Emil, Single Stories, and The Metaphor
During our discussions about many different topics, all relating to Single Stories, there are many things that I have “taken away.” The most important of those is that the world is full of so many people that there is no way to describe them all. It would only take one out of the seven billion people in the world to destroy any argument made about the human race as a whole. In the metaphor, Charlotte’s mother is a “flawless, modern building, created of glass and the smoothest of pale concrete” (219). Miss Hancock, on the other hand, was “plump, unmarried, and overenthusiastic” (215). They are such different people, and a single story couldn’t describe both of them at once. They are both outliers, on opposite sides of the spectrum. Because there are some many people in the world, everyone seems to be an outlier in some way. In “Emil”, a family who thinks they are average realizes that they are actually very well off. As a result of that Morley decides to give money to Emil, a man who is clearly less privileged than her, to make her feel like she is giving back to the community. In “The Danger of a Single Story,” when Chamimanda goes to university in the USA, her roommate is shocked by her. “She asked where I learned to speak english so well,” and “she assumed that I did not know how to use a stove” (4:25, 4:45). Chamimanda’s roommate had a single story of Africa, one of poverty and bloodshed, and didn’t know anything else about it. Of course this single story doesn’t represent all 1.2 billion people in Africa, just as a single story can’t represent all 580 million people in North America. There are too many people in the world for a single story to represent any significant number of them.
In David Suzuki’s letter to his grandchildren, Racism, he tells his story of the racism that he faced when he was young, in hopes of educating his grandchildren about what the world used to be like. In his letter, he tells stories of his childhood and his adulthood, many of which detail racist circumstances that profoundly affect his life. In 1942, as the Japanese were moved away from the west coast to internment camps, from fear that they were colluding against the Canadian and American forces and aiding the Japanese attacks. As a six year old, David Suzuki did not connect this to racism. He considered this “a grand adventure,” not knowing until much later that this was an act against the Japanese culture (22). The Canadian Government justified their forced relocation by considering it an act of National Protection, assuming that these Japanese-Canadians, many of whom had never set foot in Japan, were conspiring with the Japanese government. This near-baseless act drastically changed many people’s lives. The act destroyed many new and upcoming careers, as well as old ones that seemed set in stone. The message that Suzuki sends is very important. It isn’t easy to read, but dealing with the harsh truths of life is very important, and spreading Suzuki’s wisdom and experience as far and wide as possible is a very effective way to educate the world about racism, and eventually put a stop to is altogether.