Do you feel like you’ve been limited in the number or range of “stories” you’ve been exposed to? Do you feel that the rest of the world is limited in its “stories” about the United States? Why? What will you do about it?
Because I was homeschooled all the way through high school, some people assume that I’m sheltered. And in some ways, I am. Before I moved to Norman, Oklahoma, I lived in an upper-middle class, primarily white suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. My mom and I called it a box – a box that appeared to encompass a single story, and to project a single story onto the world outside. I’ve always loved stories, whether they took me out of my world through a wardrobe or across the globe. Stories and languages – preferably stories with languages, like Tolkien’s Middle Earth or Ka’iulani and the Annexation of Hawai’i. Even before I watched Chimamanda Ngoyi Adichie’s Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” I had read some of her short stories. I regularly read the news in French before I began to do so in English. It took me longer to realize that it is just as dangerous to create a single story about the people who, in general, write the stories. The apparently homogenous neighborhoods that surrounded me were actually populated by people who had been hurt, who were ill, and who were also unsure if they fit in. Despite the limits of the stories that have been available to me, I have always known that mine was not the only story. I never wanted to live in a world where it was.
Little Boxes, by Graeme Allwright, is a French song that talks about a single story of suburbia in terms of boxes. Ticky-tacky, which the boxes are made of, refers to the material that suburban homes were made of when this song was written. His single story often appears true, but misses the complexity inherent in any group of people.