these teenagers have no idea what their child is capable of and the plans that they had in order to want to cause such destruction. Psychologists found that John’s thoughts of violence did not occur until late adolescence, and that he was able to conceal his troubles from his family, friends and classmates. What Johns parents and detectives did not know was that once John was admitted into prison that he was diagnosed with a highly functional form of autism spectrum disorder, with violent ideations. His family believes that John was crying out for help, and asking for someone to notice him and for someone to stop him. Like in most cases people with violent thoughts really just want people there for them or for people to notice them more. John himself later on told police that he might be a sociopath or that he might have another illness. Deep down John knew that his thoughts and plan of actions were very wrong. There were lots of ups and downs hat were involved when it came to John’s case and what his penalty was going to be. There are plenty of people that think that he should be charged with attempted murder and that he should go to jail for life without knowing the other possible facts that are involved in the case. There is only proof that John engaged in preparation for the commission of the crimes, but there was not any actual proof that he was going to go through with the whole plan.

    John realized that his plan of action was selfish and lazy, and how there was a lack of concern for the consequences that would have followed his actions. Being in prison, entering a transitional treatment facility, and having the opportunity to return to society as a new person made John think of a lot. Just like a normal person people regret a lot of things and sometimes do not like how they handled situations in the past. In other cases there is always the opportunity to get help and to better your self. John received a second chance, whether people believe that he should or should not have received one is strictly their opinion. John received a second chance to do things correctly with his life by earning a high school degree, becoming a valedictorian at his detention center, having the opportunity to go to a treatment facility, and wanting to become a mathematician. No matter what penalties a person has and how they act once they enter prison does not mean they are the same person once they are released. There are plenty of people who take situations that they are placed in as life lessons and learn from them. No matter the situation people can always try to change their life around.

  18. After watching Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk, I chose a picture. The picture was of a black boy, maybe around the age of 10. On his face, there were texts saying “slave”, “poor”, “victim”, “AIDS”, and more. Seeing this picture of a young, innocent boy with such harsh words written on his face goes to show that stereotyping is false. A single story tells the wrong story. It is a story made up on the top of a person’s tongue. There is no accurate information to the story, it’s just stereotyping. This picture shows how a black person is seen, which is completely untrue. Racism is becoming too common nowadays. A single story of a black man could be that he is a criminal who grew up in a horrible household in a dangerous neighborhood. He could be seen as a thug. For all we know, he could have grown up in a safe neighborhood with successful parents and a loving home. We’re so quick to judge and assume. With what we see in the news and the music we hear, we assume black people are below others. It’s getting to the point where black children who are young and harmless are getting dragged into those assumptions.
    The point to all of this is that there is never just one side to a story. There’s a few. It’s important to know that the truth isn’t always the truth, at least in some one else’s point of view. Someone could believe one side when another believes the other. There are many different opinions and sides to a story. Not just a single one. For instance, when that picture of the little black boy pops up, some words could be true. He could be a victim of something tragic, but came out stronger in the end. It’s just the way people assume the image or the story when they hear it. Not everyone will agree to one side of a story. Controversies will occur but that’s just the way it is. My hope for this world is that people will look further into a story before they assume what it actually happening. You don’t know a situation unless you’re in that person’s shoes. Every individual has a story, but it’s not just one.

  19. In regards to the theme of Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk, I have chosen an article named, “Pinpointing my identity” written by Nina Kelly. This article strictly demonstrates the life in which Nina Kelly lives as a bi-racial person. Her mother being white and her father being black. Growing up in London she never truly got to experience her “black side”, but still felt to know the difference. Most of her life in London she was know as “half caste”, meaning she is “mixed race”. In the article she states, “This ability to connect with black and white is certainly a useful tool for building multicultural Britain.” Although she is excepting of this term,I feel as if it still internally affected her way of life. If she wasn’t considered a “half caste”, would she necessarily even need to be labeled in her culture?

    The common misconception of Nina’s life, is that people feel the need to label her as one side, instead of investigating and finding out the real truth of her background. The truth in society is often based on skin color, if one has a certain type of skin color they are labeled to be “white” or “black”, but how exactly is that determined. Most of the world’s understanding of skin color only relates to those two colors, but how do colors cultivate a person’s background? The answer is that it simply doesn’t. Unfortunately some are not open minded enough to realize this, and should be educated otherwise. THe lack of understanding simply could be by the way one was raised to be, instead of having an open mind to someone’s life, and ethnicity . In the article Nina states, “I have grown up entirely comfortable with my biracial status, and I’m proud to be seen as black even if it’s not how I view myself.” This quote discovers another meaning by her explaining that she will conform for the brief moment of what someone sees her as, when the person should be conforming to what her actual authentic background is.


    Kelly, Nina. “Pinpointing My Identity.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 7 May 2015. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

  20. Alex Souvannavong

    There are many cases very similar to Chimamanda Adichie’s still happening today. Specifically I am referring to the case where people think all blondes are unintelligent or dumb. This single story is bad because you never get to hear about the successful ones, but you only hear about the attractive dumb ones. Blondes haired women are considered more attractive than any other hair color. Since they are so attractive, people believe that all blondes are dumb. Some people think that you can’t be hot and smart at the same time. The public began to use and address this stereotype in the 1950s when Marilyn Monroe was popular. Since then, everybody has been grouping all blondes together and calling them dumb based on a few people. There are many blondes that contradict this stereotype. People such as my writing teacher, Professor Richardson, and my aunt who went to MIT do not apply to this single story. Not all blondes are unintelligent.

    We can’t blame everyone for thinking this way. Some people were taught this as they were growing up and were never told any different. The truth is that this stereotype has no factual evidence of ever being true. People just assume that all blondes all blondes are dumb based on popular culture. All of the people who express this single story are not blonde and do not understand the fact they are the same. Its wrong to judge a person by their looks. You should get to know them better before stating anything. Like that one saying, “ You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Single stories are very hurtful and dangerous to the targeted group. As Chimamanda Adichie said, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

  21. I chose a well known image of a woman and her two young children. She appears to be sitting, wondering about what she is going to do next. I know from a previous art class that the woman was in extreme poverty, sitting on a sidewalk. Most would only see that the woman is struggling with poverty and seems to be a single mother of two. She could be judged in many forms, such as she’s not a good mother, or that she isn’t trying hard enough to help her children. However, all of this may not be the case. There is way more to the woman’s story.
    When one may read between the lines with this photo, one may see that the woman is trying her hardest to take care of her children. The woman may really smart! It is unknown about who the lady really is. Therefore, the assumption that the woman may be too poor to be loving, or too poor to be intelligent, however, this could be very incorrect. When looking at the photo and reading between the lines, I see a woman who cares so much about her little family, and a woman who would give everything she has to support her children. So, as the picture may simply appear to be a very poor woman and her children, others may see that she is a very caring woman.

  22. Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk was about “the danger of a single story”. In most things we read and see they only give you one side of the story. They only portray what they want you to think about the situation. They have a control over how we see things. Our assignment is to pick a story or picture, pick it apart, and reveal the other sides to the story.
    I chose the African commercial showing the kids in Africa dying of starvation, diseases, and other things. I’ve never been to Africa before but I’ve heard a lot of things and it’s more to it than what is showed on the TV commercials. The one side they are portraying, as a whole is that Africa is this poor continent with people dying from multiple different causes, but this is not the case. Yes, there are some countries in Africa that are like this, but not the whole continent. There are places in Africa that are beautiful that I’ve seen through pictures. People take vacations to Africa and do they think about what Africa is portrayed as. Probably not, because they know there is more to Africa then just the kids dying because of no food. I one day will go to Africa because I want to experience what other people only think of Africa as. They want you to feel sorry for the kids and donate money, but really how much money are you spending on this commercial. That money could be used to feed them, get them clean drinking water. Some of the commercials even have famous people on them. Are they getting paid for that? Like that part doesn’t make sense to me.
    Doing this assignment makes you really wonder about what you see and if that’s all the facts. It really gets you to think about things in a whole new perspective. Critically thinking about what parts they left out the story and what came before it or even after. It gives you more insight on the story rather than it being simple. Make it more complex. Digging deeper into the story really makes you wonder and also helps you understand why they did what they did.

  23. We live in a world in which we judge entire cultures based on single stories. That’s one story is just one perspective of the situation. I will share my own experience with single stories. When I was a kid I used to watch several TV shows on Disney channel, American movies, etc. Such movies and shows gave me a perspective thy in America everyone was happiness. Families living in the suburbs, with two vehicles and a pet, big yard and with pool and swings, the parents are together and they usually have two kids. That to me looked like the perfect life. The perspective of high school that is reflected on TV shows is different from reality. The high school often look like universities and not public schools, the high schoolers look like college students as well. Before I moved to America I thought that life was going to be great like in the movies. I was really surprised when I moved here because it was different from what I expected.
    I moved to America in 2010. I was expecting the suburbs, and awesome public schools. I realized that not every family lives in the suburbs and has two vehicles. Most people were poor and not Upper middle class. Happiness was barely a thing, people were just busy with work, and really stressed out with the bills at their home. In movies most characters are white, I didn’t know there was different ethnicities in America. I was very surprised to see Asians, middle easterners, Indians, Latinos, and Blacks. I felt benighted at the time for letting TV get in my head and because I had a fake perspective about America. In movies there’s no social issues such as racism or inequality. After a month or so in America a I realized that there were several social issues. Racism is a big one, people that aren’t white still get discriminated, and looked down at. Racial profiling is also present. This was one of my experiences with single stories. We always need to see more than one side of a story so we can have a different perspective, and perhaps more accurate and close to reality.

  24. As demonstrated in Chimamanda Adichie’s talk about the single story, it is clearly shown that we are all exposed to the single story. Everyone is biased in their own way and usually only looks at one side of a story. Someone’s story is like an iceberg. You only see what is shown above the surface which may not always seem like it, but is a small fraction of who they are. What’s not exposed is what that person has been through and the story behind them.
    I chose a picture of the “perfect family.” In this picture, there is a father, mother, and two kids. One is a boy and one is a girl. This what society for years, has claimed the perfect family to be, the stereotypical white family with two children, a working dad, and stay at home mom. This isn’t always the case though. First, just because there is more than two children, the family is of a different cultural background, and anything that is not claimed as perfect, that doesn’t mean the family is broken. Any family can be happy, which leads to my next point. Second, in the so called “perfect family,” there are issues in there somewhere. In reality, no family is perfect, every family has their issues. I come from a white family with a working father, mother, and two sisters, but we have are issues and hard times, just as the family in the picture. This picture demonstrates a single story by showing bias. Society may say this is the perfect family, but that is not true. There’s no saying they are not a happy family, but they have had to have their issues. So many things could’ve happened and could be happening. The father could be loosing his job, the kids could be struggling in school with numerous long, late nights, or just anything you can think of. This family, like all others also has a story behind them, whether it’s a story with a little bit struggle and some hard times, or one with the feeling of never getting to a brighter day. Despite the details of the story, every family has one, it’s inevitable to not. The members of the family, especially the parents know the story, but most people in relation to the single story look past that. The family in the picture may be happy, but even though society says they are, they are not perfect. Any family of any background will have its struggles, they all have a story that people usually look at from at a biased point of view, and any family can be happy, but not one family is the perfect family.

  25. Continuing off of Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk about “The Danger Of a Single Story.” I wanna talk about how Africa is one of the most single story place. All you hear on TV and on the new about Africa is how deprived they are. When there is much more, you have built up cities all over Africa. When you think of Africa you think just African Americans but there is also many of white people all over. There are many of stereotypes that originate from Africa like how there are all starving and all really poor but that’s not the case. There are a lot of rich cities in Africa i guess it just depends where you are on the continent.
    When I type African Children into google is was a only those poor starving kids they also show. They don’t ever show the other kids from there. So when reading through the lines you have to see what else is there. Not all of Africa is a bad deprived place there are some place that do need help.

  26. Most stories are only look at from one angle. People make assumptions multiple times a day. The things we usually create assumptions about have so much more depth than what is only seen by our eyes. For this blog post I chose what seems to be a poor, blind child from India begging for money, food, etc. An assumption made in this might be that he is alone and poor because he parents didn’t want him due to his blindness. Most kids with disabilities who are born into a poor family are abandoned. The parents cannot offer them help and don’t want the child as a constant reminder as a financial burden. This is only an assumption, though.

    For my film studies class last year, I chose to write my paper on the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”. This movie shows the struggles of a poor indian boy growing up in the slums. He later on becomes a millionaire for winning a game show. Most of the movie taught me plenty of new things. I learned how drugs, sex trafficking, and money is handled in India. I did my research about the movie and India after viewing just to make sure it was factual.. and it was !

    After watching that movie, I learned that many of the beggars in India are disable…but not for the reason we would assume. There are older men in India who purposefully handicap the children and make them beg for money. The older men collect all the money made at the end of the day, by the way. The blind children are made blind by the men because they believe that tourists will feel bad for a disabled child, rather than a healthier one.

    Although this is a more tragic other side to a story, it’s what isn’t being seen or told by many.

  27. After learning about the Ted talk, I wanted to go off of a picture of a group of models. All skinny or built strong, perfect hair and makeup, perfect everything. These models are simply seen as perfect, which can go beyond just their looks. People then assume that all models are perfect in every form. They have to perfect personality, perfect friends and family, perfect houses, clothes, etc. Models are meant to have no flaws. As an outsider looking in, this can be easily believed. However, this is almost never the case. As you read in between the lines, you will realize that everyone has problems. Everyone has flaws. It is highly impossible for a person to be “perfect”. Many photos have been released of models without makeup or photo shop, just as a way to show the “real” them, and to show that they are ideally just like anyone else.

  28. Continuing off of Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted talk about “single stories”, I am going to talk about Houston Texans star Defensive End J.J. Watt. People look at him as the best Defensive player in the NFL. I chose him because of his story how he got to where he is now. He was a star in highschool and attended Central Michigan his freshman year of college. He left because he was not playing enough and enrolled at a community college where he also worked at a Pizza Hut to have extra cash when he would later walk on at the Universtiy of Wisconsin. What is amazing about how Watt got to where he is now is that when he was delivering pizzas one day a young boy opened the door and recognized Watt as the towns former highschool star. Watt noticed that the little boy was upset that he was delivering pizzas and not tearing it up on the football field. It made Watt have more passion in himself for becoming great again in order to become that young boys role model again. Soon enough he had much success at Wisconsin, was drafted and became an NFL star.
    What is amazing about this is how Watt went from delivering pizzas to becoming an NFL star. Many would of thought he was just going to be delivering pizzas his whole life but he managed to put in what it takes to make it into the NFL. He puts others first, he has his own charity called the J.J. Watt foundation, he visits little kids who are sick in the hospital, and he is a true role model for people.

  29. Stories are never told in full. Something is usually left out or forgotten from a story. Things like emotional responses and non-translatable phrases are hard to describe to others without misunderstandings. When Chimamanda Adichie was growing up, she only knew about stories with white people, making her think that the only people that were in written work were white foreign people. She wasn’t yet old enough to realize that there were fictional and non-fictional novels written by native people of her country and written about the native people of her country.
    To build upon Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk, there are people that even when they travel they feel the same amount of gravity in the subject of telling stories or telling the wrong one and misleading someone by accident. A person in Canada doesn’t learn much history in school because not many big historical events happen in Canada due to the fact that the United States protects them. So, therefore, for someone from Canada to talk to someone from Germany, they will have a hard time. In Germany there is, of course, a big history of war and discrimination. These are things that the people of Germany deal with every day. They feel shamed from the history of their country and strive to make it better. But these are ideas that a person from Canada might have trouble conceptualizing. These feelings and emotions carry heavy weight among many nationalities.

  30. In order to know the full truth of a story, the entire story must be told from different points of view. Different points of view allow the reader or listener to look at the story more completely. Chimamanda Adichie said, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” I agree with this quote due to my own personal experiences growing up with siblings. I also agree with this quote because after I read or listen to two sides of a story, the story feels more complete, and I look at situations differently.
    Bianca Jagger wrote a story about her own experience in “Squeeze to the Last Drop.” She spoke about her growing up in Nicaragua, and her family’s experiences with the growth of coffee. She spoke up about the coffee crisis, and how countries are suffering from the drop of coffee prices in other countries. She spoke about how families in countries such as Nicaragua are not being paid enough for the coffee growing. When thinking of her story, I never thought about the other side of coffee. We, as Americans, consume plenty of coffee year after year but whose suffering? I now know that entire truth, which changed my point of view on coffee.
    Only knowing one side of a story can cause one to be unknowingly close-minded. When you’re only thinking about one view, you don’t see the whole picture.

  31. Following Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk, I chose to write about a picture from the article, As Doors Close, Syrian Refugees Despair, written by Sergio Pecanha, Josh Keller and K.K Rebecca Lai. This article contains pictures that show what other people from a country outside of America are experiencing. One specific picture shows mothers from Syria tending their children. One child is crying out, the other has a sullen and depressed look in his face, while another child is being fed from his mother. The hunger is assumed and so is the worry and stress from the parents due to their facial expressions. Although I can make assumptions, never visiting Syria takes away from my knowledge of what actually is going on and how these people really feel. Generally, I do not have enough knowledge to understand the hardships people from their country face. In this picture, they are all sitting on the bare ground, and if I didn’t know any better, I would just think that these people were homeless. They all have a suffering look in their face possibly from malnourishment and not being able to take proper care of their children.
    From Adichie’s TED talk, she spoke about being from another country and details how never experiencing the lifestyle that others face takes a toll on acknowledgement of the struggles, as well as the beauty of that country. Looking at pictures, many assumptions are made when there is no background knowledge about that specific part of the globe. Knowing specifically about Syria, there may be another perception of the people from there. Unfortunately, the only way of knowing about another part of the world is through the news and many stories can be misconceived. The news may be a reliable source, but it can also be a source that just wants to gain attention. Wanting attention from people on outside, the story requires things to be changed and altered in order to grab that attention. This would then take away from what is actually happening in other countries.
    In this picture specifically, people are dressed in heavy clothing and only one child is eating. The assumption that can be made is that they have no food along with having no home. There is always more to a story being told such as the war in Syria, and knowing about that gives a better understanding of why these people are living in such harsh conditions. Knowing the story of these people would help a lot with how their lives and living situations are perceived. I believe that in order to get an actual story or understanding, it should not come from a picture, article, or news-letter. Instead, information should come from experience and first hand interviews with those who live outside of America.

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