You can watch the TED Talk here
Listening to this TED Talk reaffirmed all of the reasons for which I write.
There were so many quotes that I wish I would have caught because it was all so very inspiring.
One quote that stood out to me was “I realized that people like me, girls with chocolate skin and kinky hair that didn’t fit in ponytails, could also exist in literature.” This quote really hit home for me. I never knew that people like me, positive images of people like me, didn’t exist in literature. Like Adichie, I was reading and writing at an early age. Unbeknownst to me, all of the books and all of the media that was presented to me consisted of characters that didn’t look like me, characters that were white.
I remember the first original story that I tried to write– the story was about three girls, all white, all blonde, and all “BFF’s”. They all had boyfriends, they went to the mall, they were rich, and their biggest concern was prom. This narrative had been served to me by the teenage sitcoms, books, and media that I had consumed. But this was not my story.
I had never read a novel about black people, that didn’t consist of tragedy, poverty, gang violence, teen moms, or drug addiction. A positive image of black people did not exist in literature. What I saw was white people going to college, having fun, being successful, being rich, and not having a care in the world. This was the single story that I knew, and tried to tell.
As I grew older, that narrative stopped making sense. I started to understand myself, my culture, and who I am as a black woman. I began to appreciate my own experiences and learned how to turn them into stories for all of the kids who grew up like me. I recognized that there was no story about successful black people. There was no story with a black hero or heroine. There was no fantasy novel with black characters. There was no narrative for black children. I write now, because I want to create the stories that don’t exist for us. I write because I want black children to know that they can exist in literature. I write because I want to change the narrative, so that black children can have something better to believe in.