Writer Chimamanda Adichie accuses former trans student of ‘actively campaigning to cancel me’

The Nigerian author speaks out about 'cancel culture' saying she was the target of an orchestrated campaign

Outspoken writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is no stranger to controversy, and now the Nigerian author has ignited yet another heated debate following the publication of an article where she criticizes two former writing students, one of which is trans.

In her latest essay entitled “It Is Obscene: A True Reflection In Three Parts,” Adichie gives a blistering critique of cancel culture and its perceived gatekeepers.

Dior: Photocall - Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2020
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie attends the Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2020 show on Jan. 20, 2020. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images for Dior)

“When you are a public figure, people will write and say false things about you. It comes with the territory,” she says in her piece published Tuesday as the front (and only) page of her website.

“Many of those things you brush aside. Many you ignore. The people close to you advise you that silence is best. And it often is. Sometimes, though, silence makes a lie begin to take on the shimmer of truth.”

“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 opined.

The writer then went on to recap the ongoing tensions that existed between her and the two of her former students, on of which she describes as transgender.

In her account, the feud was sparked in 2017 after the Americanah author said “a trans woman is a trans woman.”

“My feeling is that trans women are trans women,” she said during an interview with the U.K.‘s Channel 4.

“I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man, with the privileges the world accords to men, and then change gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning in the world as a woman, and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are.”  

In her essay, Adichie reflects on how she believes her students exploited her and her status as a public figure for personal gain.

“It is a simple story – got close to a famous person, you publicly insulted the famous person to aggrandize yourself, the famous person cut you off, you sent emails and texts that were ignored, and you then decided to go on social media to peddle falsehoods,” the 43-year-old wrote. 

“I knew this person had called me a murderer, I knew they were actively campaigning to ‘cancel’ me and tweeting about how I should no longer be invited to speak at events.”

“I have 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,” she said.

“The assumption of good faith is dead. What matters is not goodness but the appearance of goodness. We are no longer human beings. We are now angels jostling to out-angel one another. God help us. It is obscene,” she concluded. 

Although Adichie did not name either of the women she targeted in this week’s release, Wednesday, one of her former students, Akwaeke Emezi, took to Instagram to address the narrative being presented.

“I am not going to read what home girl wrote and do like a blow-by-blow rebuttal of it, because I am not even going to read it. Because it doesn’t affect my life,” they said in the post. “I am just going to poke my head in, remind us that we matter, that we are important, that our worlds are f—-g bigger than anything that these people can ever imagine and that we don’t ever have to be legible to them. We don’t have to be validated by them.”

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