Bestselling Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a speech at Hubspot’s annual Inbound Conference where she was one of the keynote speakers for 2018.
The award-winning author traced her early days in Nigeria and how she discovered she was ‘black’ in America. She touched on everything from racism and identity to patriarchy and its effects on both women and men and her belief that stories can change the world.
Read excerpts below:
On the effects of patriarchy: Both men and women suffer from the illnesses that lead to suicide but it is men that have a much higher rate of dying by suicide. Why? Because men are socialized to suppress so many human parts of themselves, men are socialized not to ask for help, men are socialized to be afraid of fear, men are socialized not to show vulnerability. From the moment we tell a little boy that ‘boys don’t cry’ or we tell a hurting teenager to ‘man up’ we are creating an adult man who will be cheated of the full range of his emotions. So, while men benefit from patriarchy, they also suffer from it.
On gender roles: There is nothing a woman should be because she is a woman, and there is nothing a man should be because he is a man…Women are not special, women are human, women are flawed just like men… If we keep saying women are special, then we judge them at a higher and unfair standard.”
On anger and the black woman: Anger is a valid human emotion and women are judged very harshly about showing anger. In this country, it is terrible for women to show anger and it is catastrophic for black women to show anger because the stereotype of the angry black woman is one that is impossible to shrug off once it has been pinned on you. It will follow you for the rest of your life; it will prevent you from getting opportunities that you deserve. I know many accomplished women of all races who have held themselves back in many situations because they don’t want to be considered angry or difficult; they don’t want to be called a b***h.