Why I Started This Blog: The Danger of A Single Story

Sunday, September 18, 2011
Shweta Ganesh Kumar shared with me this TED Talk from novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about how "a single story" about another person or country can cause critical misunderstanding, and I felt that the talk really reflected why I started this blog. Please watch it below, if you haven't already:



I sometimes teach creative writing to children and teens and have been very shocked to see that the first impulse of my students - all Filipinos or Chinese Filipinos ages 11-15 - is to write stories featuring characters with blond hair and blue eyes. It seems that, like the seven-year-old Adichie, my students have "a single story" about what literature is and do not think that people like them can exist in literature. (Needless to say, I am now trying to expose my students to more Filipino literature and literature from other Asian countries.)

I blog because our students, nieces and nephews, children, grandchildren, and godchildren NEED AND DESERVE more than "a single story" about Asia and more than "a single story" about each Asian country. And I am really grateful that you are here reading this blog, because that means you reject "the single story" about Asia and "the single story" about each Asian country.

7 comments:

Jenny said...

Thank you Tarie, for sharing this. Chimamanda offered valuable insights which I think also applies to stereotypes that abound in much of the world today. I will remember the danger of the single story always, in my reading and writing. I’m also glad I stumbled on your blog—it reminded me of how much I loved children’s literature (I collected Newberry books in college). Your site will bring me back to that period of my life—you bet I’ll be back reading here. And the focus on Asian literature is a bonus. Again, thank you. : )

Alexander Osias said...

Interesting indeed. It stirs up a lot of issues about Philippine Fiction (writing and publishing).

Tarie said...

I am grateful that there are writers like you, Jenny and Alexander, who are making sure that there is no "single story" about the Philippines. But now we need even more writers!

Uma Krishnaswami said...

I love this talk! I have it embedded in my blog, Writing With a Broken Tusk, because I was referring so many people to it.
http://umakrishnaswami.blogspot.com/
It also led me to Adichie's books, which are terrific. I highly recommend Purple Hibiscus, which could easily be a YA-adult crossover title. And I know for sure that I began writing in part because all I was seeing in the US was the single poverty-oppression-tragedy story of the Indian subcontinent.

Tarie said...

Uma, that's precisely why we love you so much. Because of writers like you, readers get to hear/read more than "a single story" from India! =D

dementedchris said...

'No possibilities of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals.'

This really struck me. We DO need more than a single story. We need to encourage everyone to look beyond that single story. I love that my niece (who is growing up in the US) is reading Filipino books and I hope that will expand to books from other cultures as well.

Tarie said...

Chris, love that quote!

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