Speaker Spotlight: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We are excited to welcome Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as the second speaker of our 2017 series, Undercurrent. Adichie is a Hopkins alumna who received a master's in Writing Seminars and an honorary degree recipient in 2016. She is also a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and author of the acclaimed novels including Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah. She will be joining us at Shriver; doors open at 7:30 PM.



In 2016, Adichie was one of eight recipients of an honorary degree during the Johns Hopkins commencement.

In 2016, Adichie was one of eight recipients of an honorary degree during the Johns Hopkins commencement.

TED Talk: "We Should All Be Feminists"

This TED Talk presented by Adichie in 2013 quickly went viral all over social network and media. Adichie presents an impassioned case for gender equality and the idea that activism and feminism is something everyone should participate in. Here are some of the key quotes of the talk:

Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.
Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be ... a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.
I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.
And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.
My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.

Feature in Beyoncé's ***Flawless

And how could we ever forget Adichie's fabulous feature in Beyoncé's song that grasped the attention of pop culture and media everywhere.

For The New Yorker: "Now is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About"

Image courtesy of The New Yorker

Image courtesy of The New Yorker

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.

BBC INterview: More On the Topic of Donald Trump's Election

Adichie continues to be an outspoken critic of Donald Trump and the rise of populism. During the 2016 election, she condemned his racist platform on television, sparking the ire of many.

New York Times Interview: On Beauty, Femininity, Feminism

Image courtesy of  NYT

Image courtesy of NYT

Interviewer: Will you continue to be a presence in the fashion world?

Adichie: If you were raised by Grace Adichie, my mother, you had better be interested in fashion. From the time I was a little girl, my mother would dress me up. She would put some of her jewelry on me. I’m a bit of a shoe fiend. I make no apologies for it. The first makeup I used was my mother’s lip gloss. I remember putting on a lot of it, so it was quite shiny. She didn’t mind at all. She said, “You look like you ate hot jollof rice and didn’t wipe it off.”

There’s a part of me that likes shoes, and likes dresses, and likes makeup, and likes books, and likes to write. I think that’s the case for many women. But our culture makes us think we have to choose slices of ourselves that we’re comfortable showing the world.