Reading the World

Growing up in Regina, and more specifically in a very ‘middle class white’ neighborhood in my years in elementary school I read stories and heard only about people who looked and lived like I did. Although I heard comments like ‘finish your meal Jessica, there are starving children in Africa’ at home, I did not really comprehend that there were stories different from my own until High school. At this point I was not educated on topics like residential schools, racism or the privileges I grew up having. I remember being resistant to Indigenous education and learning about Canada’s history regarding treaties because I did not think it to be important and would often think about how the Aboriginal children I knew grew up like I did. But becoming more educated I realized that there are more stories than just the ones I had witnessed, that there were reserves in Saskatchewan who did not have access to safe water or the stories of the survivors of residential schools. That there were thousands of stories and just because I knew a few of them, or parts of them I had assumed that I knew them all. This is similar to Chimamanda Adichie’s story about the family who did not have as much money as her family, she assumed that all they were was poor and could serve others when in fact they had many stories and attributes other than simply being poor.

I also struggled with single stories and my personal biases in my English classes throughout high school when we would read books like ‘The Kite Runner’ or ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini. I assumed that all Muslim women had no rights, were being beaten or were unhappy within their religion. While reading ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ I had to realize that this story did not summarize the stories of all Muslim women and that I needed to be open and not make assumptions about what I thought I knew about a group of people.

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