One of the things my mother still doesn’t understand is why I’ve yet to write a book. Not only was I a precocious reader as a child, but I had the natural “gift of gab” that – whether in the writing or the telling – allowed people to dispel disbelief and step directly into the situation or setting I was recounting. Although I’ve done more than toyed with the idea over the past years, I have yet to distill that one special story that I simply can’t prevent from rushing onto my laptop or into my notebooks even if I tried. Imagine my relief yesterday when I read about a Japanese woman who became a best-selling author at the tender age of 99 years old.
Yes, Mother, there is hope for me yet!
Though my personal stories haven’t found their way onto the printed page or your Kindle as yet, I know that being aware of the uniqueness of all our stories is crucial to fully understanding the women we are and essential to our journeys of self-fulfillment.
- As women we have had our stories co-opted over the centuries in cultures and societies where men are often both the private and public historians.
- As black women our stories have been violated even more often – our voices pushed to the side and ignored in deference to those who share neither our race nor our gender.
That’s why many of us still find it so difficult to honor our individual as well as collective stories. Even though some of us realize – on a rational level – just how important these stories are, we still find it difficult to “mine” them: To dig deep within the muck and entrails of ourselves and pull those stories up, pearl by precious pearl.
That why one of my very favorite talks on ted.com is called “The Danger of a Single Story” by Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie. This is one woman’s impressive tale of (re-)discovering her authentic cultural voice.
Although many of you may have already seen her presentation (I’ve posted it on Facebook, as well as my diversity blog, for example), I admit going back to it for inspiration while refining the outline for the upcoming, first-ever Uncaged Birds™retreat at the end of April 2011.
If you haven’t already, listen to Chimamanda’s story.
Then ask yourself: Am I ready to tell mine?