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robertogreco : chimamandaadichie   13

Christina Torres on Twitter: "writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it. "well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..." no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perp
"writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it.

"well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..."

no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perpetuates idea that ONLY white dudes write great stuff.

honestly I bless @ChimamandaReal's name nearly every day for this TED talk so I can just link to it tbh https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

really I'm just reading myself in this piece

... and not really writing because I'm on here instead lol
Still, over the past year, I've really sat with that question: how much am I actually dismantling systemic oppression in my work if I'm still teaching within the confines of its language?

yup I'm putting together a chart folks. Send me arguments you've heard in favor of the canon and your rebuttal! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CaQ7OhhZlY1V_0xfoDxtzk0QtOjzuW8TKgttoGNfxH0/edit?usp=sharing

also: anyone interested in this, please know that #disrupttexts has been doing this work and got me on this train so mad props to them

https://twitter.com/DulceFlecha/status/1116459497768275969
ever since seeing Julia Alvarez and Elizabeth Acevedo I've been thinking about how kids of color are conditioned to write for white audiences, too. who do we teach young writers to prioritize.

and its perpetuated over and over, through canon, through college admissions, through the whiteness of the profession. I keep meaning to write about it.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458774405971968
For me, one of the deepest issues is that folks defend it using the words "tradition" and "shared knowledge" ignoring the fact that it centers only SOME traditions and SOME shared knowledge.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116460583350669318
I cannot state this enough because a "shared cultural heritage" dominated by one culture at the exclusion of so many others is damaging and not a heritage I will choose to claim as my own. "Educational malpractice"...

https://twitter.com/triciaebarvia/status/1116638447484190720
Yup. And reminds me of what I think @Ready4rigor wrote (paraphrasing) about how all teaching is culturally responsive—it’s just a question of whose culture we’re responsive to. 🤔 #DisruptTexts

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458934582304768
So, we need to all circle around whiteness and protect it by making sure kids learn MOSTLY about it for the sake of tradition? Nah, fam...

https://twitter.com/UmmJuwayriyah1/status/1116516073673842688
Definitely, nah! As an indigenous American Muslim author, I see it happening on this side of the pond, too! Asian and/or Middle Eastern and mostly male narratives are amplified for inclusion in the canon. While Black/Brown American Muslim narratives sit outside the door.

https://twitter.com/MelAlterSmith/status/1116461945731858437
Hard to believe there are still teachers out there who have “canon defender” in their bio. Actually, it’s not hard to believe at all... sigh. 😩

#DisruptTexts #THEBOOKCHAT & #TeachLivingPoets are growing- I hope we can help to make some serious change in complicating the canon

https://twitter.com/javramgoldsc/status/1116809046437183489
Covered Octavia Butler in class this yr (tbf I'm in Uni), but I think the hopepunk canon will be a major catalyst

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116091237281533954
I’m a white woman, and even I felt like my tastes were mostly ignored in HS, except when we read something like Pride and Prejudice (optional because we can’t make the boys read about women!).

https://twitter.com/biblio_phile/status/1116092299669229568
right?!?! honestly it was a few white women I was battling this out with. I wanted to be like-- if you were given books ONLY by men, you would have been ticked. Why is that okay when it comes to race/sexuality/class/other non-canon perspectives!??!?!

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116093753641644033
It makes me wonder how much the canon-lovers read. If they had experienced more variety, some classics by other types of people, some modern books, some great graphic novels, maybe they’d be more open to teaching more variety.

https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/1116603199605989378
"History is written by the victors"~Churchill
Yes! Great stuff was written & said by victors:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created.." (only ~200 years before MLK was murdered)
"Liberty and Justice for.." [embedded: https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/904754635222663169 ]
"Land of the.." etc.
thecanon  canon  christinatorres  2019  inclusion  inclusivity  tradition  chimamandaadichie  juliaalvarez  elizabethacevedo  admissions  colleges  education  inequality  universities  culture  heritage  exclusion  gender  race  racism  sexism  octaviabutler  hopepunk  sexuality  class  diversity  classics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie addressed the class of 2015 at Wellesley’s 137th Commencement Exercises
[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcehZ3CjedU ]

"It’s really just to say that this, your graduation, is a good time to buy some lipsticks—if makeup is your sort of thing—because a good shade of lipstick can always put you in a slightly better mood on dark days.

It’s not about my discovering gender injustice because of course I had discovered years before then. From childhood. From watching the world.

I already knew that the world does not extend to women the many small courtesies that it extends to men.

I also knew that victimhood is not a virtue. That being discriminated against does not make you somehow morally better.

And I knew that men were not inherently bad or evil. They were merely privileged. And I knew that privilege blinds because it is the nature of privilege to blind.

I knew from this personal experience, from the class privilege I had of growing up in an educated family, that it sometimes blinded me, that I was not always as alert to the nuances of people who were different from me.

And you, because you now have your beautiful Wellesley degree, have become privileged, no matter what your background. That degree, and the experience of being here, is a privilege. Don’t let it blind you too often. Sometimes you will need to push it aside in order to see clearly."



"I always liked this story, and admired what I thought of as my mother’s fiercely feminist choice. I once told the story to a friend, a card carrying feminist, and I expected her to say bravo to my mother, but she was troubled by it.

"Why would your mother want to be called a chairman, as though she needed the MAN part to validate her?" my friend asked.

In some ways, I saw my friend’s point.

Because if there were a Standard Handbook published annually by the Secret Society of Certified Feminists, then that handbook would certainly say that a woman should not be called, nor want to be called, a CHAIRMAN.

But gender is always about context and circumstance.

If there is a lesson in this anecdote, apart from just telling you a story about my mother to make her happy that I spoke about her at Wellesley, then it is this: Your standardized ideologies will not always fit your life. Because life is messy."



"We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort. And you are privileged that, because of your education here, you have already been given many of the tools that you will need to try. Always just try. Because you never know.

And so as you graduate, as you deal with your excitement and your doubts today, I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in.

Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way.

Wellesley will open doors for you. Walk through those doors and make your strides long and firm and sure.

Write television shows in which female strength is not depicted as remarkable but merely normal.

Teach your students to see that vulnerability is a HUMAN rather than a FEMALE trait.

Commission magazine articles that teach men HOW TO KEEP A WOMAN HAPPY. Because there are already too many articles that tell women how to keep a man happy. And in media interviews make sure fathers are asked how they balance family and work. In this age of ‘parenting as guilt,’ please spread the guilt equally. Make fathers feel as bad as mothers. Make fathers share in the glory of guilt.

Campaign and agitate for paid paternity leave everywhere in America.

Hire more women where there are few. But remember that a woman you hire doesn’t have to be exceptionally good. Like a majority of the men who get hired, she just needs to be good enough.

*

Recently a feminist organization kindly nominated me for an important prize in a country that will remain unnamed. I was very pleased. I’ve been fortunate to have received a few prizes so far and I quite like them especially when they come with shiny presents. To get this prize, I was required to talk about how important a particular European feminist woman writer had been to me. Now the truth was that I had never managed to finish this feminist writer’s book. It did not speak to me. It would have been a lie to claim that she had any major influence on my thinking. The truth is that I learned so much more about feminism from watching the women traders in the market in Nsukka where I grew up, than from reading any seminal feminist text. I could have said that this woman was important to me, and I could have talked the talk, and I could have been given the prize and a shiny present.

But I didn’t.

Because I had begun to ask myself what it really means to wear this FEMINIST label so publicly.

Just as I asked myself after excerpts of my feminism speech were used in a song by a talented musician whom I think some of you might know. I thought it was a very good thing that the word ‘feminist’ would be introduced to a new generation.

But I was startled by how many people, many of whom were academics, saw something troubling, even menacing, in this.

It was as though feminism was supposed to be an elite little cult, with esoteric rites of membership.

But it shouldn’t. Feminism should be an inclusive party. Feminism should be a party full of different feminisms.

And so, class of 2015, please go out there and make Feminism a big raucous inclusive party. "



"And as you graduate today, I urge you to think about that a little more. Think about what really matters to you. Think about what you WANT to really matter to you.

I read about your rather lovely tradition of referring to older students as “big sisters” and younger ones as “little sisters.” And I read about the rather strange thing about being thrown into the pond—and I didn’t really get that—but I would very much like to be your honorary big sister today.

Which means that I would like to give you bits of advice as your big sister:

All over the world, girls are raised to be make themselves likeable, to twist themselves into shapes that suit other people.

Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are.

I am lucky that my writing has given me a platform that I choose to use to talk about things that I care about, and
I have said a few things that have not been so popular with a number of people. I have been told to shut up about certain things – such as my position on the equal rights of gay people on the continent of Africa, such as my deeply held belief that men and women are completely equal. I don’t speak to provoke. I speak because I think our time on earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest selves, each moment we pretend to be what we are not, each moment we say what we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say, then we are wasting our time on earth.

I don’t mean to sound precious but please don’t waste your time on earth, but there is one exception. The only acceptable way of wasting your time on earth is online shopping.

Okay, one last thing about my mother. My mother and I do not agree on many things regarding gender. There are certain things my mother believes a person should do, for the simple reason that said person ‘is a woman.’ Such as nod occasionally and smile even when smiling is the last thing one wants to do. Such as strategically give in to certain arguments, especially when arguing with a non-female. Such as get married and have children. I can think of fairly good reasons for doing any of these. But ‘because you are a woman’ is not one of them. And so, Class of 2015, never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing or not doing anything.

And, finally I would like to end with a final note on the most important thing in the world: love.

Now girls are often raised to see love only as giving. Women are praised for their love when that love is an act of giving. But to love is to give AND to take.

Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given. If you are only giving and not taking, you'll know. You'll know from that small and true voice inside you that we females are so often socialized to silence.

Don’t silence that voice. Dare to take."
chimamandangoziadichie  chimamandaadichie  2015  commencementspeeches  gender  feminism  wellesley  love  likeability  ideology  messiness  life  living  inclusiveness  inclusivity  inclusion  commencementaddresses 
june 2015 by robertogreco
FreeManLooking (with tweets) · safferz · Storify
[Previously: “I am a homosexual, mum”
http://africasacountry.com/i-am-a-homosexual-mum/ ]

[…]

“"I am in your hands" a text I sent when defeated by my defenses. Because I loved him. Loved him. Releasing 2 love is very very hard.

It took doctors to tell me I was near death to let myself text him and say I love you, and i release myself to you. Gay love! God?!

How do you love when the ground shifts over your feet every minute?

How do you love when you can't hold hands in a hospital room?

how do you love with your parents, cousins friends, unable to digest?

How do you love as a gay man except by defiance always? defiance or self destruction?

Africans important 2 discuss these things, human people really are all first just about loving before food, human rights, procreation.

people think sexuality is about having sex. So, then why don't you all give up sexual love,a and passion?

so much of our world here is about quick borrowed intimacy..sharing a bed with a man and being free when when u do not fuck.

people call u in tears and leave wives to come to you not for sex but because who else will understand? and u hold them all night.

When Ruto opens his mouth or of of those fucking hate bishops, gays change routes coming home on public transportation.

gays try hard to not show themselves, but all of them live in fear always, u relax for a few months and some shit happens in the news...

when Ruto speaks and theca church people in the news, gays get evicted from apartments, get threatening text messages. EVERy time.

We find ourselves always protecting our straight people, loving them coz they r weak and brittle often. We can't shut off love, u see.

baldwin, was also just yet another black gay first born man saving his family first, putting his life 4 black people first, love: last.

So in the morning after he has cried and cried, you make coffee for him and give him support to put his straight face on and face Africa.

many gay African couples in the europe adopt and have children who r straight, & loved and still hide their families from people back home.

u hear stories how in primary school your own brother walked away in shame when you were beaten for being girly and u were five years old.

and that evening, ashamed and unable, you cracked jokes to make your brother feel okay, because u ra ashamed u shamed him.

Kenyan church can never invite Bishop Tutu 2 speak. He loves gays, straights, revolutionaries, feminists.

Why can't our churches march with women against violence in #idressasIwant - u can disagree and still show public support 4 women.

kenyan church r terrified of love and change and truth. They are there to police you to expect little, and pretend to expect much.

I have an essay to write about 3 homosexual men I helped humiliate in high school, I am deeply ashamed. Always.

Kenya will break! Break apart! If we open our hearts to being ourselves and to accepting that there is what we do not know.

Bishop Tutu the same product of the same Colonial missions. He just liberated himself t b 4 Africa, not to be a colonial sin collector.

Give credit 2 the man Tutu who can walk into the most dangerous township and preach love and tell them they have to love gay people 2.

When I went to SA, Tutu was a revelation. Just love love and freedom. I did not imagine such a thing could exist.

Enough!



me: fucking ego man V competitive, and I have had over the years had 2 fight myself 2 accommodate the Chimamanda jaggernaught.

Now. It is okay to have that fight inside you over that woman who is seemingly ruling the world. And u wanted 2 2.

Chimamanda and I agree on exactly nothing from the first day. And then she was like, then, this young young woman.

In our own relationship as writers, what has come to matter is..Chimamanda and I

Is that Chimamanda will have the confidence, each time, 2 go further than I will, for me, to ask me to take myself further.

In truth: I am theonw who is noisy conservative scared 2 try, and Chimamanda is the one writer who asks me to take my project further.

cozy work seems so experimental, people don't understand this thing. Real relevant honesty defines our friendship and working relationship.

Chimamands is the first human person who looked me in the eye and asked me, are you gay? That is what love looks like. Now I go to sleep.

when somebody does that 2 u, u have to step up and b the same kinda honest always with them and 4 them. That is a New Africa #chimamanda.

don't u feel that, that people see u, and choose not to see u?

So, Chimamanda is my big sister, & I am cool. and I am like older and got 2 Caine Prize before. Could give not a shit. Was neva like that.

people look around you, around you, and so few people get friend u look At u. Too painful and vulnerable

be true. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dlrXCYrNYI "

[continues]
binyavangawainaina  2015  africa  kenya  homeosexuality  defiance  resistance  love  southafrica  ninasimone  jamesbaldwin  sexuality  desmondtutu  identity  chimamandaadichie  chimamandangoziadichie  freedom  courage  bravery  acceptance  religion  christianity 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The Sound of TED: A Case for Distaste | The American Reader
"There seems to be an important lesson for educators in Mitra’s experiment. It stirs real emotions in people. Like a lot of what makes it onto the TED stage, it seems to inspire something in the viewer. Mitra’s talk is played and replayed in education courses across the world as an inspiration for… well, it’s not clear for exactly what. Mitra implies that the time for traditional education is over (something that was declared by many people as early as a hundred-and-fifty years ago, when the first “traditional” public school systems were being set up) and that technology can now allow for different, more autonomous and distributed structures of learning. Nevermind that his experiment was conducted in slums where children had no cellphones, no movies, no parties, no alcohol, no swim-lessons in the afternoon, no books, barely a real school, and, yes, no computers; we are to assume that the results there somehow have something to do with European or American public schools as well. Mitra ends the talk with a shameless plug for his project of putting a computer before every child. The lesson of his experiment, the role of play and autonomy in effective education, is in one stroke turned into icing for a project that has very little to do with what got his audience excited about the first few minutes of his talk.

This is obfuscation. A nice little experiment is used to give the impression that a large, systemic problem like schooling can be solved easily. That, however, cannot be the real issue with TED—because what I have just described applies to most of what is funded and performed as social research across the world. It is positivist thought with a twist of sleek camera-work. The debate over what this type of thinking means for practice and research stretches back into the 19th century. Whatever TED’s critics have suggested, there is nothing that TED does to ideas or science that has not been done before. The particular problem with TED is elsewhere."



"I will be crass: the most interesting thing about Bratton’s talk is that in the early minutes of the lecture, just as he has delivered his main thesis, he suddenly forgets what he is supposed to say. There is a pause. It would be perfectly natural in another format to wait and gather one’s thoughts, but the pause is strangely disturbing in this context. He loses his place, then his nerve, and for the rest of the talk he struggles under an invisible weight. He has to heave a breath into each sentence, trying to propel himself into a rhythm that he doesn’t regain until the very end. What he is struggling under is the pressure of the TED style."



"But even Adichie’s presentation caters to the format by not acknowledging the shameful absurdity of the situation. The only exception is Sarah Silverman’s talk—which TED refuses to publish on its website. In the unofficial video that somehow made it to YouTube, Silverman is called on to deliver a comedy routine. She is a practiced stand-up and knows her craft—but here she abandons it completely. She pauses inordinately. She drags out her jokes until they are excruciating, then repeats them for good measure. She points her clicker, needlessly and awkwardly, toward the PowerPoint screen behind her which displays nothing but single-sentence TEDisms: ‘Communication is important’ (she talks about discussing a hand-shaped bruise on her ass with her mother); ‘What the world needs now’ (“I am 39 years old,” she says “and I still wake up every morning so thankful that I don’t have to go to school,”); and ‘TED is fancy’ (she discusses how the number 3000 can be seen as a pair of breasts defecating). Finally she picks up her guitar and informs the audience that her next song is dedicated to the porn-stars in the audience, “and you are all stars” she informs them. The moment her song—about how all the cocks in the universe cannot fill the hole in the aforementioned star’s heart—comes to an end, she bails, taking the microphone with her and depriving the audience of the chance to applaud her. On walks one of the largest shit-eating grins in the history of recorded entertainment—a presenter— who repeatedly begs Silverman to come back, until Silverman, who unlike the others in the room does have a sense of shame, obliges. The audience now push to their feet for a standing ovation that is nothing but an attempt to deny their own humiliation. “This can’t be right,” mutters Silverman, bewildered.

For various reasons, I find myself forced to sit through a TED-talk now and then. I squirm in my seat—feeling humiliated for myself and the speaker. This is a distinctly un-adult feeling. Adults have lost their capacity for disgust—which is partly why Silverman often jokes about her own unending adolescence. Unwavering critical open-mindedness has, for a very long time, become the correct intellectual posture, and it’s never clear if at any point one can allow oneself to have a visceral reaction against a genre, an industry, or a situation without feeling either childish or curmudgeonly. Teenagers are half-better than adults in this respect: in high doses, tackiness puts them off. They collectively begin to step back from a thing, and they are generally aware that what’s bothering them is not content, but style. So they turn away from Facebook in droves, without having read a single line of cultural criticism on social media. They look back at their own participation in whatever style they dropped with mild horror. That they are then lured in by the next shiny thing is a different story. The point is that the average adult avoids the horror of disgust, which means consciously sticking to what’s most bland and middle-of-the-road: HBO, pants, college, Obama, and, for a few years now, TED.

A decent strategy with TED might be to reclaim our teenage capacities and treat these videos as hopelessly passé—ignore them to death. Critiquing them, even as I have done, will do what criticism has done for television: creating an added enjoyment as you go on consuming the crap you despise. I know what I am watching is disgraceful, but aren’t I great at seeing why it’s disgraceful? I only watch it to keep up-to-date with the unwashed masses."
ted  houmanharouni  2014  tedtalks  benjaminbratton  nathanheller  sugatamitra  sarahsilverman  holeinthewall  chimamandaadichie  presentations 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: 'Don't we all write about love? When men do it, it's a political comment. When women do it, it's just a love story' | Books | The Guardian
"Compared to the strict educational environment in which Adichie grew up, the US education system seemed extremely slack. In Americanah, Ifemelu marvels at how students open their mouths without having anything much to say; how everyone gets an "A" and can take tests more than once. How they are "all flush with knowledge, not of the subject of the classes, but of how to be in the classes".

By comparison, Adichie says, she felt she had no appropriate schtick. "I remember my first year in undergrad I was sitting in class and just looking around, utterly confused. I thought, what are they saying? It was kind of a performance. And I felt so inadequate because I didn't know how. And I think at some point I learned to play the game, but it's just not me. It's very hard for me to bullshit.""



"There were two people above all others who she wanted to read it: her father and Chinua Achebe. Her agent sent it to the latter without telling her, and then called her one day and told her to sit down, she had good news. Then she read Adichie his comment – "We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers" – at which she burst into tears.

As for her father; she left the novel with him the day before she left Nigeria, so she wasn't in the house when he read it. A few days later, he sent her a text: "Call me, I've finished." Terrified, Adichie made the call.

"And then he said to me, 'I knew the novel would be good; I didn't know it would be this good.' And then he said thank you, 'Our story has been recorded.' I remember thinking, OK, it's over. I don't care what anybody else thinks. My father was central and he was so generous; I had used so many of his stories. It's still very painful for him. And then writing it in a novel where people also have sex and scandalous things happen." She laughs. "I was like, oh my God, I don't know what daddy's going to think!""



"There is nothing like emigrating to encourage a sense of condescension towards the motherland, and absence, she says, has made her both love and criticise Nigeria more. "If I hadn't left home I wouldn't have come to see what is possible. If you're enmeshed in mediocrity, you just don't know how mediocre it all is. And because I know the potential in Nigeria, whenever I go back I think we could do better. Because I've seen how it's not that hard."

Since leaving, she has began to see what she calls the Nigerian swagger – the attitude that causes resentment in other African countries. "We're not popular in any part of Africa. And we're rather proud of it. If I wasn't Nigerian, I think I would understand why. There's a kind of Nigerian aggressiveness … 'Why shouldn't we?' We'll do it very loudly and without much finesse, but hey. Inside Nigeria there are different cultures, but this is Nigerianness – it cuts across ethnic groups. I don't know if it's from our large size, I don't know if it's because we never had white people settle and stay. So Nigerians go to Kenya and Tanzania and we think, why are you so apologetic?"

Adichie is quite up for a fight if one comes along. A moderator on a panel recently infelicitously called Americanah "a Nigerian Gone With the Wind", and she just about managed not to fly out of her seat, but said coldly: "I hope it's better than that." The love-story element is something she feels is often undervalued.

"Don't we all in the end write about love? All literature is about love. When men do it, it's a political comment on human relations. When women do it, it's just a love story. So, although I wanted to do much more than a love story, a part of me wants to push back against the idea that love stories are not important. I wanted to use a love story to talk about other things. But really in the end, it's just a love story.""
chimamandaadichie  chimamandangoziadichie  sexism  gender  love  2014  feminism  stereotypes  hairstyles  hair  education  nigeria  writing  wisdom  canon 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Watch Zadie Smith and Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie Talk Postcolonial Lit - COLORLINES
"It’s hard to find two writers who are more important than Zadie Smith and Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. Both women have written wonderfully well-recieved novels that often touch on race. On Wednesday, March 19 at 6:30pm EST they’ll be in conversation at the Schomberg Center and the discussion will be broadcast live.

What is especially is interesting is how Adichie’s most recent novel, “Americanah,” has opened up dialogue between American-born black women and black women born in Caribbean and African countries. Will they discuss that? We’ll see."
zadiesmith  chimamandangoziadichie  chimamandaadichie  literature  race  postcolonial  2014  class  writing  love  empathy  nigeria  us  uk  reality  perspective  africa  africans  africanamericans  immigrants  migrants  immigration  identity  youth  life  living 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Teju Cole's Every Day is for the Thief and the Novel of Ideas | New Republic
"Though Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah was released this past spring to general acclaim, certain critics seemed to object to the blurring between novelist and protagonist. Such objections would be meaningless (aren’t all protagonists at least part author?) were it not for the structure of the novel, which mixed “blog posts” from the protagonist with the more traditional, realist narrative. The protagonist, a Nigerian-born immigrant—like Adichie—rises to academic renown and general fame on the merits of these blog posts, which riff on various aspects of contemporary race relations. Was the character just a mouthpiece for the author’s sociological observations? And if so, was the story just a way to illustrate Adichie’s ideas, less a painting than a presentation?"



"In another scene, he recognizes a cousin he’d never met. “She was born after I left home,” he writes, “and, until this moment, we have only been rumors to each other. But so quickly do we get to know each other that, soon, I cannot even remember a time when I did not know her. She moves so easily all I think of is sunlight.” At less than a page, it’s the loveliest scene in the book. It’s also its emotional center. “Every good thing I secretly wish for this country,” he writes, “I secretly wish on her behalf.” The experience of seeing his cousin turns into a reflection on hidden strength: “The completeness of a child is the most fragile and most powerful thing in the world.”1  This sentence is hard to quote without a sense of banality or sentimental pap, but Cole avoids it by letting the reader feel his ideas as they develop. His cousin is hope for the future, as another child, the titular thief, is the desperate present."



"We’re left with the inevitability of the system, as Cole moves seamlessly from scene-setting to an explanation of the forces it encapsulates. “And what if he was only eleven? A thief is a thief; his master will find another boy, another one without a name. The market has seen everything. It must eat.”"
tejucole  2014  literature  books  writing  chimamandangoziadichie  chimamandaadichie  blogs  blogging  systems  inevitability  everydayisforthethief 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Students Don't Need to Be Saved | A City Education on GOOD
"When you mention the South Bronx being one of the poorest congressional districts, it's easy to only associate the South Bronx with that fact. The result is that it minimizes all the great things in the community, and instead it gives it a single story: poverty. 

When I started my service year, I was exposed to a school system and circumstances largely different than the one I grew up in. Unknowingly, I gave the students a single story by associating them with terms like "underprivileged," and "inner-city kids." Looking back, I think it initially inhibited building relationships with some of my students because I was focused on "changing" them. I was unable to separate their actions from who they were. The student acting out in class wasn't just some "bad" kid. In reality, he was a kid with just as many hopes and dreams as any other student. Just because a student was acting out that didn't mean he had an unstable home life, uncaring parents, or other assumptions we make of the communities we serve. I was working with individuals who aspired to be athletes, pediatricians, and performers. The moment I realized that was the moment I actually broke through with some of them.

One of my students, "Alex," had grades that would make you think he was inattentive and no one to help him with his homework. Actually, he had a supportive dad and a little brother who looked up to him, he had a love of football, and, when he was focused, he had an ability to synthesize concepts in English class. Another student, "Jasmine," was often easily frustrated and distracted in class. It was easy to assume that was merely a sulky day-dreamer. She was actually a responsible big sister, had aspirations about singing like Mariah Carey (she often did so in class), had curls as quirky as her personality, and greeted me with a bright smile every day. She just needed someone to talk to and boost her self-esteem.

My students were more than their grades, their zip codes or their economic backgrounds. As the quote credited to an Aboriginal woman in Australia says, "If you have come here to save me, you can go home now. But if you see my struggle as part of your own survival, maybe, maybe, we can work together." This is a lesson I try to carry with me and remember before I make an assumption about the people I work with, or the thousands of people with different stories that I pass on the subway every day."
teaching  poverty  2014  susanvarghese  cityyear  chimamandaadichie  chimamandangoziadichie  generalizations  tohellwithgoodintentions  saviorcomplex 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Discussing A Search Past Silence with David Kirkland - YouTube
[Transcription of the first 11:18]

"A lot of times we frame conversations around English and English teaching, English education that too often ignore and neglect the lives of the young people that we work with. Increasingly, those young people will look different than the norm. In fact, normal, in our world, probably looks more varied than homogeneous. I think we have to begin thinking about that. The extent to which we can teach English well will depend on how well we know our young people. The extent to which we can begin to ensure equal education for everyone will depend on how well we know students. And I think, unfortunately, when we look at education statistics, young black men too often find themselves on the other side of achievement. To often when we look at social statistics, young black men almost always seem to be overrepresented in places that we don't want them… death, joblessness, I can go on.

And so, the book was written in part to humanize, if you will, conversations about young black men. So, in this sense, it is to provide a humanizing narrative of young black men that illustrates the sensitivities and intimacies that shapes his ways with words. Another goal for the book, for teachers, is to raise awareness of the conditions of the young students in our class, in this sense of contemporary African-American males. And a third objective is to provide suggestions for effectively engaging young black mane in a transformative project of education on his terms for social healing and for social justice. Now what do I mean by that? I think I mean that we can't teach well (quality) without equality and we can't teach well without knowing the students who enter our classrooms. And certainly we can't teach well if the only perspective that we have on those students is a deficit perspective, that our students lack.

And so I've argued in the book and I want to reiterate this point today that the study of literacy is incomplete until it folds together the doing and the being, the struggle and the sacrifice, and thus the story of literacy becomes the story of all of us. That's not what we see in schools. The story of English literacy in classrooms across the country is the stories of some of us. We only read books by certain genders that reflect the experiences of the elite. The questions are: How do we understand our students and their place within our consciousness, our pedagogical consciousnesses. And how do they come to be whoever they are? And what stories are invented in the life of their being that finds its way through the pen and through the creases of words practiced and ultimately into our classrooms? So, hopefully by sharing snippets of Shawn and Derrick and José and Sheldon [not sure about the spelling of each of those names] and the others, I've given you an experience with black men that many of us would never have.

And from that experience, the hope is that we can begin to build durable pedagogies about their literacies. We could also look at them not from a deficit perspective, but from what I call a profit perspective. Because here everyone is literate. Everyone is actively constructing with words or with other types of tools the world that we live in. In this sense, we're doing what Paulo Freire calls not just reading the work, but also the world. We're not just writing with words, we're also writing the worlds that we exist in. And for me, moving from the deficit perspective, seeing young black males in this sense are constructing that universe, the words, the ways that they are writing is so important for reimagining classrooms and for reimagining the space that we exist in."

[…]

"Shelly's question is How can a nigga like me write research like poetry? I'm going to share it with you. So, check this out. I spent three years initially with six young men and I'm going to go back into the back story. And I spent a lot of time with these cats and then I had an opportunity, I got a grant to spend more time with them. So the studies have all been over the process of about eight years, close to a decade. … Doing the research was one thing. As a researcher, I was a critical ethnographer. Not only did I ask questions and have interviews with the young people and allow them to really talk to me and explain to me things about their lives, following the rich anthropological, ethnographic method. I was part of their life for years. I was the seventh member of the group, if you will. I was at homes and at kitchen tables and at restaurants. I travelled their trails. I interviewed people who were in their lives, grandmothers and aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers where they were available, friends, employers, girlfriends, whoever I could. I was another member. I collected artifacts — napkins with scribbles of rap on them (lines of rap), notebooks, videogame magazines, all types of literacy artifacts came to me. The question then was How do I put this together in a way that best represents them?

And so to get at Shelly's question, how did A Search Past Silence emerge? Well, the first book that I wrote — and I write about this in the book — the young men didn't like. So I did my member checks and I wrote this scientific book that was in rich academic jargon. I used all the -t-i-o-ns and -i-z-es that academics use. I cited Bakhtin and Foucault and all the people that you're supposed to cite if you're an academic de certo. I thought it was cool. And then I gave the book to the young men and they didn't understand shit that I was talking about. So I did work with these young men and they couldn't read the book that I had written about them and it felt exploitative and it felt nasty and it felt like the type of work that I didn't want to do.

And so I wrote another book using that same data, attempting to get it better. The next book I wrote, I presented to them, it felt like a rich ethnographic narrative, but it still was overly scientific, the theories were somewhat academic, and they didn't get that book either. And they said — sometimes they called me Doc because I'm Dr. Kirkland, other times they called me Kirk, other times they called me sir — they're like "Sir, we don't understand what you're talking about here. I don't know who this cat is. I don't know who he is. He's not important to us." And then I finally got it, that to tell their story I needed to tell another type of story. They had to be my audience. Because if teachers and educators and intellectuals were going to get them, they needed to hear from them. They needed to hear their voice.

And so I decided to write a book in their voice. So if you look at chapters one through sixteen, I don't use the personal pronoun I. Not in reference to me. Instead I try to privilege their voices and the telling of their stories. And I draw from what Chimamanda Adichie calls the varied or multiple narrative, the multiple story, to get away from the danger of the single story. And within these many stories, within the creases of many narratives, I believe we accomplish something. And the thing that I believe that we accomplish was a textured narrative of them that was written in their voice, that gives privilege to their voice in their story. And for me that was important. So the move that I made from researcher collecting a bunch of data, making sense of that data in order to understand some theory of black male literacy is a lot different than who I write about. I had to become a writer and less of a researcher in writing the book, but the book does represent real research. It may read like fiction, but it's not."

[Related: http://www.theamericancrawl.com/?p=1181 ]
[Book link: http://www.amazon.com/Search-Past-Silence-Literacy-Language/dp/0807754072 ]
davidkirkland  anterogarcia  literacy  education  teaching  writing  reading  research  2014  literacies  multiliteracies  youth  teachingenglish  diversity  normal  ethnography  narrative  anthropology  voice  chimamandaadichie  multiplenarrative  multiplestory  chimamandangoziadichie 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Toyin Odutola Studio Blog: We teach females that in relationships, compromise...
"We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what women do. We raise girls to see 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. If we have sons, we don’t mind knowing about our sons’ girlfriends, but our daughters boyfriends? ‘God forbid!’ But of course when the time is right, we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husband. We police girls, we praise girls for virginity, but we don’t praise boys for virginity. And it’s always made me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out because [laughs] the loss of virginity is usually a process that involves [laughs]….

We teach girls shame. ‘Close your legs!’ ‘Cover yourself!’ We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up—and this is the worst thing we do to girls—they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form."

—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

[Direct link to talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc ]

"We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity becomes this hard small cage. And we put boys inside the cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear. We teach boys to be afraid of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves. Because they have to be “hard men”."

[Quoted here: http://notgames.tumblr.com/post/77778358006/johnyzuper-we-do-a-great-disservice-to-boys-in ]
chimamandangoziadichie  chimamandaadichie  2013  girls  society  relationships  parenting  virginity  gender  sex  pretense  boys  masculinity  fear  vulnerability  weakness  manhood 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The American Crawl : “Chinese Communist bliss,” Alienating 11th grade Urban Youth, and the Danger of a Single Story Revisited
"I’m intrigued & troubled by the prevalence of stories like this one…fascinated by the voyeuristic look into the rigorous lives of “the other” while also concerned about what the prevalence of these narratives say in maintaining the competitiveness from a capitalistic perspective in the US…

I also think there is a danger in presenting this article in a way that ends up feeling like it’s a universal proclamation of the lived experience of an entire nation – not just a handful of individuals…

When we peak into the lives of the hardworking student, the secret sect of an alternative music scene, or even the inner-workings of gold farming, there is a danger in making broad generalizations and reporting them. While I don’t doubt the factual accuracy of the articles described here, I’m concerned by the way these articles function to further dominant, hegemonic narratives that inevitably distance communities, pressure communities, and fuel narratives of capitalism."
anterogarcia  generalizations  class  storytelling  chimamandaadichie  racetonowhere  china  education  narrative  capitalism  us  competitiveness  chimamandangoziadichie 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story | Video on TED.com
"Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding."
storytelling  culture  africa  culturalbias  bias  media  generalizations  writing  literature  ted  chimamandaadichie  truth  complexity  voice  experience  classideas  stereotypes  partialview  perception  nigeria  dignity  preconception  misunderstanding  chinuaachebe  books  chimamandangoziadichie 
december 2010 by robertogreco

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