Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Global Storytelling and Avoiding the Single Story

The world is a crowded place, awash with stories. Over 6 billion of them.

When we first moved to Mongolia, I was told that many Mongolians feared, and even hated, anyone with black skin. The assumption was that black skinned people were Nigerians and Nigerians were the ones who had taken money because of email scams. A few Mongolian families had fallen prey to this.

Of course, it only takes a moment's thought to recognize that most Nigerians are not email scammers and that most Mongolians are not racists.

There is devastating power when we embrace only one story about people.

Yesterday, the US President told a story about Mexicans. Border-jumpers and animals.

This is a dangerous tale to tell.

Watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Ted Talk (who happens to be Nigerian). Watch it now. It will be the most important thing you watch all day. Maybe all year.

Stories matter. The stories of immigrants matter. As Chimamanda states so beautifully, "the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, it is that they are incomplete."

Stories matter because dignity matters.

Global stories matter because humanity matters. When we begin questioning the humanity of some, we're traveling a dangerous road.

Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.
— Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie