Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer and public speaker who addresses social issues such as gender, race and social status.

At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria and went to the Unites States to study communications and political science. As a student, she first experienced what was like to be identified by the color of one’s skin or by one’s origins.

Those experiences drove her to learn more about race as an idea, stereotypes, and also feminism. Over the years, she has written several critically acclaimed books like Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun.

However, it wasn’t until her TED Talks went viral that people really knew about Adichie – The Danger of A Single Story is now one of the most-viewed TED Talks of all time, and for a good reason. With incredible wit and eloquence, Chimamanda tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice and how a single story of a person or a country, can lead to critical misunderstanding.

Here are 15 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quotes on shared assumptions and their negative effect.

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-on-asking-questions

If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway.

Show a people as one thing, only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.

I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change.

It is easy to romanticize poverty, to see poor people as inherently lacking agency and will. It is easy to strip them of human dignity, to reduce them to objects of pity.

Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.

The manifestation of racism has changed but the language has not.

There are some things that are so unforgivable that they make other things easily forgivable.

I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.

Culture does not make people. People make culture.

The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.

Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.

First we need to calm down, breathe, and get over ourselves.

Lasting love has to be built on mutual regard and respect. It is about seeing the other person.

Many stories matter. 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.


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