“Disagreeing Doesn’t Mean That One Wants To Deprive People Of Their Rights.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Elaborates On Her Views Amid Cancel Culture Debate

“Disagreeing Doesn’t Mean That One Wants To Deprive People Of Their Rights.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Elaborates On Her Views Amid Cancel Culture Debate

In Christiane Amanpour’s words, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an “important writer and thinker” whose views “people follow very closely”.  And in June, the Half of a Yellow Sun writer proved the scope of her impact when a scathing essay she penned titled It Is Obscene: A True Reflection In Three Parts sparked a furious debate that encompassed the issues of cancel culture and the trans controversy that has hounded her since her 2017 interview where she said that “transwomen are transwomen.”

The essay, which initially caused the crashing of her site, called out two unnamed former acquaintances of Adichie who took advantage of her friendship, while also taking aim at cancel culture which she says has brought about a “generation of young people on social media so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think and to learn and to grow,” adding that she has “spoken to young people who tell me they are terrified to tweet anything, that they read and reread their tweets because they fear they will be attacked by their own.”

In a recent interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Adichie who authored Notes on Grief, following the loss of her parents (her father died in 2020 and her mother in March), spoke about the loss, her grief and the impact her parents had on her that has made her who she is.

“I think that my inhabiting the world in the way that refuses to apologize for being who I am is a consequence of being raised by my father and my mother,” she said. “Because my parents gave me room to be who I was, and because their love was so unconditional, I’ve never felt the need to perform likability. I mean, I love to be liked – most humans do – but I’ve never needed to be liked. And it’s because of my parents, because in some ways, I had enough from them. There’s a sense in which I didn’t feel a lack that I needed to fill up by apologising to the world for being who I am. And it has enabled me to speak my mind and to stand up for what I believe in.”

This of course led Amanpour into segueing into the most recent topic that has had Adichie “refusing to apologize for who she is”.

Touching on both the trans controversy surrounding Chimamanda and her essay, Amanpour said, “You said you didn’t mean to cause any harm [by saying that transwomen are transwomen] despite the fact that some people didn’t like that. You have said that ‘there’s so many social media savvy people that are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion, who can fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness, but are unable to actually show kindness.’”

In response to Amanpour’s question, Adichie said that she feels “very strongly about being allowed to think for myself” and as a person has always being “very interested in living the life of the mind” and who thinks and reads a lot, she responded to the 2017 backlash by going to read and educate herself on something she thought was already “innocuous and self evident”.

As someone who refuses to be told how to think, she went on to say, “Social media is not really about exchanging ideas in good faith. It’s about a kind of shallow performance. And you have people repeating mantras that they can’t even really explain and they don’t really understand. And they’re terrified of asking questions because of the possibility of backlash. And I understand that. I think that as human beings, there’s something sort of conservative about us. We don’t want to put ourselves out there. So, if everybody is saying this thing, then I better say it. But I’ve always being the person who wants to understand the why and the how and the nuances of things. And so, because of that, I refuse to participate in a kind of orthodoxy that, to me, doesn’t make sense.”

In response to Amanpour’s question about those who criticize cancel culture being called out as “shirking responsibility or shielding oneself from responsibility from legitimate criticism”, Chimamanda clarified that she is all for legitimate criticism. But –

“Legitimate criticism is one thing. Hounding people for having an opinion that comes from an emotionally-intelligent place is another thing. There is a difference.”

This appears to be a response to those who criticised her for writing an essay that problematic public figures such as Piers Morgan agreed with and brandished as a justification for their stances on public discourses.

She went on to say, “It is entirely possible to have real conversations that are uncomfortable. We do not all have to agree, and disagreeing doesn’t mean that one wants to deprive people of their rights.”

Check out the full interview below:

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  1. Tony
    July 25, 09:23 Reply

    I hope y’all keep the same energy for Misogynistic and homophobic men moving forward..

    • Mandy
      July 25, 10:12 Reply

      The conversation surrounding what you militants like to brand transphobia and that of homophobia and misogyny are not the same thing. The latter seeks to dehumanize gay people and women. The former – at least when it applies to the likes to Chimamanda – does not seek to dehumanise trans people. Saying transwomen are transwomen does not deprive transwomen of their rights.
      Stop being so disingenuous please.

      • Tony
        July 25, 10:17 Reply

        Trans people are the helm of transphobic violence because of that phrase. Of course, we know trans women are trans women and trans men are trans men but are they men? Are they women? It’s like saying gay people are gay people. Who cares? We know. Are they human? Why is it hard for you to say that phrase.

        Yes, it’s the same. Y’all co-opt Misogynistic and homophobic talking points because of privilege. Because all the trash CNA said with Amanpour, I have heard them from Misogynistic men shitting on Feminism and male allies.

        • Kiwi
          July 25, 19:40 Reply

          False equivalence, darling.

          Anyway, let’s toe that line:

          Gay people are biological people. So, yes, they are people.

          Trans women are biological men. So, yes, they are men.

          Trans men are biological women. So, yes, they are women.

        • Kiwi
          July 25, 19:42 Reply

          *biological humans, I mean.

          • Tony
            July 25, 19:43 Reply

            Uhmm. Lmfao. Men and women are gender not sex. You can’t be biological MAN or WOMAN. You can be biological male and female on the other hand.

            • Kiwi
              July 25, 21:13 Reply

              Uhmm. Lmfao.

              Man == adult male human/person

              So, man is an adult biological male human. And the only crime I’m guilty of (in saying biological man) is tautology.

              • Tony
                July 26, 07:33 Reply

                Gay = light-hearted and carefree.

                Before it evolved to also mean a homosexual man.

                Don’t pretend language don’t evolve for someone like CNA who claim to be a writer.

                • Kiwi
                  July 26, 08:11 Reply

                  Yes. Language evolves.

                  And people who are described by some language (and their allies) are within their rights to kick against the evolution of their category into something they don’t want.

                  Like black people. Children. Neurodivergent people. Disabled people. Men. Women. Gay people. Lesbians.

                  And by the way, it’s false equivalence to bring up our reclaiming and owning a word that first evolved into something immoral in the 14th century, then became a slur which respectable people used to describe us… it is false equivalence to bring up our reclaiming that word, gay, here.

    • Black Dynasty
      July 25, 16:27 Reply

      “And you have people repeating mantras that they can’t even really explain and they don’t really understand. And they’re terrified of asking questions because of the possibility of backlash. And I understand that. I think that as human beings, there’s something sort of conservative about us. We don’t want to put ourselves out there. So, if everybody is saying this thing, then I better say it.”

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