Disclaimer: This week’s writer’s crush is a Nigerian woman who splits her time between Nigeria and the United States. So she is not an African American writer, but a Nigerian writer. I chose her anyway, even though she doesn’t perfectly fit the “theme” for this month’s #wcw.
Getting to Know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I first came to “know” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie through her TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” which I shared with Senior teachers earlier this school year. In it, she humorously (and seriously) explains why we cannot learn about other cultures from observers and outsiders. In my opinion, TED can be incorporated into the classroom in all kinds of ways. This one works well with an essential question that gets at the root of perspective or point of view, such as “Why should we entertain more than one perspective?” or “Why should we study world literature?” (I know some Senior teachers used/use this TED talk, so just check with comrades before using it class.)
Here it is:
If you want to use TED this Black History Month, but worry about stepping on too many toes using Adichie’s, check out this TED playlist: 10 Great Talks to Celebrate Black History Month, which includes Adichie and 9 others (seriously, there are some great-looking talks included here, including one on bias, injustice, color blindness vs color bravery, etc.).
A Snapshot of Quotations – Brain Food, Writing Prompts, Etc.
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
More Ways to Bring Adichie to the Classroom (before we have her books and excerpts!)
Check out these YouTube search results that feature talks and interviews with Adichie, including one with writer Zadie Smith!
I have Adichie’s Americanah on my nightstand awaiting opening, and I know some teachers are looking to teach her novel, Purple Hibiscus. No matter what, I think she’s an writer worth reading because she offers us another perspective from which to approach the world, the issues in it, and, of course, ourselves.
Even Beyonce thinks she’s rad. Adichie’s voice and words are included on her track, “Flawless”:
We teach girls to shrink themselves
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls
“You can have ambition
But not too much
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man”
Because I am female
I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that
Marriage is the most important
Now marriage can be a source of
Joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings
In the way that boys are
Feminist: the person who believes in the social
Political, and economic equality of the sexes
Check out the LA Time article and then check out “Flawless:” (Listen for Adichie around 1:30)
This could be great paired with Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” or any novel, current event, etc. that deals with gender roles and expectations. (Heck . . couldn’t this even spark a discussion using Canterbury Tales?)