Do you have a single story?

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February 26th, 2022

Today, I’d like to share a concept I learned in my global studies class. We discussed what it means to have a single story. This entails having a viewpoint based on misunderstandings and a lack of facts. We watched Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted Talk in class. She further details the dangers of having a single story based on her own experience. If you want to watch it, I’ll include a link down below.

We frequently have a single story about people. For example, consider immigration in the United States. Unfortunately, most North Americans identify this problem with Mexicans and illegal immigration. This is dangerous because if we continually discuss Mexicans in this manner, we will subconsciously form an connection. This is a way of creating a single story. We only have one point of view, therefore, we lack of facts.

I was thinking about how the news in the United States talks about immigrants, and as an immigrant from Mexico, I know that Mexico is not all about immigration. This may come as a surprise to some, but not all Mexicans want to leave for the United States, and not all of them want to obtain a visa. If you’ve ever been to Mexico, especially in the big cities, you’ll know that the people there live normal lives. We have individuals who enjoy their life, laugh, wear suits to work, and are successful entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, many people in the United States only know a single story about Mexicans, and most of the time, it is not their fault.

For a moment, consider how brave, smart, and persistent immigrants are. Individuals always see immigration as a last resort. Do you believe it would be simple for you to leave your own nation if this were your situation? What about your customs? What about your loved ones? Now, consider the language for a moment. Some of us have been learning a language for years yet can’t have a conversation. I’ve met people who say they’ve been studying Spanish since high school and feel insecure when I tell them they can practice with me, which is OK. But now, imagine an immigrant who goes through this every time they have something to say. Even basic tasks for us, such as going to the grocery store, can be difficult for immigrants, like some of you who are studying overseas but do not speak the language.

Immigrants have to work twice as hard as others to get the same outcomes, and this is not because they are unintelligent; instead, it is because they did not have the same opportunities. However, if we provided them with opportunities and believed in them, we would be surprised.

We all fall into the trap of a single story; I’m no exception. Most of the time, we are not to blame. The way various ethnicities are portrayed on television, such as in movies and news, impacts our way of thinking. The crucial thing is to realize when we have a single story and do something about it. Every day, the world becomes more interconnected, and having an open mind will provide you with a different perspective on the world, making it simpler to communicate with individuals who are different from you.

What do you guys this about this concept? Have you ever experienced something related to this?