Week 1 - “The Danger of a Single Story”

Reading Response

I am certainly holding a strong agreement on how a single story can be harmful to one’s understanding of the society and culture. As Novelist Chimamanda Adichie started with her speech by stating an interesting yet common phenomena, which her understanding towards children’s book characters was formed along an identical narrative that all the characters were “white, blue-eyed, played in the snow, ate apples, talked about the weather and drank ginger beer”. Although I am quite certain that the story itself had no intention to manipulate a child’s mind, yet humans were “impressionable and vulnerable” when being infiltrated with a story in mind that came from the most reliable source, our parents, and we would inclined to believe it and had a fixed perception of what the rest of the world should be.

From her perspective of unintended consequence of the single story, it reminded me of a cultural phenomena that is happening over and over again, which is the America’s obsession with kung-fu, and it is still projecting on screen recently. I personally consider this kind of action is basically telling a “single story”, gradually setting up a fixed perception on Asian representation for the rest of the world. On one hand, it seemingly set a landmark for Asian characters in participating such important roles in Hollywood, yet on the other hand, it just simply reinforced this single narrative towards Asian culture, embedding a deeper stereotype in minds.

But why are people tend to tell a single story?

For one thing I think that humans tend to categorize their encounters, and we inclined to trust first-hand impressions than the experience that might come later. Our minds were the first page of our own narratives towards the world, and we might just simply do not wish to destroy the foundation of our recognitions unless we were eager to change the perceptions we had for a very long time. It probably just easy to remember one thing than so many other information, though the very first thing we remember, is also the choices we initially made, and sometimes we just forget that can also be changed as well.