Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born on September 15, 1977 and grew up in Nsukka, Nigeria. Adichie's parents' both worked at the University of Nigeria, and Adichie herself began her educational journey at this same institution. After a year and a half at the University of Nigeria, she flew to the United States to study at Drexel University on scholarship. Adichie earned her Bachelor's degree at Eastern Connecticut State University and two Master's degrees: one at Johns Hopkins, and another at Yale. Adichie has also been awarded fellowships at Yale and Harvard.
Adichie is a well-authenticated author, and her works in the literary field have helped expand feminist knowledge and understanding transnationally. Her first novel Purple Hibiscus discusses postcolonial feminism, highlighting issues that women face in colonized areas. Her second novel Half of a Yellow Sun works to emphasize the differences in feminist understanding between social classes. The Thing Around Your Neck, Adichie's third novel, explores the psyche of the black African immigrant in America. All of these works, through their exploration of sex, race, ethnicity, and class, not only offered accessible versions of transnational feminist knowledge, but they gave Adichie a bigger platform. Using this platform, Adichie published her book-length essay We Should All Be Feminists in 2014, which was adapted from her highly popular 2013 TEDx Talk of the same title (the video has over 4 million views as of January 28, 2018). In these works, Adichie attempts to dispel the negative associations to both the movement and the word "feminism," and convince people that they already have interests in the feminist movement. She tackles many foundational feminist ideas, such as those surrounding rape culture, career opportunities, and the domestic sphere. These works in particular are so widely popular because they provide accessible teachings of the basics of feminism.
We Should All Be Feminists has even found its way into mainstream media: clips of her TEDx Talk were used in Beyoncé's "***Flawless." Adichie gave Beyoncé permission to use these clips in her video as she saw it allowed for greater accessibility of her works and feminist teachings, but Adichie has gone on to publicly criticize Beyoncé's feminism. Adichie compliments the way Beyoncé owns her sexuality and female independence, but she believes that Beyoncé's feminism is too male-centric.
One area that Adichie's feminism falls short is that of gender. In early 2017, Adichie stated in an interview for Britain's Channel 4 News: "When people talk about, ‘Are trans women women?’ my feeling is trans women are trans women." This statement implies that trans women are not so-called "real" women but deserve a separate category altogether. She goes on to explain that she feels trans women experience womanhood in a different way than cis women in that trans women have benefitted from male privilege before they "sort of change, switch gender." Her implications that transgender women are not real women have afforded her the "TERF" label- trans-exclusionary radical feminist- by some. Adichie has also made statements that relate femininity to having a vagina and masculinity to having a penis, which have been criticized by trans activists for perpetuating harmful ideals of trans people and the obsession with their anatomy. Additionally, Adichie has said that she does not think it is a good idea to talk about “women’s issues being exactly the same as the issues of trans women”. She has since faced backlash from trans communities- particularly in Nigeria, but across the globe as well- and though she has issued apologies, she has been further subjected to criticism as she has not yet demonstrated a change in her beliefs.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a well-informed transnational feminist, and her works provide a useful tool to explore the intersections of sex, race, ethnicity and class; however, Adichie herself demonstrates the wider issue of trans-exclusion in the feminist movement.
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “We Should All Be Feminists.” YouTube, TEDx Talks, 12 Apr. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc.
Dandridge-Lemco, Ben. “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie On Beyoncé: ‘Her Type Of Feminism Is Not Mine.’” The FADER, The FADER, 8 Nov. 2017, www.thefader.com/2016/10/07/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-beyoncs-feminism-comment.
DeFonza, Raina. “Purple Hibiscus: A Feminist Reading.” The Stockton Postcolonial Studies Project, 8 Nov. 2014, blogs.stockton.edu/postcolonialstudies/purple-hibiscus-a-feminist-reading/.
"Half of A Yellow Sun.” Linguarydberg: Examining English Worldwide, 17 May 2013, linguarydberg.wordpress.com/lit-circle-2013/half-of-a-yellow-sun/.
Luebering, J.E. “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 21 Mar. 2017, www.britannica.com/biography/Chimamanda-Ngozi-Adichie.
Tunca, Daria. “Awards & Nominations.” The Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Website, University of Liège, www.cerep.ulg.ac.be/adichie/cnaawards.html.
Tunca, Daria. “Biography.” The Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Website, University of Liège, www.cerep.ulg.ac.be/adichie/cnabio.html.
Whitaker, Sebastian. “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Speaks Over Transgender People In New Video.” Affinity Magazine, 10 Mar. 2017, affinitymagazine.us/2017/03/10/chimamanda-ngozi-adichie-speaks-over-transgender-people-in-new-video/.