So I just watched a Tedx video on YouTube by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in which she talks about the danger of a single story.

In this speech she basically says how dangerous it can be when one only has a single story/perspective about an event, race or character. She herself said how she fell in love with writing at a young age, but when she would write she wrote about white families who ate toast for breakfast and ate ginger biscuits. Nevermind that she herself had never had ginger biscuits, but as a child, those are the stories she read and so she believed that was what stories were meant to be like. It was only when she read African stories about girls with kinky hair that could never form a ponytail, that’s when she realised she too had her own stories to tell.

What does this show, it shows how easily stereotypes can be formed, how easy it is to label a whole population based on one story. Just like gossip. Now, I’ve always had a problem with gossip not because its sometimes not true, but it makes people form one perspective of a person based on perhaps one thing they did. Not taking into account that they have many good attributes. It puts someone’s flaws into a single conversation and leaves little space for anything good. 

I know a girl who played hockey on the Zimbabwe U19 national team, she is a straight A student and an avid writer. A week ago, at her school, she was caught making out with a boy in a classroom. Now when I hear people talk about her to strangers, they say, “oh that’s the girl that was caught kissing in that classroom” and to people that didn’t know her prior to the incident now only have a single story about her. Kissing is not bad but I’m sure that’s not all someone wants to be known for.

So, next time you want to gossip, remember that the human you’re speaking of has thoughts and emotions just like you. And if it were you hearing that gossip would you bother to say “yes she did that but she’s not a bad person”. Don’t let people form stereotypes of other people right under your nose and do nothing about it. Because one day they’ll form a stereotype about you.