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Africans are fighting media poverty-porn

Plaid Zebra   in  · · ·
May 19, 2016

BY: TYLER FYFE

Typecast with bloated stomachs of malnutrition against a backdrop of intrastate warfare, most Westerners know the archetypal image of the unfortunate African other. And while it is true that forms of extreme poverty do exist in Africa, as they do on every other continent, the trouble is that we have been shown a single image of Africa— or as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, we have been told a single story.

Poverty-Porn is the tactic of media and charities that uses sympathy as a catalyst for monetary gain, exploiting the poor and uneducated, to showcase desperate conditions for an emotional response. And while the tactic may be effective at heightening profits—by misrepresenting an entire continent as slum—the fate of an entire continent is stamped with pity. What this means is that outside of Africa, Africans are expected to look up.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian novelist who came from a middle-class family. Her father was a professor and her mother an administrator. Adichie attended an American university at 19-years-old and in her TED Talk, Adichie talks about her experience with a roommate who was shocked to find that she could speak English, knew how to use a stove and listened to Mariah Carey instead of “tribal music.”

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