The Power of a Single Story

This quarter I’m taking a Case Management course where I really get to dive deep, and think about what kind of practitioner I want to be. It’s been such a breath of fresh air to reflect on the ways in which my experiences inform how I interact with patients and clients. Last week our class started with a Ted Talk of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about the danger of a single story. In this video she talks about being a young reader in Nigeria, and how it shaped her as an adult writer. Although I had seen this clip before, I realized for the first time that Adichie and I share a common ground—a history of literacy based predominantly on white male writers.

While this is a reality for many brown children, what I love about Adichie, and writers like her, is that she allows the influence of colonial text to ride right alongside a postcolonial framework. It’s clear in the way she writes and speaks that the presence of both is what it is, but she does not confuse her identity it that dynamic. I struggle with that. Re-watching this video brought a question to the forefront: How do you nourish ambition? Especially when racism and sexism are such heavy arrows. When stereotypes speak volumes. I think so much of that question depends on who you ask, and when you ask.

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Photograph by Richard Conley

As for me, to answer that question I had to think about it long and hard. The last two weeks of hiatus from writing blog posts was overall helpful. It did provide space to nurture myself, but it also allowed time to realize how much I compare myself to others. In many ways, I had a single story about myself on repeat. The story of someone whom I thought I should be.  Owning this struggle has changed me.

When I sat down to write this post, I remembered all the things I thought would be “done” by now. A solid post schedule. A list of content ideas. The list goes on. Now that I am finishing up these last few sentences, I really understand what Langston Hughes was asking in his poem Harlem. Like a dream deferred, a story untold does go through a process of dying—though not gone, remains unhealed.

In an honest effort to heal that which has been postponed in me, I’m sharing a Steller story (my first, actually). Here’s to letting things unfold.

In solidarity,

Christian

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