What “isms” and structures shape a specific single story about an identity category?

Journal Entry Description

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells us, “Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person” (10:04). Moreover, these “definitive stories” often misrepresent and oversimplify someone’s identity and/or life experiences. This occurs partly because a single story is larger than any individual: single stories are shaped by

  1. structures of thought— such as a stereotype, a belief system, or an “ism”(sexism, racism homophobia) and
  2. material structures— such as economic, educational, government, and legal systems.

Entry Instructions

In at least 200 words, for this entry, you’ll explore a structure of thought and/or a material structure in relation to single stories. How do broader social structures (material structures or structures of thought) oversimplify our understandings of identity. This relates to the concept of “single stories” because single-story ideas create and are an effect of the simplified ideas about identity.

You can focus on a specific identity category (such as race, gender, sexuality, religion) or focus on the way that “identity” is structured in US society more broadly. Some questions that you could address are

  • What “isms” and structures shape a specific single story about an identity category?
  • How do the “isms” and structures create social/cultural norms and perceptions that shape single stories?
  • How do “isms” and structures make single stories difficult to change?
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