We live in a world where we so often quote figures of the number of the dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and Congo, until they become just that—figures. Each time I read these news articles, I find myself thinking, “What do they dream about in Congo?” “How do they fall in love in Afghanistan?” “How do they resolve family quarrels in Iraq?” “What do they like to eat?”
Of course we must know about the dead and the dying. And of course these figures and facts are essential. But they must, they should coexist with human stories. We should know how people die, but we should also know how they live.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Commonwealth Lecture 2012
On the tremendous importance of human stories and not just “facts.” Adichie is incredible.
I did not realize so many look at those numbers and didn’t see three dimensional and varied lives.
This is very relevant, especially with everything happening in Gaza right now. As people removed from the conflict and especially for those of us, like me, that are not Palestinian ourselves, it is so important that we do not perpetuate the dehumanization and trivialization of every single Palestinian life as the death toll from the Israeli massacre grows. Even as we report the statistics, we must always reflect on the humanity and three dimensionality of these lives. We must mediate on the fullness of their being, which does include pain and suffering under Israel’s blockade, racial apartheid and brutal genocidal policies, but these are lives that also include love, joy, family, friends and more. We cannot reduce these people to statistics and 1D portraits of pain and suffering. We cannot strip them of their agency further by splaying graphic photographs of their bodies across the net and our front pages “to make a point.” We cannot perpetuate white supremacy ourselves by reducing Palestinians into a single amalgamated mass of suffering, dying black and brown bodies with no agency beyond their pain. All of this is fundamentally disempowering, dehumanizing and wrong.
I love the way that Adichie frames all of this up perfectly and succinctly with this quote, and it’s one that I’m so glad that I stumbled back across by chance as the brutal genocidal violence of the racist Zionist state of Israel pushes the Palestinian death toll ever higher. As they take even more lives.
And as we put out prayers and thoughts with the Palestinian people in this time of tremendous difficulty, it is so important that we also maintain perspective and interrogate ourselves to ensure that we are not partaking in the same forces of dehumanization ourselves as people trying to be “allies.”(via owning-my-truth)