For those of you who weren’t glued to the livestream all morning, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie delivered the commencement speech at Wellesley College, my alma mater, today. The graduating class welcomed the author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun by waving copies of her recent speech “We Should All Be Feminists” as Adichie took the podium.
The Nigerian author and MacArthur Fellow opened her remarks by praising Wellesley as a feminist stomping ground. She spoke of how her mother, ardent feminist and longtime admirer of the women’s college, was thrilled that Adichie had been invited to speak — and eager to remind her daughter to put lotion on her legs so that they wouldn’t look ashy (oh, moms!).
In her speech, Adichie shared her own early experiences with gender inequality, urging graduates to take the world by storm, seek their calling regardless of others’ expectations, and always, always take stock of their own privilege. She also openly, bravely shared a story about her father’s recent kidnapping in Nigeria. Grateful to have her father back safely, Adichie encouraged graduates to think about the things that really matter to them: achievements and prizes, sure, but family, friends, and love for others.
To resounding applause, Adichie dispensed some serious wisdom and inspiration to this year’s women going out into the world. Here are 6 reasons her speech was arguably the best commencement address of the year:
She’s a BAMF
"Never ever accept 'because you are a woman' as a reason for doing or not doing something."
She encourages women to go after their dreams
"We cannot always bend the world into shapes we want — but we can try."
She addressed her audience’s privilege — and her own — in doing so, highlighting our moral responsibility
“Being discriminated against doesn’t make you morally superior.”
She gives sound, sage advice (maybe the best I’ve ever gotten)
"The only acceptable way to waste your time on earth is online shopping."
She recognizes that a big part of knowing how to love is knowing how to let yourself be loved
"To love is to give and take. Please love giving and taking."
She reminds us that fighting toward gender equality is up to all of us, no matter our gender
"Please make Feminism a big, raucous, inclusive party."