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Always Just Try… Because You Never Know! Watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2015 Wellesley Commencement Speech

BellaNaija.com

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Last week, award winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a rousing speech to the 2015 graduating set of  Wellesley College, Massachusetts.

As usual, Adichie encourages women to be the best they can be, irrespective of the circumstances they find themselves in.   “Your standardized ideologies will not always fit your life. Because life is messy. “

Here’s an excerpt from the speech which we found quite profound:

“I already knew that the world does not extend to women the many small courtesies that it extends to men.

I also knew that victimhood is not a virtue. That being discriminated against does not make you somehow morally better.

And I knew that men were not inherently bad or evil. They were merely privileged. And I knew that privilege blinds because it is the nature of privilege to blind.

I knew from this personal experience, from the class privilege I had of growing up in an educated family, that it sometimes blinded me, that I was not always as alert to the nuances of people who were different from me.

And you, because you now have your beautiful Wellesley degree, have become privileged, no matter what your background. That degree, and the experience of being here, is a privilege. Don’t let it blind you too often. Sometimes you will need to push it aside in order to see clearly.”

She also goes on to say:

“We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort. And you are privileged that, because of your education here, you have already been given many of the tools that you will need to try. Always just try. Because you never know.

And so as you graduate, as you deal with your excitement and your doubts today, I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in.

Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way.

Wellesley will open doors for you. Walk through those doors and make your strides long and firm and sure.

Write television shows in which female strength is not depicted as remarkable but merely normal.

Teach your students to see that vulnerability is a HUMAN rather than a FEMALE trait.

Commission magazine articles that teach men HOW TO KEEP A WOMAN HAPPY. Because there are already too many articles that tell women how to keep a man happy. And in media interviews make sure fathers are asked how they balance family and work. In this age of ‘parenting as guilt,’ please spread the guilt equally. Make fathers feel as bad as mothers. Make fathers share in the glory of guilt.

Campaign and agitate for paid paternity leave everywhere in America.

Hire more women where there are few. But remember that a woman you hire doesn’t have to be exceptionally good. Like a majority of the men who get hired, she just needs to be good enough.”

Watch the entire speech here and be inspired!

 

The full text of her speech can be found HERE

32 Comments

  1. Zandyzay

    May 31, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I just love this woman. Everything about her. Her dressing, her work… everything!!!!

  2. sista

    May 31, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    It’s official. This woman is the only woman I’m jealous of. I’m just jealous of her talent and exposure. Writing has always been my favourite form of art and she makes reading …………………..something else.

    God bless you sista and i hope those students keep the message in their hearts

  3. ochokwu

    May 31, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Am so proud of my Sister Chimamanda! !! Repping Igbos all over the globe. Chinua’s replacement.

    • A Real Nigerian

      May 31, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      What’s with the tribalistic nonsense? She would be ashamed of your comment.

    • Leah

      May 31, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      Would it be sexist to say she represents women? Would it be racist to say she represent black women or people? Should someone take offence if perhaps you said She represents Nigerians or Africans. There was nothing tribal about that comment, calm the h3ll down.

    • Oma

      June 1, 2015 at 2:39 am

      Trust me, she wouldn’t. Not in the least.
      I am Igbo before I am Nigerian and that’s the way I choose to live my life. If I am not tribal, what then am I? Did I drop from the sky? We are always so quick to equate tribalism with negativity of some sort. That isn’t the case. I am tribalistic not because I hate or disrespect you (or your way of life) from another tribe, but because I recognize that those ties to an extent define who I am and also because I take pride in my roots. At the end of the day its your choice to make…Just don’t try to force your views down any body’s throat while you’re at it.

  4. Chibugo

    May 31, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Well, well, well… These are some of the things that make people look at me funny when I say them. Ms Chimamanda, preach on!
    Ps: It irks me to no end when I encounter a situation in which a woman has to constantly prove herself as competent enough, even when she obviously is. I do not know if, or when the scale will finally be balanced. The phrase “its a man’s world” is the flimsy excuse one hears at every turn. Smh.

  5. onetallgirl

    May 31, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    I’m so jealous of these graduate, to have this extraordinary woman speaking at their graduation. Mrs. Adichie is one of the most inspiring woman I have ever seen! I am so moved by her speech.

  6. kaycee

    May 31, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I was nodding my head in admiration, until I got to this point ” hire more women when they are few” like seriously, how about hire the person most qualified for the job. Tbh this feminist ideologies are somewhat contradictory, if these feminist succeed in thier quest, the next generation will have to fight for manist, as the favour will definitely turn towards the women. Believe me I love ladies with all my heart, can’t think of a better life without the strong women in my life, but please lets promote equality and not speciality.

    • G.U

      May 31, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      Hi Kaycee, Feminism has always been about equality and not speciality. I’m guessing you are a man and this is the very blind privilege she speaks of. There are times where women aren’t given jobs based on their gender alone. so an employer puts an ad out for a job, 10 qualified women come through but he doesn’t hire them, 11th applicant (qualified man) comes through and he gets hired, i believe this is the kind of scenario she speaks of. Hire that qualified first woman, don’t wait for the 100th applicant who is a man before you fill the position up.

    • tunmi

      May 31, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      If folks were truly to hire the best person for the job, many professional fields would be diverse in gender, in age, in beliefs, in ethnicity and in so many areas. But those biases are so infused in our thinking that we do not realize that by wondering if a woman is married (she may take time off for maternity–although men are never made to worry about paternity leaves) we are hindering that policy of “hiring the best person”. By actively seeking out more of the minority, you are evening out that playing field.

      Look at the fortune 500 CEOs of the world. Look at Forbes’s list of the wealthiest people in the world or most influential. While gender is not in the name of this list, count how many are women. There HAS to be a different list for women because they are so few in the gender blind list. Men will continue to dominate the upper areas and this battle for an equal space will continue for many generations because the issue has been centuries in the making.

    • cindy

      May 31, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      See? Selective reading as usual. People only what they want to see. Did you understand the context in which she wrote that? She didn’t say hire a woman that is bad at her job. Let’s be honest, to get certain jobs, it’s easier for a man that is just good to get the job than a woman that is equally good. That’s the point she’s trying to make. Women today apply for jobs just as much as men but if you go to offices, you’d still see more men at the desks, and it is everywhere. The only place you find more women are jobs like ushering, tailoring, hair-dressing, secretary/receptionist, waiters e.t.c. The real deal still go to men that are not particularly exceptional. A woman always has to prove herself to be given attention. That is the point she’s trying to make. Look at Nigeria, it will a big if we ever get a female governor. What Chinua is saying that it shouldn’t be a big deal, instead it should be normal. Don’t worry kaycee. We are not trying to take the cookie from you men, we just want to share with you rather than be given the crumbs?

    • Shannie

      May 31, 2015 at 5:23 pm

      She is promoting equality, but you’re obviously a man so you wouldn’t look at it her way, but rather understand it through your “privileged” lens.

  7. chukwukadibia

    May 31, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    God has blessed her with so much insight,i thank God for her life.

  8. Concerned Man

    May 31, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    But some men want to be secretaries or personal assistants however they don’t get such jobs when they apply. They just give it to the first woman that applies. Is this life fair?

  9. Iamme

    May 31, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    The amount of love I have for this woman! You are blessing to this generation, Chimamanada!

  10. Chief

    May 31, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    I don’t get this woman with her feminism campaign.Men and women are not equal… Simple….even in some parts of America women are not paid the same amount of money with men of the same job…Stop that,Chimamanda!!

    • Jane

      June 1, 2015 at 12:56 am

      It is this mindset that we need to get rid of. Standing aside is the problem. Being okay with things that are not okay..is more dangerous than doing overt acts of injustice..because it is this mindset that lets them keep happening. Without persons who stood up against this ‘mindset’ in history, womenkind would not enjoy their basic human rights; rights that should NOT be considered ‘privilege’. So the Chimamanda’s, Josephine Odemakun, Malala, Millicent Fawcett, of the world should say it loud on the rooftops, because they are making changes, one day at a time.

    • vivianmorh

      June 1, 2015 at 1:26 am

      Smh……… ppl can be so daft sha. That something happens doesnt make it right. The fact that females have bin opressed for so long doesnt mean it should continue. Men and women were created equal,, born equal as well. When will ppl realise different doesnt mean inferiority or superiority. Males and females wia born equal bt different

    • Lil

      June 1, 2015 at 8:03 am

      @chief oh shut it! The campaigns she does are for shallow minded people like you.

  11. Anastacia

    May 31, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Chimamanda, you never cease to astound and amaze me. You are a true African woman , your words are inspiring and most importantly relatable to every woman as you continue to give us light the way for the Nigerian/ African women braced to take over the world. I dare to take today! Nne ji si ke. WE are proud of you.

  12. ChYsPaRkZ

    May 31, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    DARE TO TAKE!!! Take I shall and not demand less, cos I know I’m a giver too… Thanks Chimamanda

  13. misspee

    May 31, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    This woman never ceases to amaze me, I had to read the full text to be sure I understood her better. I only have one reservation and it’s my personal opinion, I will NEVER support the gay right bill, it’s morally, religiously wrong. #Nopityparty on this issue.

  14. Dayobabalola

    June 1, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Women who seek to be equal with men lack Ambition

    • cindy

      June 1, 2015 at 3:07 am

      Says someone who is sitting behind his computer while chinua is making strides around. Guess who doesn’t have an ambition. Mtchew.

  15. Tosin

    June 1, 2015 at 1:21 am

    Inspired! Love the excerpts – privilege blinds.

  16. Curious

    June 1, 2015 at 1:21 am

    This amazing woman is remarkably gifted! Her words are like cold water on a supremely hot day. She writes so beautifully; her words are soothing and oh so true! That folks fail to grasp the concept and tenets of untainted feminism shows that common sense is not common at all. It really is quite simple and easy to follow, but yet continues to elude many. SMH!

  17. global citizen

    June 1, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Hello nigerians, if you guys must know, the rest of the world looks to you as one of the most unsafe countries in the world. My boss the other day said that he would rather go to Nigeria than be killed by a crazy patient. (understand what this comparison says about Nigeria), Until then it never occurred to me that the ‘giant of Africa’ was viewed by the rest of the world . And my fears have been confirmed when I hear Chimamanda said her 83 year old farther was kidnapped, I am a pan-Africanist, I see Nigeria’s progress as exemplary if anything, we cannot continue to hold Africa in a pool of contempt, not only because the world is watching, but because we owe it to ourselves.
    -jUst a concerned global citizen
    PS : yOU ROCK Chimamanda !

    • Berry

      June 1, 2015 at 9:15 am

      Dear Global Citizen don’t think you are truly global nor use the advantage! You should also educate and enlighten your boss or sponsor his trip to NaijA! He is soooooooooo ignorant in this age sorry to say. Without hype or sentiments, what happened to “Nigeria, great Nation, Good People.

  18. nnenne

    June 1, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Nice.
    Thank God for your father’s life.
    Shame Unto those who Kidnapped him.
    May God punish people who harvest where they did not sow.

  19. 'Deola

    June 1, 2015 at 6:16 am

    It makes for good press still. Yet, it likely will resonate more with the folks that will never make it. Women that make it already understand these nudgets of wisdom and have had to do battle with the way they were socialized.Unless women recognise that the path to success is proving themselves, founding their own companies, becoming inventors, voting for their leaders the opposite sex will not take them seriously, and the world will not be there for the taking. I guess it is that simple. Nevertheless, Chimamanda is smart and has a powerful presence and voice. She is always inspiring.

  20. sherri

    June 1, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    BN,
    please we need a thumb down!
    for the likes of chief.
    Chimamanda truly inspiring as always.

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