Monday, September 12, 2016


‘The single story creates stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.’ - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In the early 80’s, a single story was told about the Sikhs… that they were violent terrorists deserving to be mowed down. This single story sought to condemn an entire community that has many dimensions of humanism, humour, entrepreneurship and infectious enthusiasm. Today, though that vicious single story of the Sikhs is no longer a part of our consciousness… the actions and attitudes born of it left behind a bloody trail of brutality and killing.

Single stories give rise to stereotypes and prejudices that lead us to opinions ranging from contempt to hatred, from false pride to a negative sense of history, from insensitivity to irrationality. Stories cannot be just painted in black and white. They must reflect the entire assortment of facts, contradictions and possibilities. The hue has to reflect the human diversity in its multiple dimensions and its many stories.

Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, makes the pertinent point that the single, stereotyped story flattens the experience to a singular and dangerously-damaging dimension. She insists that multiple stories matter. And it is multiple stories that can save us from the danger of a single story!

Adichie says in her talk at Ted, ‘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.’ We must escape the vice of the stereotype by exploring multiple stories that widen our perspective.

Escape the single story hype
Break the damn stereotype!

- Pravin K. Sabnis

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