boy and girl playing on three tree log

A single story, as defined by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is a phrase used to describe the “overly simplistic and sometimes false perceptions we form about individuals, groups or countries” (Stereotypes).

The single story that was implied about Adichie when she came to the United States was that she listened to different music, spoke different languages, and wore different clothes, solely based on her childhood in Africa. This connects to showing empathy to individuals instead of relying on single stories to define someone’s past.

In the article Stereotypes and Single Stories it says, “we know that every person is different from any other in countless ways, yet when we encounter others, we often rely on generalizations to describe them” (Stereotypes). When meeting someone for the first time generalizations are made based on the way they look.

One should realize that every person is their own individual and their past is not something that can be known just by looking at them. Empathy is defined as, “the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel, see things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place” (Cherry).

By showing empathy toward individuals, situations like Adichie’s could be avoided. Empathy allows people to put into consideration more than just one’s physical appearance and instead makes one think of someone as their own person.

Works Cited:

Cherry, Kendra. “Why Empathy Is Important.” Verywell Mind, 2 May 2020,

“Stereotypes and ‘Single Stories.’” Facing History and Ourselves

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