The Chicago Journal

Chimamanda Adichie Comments on Social Media Cancel Culture in New Essay

Source: Daily Dot

Widely acclaimed Nigerian and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie drew flak as she recently published an essay criticizing young people, saying that “they are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author whose works have been drawn extensively on the Biafran War in Nigeria during the late 1960s. She was born on September 15, 1977, in Enugu, Nigeria. Widely recognized for her two bestselling novels, Purple Hibiscus (2003) and Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), this literary powerhouse has dedicated most of her life to creating masterful pieces that speak volumes of her love for country and equality. The recently published essay entitled “It is obscene: A true reflection in three parts” has sent the internet abuzz, mulling over the pervasive influence of today’s cancel culture.

With the rise of the digital era, social interactions have mostly transferred to the online space. While this is a stark indication of progress, it has opened many gates of a variety of engagements, paving the way to exercising the people’s right to freedom of speech. However, along with the use of this right lies the expression of unsolicited criticisms. For this reason, many of the young generations choose silence over expressing their opinion, potentially depriving them of their right to speak their minds.

“We have 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,” Adichie wrote.

For more than a decade, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has continuously pushed for people to exercise their freedom of expression by coaching and mentoring many aspiring writers in her annual creative writing workshop held in Lagos and Awka in Nigeria. The program has had 200 graduates, including rising stars like Ayobami Adebayo, whose work has been shortlisted for the Baileys Prize. However, the lengthy essay that Adichie wrote drew flak as it caused a rift between her and one of her most prominent students, Akwaeke Emezi.

In the essay, Adichie addressed the current state of freedom of expression and social media while referencing allegations of transphobia against her and allegations that she attempted to tarnish the career of Akwaeke Emezi.

It can be remembered that in 2017, Adichie gave an interview on British Broadcaster Channel 4 News in which she mentioned that trans women are women. “Of course, they are women, but in talking about feminism and gender and all of that, it’s important for us to acknowledge the differences in the experience of gender,” she said in the interview.

As a result of this statement, Akwaeke Emezi, who identifies as nonbinary, took it to Instagram, acknowledging that they are one of the subjects of Adichie’s essay.

“Adichie published emails from myself and another writer who was in her workshop without our consent,” Emezi wrote. “It was designed to incite hordes of transphobic Nigerians to target me,” they added.

However, Adichie remained steadfast in her statement, pointing out the faults in today’s digital environment.

“In this age of social media, where a story travels the world in minutes, silence sometimes means that other people can hijack your story, and soon, their false version becomes the defining story about you,” she wrote.


Opinions expressed by The Chicago Journal contributors are their own.