Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday TED Talk: Beware the "Single Story"

With the ongoing barrage of disaster pictures from Haiti, it is well to remind ourselves that Haiti has produced its share of praiseworthy contributions to our common life, as well. For example, did you know that Alexandre Dumas (père) was of Haitian lineage, and that the great John James Audubon was born there? (The former once replied to a man who had insulted him about his mixed racial background: "My father was a mulatto, my grandfather a Negro, and my great-grandfather was a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends.") The people at TED have put up a video of a wonderful talk given at the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2004 by the Haitian novelist Edwige Danticat, in which (following another natural disaster there) she reminds her audience of these things and many more: here is the link to that talk.

The preceding paragraph will also serve to introduce the theme of the following talk, given at TED Global in Oxford this past summer. Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie makes the telling point that our lives and our cultures are made up of many overlapping stories, and that to harken to just one of them is almost sure to lead to misunderstanding and conflict:

You may watch her talk in high-res video at this link, and read more about her here; she also has her own Webpage, where you can find out more about her novels and short stories. Download her talk from this page.

1 comment:

  1. Your comments about Haiti are so good! Thanks for sharing this. Diocese of South Dakota Prayer Cycle today asks us to pray for an end to racism - this video is a gentle way to open our souls to healing. Will be sharing it quite a bit!