Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie fan girl

I’m almost done reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Americanah, and I’m completely in love with her writing, her prose, and her insightful perspectives on race, color, and gender in today’s world. With many books, it takes at least the first 50-200 pages to really get interesting, especially with fiction, but with this book, I was taken immediately from the first page. I also watched both of her TED talks, The Danger of a Single Story, and We Should All Be Feminists. She is clearly a very talented story teller, as both are talks told with personal and heard/learned stories extremely seamlessly and thoughtfully. The Danger of a Single story had me tearing up throughout it. The idea behind it is that if we only ever hear one story of a person, place, or thing, that will fully shape our understanding of it, resulting in ignorance, lack of complete understanding and the full picture of that person/place/thing. The second talk around why we should all be feminists — it seems very straightforward, as “feminist” merely is a person who believes that women and men are equal. Unfortunately, we still live in a society today where people shy away from that label, and even worse, where people, consciously and subconsciously, do not genuinely believe in the equality of the sexes. But as she is a writer, she asks thought-provoking questions and adds different perspectives to really force us to think.

I started doing more research on Chimamanda and reading interviews that she’s given. I’m definitely a true fan girl of hers now. These are some of the things she’s said that I really love:

“I want to say what I think, and it’s lovely to be liked. And I like being liked, but I don’t need to be liked. I think that also sort of has been a thing for me where because of that, I say what I think, for good or bad.”

“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black, and I only became black when I came to America. When you are black in America and you fall in love with a white person, race doesn’t matter when you’re alone together because it’s just you and your love. But the minute you step outside, race matters. But we don’t talk about it. We don’t even tell our white partners the small things that piss us off and the things we wish they understood better, because we’re worried they will say we’re overreacting, or we’re being too sensitive. And we don’t want them to say, Look how far we’ve come, just forty years ago it would have been illegal for us to even be a couple blah blah blah, because you know what we’re thinking when they say that? We’re thinking why the fuck should it ever have been illegal anyway? But we don’t say any of this stuff. We let it pile up inside our heads and when we come to nice liberal dinners like this, we say that race doesn’t matter because that’s what we’re supposed to say, to keep our nice liberal friends comfortable. It’s true. I speak from experience.” 

“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 would 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 girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or 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.” 
― We Should All Be Feminists

“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.” 
― We Should All Be Feminists

“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.” 

“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.” 

“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. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here’s to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.” 

“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.” 
― We Should All Be Feminists

“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.” 
We Should All Be Feminists

“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.” 
― Americanah

“A woman at a certain age who is unmarried, our society teaches her to see it as a deep personal failure. And a man, after a certain age isn’t married, we just think he hasn’t come around to making his pick.” 
― We Should All Be Feminists

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