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Pan African Spaces: Essays on Black Transnationalism
 1498581927, 9781498581929

Table of contents :
Cover
Pan African Spaces
Pan African Spaces: Essays on Black Transnationalism
Copyright Page
Contents
Changing the Paradigms on Migration and Immigration in the African Diaspora
Introduction
The United States
Beyond Berlin: The Meaning of Being Black and Bi-Cultural in the South African Outlier
Black Migration to Europe
Table of Contents Section/Breakdown
Chapter 1
(Re)igniting Pan-Africanism. (Re)jecting Afropolitanism. (Re)naming Our solution.
The Complexity of Identity
Afropolitanism—The Sibling to Negritude
Pan Africanization
Conclusion
Notes
Chapter 2
Is Race Really the Issue?
Racism: A Black Immigrant’s Experience
Individualized Racial Experience
The Education Gap
Generational Disparities
Disparities among Black Immigrants
Affirmative Action
Conclusion
Notes
Perspectives on Black Transnationalism and Identity Formation
Chapter 3
The Evolution of a Bicultural Identity in the Shadows of Nyerere’s Pan Africanism
Chapter 4
Skins, Identities, and Their Tragedies
I Could Not Tell Who I Am. Sometimes, I Was Called “Negrita”
Soy Española
Am I Spanish? Negra?
The African Diaspora
The World
Healing
Afrodescendiente, Hispano-Guineana
Now and the Future
Chapter 5
When I First Wore Fish Leather or Black Girl in Iceland
Notes
Chapter 6
Reinventing Identities
II
Poem 1
Death upon the Homefront
Crioulo Culture and Pidgin Music: American Experiences and West African Identities
Chapter 7
Navigating Between Two Worlds
Cabo-What? Knowing the Past in Order to Understand the Present
Welcome to the United States: Sky Scrapers, New Opportunities and Changing Family Dynamics
One School, Two Learning Systems: Was This Racist?
Meeting Mrs. Anderson and Getting to Lincoln
Is an African Girl Good Enough for an Elite Private School? Among the Many Who Want You to Succeed, There are Some Who Don’t
First Day of School: Uniform, Luxury Cars, and Me!
Foreign Girl and Foreign Foods
I Am Not Adopted, Just Ashamed
Why Do I Have to Make Eggs for My Dad? One Girl, Two Worlds
What Is Black and Who In The World is Jane Eyre?
Finding Light Amid Darkness
Learning to Live Between Two Worlds and Making it Work
Chapter 8
Having My Kenkey and Eating It Too
Chapter 9
Music of My Flesh
African Girl Child in the DMV
African Music and the Creation of African Cultural Spaces in the Diaspora
Our Music as Cultural Medium and Manifestation
Notes
Chapter 10
Local Accra with a Twist of International Luxe
Diverse Identities and Representations among Second-Generation Ethiopian Migrants in America
Chapter 11
Ethiopia on My Skin, Black Power in My Heart
Chapter 12
Black Immigrant Communities
Chapter 13
Identity Theft
Class and Citizenship: African American and African Migrant Experiences in South Africa
Chapter 14
On Being African . . . American
African (Return?) . . . American (Departure?)
African (Endearment) . . . American (Denigration)
African . . . American: The Chasm that Theft and Thriving Created
Notes
Chapter 15
Cultural Diversity, Culturally Fluid
Family, Politics, and Transition
Back to the Motherland
Relating with Other Ugandans Within South Africa
How Has Being Bicultural Framed What It Means to be African in South Africa?
How Has All This Impacted My Activism?
Chapter 16
Migration, Language, Race, and Identity in South Africa
Migration to South Africa: An Overview of International Migration and Congolese Influx in South Africa
Relations between Black African Migrants and Black South Africans
A Congolese in South Africa
Migration and Language
Cultural Identity
Maintenance or Loss of Congolese languages
Conclusion
Chapter 17
The Realities of the Diaspora Life in France and South Africa
Two Intersecting Diasporas: Caribbean and African American Communities in America
Chapter 18
Migration, Immigration, and Gender
Bicultural Socialization
Themes in the Literature
Maintaining an Ethnic Identity
Understanding Race and Adopting a Racial Identity Over time
Keepers of Culture: Role of Women in Migration
Discussion
Implications
Chapter 19
The Meaning of Blackness
Chapter 20
Being Black and Bicultural
Theoretical Framework and Methodology
The Haiti-Chicago Connection: A Brief History
Rejection of Haitian Identity and Exploration of American Identity
Reclamation of Heritage: Concrete and Symbolic Return to the Homeland
Conclusion: Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, Hyphenated Identity, and Redefining African American Identity
Chapter 21
Always Remember Black Is Beautiful
Poem 2
American Double Toasted Banana Nut Bread
The Relationships Between Color and Race in Afro Latinx Identities
Chapter 22
Call Me Survivor
African Diasporic Identity
On Becoming Black
Survival and Identity
Mis Raíces, My Roots
Indhira/On Being Black in Colombia
Omilani/Grandmother—Hair Texture
Omilani/On Not Being Black
A Tale of Two Negritudes
Black, White, and Color Off the Page
Chapter 23
The Routes of Rhythm
Everyone Has a Right to Decide Their Own Destiny
Everything me say, you say pro to the Black
If You Live in a Glass House Don’t Throw Stones
The Crack of the Whip, the Slave Ship, and My Brutalized Soul
Black man you’re an African
Colonized Education
Proud Descendants of the African Race
Chapter 24
Afro-Latinidad
Embracing My Afro-Latino Identity
Afro-Latinidad, Promoting Blackness, and the Black Diaspora
Chapter 25
Identity as Profession
Growing Up Black
Wholly African American and Panamanian
Identity as Profession
Notes
Chapter 26
Between Blackness and Africanness
Theoretical Overview: From Négritude to Blackness
Puerto Ricans on the West Coast: Research Design and Methodology
Data Analysis
Discussion
Conclusion
Note
Bibliography
Index
About the Contributors

Citation preview

Pan African Spaces

Pan African Spaces Essays on Black Transnationalism

Edited by Msia Kibona Clark, Phiwokuhle Mnyandu, and Loy L. Azalia

LEXINGTON BOOKS

Lanham • Boulder • New York • London

Published by Lexington Books An imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 www.rowman.com 6 Tinworth Street, London SE11 5AL, United Kingdom Copyright © 2019 The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available ISBN 978-1-4985-8192-9 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-4985-8193-6 (electronic) ∞ ™ The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992. Printed in the United States of America

Contents

SECTION 1: CHANGING THE PARADIGMS ON MIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION IN THE AFRICAN DIASPORA

1

Introduction: Being Black and “Bicultural”

3

1 (Re)igniting Pan-Africanism. (Re)jecting Afropolitanism. (Re)naming Our solution. Nenelwa Tomi

21

2 Is Race Really the Issue? Examining the Fallacy of “Black Foreigner Privilege” Tolulope F. Odunsi, Esq

31

SECTION 2: PERSPECTIVES ON BLACK TRANSNATIONALISM AND IDENTITY FORMATION

45

3 The Evolution of a Bicultural Identity in the Shadows of Nyerere’s Pan Africanism  Msia Kibona Clark

47

4 Skins, Identities, and Their Tragedies: The Learning and Healing of a Hispano-Guinean Woman in the Diaspora  Carolina Nvé Díaz San Francisco

53

5 When I First Wore Fish Leather or Black Girl in Iceland  Sharony Green

61

6 Reinventing Identities: Crossing Borders of Values and Beliefs in Noviolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names 71 Afua (Rachel) Ansong

vi

Contents

Poem 1: Death upon the Homefront  Shingi Mavima

87

SECTION 3: CRIOULO CULTURE AND PIDGIN MUSIC: AMERICAN EXPERIENCES AND WEST AFRICAN IDENTITIES 89 7 Navigating Between Two Worlds: (Re)defining My Identity in the Context of an All-Girls Elite Private School  Terza Alice Silva Lima-Neves

91

8 Having My Kenkey and Eating It Too: Being Black and Bicultural  Margaret Eva Salifu

103

9 Music of My Flesh: African Music, Cultural Affirmation, and the Production of Social Space in the Diaspora  Nana Afua Y. Brantuo

109

10 Local Accra with a Twist of International Luxe  Zoë Gadegbeku SECTION 4: DIVERSE IDENTITIES AND REPRESENTATIONS AMONG SECOND-GENERATION ETHIOPIAN MIGRANTS IN AMERICA 11 Ethiopia on My Skin, Black Power in My Heart: How Growing Up Black and Multiethnic Has Taught Me to Navigate Different Forms of Anti-Blackness  Yelena Bailey 12 Black Immigrant Communities: Misrepresented and Underserved in the United States  Mekdela Ejigu 13 Identity Theft  Semien Abay SECTION 5: CLASS AND CITIZENSHIP: AFRICAN AMERICAN AND AFRICAN MIGRANT EXPERIENCES IN SOUTH AFRICA 14 On Being African . . . American  Gabriel Peoples

115

125

127

135 141

149 151

Contents

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15 Cultural Diversity, Culturally Fluid: Experiences of a Ugandan, South African  Sayuni Brown

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16 Migration, Language, Race, and Identity in South Africa: Analyzing Congolese Diaspora Links  Eugene M. Bope

169

17 The Realities of the Diaspora Life in France and South Africa  Tafadzwa Zvobgo SECTION 6: TWO INTERSECTING DIASPORAS: CARIBBEAN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES IN AMERICA 18 Migration, Immigration, and Gender: Afro-Caribbean Experiences from a Bicultural Socialization Perspective  Shelvia English, Dayne Hutchinson, and Kat J. Stephens 19 The Meaning of Blackness  Cassandra “Dr. Cass” J. St. Vil 20 Being Black and Bicultural: Racial and Ethnic Identity Formation of Haitian Americans in Chicago  Courtney Pierre Joseph 21 Always Remember Black Is Beautiful: A Narrative on Being Afro-Trinidadian in the United States Keisha V. Thompson Poem 2: American Double Toasted Banana Nut Bread  Maurisa Li-A-Ping SECTION 7: THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN COLOR AND RACE IN AFRO LATINX IDENTITIES 22 Call Me Survivor: AfroLatina Diasporic Identity, Survival, and a Tale of Two Negritudes  Jessica Omilani Alarcón and Indhira Serrano

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189 191 205

211

223

229

231 233

23 The Routes of Rhythm: Reggae and Antillean Black Identity  Ryan Mann-Hamilton

247

24 Afro-Latinidad: Being a Black Latino  Anthony Curtis Polanco

255

viii

Contents

25 Identity as Profession: Becoming an African American Panamanian Afro-Latina Curator  Ariana A. Curtis

259

26 Between Blackness and Africanness: Indexing Puerto Rican Identity Through Discourse in Northern California Krista L. Cortes

271

Bibliography 291 Index 309 About the Contributors

315

Section 1

CHANGING THE PARADIGMS ON MIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION IN THE AFRICAN DIASPORA

Introduction Being Black and “Bicultural”

What does it mean to be Black and bicultural? Or to inhabit multiple Black or African cultural spaces? What are some of the complex ways people of African descent identify as African, African American, Black, Coloured, and so on? There has been a lot of literature on the politics around racial identity, and the experiences of people of biracial heritage. There has also been a lot written on second-generation immigrants living in Europe and the United States, and their navigation of host and home cultures. What about those who have one primary racial identity, and multiple cultural identities? This book centers on the experiences of people who self-identify as Black, and who navigate multiple Black cultural spaces, to varying degrees, over time. This includes individuals with one parent from Africa and another parent from the African Diaspora, individuals based in the Diaspora with parents from different parts of Africa, individuals with both parents born in Africa or the African Diaspora who grew up in a country other than that of their parent’s birth, and any of the other ways peoples of African descent identify with multiple Black cultural backgrounds. The contributions in this book represent experiences of being bicultural that differ in many ways from experiences of being biracial, or a second-generation immigrant. Racial identity and ethnic or cultural identity are related. Individuals may be biracial, and identify as Black, while negotiating multiple Black cultural identities. Likewise, the experiences of being a second-generation Black immigrant may necessitate a navigation of host and heritage culture, while also requiring the consideration of multiple Black cultural identities. The experiences and identities of bicultural Blacks contribute to dialogues around identity, and the internal and external factors that impact how one self-identifies. There are many similarities in how individuals form their identities, whether those identities are based on racial identity, cultural identity, 3

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Figure 0.1  This Figure Represents the Multiple Identities Someone Like Actor Idris Elba. He was Born with Some of these Identities, While Others have Been Assigned to Him or Were Adopted due to Migration and Cultural Dynamics Locally.

religious identity, or identity with a specific geographical area. Many of the ways in which people identify may also overlap, or shift across time or social context Figure 0.1. The above chart represents the various identities of actor Idris Elba, who grew up in England, to parents who were Sierra Leonean and Ghanaian. Elba’s identity moves between multiple spaces, as he is British, Diaspora Black, and African. Idris Elba, Idrissa Akuna Elba, or DJ Big Dris, aside from his acting roles Elba has presented us with various clues in his public life to his familiarity with multiple cultural identities. There are in fact multiple factors that go into a person’s identity. Some of those are self-chosen, others are imposed. According to Omi and Winant (2016), race and ethnic identities are among the first categories in which we place people. This process provides clues to the identities of others, and informs our interactions, or “racial etiquette” with those individuals. Omi and Winant (2016) say that when someone’s racial or ethnic identity is unclear, or unfamiliar, we are often uncomfortable. According to Omi and Winant (2016), “without a racial identity one is in danger of having no identity (pp. 14).” The racial or ethnic categories imposed are often determined by someone’s accent, name, and/or dress. Placement in certain categories often come with social and economic consequences or privileges. For example, Paris has often been praised as a city where African Americans can escape racial oppression. However, the experiences of African American migrants in Paris, from James Baldwin to

Introduction

5

Ta Nehisi Coats, differs from the experiences of African migrants in Paris. There is a distinction made between Black people from America and Black people from Africa. The identity imposed of Black people in Paris, based on some of the clues discussed, may determine whether one experiences the “racial utopia” of Paris, or the oppression found in Paris’ banlieues (ghettos). In looking at the theory of bicultural identity integration (BII), there are several psychosocial changes an individual may experience as they operate in multiple cultural spaces, throughout their life. BII deals with the ability to integrate those multiple identities, and to successfully move between those identities (cultural frame switching) (Benet-Martinez & Haritatos, 2005; Chen, Benet-Martinez, & Bond, 2008). A lot of research has been done on self-identification among biracial and bicultural populations, especially second-generation immigrants and their relationships with host and home cultures. In this book, identity is not approached in a dichotomous manner, but as a series of interwoven experiences that influence how one moves between and among new and old identities. The chapters in the book highlight the myriad of ways in which people of African descent identify. It’s not simply a conversation between the Diaspora and Africa, identities are being formed by bicultural Blacks whose primary experience is on the African continent. Or bicultural Blacks who represent multiple Diaspora identities. Moving between cultures, and navigating the cultural dynamics of multiple cultural identities, engenders a level cultural frame switching (CFS). CFS is the practice of moving between cultural contexts, and knowing and exhibiting the appropriate cultural ques in those contexts. In other words, when bicultural individuals change their behaviors and personalities in response to cues in their environment (e.g., language, cultural icons), that is cultural frame switching. Some scholars say CFS is analogous to W. E. B. DuBois’ theory of double consciousness. DuBois’ theory of double consciousness presents the presence of multiple selves as a space of conflict. Indeed, for some bicultural Blacks, it is a space of conflict (Clark, 2012). For many bicultural Blacks, the moving between identities and the integration of those identities has produced many different ways in which people self-identify. The thoughts that shape the formation of that identity may emerge from conflict or an inability to integrate multiple cultures or identities. External factors also play a role. For example, the demographics of an individual’s community, an individual’s exposure to the social and cultural landscapes of different spaces, and racial and ethnic politics in an individual’s countries of residence. Parentage, popular culture, and the media also play critical roles in the ways bicultural Blacks shape their identities. One of the first to write about the experiences of being Black and bicultural was Phillipe Wamba. In 1999, journalist Phillipe Wamba published the book Kinship: A Family’s Journey in Africa and America. Kinship was the first

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Introduction

full-length book published on being Black and bicultural. Wamba, whose mother is African American and father is Congolese, grew up in Tanzania. The book contains Wamba’s memoir, as well as research on the history of the relationships between African Americans and Africans. Wamba’s book was a major inspiration for this book. Wamba navigated multiple Black identities, and multiple Black spaces. He was African American and had strong connections with that culture, he was also Congolese and had developed ties with that culture as well. He also grew up in Tanzania, a culture in which much of his identity was also rooted. His book was the first to explore the experiences of having multiple Black identities. There are definite similarities with being biracial, though many of the experiences and identity questions differ for those who self-identify as Black, but identify with multiple Black cultures. Not only is Africa a very diverse continent, so too is the African Diaspora. The languages, customs, ceremonies, foods, and religious beliefs vary greatly across Africa and the African Diaspora. The chapters in the book are meant to represent some of the ways the cultures and identities of Africa and the African Diaspora intersect in individual personal stories. Since 1999, increases in the global migration has meant an increasing number of people of African descent have found themselves in multiple Black cultural spaces. Improvements in communication and the advent of social media have documented their stories. A lot of scholarship has been written about Africans migrating out of their countries, whether it be to Europe, America, or South Africa. A lot of that literature presents evidence of tensions between African Americans and African immigrants, or Black South Africans and migrants from other parts of Africa. A lot of that work examines the problematic relationships between African migrants and host (Black) communities, or provides comparisons of African migrant and local Black communities in the areas of economics, education, and geographical dispersion. This literature has been helpful, but there is an increasing need to consider identity, as the migrations have produced growing generations of bicultural Blacks. Scholarship that examines cultural identity among various Black and African communities is growing. Additionally, Films, television series, music, and social media chatter have detailed the personal experiences of bicultural Blacks and Africans. Memoirs written by Issa Rae (The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, 2015) and Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, 2017) include sections in which the two discuss their African fathers. Both have African American mothers and Senegalese fathers, and both have included excerpts of their relationships with their father and Senegalese culture. There has also been an increase in African Americans and Africans moving to Africa, especially to countries like Ghana and South Africa. Popular culture and social media are providing representations of these return migrant

Introduction

7

experiences. The YouTube series An African City is a fictional story of five African women who return to live in Africa, after several years in the West. The show features many characters from multicultural Black backgrounds, who returned to Africa after being raised in Western cities, cities with large and diverse Black populations. African migrant returnees do not necessarily return to the country(ies) of their or their parents’ birth. There are numerous migrants from around the continent who have returned to Africa and settled in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, and other countries. In An African City, the character Zainab is born to Sierra Leonean parents, raised in Atlanta, and decides to settle in Accra. This is not a unique trajectory for African migrants to follow. Most migrants who return to Africa, settle in their country of birth. But this is not always the case. Additionally, second-generation migrants may move to Africa and select a country other than that of their parents’ birth. Transnational African identities are often the product of Africans identifying with more than one African or Diaspora culture. The numbers of African Americans and Caribbean Blacks moving to Africa have also increased. The post-independence era saw a lot of people moving to a newly independent Africa from the Diaspora. Many of those early Diaspora migrants, however, returned to the West after several years in Africa. The recent resurgence of Diaspora migration to Africa has contributed to the cultural diversity in many African cities. In 2014, the Atlanta Black Star published Article “7 of the Best Places for Black People to Live in Africa and Caribbean.” Three of the cities named Accra, Cape Town, and Johannesburg have been home to some of the largest Diaspora populations, with Cape Town and Johannesburg being a destination for migrants from both the Diaspora and Africa. The movement of Black people into Africa has also inspired several blogs and YouTube videos by migrants to Africa. The website “African American in Africa” includes the experiences of many of those migrants, experiences that include questions of identity. Blog posts and articles like “Why I Africa: On Traveling the Continent as A Black American” by Kenyan American author Nereya Otieno and “Being an African American in Africa: ‘What are you?’” by African American author Angela Williams, both speak to questions of identity and culture. Both articles reflect on the experience of being Black in multiple Black cultural spaces. This book includes contributions from all over the world, and details the multiple experiences of Black and African people. In many ways, it expands on Wamba’s work, which was grounded in the experiences of post-independent migrations out of and into Africa. The global movements of people of African descent have also give new meaning to Mazrui’s quote “today we are scattered so widely that the sun never sets on the descendants of Africa.” Mazrui’s quote was mostly in reference to the forced dispersal of enslaved Africans. Contemporary movements of African peoples are also having

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Introduction

important impacts on the ways in which people of African descent relate with one another, and the ways in which they identify as African/Black people. The book uses a Pan African lens to examine what it means to be Black or African. Meaning, what it means to inhabit a Black or African racial identity, but inhabit multiple Black or African cultural identities. Using a Pan African lens means that there is already a recognition of being part of a global Black or African community. This book does not seek to establish that a solidarity of African peoples, or bonds (historical and contemporary) between Africans peoples exist. It is based on the assumption that those bonds and linkages are present to varying degrees, and with varying implications. The following three sections provide an overview of Black migration in three regions and countries: The United States, Europe, and South Africa. THE UNITED STATES Voluntary migration to the United States from Africa and various parts of the Diaspora has been happening since the early 1900s. Many of those early migrants played important roles in Black America’s social and cultural development. They were a part of the Harlem Renaissance, they were involved in the civil rights movement, and they have helped shaped Black popular culture in America. America’s Black population has become increasingly culturally diverse, thanks in large part to migration from the Caribbean and Africa. Black migration and mobility in America have led to Black populations with multiple cultural identities, and experiences rooted in more than one Black community. How Black people in America identify is based on personal experiences, and is often impacted by culture, geography, economics, and America’s racial politics. Black immigrants to America have often settled in predominantly African American communities, such as the Senegalese in Harlem or Haitians in Miami. Many have established ethnic enclaves, where certain ethnic migrants are concentrated, and that often neighbor traditionally African American communities. Little Cuba and Little Haiti emerged in Miami in the 1960s and 1980s, respectively (Curtis, 1980; Lee and Martinez, 2002). Little Haiti sits adjacent to the predominantly African American neighborhood of Liberty City, where Haitians and African Americans share not only a physical space, and school district, but also share similar economic challenges (Jamshidian & Pirnajmuddin, 2014). In New York, Little Senegal emerged in the African American community in Harlem in the 1990s (Salzbrunn, 2004; Ebin, 2008). There are also large clusters of Ghanaians living in the Bronx, Somalis living in Minneapolis and Columbus (Ohio), and Ethiopians in the Washington, DC, area. Washington, DC, has been referred to as the Chocolate City because

Introduction

9

of its large African American population. While gentrification is challenging those demographics, much of the city’s official materials are printed in English, Spanish, and Amharic, reflecting the large numbers of Ethiopians in the region. New York and Florida are currently home to largest numbers of Caribbean migrants, while New York, Washington, DC, and Texas are home to the largest number of African migrants (Thomas, 2012; Zong and Batalova, 2017). Ethnic enclaves have often meant that groups have less contact and interaction with neighboring communities. However, businesses and community programs in ethnic enclaves, such as Little Haiti and Little Senegal, are often frequented by African Americans and other migrants. This is not to downplay any tensions between groups, but to underscore how close proximity and shared racial identities have also meant increased crosscultural communication in these diverse Black communities. Caribbean and African migration to the United States has happened in several phases. For Caribbean migrants, the major waves of their migrations to the United States occurred between 1900 and 1932, the 1940s to the 1950s, and post-1965 (Winston, 2007). African migrants began coming to the United States in larger numbers much later. The first major wave of African migration to the United States came after independence, from 1960 to 1970, then from the 1980 to 2000, and post-2000 (Clark, forthcoming). Caribbean migration to the United States has grown steadily since the early 1900s, and like African migration, it saw a sharp increase after the passing of the 1965 immigration act. The 1965 immigration act allowed for increased immigration on the basis of family reunification, and abolished previous quota systems. The number of first-generation Black immigrants in the United States went from 125,000 in 1960 to 3.8 million in 2015 (Anderson, 2015). In many American cities, the Black immigrant population is as much as 20 percent of the total Black population. It is estimated that by 2060 the foreign-born Black population in the United States will reach more than 16 percent of the total Black population in the United States (Anderson, 2015). Today multiple generations of African and Caribbean migrants live in the United States and have created culturally diverse Black communities, where in some cases, the lines between communities are heavily blurred. People of African descent in the United States identify in multiple ways. Most scholarship has focused on first- and second-generation migrants, or the relationship between Black immigrant communities and African Americans. The demographics today call for a broader look at identities within multiple Black cultural spaces. This is especially true in large metropolitan areas in the United States. In cities like New York and Washington, DC, various Black communities often occupy the same space. In Washington, DC, there are several African festivals that take place every year. At these festivals, there is significant

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Caribbean and African American participation. The same is true of the city’s Caribbean festivals, even those, like Taste of Jamaica, that highlight one Caribbean country. At Caribbean carnivals, it is not uncommon to see representations from Africa in the parades. The official website for the popular Caribana Caribbean festival in Toronto has promoted the party “Afropolitan Tribe: A night celebrating African and Caribbean music, dance, and fashion trends.” African American festivals and celebrations (such as Kwanzaa) may also attract West Indian and African participants. Additionally, African Liberation Day celebrations in various US cities are often celebrations organized by African, Caribbean, and African American participants. The blending of so many African and Diaspora communities in the United States has helped popularize the new trend of being “Afropolitan.” Afropolitan is a term that was first made popular by Ghanaian-Nigerian author Taiye Selasi in 2005 (Selasi, 2013; Eze, 2014). The term is mostly applied to post-2000 migrants from Africa, who are highly mobile and have numerous transnational experiences. It has also been used by young African and Caribbean migrants in the United States, who have employed the term in titles of various pop culture products. There are blogs and podcasts dedicated to Afropolitan lifestyles, such as “This Afropolitan Life: An American life with African roots.” There is the franchising of a series of Afropolitan themed parties held by Drum Pulse Entertainment, which are held under the banner of Afropolitan DC, Afropolitan NYC, and Afropolitan Houston. Artists have also embraced Afropolitanism. US-based Ghanaian artist Blitz the Ambassador released the album Afropolitan Dreams in 2014 and US-based Congolese artist Alec Lomami, calls himself “Alec the Afropolitan, or cultural bastard.” The term has been used to describe the blend of African, Caribbean, and African American cultures that have mingled to create diverse Black cultural scenes in many major metropolitan areas in America: New York, Atlanta, Houston/Dallas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington, DC. The term has also been used to refer to the development of similar multicultural Black communities in London, Paris, and Johannesburg. The term Afropolitan is often criticized for being to consumer driven, and elitist, which marginalizes non-mobile and non-translational migrants. It is the first term, however, that attempts to capture the multicultural African (Black) spaces that have emerged out of increasingly mobile Black populations. Racial politics in America has impacted how Black people identify. Most people of African descent, regardless of the culture, are often forced to unify in their racial identity, when it comes to indicating their race on forms. The United States has often seen racial politics in Black and White, and sometimes a little Brown. The legacy of racial politics in America has always been a part of American culture, and migrants from Africa and the Caribbean must navigate that culture. Mary Waters (2009) reveals different approaches to

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11

Black identity among West Indian immigrant families. According to Waters (2009), second-generation migrants, or those who had been in the United States a longer time, were more likely to see themselves as both Jamaican, or Trini, or Dominican, and so on, and African American. There are diverse ways in which Black immigrants carve out their cultural identities in America. All, however, must confront the politics of being Black in America. First-generation Black immigrants are often identified by their accent, while second generation immigrants are may only be identifiable by their name. It is often second-generation migrants that grapple the most with being both Black and African or Caribbean. Many move between communities and identities in different ways. In school they are African American, at home they are Jamaican, or Nigerian, or Guyanese. Sometimes multiple Black cultures exist in the same household, and individuals navigate the Black cultures to which their parents belong. College campuses are often spaces of close cultural contact for peoples of African descent. This is especially true at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), where Black students from diverse cultural backgrounds interact. First- and second-generation African and Caribbean students may join African American fraternities and sororities, African Americans may become members of Caribbean or African student associations, and Black students often become involved in social issues concerning different cultural groups (#BringBackOurGirls, Haiti immigration, Black Lives Matter). This close contact between groups fosters greater understanding of cultural parallels and produces greater cross-cultural communication. Being Black in America involves multiple experiences and identities. Black people of various racial and cultural backgrounds have been important figures in Black history in America. The impact of multicultural Black communities in America also has a history within Black activism. Marcus Garvey (Jamaica), Arturo Schomburg (Puerto Rico), and Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture (Trinidad & Tobago) were all active in movements for racial justice in America, organizing extensively within African American communities. More recently emerging Black civil rights organizations are also becoming increasingly multicultural, and taking up issues that impact a broad range of Black experiences. The founders of Black Lives Matter (BLM) were both African American and Nigerian, and have mobilized around police violence directed toward Black immigrants and African Americans. This includes the 2015 deaths of Cameroonian immigrant Charly Leundeu Keunang (aka “Africa”) in Los Angeles and Matthew Ajibade in Atlanta. African, African American, and Caribbean immigrants came together to create the Black Alliance for Just Immigration or BAJI, in 2006. BAJI currently has Opal Tometi (BLM co-founder & Nigerian American) as its executive director and Tia Oso (Nigerian and African American) as its national

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organizer. Problems around America’s immigration laws and the impact of the prison industrial complex on detained Black migrants are conversations being taken up in multiple Black activist spaces. For many Black social justice groups, immigration has been added to existing Black organizing around traditional civil rights issues. Varied experiences of Black people in America are presented in this volume. Many of the chapters tackle personal perspectives in the issues presented here. The book includes chapters from second-generation Caribbean and African migrants in America, second-generation migrants with parents from different countries, individuals with parents from the Diaspora and Africa. The chapters offer personal stories of the multiple experiences of being Black in America, and perhaps raises more question than answers. The chapters in this volume indicate the complex ways we must conceive of Black identity, and make room for alternative frameworks for understanding Black identity in America. BLACK MIGRATION TO EUROPE There are two events in recent history that are symbolic of Black migration to Europe: the African Migrant Crisis and the burning of Grenfell Towers in Europe. These two situations are merely a microcosm of the Black experience in Europe, not to say that the Black European experience is only met with gloom and doom, but rather to illustrate the level in which anti-Blackness exists in Europe. The African migrant Crisis that began in 2015 has shaken the core of foreign policy, immigration and global economic experts, as continuous instability in many African countries has intensified. More than one million migrants have traveled to Europe and thousands have died, drowned or are missing. African refugees from various parts of the continent journey through Libya to try and cross the Mediterranean, often young African people, in search for better opportunities. The migrant crisis has become a huge concern for humanitarian agencies and organizations. No one really knows how to best deal with the issue and projections suggest that more and more African migrants will flood European borders. The European response has been mixed, with countries creating stricter border and immigration laws in an effort to control the overwhelming number of new migrants that enter the countries on the one hand, and on the other relocating African migrants to safer and better livable conditions. The fire that engulfed the Grenfell Towers block in London on June 14, 2017, caused massive outrage among the British lower and working class. The government and private companies lack of immediate action and neglect

Introduction

13

of the numerous complaints made about the buildings faulty system, exposed a larger wound. The Grenfell Action Group (GAG), a group of residents, filed complaints and had been making noise about the defective and outdated equipment used to protect the building from fires since 2013. They received no response from local officials and council members. The number of casualties reported as missing or dead in the fire, sent red flags with local residents and authorities, who called for deeper investigations to verify the actual number of causalities. As of July 2017, a reported 80 people had died in the fire and 39 officially identified. African, Caribbean, and Arab immigrants, made up the majority of residents living in the tower. The paradoxical relationship of the African Migrant crisis and the burning of Grenfell Towers are sadly two every important narratives of the Black European experience. On one side of the coin, Grenfell Towers represents the intersection of race, class, ethnicity and the abandonment of the state in addressing the concerns of the most vulnerable populations. On the other side of the coin, the African Migrant Crisis, illustrates the desperation of the Black African person in attempting to change life’s prospects, all while being rejected by the same colonial powers that had a part to play in the economic instability and political problems ensuing in their countries. The history of Black migration to Europe begins further back than the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, however, it was primarily through the enslavement of Africans in the Americas and the colonial period in Africa that set the stage for future mass migration Black people to different parts of the world. As European countries continued to maintain postcolonial power and control over their former colonies, with many countries imposing strict immigration laws, Black Europeans fought to dismantle racist ideologies. The irony and complexity of Black European identity has been one met with hostility by White Europeans and repeatedly turning violent. Black migration to Europe has steadily seen an upsurge since the early 1900s. Black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean make up a large number of Europe’s population. In the 1960s when most Caribbean and African countries gained their independence, many Black people emigrated to various European countries. Data and statistics on the total number of Black people living in Europe is hard to disaggregate due to the varying laws that govern census data that specify race in Europe. The UK is the only European country that explicitly categories Black as a race, unlike other countries such as France, where capturing ethnic data is illegal. The majority of Black migration to Europe falls into a few categories, with most Black people migrating as part of the colonial experience. The other three categories include Africans emigrating to Europe as refugees, labor migrants, and as students. There are approximately, 1.8 Million Black Caribbean and Black Africans living in the UK. Out of the over 60 million

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people living in France, about 2.5 million, if not more are Black. In Germany there is about 168,000 Sub-Saharan Africans living in the country. There are around 200,000 Black people who also live in Italy, and about 150,000 African immigrants living in Portugal. During the Cold War, 50,000 African students traveled to Russia for an “extended study” program (Clark, 2012). The World Wars During World War I hundreds of thousands of Caribbean and African soldiers went to war alongside European armies. Black soldiers were called upon to assist the British empire and the Allies to fight the Central Powers. The calls to fight beside their colonizers and in some way establish a sense of humanity within the Caribbean and African soldiers became a vital mission for the Black battalions. German depictions of the Black armies were filled with racist and stereotypical epithets of the Caribbean and African army men. World War I in the eyes of the Black soldiers, was to be symbolic of the loyalty that, Black soldiers, particularly Caribbean soldiers, had toward Great Britain. However, Black soldiers were treated as second-class soldiers and were frequently given the more dirty and dangerous jobs and were employed primarily to be laborers. Black soldiers fought in battalions for example as the British West India Regiments (BWIR), the Kings African Rifles in Eastern Africa, and the Senegalese Tirailleurs (Riflemen). Caribbean and African soldiers were also often pitted against each other, as the Caribbean soldier was perceived to be closer to what an Englishman represented, in behavior, language, and his practice of Christianity. The African soldier, was still thought of as barbaric and uncontrollable. Both groups were perceived by the British military, to be lacking in intelligence and demeanor to be full soldiers ready for combat, which was solely based on the fact they were not White (Smith, 2014). By World War II Black people were encouraged to move to Europe and fill the gaps of the labor market. This move to Europe, at least in theory, would, prove that Black soldiers and Black people were honorable participants in the war effort. As the Black identity consciousness movement grew during the postwar years Black European scholars, artists and activists, challenged and refuted European notions of Blackness in order to combat Europe’s long history of anti-Black citizenship. The affirming of both the individual and collective awareness of the African heritage of Black Europeans, became essential. Black British, Afro-Russian, Afro-German, Afro-Dutch are all terms that were created and adopted by Black Europeans to refer to people of African descent who have emigrated to Europe, while also an assertive act to legitimize their European identity.

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Black British In the UK the experience of Black British people is a long and convoluted history of enslavement, exploitation, and the struggle to establish people of African heritage as valuable members of society. After the owning, selling, and buying of slaves in Britain became a not-so-lucrative business in 1807 and as Britain transitioned into industrializing its economy, Africans took cheap labor jobs (Christian, 1998). The abolishment of slavery although stopped the selling of Africans, it did little to shift White supremacist mindsets and beliefs. Race riots in Britain persisted throughout the early 1900s, well into the 2000s. Frictions between African and Caribbean British people also persisted as the idea of one being more “English” than the other became a strong point of contention. Black British people in the UK are among some of the poorest in the country, which demonstrates the true racial divide that exists in the UK. Afro-German Caribbean-American and Harlem native literary artist Audre Lorde was among the people who pushed for the term Afro-German and subsequently turned into a movement, which advocated for the claiming and defining of Black German racial identities. Lorde was a visiting professor between 1984–1991. She documents her experience and ideas in her work, “The Berlin Years.” Black Germans with African American and African heritage greatly identified with the movement. German nationality at the time, was solely based on ethnicity, which left Afro-Germans isolated, given that they were relatively a small minority (Micheals, 25). Part of Lordes’ argument in creating the term Afro-German, was also an effort to create solidarity and connectedness between other African diaspora groups in the world. Despite Afro-Germans who were born and raised in Germany being lawful citizens, White Germans found it hard or completely did not accept Afro-Germans (Wright, 2003). French Blacks French nationalism and identity has always been a challenging experience for non-White French people. The colonial era established France as a world superpower and French colonies were to be territories of the Western European country. France’s system and policy of assimilation of foreign-born French residents was enforced to ensure that particularly immigrants living in France would adhere to French sociopolitical and sociocultural norms. In doing so, the French government implemented strict laws in becoming legal

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Introduction

residents of France for immigrant groups. For the Black population in France, the French colonial legacy has become a double-edge sword. French society however, became a place of refuge for African American creatives during the Harlem Renaissance as well as African American soldiers who decided to stay in France following World War I (Janken, 1998). African American immigrants in France were not regarded as “negro,” but rather they were arguably treated better than African and Caribbean immigrants. The oppressive Jim Crow laws of America pushed African Americans to move to France and they were often successful. Despite this, relations between Black French people of African and Caribbean descent and White French people have been tense. Reclaiming Blackness in Europe Anti-Blackness and anti-Africanness have been a part of European sociopolitical history and discourse. Race relations in Europe have often been adverse. Black Europeans have endured physical attacks, verbal assault, police brutality, and discrimination for the color of their skin. The process of reclaiming Blackness for the Black European, is intricate in nature, but has been a necessity in advocating for the rights of Black people in Europe. Despite the consistent dismissal of Black Europeans as being from Europe, Black people have still been able to develop vibrant communities, rich in Caribbean and African culture. They have also been able to create strong networks that strive to better the livelihoods of Black Europeans. Young Black people living in Europe have taken up the task of challenging perceptions of Blackness in Europe, by using various digital platforms such as blogs, podcasts, and social media. They’ve been able to create communities around these platforms, but more importantly share their experiences of growing up in Europe. Black immigrants and nationals in Europe navigate very complex spaces. The multiplicity of Blackness in Europe, is a journey that ultimately falls somewhere between pride and frustration. BEYOND BERLIN: THE MEANING OF BEING BLACK AND BI-CULTURAL IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN OUTLIER Africa as we know it today is a geographical and political product of the Berlin conference whose conclusion in 1885 saw the imposition of what are essentially artificial borders. Almost invariably, these colonial boundaries did not wither away at the dawn of independence but were simply “transferred”—often as is, save only for name—to the disparate independent states

Introduction

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whose quest for nation-building continues today. Culturally speaking, there can be no denying that what were de jure independent countries remained de facto colonial appendages in many ways. Incongruent as they were, these post-independence states gained formal recognition among the global community of nations and are still accepted as custodians of their respective citizens’ aspirations and legal raison d'être. A Black person on the continent of Africa is not born an “African citizen” as such, but an African who is a citizen of, for instance, Tanzania, or Nigeria, or any other member-country of the African Union. In exploring Blackness and its interaction with bi-culturalness, therefore, we must give due consideration to the latter’s main incubator and conduit: the nation-state. It is because the unique conditions that obtain in it are the primary contributing factor shaping the various contributions to the conversation. If the fates of the Africans are tied to these countries as presently constituted, so is their culture that we seek to explore. Writing about national culture in his seminal The Wretched of the Earth (1963), Frantz Fanon, while acknowledging the dimunitive effects colonialism had on African culture, expresses pessimism about a return to a glorious cultural past. The plausible alternative is a “return to the future” where the national culture is an empowering force for productive engagement in one’s endeavors wherever in the world the one ends up. Being bi-cultural, therefore, may well be a function of Fanon’s “dual emergence” where a “national consciousness” is not erased; instead it is fused with an “international consciousness that establishes itself and thrives.” Imperfect and not void of contradiction, this process is unique from country to country. If culture is national, and knowing where the current nation-state is an artificial edifice of colonial design, then there cannot be a complete treatment of culture of a particular person from any of the African nation-state that is not colored by the colonial experience of their country, replete with the varying colonial characteristics of the colonizing power nexus. The difference will only be a matter of the degree of influence. Colonialism of a Special Kind In this milieu, South Africa presents a unique challenge for the analysis of being Black and bi-cultural. First, with South Africa there is no independence to speak of; there is liberation instead. This is because long after the colony of South Africa declared “independence” and formed the Union of South Africa in 1910, it remained under minority White rule with no meaningful input of the Black majority. This exclusion would go on for almost a century. To an African living in South Africa, independence was not a reprieve in any way but the beginning of a rule by the landed settler elite that had simply decided

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to cut the “umbilical cord” from the mother country and keep the spoils for itself. It is generally agreed upon that 1994, the year every South African, including Black-African citizens voted in one election for the first time, is when liberation came. Secondly, the existence of apartheid—the deliberate and formalized system that distributed economic, political, academic, and all other privileges according to strict racial strata written into law—imbued the post-liberation era with distinctive characteristics regarding how the people viewed themselves and by extension their culture within the country and in the world. Apartheid classified South Africans into four groups according to the relative privilege they enjoyed: Europeans, Coloreds (mixed race), Indians, and Africans. The post-apartheid era saw the emergence of a two-tiered classification. On a general level, there are White and Black South Africans. More specifically, however, there are White South Africans, and then among the Black South Africans there are Coloreds, Indians, and Africans. Whereas in other African countries, it may be generally assumed that a Congolese, for example, is an Black African person, in South Africa it is often not the case. A person may be a White South African and still not be an African; they may be Black but also an Indian; they may be Black but also a Colored. To add to this, among the three Black groups, they may all be Black but when among one another the African is the only one that might sometimes identify as Black while the others identify as Indian and Colored. Migration into South Africa from other parts of the continent also adds to the complexity. A Ghanaian immigrant may have less in common with a South African White than the latter’s African countryman or woman, but the latter and the Ghanaian will both be considered African and Black. Confusing, as this might initially seem, it presents a varying facet of being bi-cultural within the continent of Africa, one that we embrace. Hence a contribution by writers who immigrated from Zimbabwe, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are included here. If the entity of a country has a culture, which it does, one’s moving from one African country to another should still have a bi-cultural experience from which we ought to hear. In this volume, no attempt is made to dispute, define, or qualify these realities of South African life. This onerous task is left to the contributors themselves. We seek to engage with this dialectic, hoping that certain threads may emerge that will aid in the manner in which people perceive those that are bi-cultural, understand their journey, and accept their definitions of themselves. By sifting through these definitions and expositions, as disparate as post-Berlin/post-independence Africa herself, our hope is to find a way by which engagement may take place that does not seek an imposition of choice in culture, but an embrace of its potential to help Africans better understand themselves and be understood by the world.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS SECTION/BREAKDOWN Pan-African Spaces: Chapters on Black Transnationalism is divided into seven sections, taking the form of distinctly thought-provoking personal and scholarly chapters, as well as poems. The themes and chapters explore various topics, but essentially all revolve around the idea of the constant redefining, repositioning, and re-centering of the Africans’ place in the world. The first section, Changing the Paradigms on Migration and Immigration in the African Diaspora, provides an overview of Black migration, as well as a reflection new and old theoretical and policy implications. It is important to frame the chapters within broader discussions of migration and identity. It is also important to look at new terminologies and trends (Afropolitanism), as well as new conversations around existing ideas and policies (Affirmative Action). The second section, Perspectives on Black Transnationalism and Identity Formation, examines the complexities of navigating through a vastly growing globalized world, while also having to negotiate Blackness in transnational spaces, which ultimately shapes one’s identity. In this section Msia and Carolina discuss growing up without their (African) fathers, and navigating and finding their own African identities. This section also tells of identities formed through migration, when Diasporas travel abroad and when Africans travel to the Diaspora and inadvertently discover their identities being transformed. Sections three through seven looks at regional trends, and experiences of specific groups with the Diaspora. Sections three (Crioulo Culture and Pidgin Music: American Experiences and West African Identities) and four (Diverse Identities and Representations among Second Generation Ethiopian Migrants in America) look at the experiences of first- and second-generation West African and Ethiopian migrants to the United States, and how they navigate interactions with other African and Diaspora communities. Some, like Nana and Mekdela were born in the United States and have become activists, with identities that are both African and Pan African. The chapters in these sections also come from communities that sometimes very insular, the Cape Verdeans and the Ethiopians. Terza’s chapter is an introspective piece on some of the unique experiences of Cape Verdean communities. Semien, Mekdela, and Yelena were all born in the United States to parents that were forced to flee Ethiopia, yet their chapters reveal the diverse experiences of Ethiopians in America, especially in their relationships with African American communities. Section five, Class and Citizenship: African American and African Migrant Experiences in South Africa, includes four chapters on the experiences of Black migrants in South Africa. Since the fall of apartheid, South Africa has become a popular destination for migrants from across Africa, as well as

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Black migrants from the Diaspora. Their experiences are not the same. These chapters highlight the confrontations with xenophobia by African migrants (Sayuni, Tafadzwa, and Eugene) and the privilege of citizenship and embrace of Black migrants from the Diaspora (Gabriel and Tafadzwa). Tafadzwa’s chapter reveals how her Zimbabwean identity marked her for discrimination, while her educational and class status gave her access. The juxtaposition of race, class, and citizenship plays out in interesting ways in South Africa. Section six, Two Intersecting Diasporas: Caribbean and African American Communities in America, reminds of the long, shared, history between Caribbean and African American communities. In the first chapter of this section, Shelvia, Dayne, and Kat provide an overview of Black migration from the Caribbean to the United States. They contribute to existing literature on Caribbean migration through their examination of “bicultural socialization” among Afro- Caribbeans in America. In looking at specific Caribbean communities, Courtney focuses on the experiences Haitian communities in Black Chicago. Our personal chapters in this section reflect on navigating Black identities alongside Haitian (Cassandra) and Trinidadian (Keisha) identities. Section seven, The Relationships Between Color & Race in Afro Latinx Identities, reflects the diversity within Latinx communities. The chapters in this section bring in countries that have always had large Black populations: Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. In this section, chapters by Krista, Omilani, and Indhira examine negritude through a Latinx lens. All of the chapters in this section reflect on the unique racial dynamics in Latin America, dynamics that are especially pronounced in Latin American countries with large African populations. Anthony and Ariana discuss how having Panamanian and African American parents have impacted their identities, and their work. In his chapter, Ryan talks about the development of his Black Antillean identity, being born in Puerto Rico to a Dominican mother, and American father. The personal chapters and scholarly reflections in this book are accentuated by poetry from Caribbean, Zimbabwean, and LiberianAfrican-American poets, whose poetry are further cultural representations of the themes presented in this book.

Chapter 1

(Re)igniting Pan-Africanism. (Re)jecting Afropolitanism. (Re)naming Our solution. Nenelwa Tomi

Identity is, and forever will be, an integral part of the human experience; as it contributes significantly to how others define us, but most importantly, how we define ourselves. Yet for people of African descent, the power of naming has not always been theirs to determine. The African identity has been legitimized and qualified by Western imposition; which has always found ways to tell [or show] them who they are: “a race of natives, niggers, negroes, negresses, colored or just plain Black” (Mama 2001, p. 63). The keyword being race, and not ethnicities, nations, or clans, which serve as more accurate groupings based on social standing. As Amina Mama plainly states, “There is no word for ‘identity’ in any of the African languages with which I can claim any degree of familiarity. . . . In English the word ‘identity’ implies a singular, individual subject with clear ego boundaries. In Africa, if I were to generalise, ask a person who he or she is, his name will quickly be followed by a qualifier, a communal term that will indicate ethnic or clan origins” (Mama 2001, p. 63). This identity, of which Mama speaks, has been the bane of our existence as humans who possess a duality of being, knowing and seeing the world around us. How do we find ways to embrace who we are without feeling boxed into an identity that is often used to define us? What does Pan Africanism look like today? How can we reimagine it? Communality, often read as unity, is at the core of the Pan Africanist movement, and is a prerequisite for the movement’s success. The southern African philosophy of Ubuntu derives from the Xhosa expression Umntu ngumntu ngabanye abantu (Mabovula, 2011, p. 40); which loosely translates to “A person is a person because of other people” (Mabovula, 2011, p. 41), implying that our humanity is intrinsically bound in one another. Humanness and “collective consciousness” as Khoza (in Roux & Coetzee 1994) describes it are at the crux of this dialogue around the resurgence of Pan-Africanism. 21

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“Ubuntu consists of the prefix ubu-and the stem ntu-ubu evokes the idea of being in general . . . an African world view” (Mabovula, 2011, p. 40). In order for the African diaspora to even begin initiating conversations around a new Pan Africanism, its people must first recognize one another as human. No hierarchies. No -isms. Edward Blyden created the fundamental tenants of Pan Africanism (Sterling, 2015) and is known to many as “the grandfather of African emancipation” (Duodu, 2011). He was a transnational man, with Igbo origins, from the West Indies, who traversed varying parts of Western Africa (namely Liberia and Sierra Leone), and the United States with hopes to ignite a massive exodus of Black Americans returning home (to Africa) (Sterling, 2015). The movement sought to rebuild what was socially, culturally, and economically diluted due to centuries of slavery and colonial exploitation. While the movement was never fully actualized, remnants of its legacy can be seen in the ways the African diaspora has chosen to relate with one another and generate new meaning from their recurring traumas. Thus, “Afropolitanism,” was born (Selasi, 2005). Afropolitanism, a term initially coined by Taiye Selasi (2005) in her article, “Bye-Bye Babar: or Who is the Afropolitan,” boldly claims that Afropolitans are “not citizens, but Africans of the world.” She speaks of cultural fluidity, as many who associate with the term are connected to multiple communities globally; having been born in one country, raised in another, and able to communicate fluently in both of those languages (2005). Afropolitans ooze of “urban chic” (Mama 2015, p. 127), and have a vested interest in claiming exclusive rights to transnational elitism and cultural commodification. “Afropolitanism, it seems, is a portmanteau in more ways than one: it is a general brand of cosmopolitanism cloaked in African style, as well as literal ‘coat hanger’ for changing fashions” (Santana, 2013, p. 3). Their story seeks to be the snapchat-worthy, exceptional outlier, independent of the confines that typically suppress the common African and consumed by keeping up with the latest Ankara fashions. It can be argued that while people of African descent have historically and presently found creative ways to remix the destructive and disruptive names intended to leave them paralyzed; the production of names, whether self-imposed or otherwise, are detrimental in propelling the African diaspora forward. These names have been curated to create a partition in the circle of connectedness that Edward Blyden and Paul Cuffee envisioned when they dreamt and later actualized their vision for a unified Africa (inclusive of all of her children). They do not provide them with an alternative, but instead, force the Black community into boxes that continue to water down their extensive, and culturally embedded roots. Roots that would otherwise have power, particularly when planted in fertile soil that they themselves have planted and plowed, together. In order for there to be a resurgence of the Pan Africanist

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movement, Afropolitanism cannot bear fruit; the name serves as another countercultural term that uses Eurocentricity as a point of comparison, and silences any call towards true, sustained, liberation.

THE COMPLEXITY OF IDENTITY With the consistent migration of Africans to the United States, beginning in the 1970s (Anderson, 2017) resulting in the formation of new identity-groups seeking to find ethnic solace beyond melanin, the conversations around identity have become the impetus for a collective movement. These budding marginalized groups have become the seeds of various movements in this country against victimhood culture (Friedersdorf, 2015) (e.g., White guilt, Whitesplaining, implicit bias, microaggressions), and have brought with them a re-examination of our level of engagement with racialized discourse, beyond Black and White. The discussion cannot simply center on race, as the experiences and diversity of African descendants have become more nuanced. Dr. Clark asserts, Upon leaving Africa first generation African immigrants often come into, or are forced into, an African identity instead of their ethnic or national identities. In America, where ethnicity is conceived of in Black and White, African immigrants have to contend with internally and externally imposed identities that can often leave them either embracing multiple identities or distancing themselves from an African-American identity and all of the baggage that comes with it. (Clark, 2007, p. 170)

Since the inception of the African American1 (Neal, 2001) caricature by colonialists, the assumption has been and continues to be that all Black people operate with the same ideological framework—performing the same culture, reciting the same history, and humming the same tune. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Their reality can best be compared to a pot of pilau. Pilau is a traditional Tanzanian dish known for its distinct spices: cardamom, cinnamon, Black pepper, to name a few. Each spice evokes a particular flavor and is added during a particular stage in the dish preparation. The reality of the United States is that of a Black population made up of “foreign-born Blacks” (Clark, 2007, p. 170), first-generation African Americans, Black Americans, American Africans, “Afri-hyphenated” (Eze, 2014, p. 235), and so on. This pilau dish needs those key ingredients to achieve the robust flavor it is known for, because without those, it is simply bland and tasteless. As identity-groups like the ones aforementioned continue to be dissected and reimagined, the clarity to which we use them lessens, forcing us to acknowledge

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this shift in self-perception, and reevaluate the way we relate to one another locally, and globally. The (Re)claiming and (Re)naming of Self In an effort to see themselves represented and find meaning in the one-sizefits-all approach that has for too long been seen as the norm, members of the African diaspora are reconstructing the image of Blackness (Thompson, 2015), showing the world that the layers are deep and often times difficult to categorize. Thompson (2015) asserts that Blackness is reconstructed to “account for the reality of limitation, the beauty of human interdependence, and necessity of reconciliation” (p. 2). For example, the name African American, evolved out of a need for Black people in America to be homogenized into a tamable group and intentionally diluted the experiences of immigrants from predominantly Black communities outside of the United States, including but not limited to the Caribbean, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and so on (Wright, 2004). “Many of us still do not know who we truly are. This was largely done by design” (Wong, 2016). While these experiences are often times intersectional, the assumption that a foreign-born African (turned) American (through gaining citizenship or extensive time abroad), and a Black American whose ancestry is rooted in both the plantations of Montgomery, AL, and the slave castles of Elmina, Ghana, share the same cultural identity is illogical. Moreover, to depict Black people (and other communities of color) as culturally immutable is not only inaccurate, but also ill-conceived. Therefore, many Black immigrants have had to rename themselves, because the names that exist just don’t do their cultural hybridity justice. Many of them are choosing to hold on to their ethnicity, through associating with nationality, regional culture, ancestry, language, or a combination of these identities (Wong, 2017). There are multilayered self-identification patterns among Africans and African Americans (Clark, 2007) that have emerged as a result of the regulated identities placed on the Black community by outsiders, primarily by non-Blacks, in an effort to further separate and perpetuate the construction of a hierarchy of human supremacy. In a survey disseminated to Africans and African Americans in the Washington, DC, area, by Dr. Msia Kibona Clark, “Over half of those who were born in Africa (or who were bicultural: one African and one African-American parent) self-identified as African” (p. 177). While the remaining African Americans, self-identified as such, with over half indicating that preference (Clark, 2007). So, what does that mean for the future of the African diaspora? Do these terms truly define their multiplicity, or have they become irrelevant, as the African diaspora has repossessed ownership of said terms? Furthermore,

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have we moved from this process of differentiating ourselves or as Sterling (2015) states, “opting out” (p. 5) of the average Blackness, to recognizing the connection we all share, irrespective of those exotic qualifiers. Eze insists, “Identity is no longer shaped exclusively by geography or blood, or culture understood in oppositional terms. On the contrary, identity is now “relational” (Eze, 2014, p. 235). If this is true, then how does the Black community move beyond renaming itself, to capitalizing on shared commonalities through a communal economic resistance? How can commonalities found in indigenous practices and knowledge be shared to help improve agriculture? Or how to reframe national agendas so that a greater focus can be given to the importance of trade with your neighbors and how crucial it is to build strong ties to them because in times of crises, they can use one another to help solve greater problems that they all face? How do we make these spaces more inclusive? My argument recognizes that the Black community is not at all identical, nor should it be. The ancestry of members within the African diaspora is nuanced and detailed with varying identity-markers that bind them together. However, these identity-markers need to be more ethnically encompassing, rather than ethnically exclusionary, more culturally relevant, rather than traditionally obsolete or stagnant and must acknowledge the lineal good and the bad. AFROPOLITANISM—THE SIBLING TO NEGRITUDE Negritude (Senghor, 1964) was born in the 1930s at a time when intellectual Black minds in Paris felt stifled and excluded from the global conversation on race and racism. What ensued was an ideology that influenced Senegalese independence from the British, the Harlem Renaissance, and other movements. Although Afropolitanism as an ideology has laid roots for coalition building, “Black emancipatory thought” (Balakrishnan, 2017, p. 1) and “African enlightenment” (Ekpo, 2010, p. 183), it primarily named an alreadyexisting phenomenon of Blacks as active participants in society. We must take a step forward in first recognizing the shortcomings and potential harm of this rhetoric. All-inclusive terms that have seen a rise in popularity and have found resonance within the Black community through social media platforms such as: #Blackgirlmagic, #Blackboyjoy, and #Blackexcellence, (to name a few) break down walls instead of creating them. Social media has helped Black youth find a space where they can drive conversations and examinations about what it means to be Black, further expanding parameters on behavior and characteristics while at the same time subverting the dominant and limiting

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archetypes and tropes of what it means to be African American locally and globally. Afropolitanism reinforces the elitist hierarchical mind-set started by its sibling, negritude and promotes an exclusivity that nullifies that progress. Afropolitanism, by contrast, is in Mbembe’s words, “the ability to recognize one’s face in that of foreigner . . . to domesticate the unfamiliar” (Balakrishnan 2017, p. 1). While Mbembe’s (2016) efforts to find comfort in that uneasy territory of double consciousness 2.02 are admirable, it dilutes the critical consciousness needed to create a liberated response to the domestication that African peoples have suffered from for far too long. Why should the Black community have to define itself in relation to the other3, when that is the present-day narrative? Instead of embracing Mbembe’s (2016) “domestication” of unique and fundamental Black values, I propose that instead, Black people create unifying spaces that they want to be a part of. Where individuality is welcomed and celebrated and does not have to juxtapose itself to a dominant culture. The term, Afropolitan is not encompassing enough because it still uses a framework that is not owned by Black people. There is no power in that which is not yours. And Afropolitans, while fluent in finessing between the United Kingdom and Dar Es Salaam, are incapable of mobilizing a movement on their own. They need the cultural astuteness and sensitivity of local youth, the prophetic wisdom and territorial knowledge of elders, and the communal grit needed to be freed from postcolonial mental enslavement (Dabiri, 2014). In Kiswahili, the lingua franca of Eastern Africa that has its roots in Tanzania, the word kabila, does not translate to the English word, tribe. It is more closely affiliated to an ethnic group. But what happens when even within that ethnic group, there is distinction? For example, the Chagga people, hailing from the southeastern slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, are made up of three different nations4 that speak three different dialects. In order for members of the Black diaspora to re-immerse themselves in the communities that they were taken out of, they must obtain a level of cultural sensitivity to be effective partners in creating communal “liberated zones” (Mugo, 2015, p. 167). These “liberated zones,” refer to “areas that enslaved and colonised Africans actually seized from ‘invaders’ or occupational forces, either through armed struggle and bloodshed, or through organized sit-ins and demonstrations” (Mugo 2015, p. 183). It is typical of the Black diaspora to enter existing ‘liberated zones’ with unrealistic expectations, but in order to reconcile that misplaced history, they must accept two things: that despite the fluidity of identity, they cannot claim the spaces that they expect based on socioeconomic, intellectual or ‘othered’type qualifiers and that these zones are rooted in a legacy that is legitimate, even if its foundation differs from the cultural norms that the Black diaspora is accustomed to.

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Furthermore, we must reassess who Afropolitanism is for. Is it an alternative terminology for African descendants to reclaim ownership over their fluid identities versus the “limited identities widely perceived as being authentic” (Dabiri, 2014)? Or is it what Stephanie Santana (2013) deems an “attempt to begin with style, and then infuse it with substantive political consciousness.” Dabiri (2014) reminds us that “the centrality of capitalism and importance of commodification is confirmed when one searches Afropolitan on Google.” So, who are we selling this palatable image of Africa to? And “whom are really the beneficiaries” (Dabiri, 2014)? PAN AFRICANIZATION Pan Africanism, as previously stated, is therefore the most sustainable option to building solutions to the problems being faced across the African diaspora. While the issues plaguing Black communities across the diaspora each have their own unique hurdles, they can be best understood and solved by one another, through a united front in spite of and because of the diversity that lies within them. If African descendants always wait for the narrative to be written, their voices will always be an echo. The pan Africanist movement calls for each of its members to be active contributors invested in self, as well as community. It is in this movement, situated between the “construction of Blackness and Africanness that presupposes a commonality in suffering faced by all Black peoples due to slavery, racial discrimination, colonial exploitation, and the movements for decolonization” (Sterling, 2015, p. 129). This commonality cannot be ignored nor undervalued, as it is critical in carrying the lineage of African descendants forward. In Kiswahili, ukoo, meaning clan, is a vital component of being human, in the African sense. It carries more weight than race or anything else and is a marker for not only who you are, but who you have the potential to be. As the character Odenigbo says in Half of a Yellow Sun, “I am Nigerian because a White man created Nigeria and gave me that identity. I am Black because the White man constructed Black to be as different as possible from his White. But I was Igbo before the White man came” (Sterling, 2015, p. 128). In this example, I equate ethnicity to clanship, as there are inherited characteristics that stem from those kinships. If your grandparents are a clan of chiefs, then you will be too. If you are a member of the chagga nation, then you inherently have a go-getter trait that will follow you into adulthood. These associations may be viewed by outsiders as being attributed to superstitious beliefs, but those beliefs are rooted in something real. The interdependency of human beings within the African diaspora is essential to understanding the meaningful traditions that carried

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them through great adversity. It also reengages how our minds can become the primary “liberated zones” Mugo advocates for, which are seen, heard, and felt, and not merely imagined. While today’s Pan Africanism walks and talks with a finesse that may seem foreign to elders who have longstanding ties to its traditional conceptualization. It should not be replaced with the bourgeois-capitalist Afropolitanism, but instead reignite itself as a movement that embraces old and new ways of knowing, being and seeing the African with an emphasis on recommitting to the unity that was once a priority. In 2018, Pan Africanism creates partnerships across nations to collectively respond to the issues that affect us—irrespective of locality—and exchange resources and tools that encourage self-love, emotional well-being, and financial mobilization. It should not be an intellectual tug-of-war competing on levels of Blackness, but instead, honor the struggles and triumphs of African descendants despite where their forced home is. “Unlike Pan-Africanism, an ideology that has political agenda in its quest for solidarity between Africans globally, Afropolitanism is geared toward social progress on the continent” (Kigotho, 2016). African descendants must not ascribe to “lofty and vague rhetoric” (Kigotho, 2016) and must instead lean inward to cultivate sustainable, collaborative and well thought out change for their communities (Kigotho, 2016). CONCLUSION Identity, will forever be a complicated issue in the lives of Black people across the diaspora, whether first or second, new or seasoned generation. Their history cannot be summarized or justified with a hyphen [or an abbreviation]. Afropolitanism as an ideology and as a term is becoming obsolete. In most African societies, terms and titles are earned by the people who carry them. As a movement, Afropolitanism and its proponents have done insufficient work to mobilize Blacks towards a collective struggle. What are the goals of Afropolitans? Does the movement have longevity? How can the movement be evaluated? There is power in that collective struggle, as it leads to a collective solution. However, harmonization does not equate to a lack of resistance, nor does it correspond to sameness. There is also power in renaming that struggle, but a unified consensus is critical. The Black diaspora is defined by relationships. Your connections contribute to your wholeness. In order for true liberation to be achieved, the African diaspora must disassociate itself with terms like Afropolitanism, which simply reignite difference. In order for Pan Africanism to work, we must affirm the complexity and interconnectedness within the diaspora, whether on the continent of Africa

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or elsewhere. It cannot be pushed forward if one group is left behind, as our communal nature does not allow it. In order to achieve true liberation, the African diaspora must actively pursue and practice the shared traits and customs that have led to resiliency and resistance, in its multifaceted forms, and embed a new school of thought, that is colorful in its creativity, spiritually power-filled, and culturally purpose-driven. NOTES 1. This identity marker is flawed, and thus, deserves to be typed as such. 2. A concept coined by W. E. B. Dubois that claims Black identity is always mirrored by the dominant culture, and as such, Blacks are always subject to “twoness” (Du Bois) where one identity is always at odds with another. The 2.0 is my addition to the conversation, as the added layer of being cosmopolitan, creates a socioeconomic layer that is not acknowledged by the terms original intent. 3. In this case, non-Black outsider. 4. For the purposes of this chapter, I will replace “tribe,” with nation, because I believe that naming is a critical part of sharing a more accurate narrative of an oppressed people.

Chapter 2

Is Race Really the Issue? Examining the Fallacy of “Black Foreigner Privilege” Tolulope F. Odunsi, Esq

Black immigrants1 who try to separate themselves from native-born African Americans are unable to escape the racism that is commonly experienced by native-born African Americans (Gold 2006). This is evinced by racial profiling in the contexts of both criminal and immigration law enforcement. Racist treatment, however, affects Black immigrants differently than Black Americans in the context of education (Guinier 2004). Even though Black immigrants are often subjected to the same racist treatment as Black Americans, Black immigrants are overrepresented in higher education (Mwangi 2014). As a result, many commentators have dismissed institutionalized racism as the cause of the educational gap between native-born African Americans and their White counterparts . The success of Black immigrants has also perpetuated the argument that Black immigrants should not be the beneficiaries of affirmative action programs (Onwuachi-Willig 2007). These theories raise three critical questions. First, how do Black immigrants in the United States experience racism? Second, what is the cause of the disparity between the performance of Black immigrants and Black Americans2 in the context of education? Third, which Blacks should benefit from affirmative action?3 This chapter seeks to both answer these questions and propose an affirmative action model that takes into consideration the different racial experiences of Black immigrants and Black Americans. RACISM: A BLACK IMMIGRANT’S EXPERIENCE Systematic Racism Law enforcement is often referenced as a reflection of the majority’s ideals and beliefs (Browning et al. 1994). Accordingly, law enforcement practices 31

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provide a reference point for the systematic racism that exists within the United States (Browning et al. 1994). One of the most well-known examples of racial profiling within the law enforcement context occurred in 1999 when 22-year-old Amadou Diallo was gunned down by the New York City Police (Pierre 2004). Diallo, an African immigrant from Guinea, was shot forty-one times by White police officers (Pierre 2004). New York City Police officers were also implicated in the brutal sexual attack on Abner Louima in 1997 (CNN 1997). Police officers arrested Louima, a 30-year-old Haitian immigrant, after the officers incorrectly assumed that Louima was involved in a fight (CNN 1997). The officers took Louima to the bathroom of a police precinct, and said, “Take this, nigger,” while they beat him, sodomized him with a plunger, and then rammed the handle of the plunger in his mouth (CNN 1997). More recently, in 2015, three Los Angeles policemen were cleared of all criminal charges after fatally shooting Charley Lenundeu Keunang, a 39-year-old man from Cameroon, who was unarmed at the time of the shooting (Goman 2016). Of note, Keunang was reported to be homeless and mentally ill (Goman 2016). Similarly, 36-year-old Shukri Ali Said, a Somali-American, was shot by the police in Johns Creek, Georgia, in April of 2018 (CBS 2018). Said was reported to have bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (CBS 2018). The incident occurred when she grabbed a knife and left her house (CBS 2018). Her family then called 911 with the hope that the police would provide help (CBS 2018). Officers first used a stun gun and a non-lethal projectile on Said (CBS 2018). The officers then fired their guns when Said still did not drop the knife (CBS 2018). The Georgia Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations stated that Said’s sister made it clear to the authorities that Said was mentally ill (CBS 2018). As with the police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, and Stephon Clark the Black community has seen the killings of Diallo, Keunang, and Said and the brutal attack on Louima as examples of the widespread police brutality perpetrated against Black people in the United States (Pierre 2004). Systematic racism has also been detrimental to Black immigrants in the context of immigration law enforcement. Black immigrants are deported from the United States at a much higher rate than immigrants from European, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries (Nopper 2004). “For example, in 2002, there were 8,921 total deportations of Black immigrants, whereas there were only 3,090 total deportations for Whites, and 4,317 total deportations for Asians and Middle Easterners. Overall, this trend is consistent from 1993 to 2002” (Nopper 2004). Additionally, Black immigrants are more likely to be subjugated to criminal deportation rather than non-criminal deportation (Nopper 2004). Since

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September 11, 2001, there has been a shift in immigration law (Nopper 2004). The United States has implemented policies that have made immigration law enforcement more criminally punitive (Miller 2004). After September 11, the United States began to use the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) to institute unique deportation proceedings for immigrants who were believed to be terrorists (Miller 2004). Essentially, these statutes made it easier for the government to deport immigrants suspected of terrorist activity (Miller 2004). As a result, Black Muslim immigrants have been disproportionately targeted and deported from the country (Miller 2004). For instance, in 2009, members of the Somali community in Minneapolis, Minnesota were singled out as suspected terrorists (RainbowEthiopia Health Rights Initiative 2018). The FBI questioned community members and placed government agents in Mosques regularly attended by Somalis (Rainbow-Ethiopia Health Rights Initiative 2018). These examples demonstrate that the United States’ immigration enforcement system mirrors its domestic criminal justice system in that Black immigrants are criminalized at a disproportionally higher rate than immigrants of other racial backgrounds (Rainbow-Ethiopia Health Rights Initiative 2018). The Courts have also perpetuated the use of racial and ethnic stereotypes in immigration law enforcement. In United States v. Brignoni-Ponce (422 U.S. 873 (1975)), the Supreme Court allowed a person’s appearance to be used as a factor in an immigration stop (Johnson 2010). Even though the Court found that an immigrant’s “Mexican appearance” could not be the only factor immigration officers relied upon to conduct immigration stops on MexicanAmericans, a person’s “Mexican appearance” was considered a permissible factor in making these stops (Johnson 2010). This ruling, in effect, allowed immigration officers to use race and national origin in ways that are prohibited for ordinary police officers (Johnson 2010). INDIVIDUALIZED RACIAL EXPERIENCE Black immigrants in the United States also face a unique set of challenges on a routine basis. One of these challenges is “ethnic performance,” which describes actions and mannerisms that convey racial and ethnic identity (Rich 2004, 79). Black immigrants are expected to perform their Blackness as “Black-American” in order to be visible (Okonofua 2013). In other words, Black immigrants are expected to immediately adopt Black American culture, including racial and ethnic identifiers such as language, accent, hairstyles, music, clothing, and so on (Okonofua 2013). This expectation comes from both Black Americans and White Americans. At the same time, Black immigrants are expected to perform as immigrants. They are

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placed into the broad categories of “African immigrants” and “Caribbean immigrants.” For instance, an African immigrant from Cameroon may be expected to have the same customs and culture as an African immigrant from South Africa. These expectations, however, run counter to the ways in which Black immigrants traditionally identify themselves (Okonofua 2013). For many Black immigrants, identity is strongly tied to their traditional language, specific geographic location, and localized culture (Okonofua 2013). Accordingly, Black immigrants will often refer to themselves as “Nigerian-American,” “Jamaican-American,” “Ghanaian-American,” and so on, as opposed to “African,” “Caribbean,” “Black American,” or “African American” (Bailey 2001). Although the notion of varying classifications among Black Americans and Black immigrants may seem immaterial, these classifications are directly tied to opportunities and resources in the United States (Okonofua 2013). As Benjamin Okonofua (2013) explains: Because the prevailing system of racial classification lumps African immigrants and African Americans into the Black or African American Category without enabling these elements to make clear behavioral and cultural assertions based on their socio historical milieus, opportunities and resources can only be accessed as African American (3).

This means, that in order to access the resources that are available for Blacks in the United States, a Black immigrant must be seen as African American. In addition, Black immigrants are burdened with the stereotypes that flow from being from African or Afro-Caribbean countries. This is comes in the form of Afrophobia and the pathologizing of Black immigrants (Owomoyela 2001). Harold Collins, in a bid to encourage a sympathetic assessment of the African condition, calls attention to the debilitating disease he says the African must contend with. . . . “Considering the seriousness of these diseases,” he observes, “we may wonder how Africans have been able to achieve anything at all.” Or, he might have added, why anyone would not wish to distance himself/herself from Africa (Owomoyela 2001, 287).

It is this “sympathetic assessment” that has created the fallacy that can be called “Black foreigner privilege” (Ngugi 2011). Black Foreigner Privilege In the mid-1990s, a number of journal, magazine, and newspaper articles explored Black immigrant educational and economic successes as compared

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to Black Americans. The articles used Black immigrants’ successes and cultural differences to downplay and deny the continued impact of racism in the United States (Pierre 2004, 142–144). One such article proffered, “If White racism were the primary barrier to Blacks being more successful, shouldn’t it affect all Blacks equally—native and foreign born . . . [t]he time for excuses is over” (Kane 1996). This ideology stems from the notion that in the United States, immigrant groups that possess “acceptable” or “correct” values and culture will be able to successfully become full Americans (Pierre 2004, 147). This ideology indirectly implicates the divisive rhetoric that Black Americans do not possess the “correct” values to attain economic success in the United States (Pierre 2004, 153). To some, “Black foreigner privilege” is the reason why the shooting of Amadou Diallo received extensive media coverage (Pierre 2004, 141–142). When Diallo was shot, the media repeatedly referenced the fact that he was an African immigrant (Pierre 2004). The emphasis on Diallo’s immigrant status rather than his race indirectly chipped away at the racial nature of the shooting (Pierre 2004). It allowed for a narrative that removed race from the equation and focused more on “the sympathetic African immigrant” (Pierre 2004, 141–142). With this in mind, some Black immigrants have strategically accepted “Black foreigner privilege.” In a country where Black immigrants are, in a sense rejected, by both White and Black Americans, some immigrants have picked up the masterful skill of ethnicity and race performance (Liberato and Shaw-Taylor 2009). Among White people, Black immigrants may choose to separate themselves from Black Americans by performing their ethnicity rather than their race (Liberato and Shaw-Taylor 2009). In contrast, amongst Black Americans, the same Black immigrant may perform as a Black American (Liberato and Shaw-Taylor 2009). By doing this, a Black immigrant is able to benefit from the sympathies of White Americans while gaining acceptance from Black Americans. The hidden danger of “Black foreigner privilege,” as noted above, is that it is used to perpetuate the theory that there are “good Blacks” who are deserving of the benefits of living in the United States and “bad Blacks” who are not. This perpetuates the stereotypes that foster police brutality and racial profiling against all Blacks in the United States, adds fuel to the misguided ideology that racism no longer plagues Blacks in the United States, and causes division among Black immigrants and Black Americans. This divisive ideology is reminiscent of the “Divide and Rule” tactic used by European nations to colonize and consolidate power in Africa, whereby countries, such as Britain, incited ethnic conflicts by providing resources and power to certain ethnic groups while ousting others (Maduegbuna 2015). As with the “Divide and Rule” strategy utilized to colonize Africa, the divisive rhetoric

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that suggests that Black immigrants are more acceptable than Black Americans has the effect of hindering Black immigrants and Black Americans from uniting and opposing systematic racism together. The American-Born Advantage While the focus of this chapter is on the ways in which Black immigrants may experience “privilege” as compared to their Black American counterparts, it should be acknowledged that Black immigrants face particular challenges unique to their status as immigrants. Generally, these challenges can include the stigma associated with speaking with a foreign accent and/or lack of proficiency in the English language, the stress of being in a new environment and an unfamiliar culture, and difficulty developing supportive relationships within the education system. THE EDUCATION GAP More recently, selective higher education programs have begun to accept a greater number of Black immigrants than Black Americans (Brown and bell 2008). A study revealed that, as of 2012, Black immigrants made up 12 percent of all Black undergraduates, 27 percent of all Black students at selective colleges, and 41 percent of all Black students at Ivy League colleges (Mwangi 2014). Additionally, recent reports have confirmed that Black immigrants, specifically African immigrants, are the most educated immigrant group in the United States (Constable 2014). Professor Lani Guinier describes this as part of America’s preference for the privileged (Guinier 2004). According to Professor Guinier, many Black immigrants test well because of their welleducated parents and because they do not respond to racism in the same way that Black Americans do (Guinier 2004). Professor John Ogbu has cited the development of an “oppositional culture” among Black Americans as a factor in the education gap between Black Americans and Black immigrants (Ogbu and Simmons 1998). According to Professor Ogbu, oppositional culture among Black Americans is created as Black Americans begin to view the majority White culture as an infringement on Black identity (Ogbu and Simmons 1998, cited in Onwuachi-Wilig 2007, 1169). As a result, Black Americans may not participate in majority culture practices that may lead to their educational success (Ogbu and Simmons 1998). In contrast, Black immigrants are less likely to form this oppositional culture because they do not view cultural differences as a threat to their identity (Ogbu and Simmons 1998).

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The difference between the way Black immigrants and Black Americans respond to the majority culture and racism can also be attributed to a number of other things. Black immigrants who move to the United States typically do so for economic advancement (Conteh 2013). Black immigrants are, therefore, less likely to perceive racism as an obstacle in achieving this goal (Conteh 2013). Moreover, Black immigrants tend to be “less affected by the burden of ‘stereotype threat,’ the anxiety about confirming assumptions of intellectual inferiority that depresses test scores of highly motivated indigenous Black Americans” (Guinier 2004, 4). As a consequence, Black immigrants have the propensity to thrive even though they are susceptible to the same kinds of racism that Black Americans face. GENERATIONAL DISPARITIES Few scholars have examined how systematic and individualized racial experiences affect the education of second-generation immigrants in comparison to first-generation immigrants. It is clear, however, that the racial experiences of second-generation immigrants differ significantly from the experiences of their first-generation immigrant parents (Owens and Lynch 2013). Even though second-generation immigrants do have a greater connection to their countries of origin than their Black American counterparts, the second-generation immigrant identity is less likely to protect these immigrants from stereotype threat (Owens and Lynch 2013). This is because second-generation Black immigrants are involuntary immigrants; they did not make the decision to be in the United States themselves (Rauh 2014). Accordingly, the experience of emigration from their country of origin does not serve as a source of motivation in the same way it may have for their parents (Rauh 2014). Additionally, second-generation immigrants are bombarded with negative opinions about African Americans from the greater society and from their parents (Waters 1994). As a result, second-generation immigrants may respond in a few different ways. Some second-generation children reject their parents’ culture and identify as Black Americans (Waters 1994). These children are often less optimistic about their parents’ teachings that hard work can be used to overcome the racial barriers that exist in society (Waters 1994). Other second-generation Black immigrants agree with their firstgeneration parents’ perceptions of Black Americans and identify strongly with their country of origin (Waters 1994). Studies have shown that secondgeneration immigrants in poorer neighborhoods tend to identify with Black Americans, while middle-class second-generation immigrants tend to identify more strongly with their ethnic origins (Waters 1994). Thus, resistance

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against stereotype threat may be stronger among middle-class Black secondgeneration immigrants who are already better positioned to succeed within the American education system. DISPARITIES AMONG BLACK IMMIGRANTS While it is true that many Black immigrants have experienced success in the context of higher education, certain groups still face significant challenges in receiving quality education. African refugees, for example, account for about 30 percent of the African immigrant population (Kassa 2013). Refugees are less likely than other African immigrants to attain post-secondary degrees (Kassa 2013). This is because conflict and persecution in their home countries has prevented refugees from continuing their education (Kassa 2013). Additionally, many refugees have faced traumatic experiences and, therefore, have difficulty integrating into American society (Kassa 2013). Thus, the basis and circumstances under which Black immigrants immigrate to the United States play a significant role in their educational success. AFFIRMATIVE ACTION For some, the overrepresentation of Black immigrants in selective higher education programs means that they should be taken out of the reparation schema (Waterhouse 2009). Professor Carlton Waterhouse argues that people in the United States should qualify for a reparations program only if they can demonstrate that they are the descendants of enslaved Africans who were brought to the United States involuntarily, or if they can demonstrate that their Black ancestors lived in the United States approximately twenty years before the Brown v. Board decision (Waterhouse 2009).4 Other scholars have applied this same argument to affirmative action programs. They argue that affirmative action was created to redress the effects of slavery and discrimination under the Jim Crow Era; therefore Black-immigrants’ participation in affirmative action programs undermines these goals (Onwuachi-Willig 2007). To settle this issue, one needs to first determine the actual purpose of affirmative action. What is the Actual Purpose of Affirmative Action? Affirmative action first took the national stage in the context of employment, when President Kennedy charged the Committee on Equal Employment opportunity with the task of using federal funds to “take affirmative action”

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to remove racial discrimination from hiring and employment practices in the United States in March of 1961.5 Four years later, during a speech to the graduates of Howard University, President Johnson articulated his perception of affirmative action: You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: “now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.” You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, “you are free to compete with all the others,” and still justly believe you have been completely fair. . . . This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result. (Johnson 1965)

These early references to affirmative action both articulate the eradication of the vestiges of slavery as one of the purposes of affirmative action programs. In 1978, the Supreme Court expanded on the permissible goals of affirmative action in Regents of Univ. of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265. In Bakke, the Court upheld the University of California’s use of race in its admissions process as a means of remedying past discrimination and insuring integration. The Supreme Court, however, stated that one of the school’s articulated purposes did not justify placing minorities at an advantage in the admissions process. It found that “societal discrimination” did not justify placing a disadvantage on potential White students. On the other hand, the Court found that ethnic diversity was a permissible goal for affirmative action programs. Accordingly, under the Bakke Court’s analysis, Black immigrants’ right to participate in affirmative action programs does not stem from today’s societal discrimination, but from the goal of colleges to admit a diverse range of students (Regents of Univ. of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978)). More recently, in Fisher v. University of Texas, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the achievement of diversity is a permissible affirmative action goal (Fisher v. Univ. of Texas at Austin, 133 S. Ct. 2411 (2013)). After the case was remanded, the Fifth Circuit found that it is a well-settled law that institutions of higher learning may use race, or affirmative action, as a tool to achieve diversity if it cannot achieve diversity in any other way (Fisher v. Univ. of Texas at Austin, 758 F.3d 633, 660 (5th Cir. 2014)). These court decisions demonstrate a shift from President Kennedy and President Johnson’s original goals of using affirmative action to eradicate discrimination. Instead, the Courts have made it abundantly clear that the purpose of affirmative action must be limited to remedying past discrimination as opposed to “societal discrimination” and achieving diversity.

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A New Affirmative Action Model The Court’s analysis of the permissible goals of affirmative action is counter intuitive. Affirmative action programs were created as a tool to redress slavery and Jim Crow Era discrimination (Onwuachi-Willig 2007).6 Thus, the foundation for including Black immigrants in affirmative action programs should be to redress current societal discrimination in addition to achieving diversity. By finding that “societal discrimination” does not justify placing a disadvantage on potential White students the Court failed to recognize two things. First, societal discrimination against Black people in America today is a direct result of slavery and Jim Crow Era racism (Bodo 2011). Second, White students continue to benefit from the preferential treatment given to legacies, children of faculty, and families with connections to “the powerful” (Brodin 2013). Furthermore, the Court’s emphasis on “diversity” rather than racial discrimination was used to offer a less contentious basis for affirmative action in college admissions (Sabbag 2011). Consequently, institutions of higher learning should work to construct affirmative action programs that seek to provide opportunities to both Black immigrants and Black Americans because both of these groups suffer from societal discrimination. As discussed in more detail below, an affirmative action model truly designed to eradicate discrimination and achieve diversity would require institutions of higher learning to take a closer look at what Black students they admit. Universities could do this by broadening the racial classifications they use on admissions forms and include categories that are representative of Black immigrants. The universities would then have hard numbers detailing the percentages of Black immigrants and Black Americans that make up their student bodies. If either population was found to be deficient, the university could make greater efforts to recruit and admit students of that population. Constitutionality A new affirmative action model would have to be analyzed under the Constitutional standard. This is because any government policy7 that makes distinctions on the basis of race or national origin must be reviewed under strict scrutiny (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 308 (2003)). Under the strict scrutiny standard, race-based distinctions within governmental programs will not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment so long as the action is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 308 (2003)). Compelling Governmental Interest As the Court set forth in Bakke, diversity in college admissions is a constitutionally permissible compelling governmental interest (Regents of Univ. of

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California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978)). In Grutter, the Court went further and agreed that “diversity promotes learning outcomes and better prepares students for an increasingly diverse work force, for society, and for the legal profession” (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 308 (2003)). The Court also agreed with the law school’s assertion that diversity within its admissions program helps to promote “cross-racial understanding and the breaking down of racial stereotypes” (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 308 (2003)). Undergraduate and post-graduate students would enjoy these same benefits under an affirmative action program that more carefully considers the types of Black students it accepts. Admitting a balanced number of Black immigrants and Black Americans would provide an environment where all Blacks would be able to better develop a cross-cultural understanding within their own race (Onwuachi-Wilig 2007). Moreover, considering national origin in conjunction with race would allow the White majority to better understand the diversity that exists amongst Blacks in the United States (Onwuachi-Wilig 2007). These outcomes would better prepare both Black and White students for the increasingly diverse workforce and society (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 308 (2003)). Narrowly Tailored To survive a strict scrutiny analysis, an affirmative action admissions program that considers the national origin of Black candidates would also have to be narrowly tailored to achieve the goal of diversity. Many race-based distinctions created within programs meant to achieve compelling governmental interests fail because they do not fulfill the Constitution’s narrowly tailored requirement (Ngov 2014). The Courts have made it abundantly clear that rigid quota systems do not meet this standard (Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469, 507 (1989)). The jurisprudence has provided that a narrowly tailored affirmative action admissions program is one that makes individualized considerations of each candidate (Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469, 507 (1989)). In Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court stated that the University of Michigan Law School’s admissions program “bears the hallmarks of a narrowly tailored plan” (539 U.S. 306, 308 (2003)), 34). The Law School’s plan considered diversity and also individually assessed each candidate’s specific qualifications (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 308 (2003)). The Court stated that an admissions program that considers race and ethnicity as a plus when assessing an individual candidate is sufficiently tailored to meet the constitutional strict scrutiny standard (Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 308 (2003)). Accordingly, an admissions program that considered race in conjunction with national origin would meet the strict scrutiny standard.

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Under the new model, schools would be required to take an individualized approach to understand the national origin of each candidate. Generally, university questionnaires that collect applicants’ demographic information only allow Black applicants to select a box that identifies them as “Black or African American.” A better approach would be to separate the choices of Black and African American. The questionnaire could additionally include the options of “first-generation immigrant” and “second-generation immigrant.” Applicants would then be able to “select all that apply” rather than limiting the questionnaire to either/or options (Fernandez et al. 2016). This model would allow applicants who are multi-ethnic and/or bi-racial more accurately identify themselves. For example, an applicant would be able to identify as both Latinx and Black or as both Black and White, if applicable. In addition, questionnaires could include a write-in option for students who do not feel that the predefined choices accurately document their racial or ethnic identity and would like to provide more information regarding their racial and ethnic identity (Fernandez et al. 2016). Under this model, race and ethnicity would only be used as a plus in light of each applicant’s individual academic abilities, as prescribed in Grutter v. Bollinger (539 U.S. 306, 308 (2003)). Challenges of Implementing a New Affirmative Action Model One challenge related to the affirmative action model discussed above would be the cost and time associated with analyzing applicants’ responses, as the responses would be more difficult to evaluate than the traditional “Black or African American” response. Another issue is that some applicants may have difficulty determining whether they should be considered “African American.” For instance, should Black applicants who’s ancestors came to the United States voluntarily but have lived in the United States for multiple generations also be defined as African Americans; or should the classification of African American only be reserved for descendants of enslaved Africans who were brought to the United States involuntarily? Similarly, a third-generation Black immigrant from the Caribbean may struggle to determine whether she should reference her Caribbean ancestry in her/his responses. In spite of these challenges, providing Black applicants with the opportunity to self-identify in a way that is more detailed than “Black or African American” and with the opportunity to provide context to their race/ethnicity would only enhance diversity at universities. An Indirect Affirmative Action Approach Despite the current affirmative action programs that exist within in higher education, disparities in post-secondary education between all Blacks and

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their White counterparts persist (Finney and Perna 2012). Indirect affirmative action should be used in addition to traditional affirmative action programs to counter this problem. Indirect affirmative action encompasses policies that are facially neutral but tend to benefit minority candidates (Sabbag 2011). Such programs are used in France, where geographic and classbased methods are used increase the enrollment of second-generation North African and sub-Saharan African immigrants in post-secondary schools (Sabbag 2011). The French government has used administrative guidelines to define “educational priority areas” (Sabbag 2011, 481). When creating these priority areas, the government considers the proportion of immigrants, in addition to other factors, within particular geographic areas (Sabbag 2011). As a result, Black immigrants disproportionately benefit from this program (Sabbag 2011). Such a program could be implemented in the United States. Federal law makers and state governments could identify geographic areas or schools based on factors such as students’ state exam passage rates, students’ propensity to attain post-secondary degrees, and students’ literacy rates. Schools or geographic areas that demonstrated a compelling need in these criteria would be given “educational priority status” and receive funds to better educate students and prepare them to go on to college through government-sponsored scholarships. CONCLUSION Black immigrants and Black Americans experience racism in the United States similarly. Both groups are subjected to systematic racism, as evinced by the criminal justice system and by immigration law enforcement policies. Black immigrants and Black Americans are also plagued by stereotypes that force them to constantly question their identities. It is clear that racism still serves as a barrier to success in the United States, however, Black immigrants and Black Americans tend to internalize racism differently partly because of the circumstances under which they find themselves in the United States. Even so, Black immigrants should not be excluded from affirmative action programs in higher education because the actual purposes of affirmative action are to remedy discrimination and to achieve diversity. To achieve these goals in a way that considers the experiences of both Black immigrants and Black Americans, universities should craft their admissions programs in ways that examine what types of Black students they admit. Moreover, universities should go further by working with state governments and with the federal government to engage Black students through indirect affirmative action policies.

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NOTES 1. I use “immigrants” to refer to both first-generation and second-generation immigrants. 2. I use “Black Americans” to refer to Black people who are descendants of African slaves involuntarily brought to the United States. 3. Although affirmative action programs are not limited to college admissions, this chapter will only address affirmative action in the context of higher education. For more information on affirmative action in other contexts, see Rauh 2013. 4. Arguing that a reparations program should provide redress to citizens with enslaved ancestors and African Americans who may not have had enslaved ancestors but lived in the United States during the era of Jim Crow segregation. 5. Exec. Order No. 10925 of Mar. 8, 1961, creating the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. 6. The issue is not “origin, but social practices. It matters in American society whether you grow up Black or White. It’s that differential effect that really is the basis for affirmative action (1187).” 7. Although the Equal Protection Clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments only regulate state and federal government action, private acts of discrimination may trigger these constitutional protections under the public function theory, the judicial enforcement theory, and the symbiotic relationship theory. For more information, see Evans v. Newton, 382 U.S. 296, 302 (1966) (holding that when traditional governmental functions are delegated to private entities discriminatory conduct implicates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment); Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1, 23 (1948) (holding that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits judicial enforcement of contracts made based on race); Burton v. Wilmington Parking Auth., 365 U.S. 715, 724 (1961) (holding that when there is a mutually beneficial relationship between the state and a private entity that co-mingles discriminatory conduct, the conduct may be attributed to the government and, therefore, implicate the Equal Protection Clause).

Section 2

PERSPECTIVES ON BLACK TRANSNATIONALISM AND IDENTITY FORMATION

Chapter 3

The Evolution of a Bicultural Identity in the Shadows of Nyerere’s Pan Africanism Msia Kibona Clark

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1980s and 1990s. My mother is African American and met my Tanzanian father in Tanzania during the 1960s. This was a period when a lot of African Americans moved to newly independent African countries to work and live. I was born in Tanzania and we later moved to the United States around 1980, and eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where my mother was born and raised. Most of my adult years were spent living in the Washington, DC, area. The social and economic dynamics of Cleveland, Dar es Salaam, and Washington, DC, have all played a large role in shaping my identity, and how I would eventually raise my son. The first city to have a major impact on my identity was Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland shares many similar characteristics as other Midwestern cities. The area has traditionally been home to large working-class communities that made their livings in the industrial and manufacturing sectors. The area has been hard hit by the country’s economic recessions over the years, especially the collapse of the manufacturing industry, as well as the 2008 financial crisis. Cleveland’s industrial and manufacturing sectors are what drove many African Americans to the region, many (like my maternal grandparents) coming from Alabama via the L & N Railroad. The majority of Cleveland’s African American population were segregated into the city’s east and central areas. As White Clevelanders settled on the city’s west side and outer suburbs. With downtown serving as a dividing line between the cities east and west side, many Blacks in Cleveland lived a state of hypersegregation. During the era of Civil Rights and Black nationalism, Black political mobilization was at its height. Political mobilization was strengthened by racial incidents in Little Italy and two rebellions occurring in the African American sections of town; the Hough rebellion in 1966 and the Glenville 47

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rebellion in 1968. It was during this period of increased political activism that my mother made the decision to move to Tanzania. She had become deeply involved in Black nationalist movements and was involved in community organizing. Like many in the African Diaspora, she would make the decision to leave for Africa in the mid-1960s. She chose to move to Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania, a country that was home to a small African American community attracted to the country by Nyerere’s Pan Africanist ideologies and the country’s Swahili culture. Tanzania played an important role in the Pan-Africanism movement and in southern African liberation struggles. The country has been home to many Pan Africanists, including Walter Rodney and Black Panthers Charlotte and Pete Oneal. The country was also visited by revolutionaries like Amilcar Cabral, Malcolm X, and Che Guevara. Its role as leader of the Front-lined States, which supported southern African liberation, Tanzania, was also home to many African National Congress freedom fighters from South Africa. My mother arrived in Tanzania on her own, secured a government teaching position, and spent almost a decade in the country. Most of that time was spent teaching African and African American literature in a rural town in the Morogoro area of Tanzania, which was a bit removed from many of the African Americans living in Dar es Salaam. I was born almost halfway into her stay in Tanzania. My father was deeply involved in party politics in Tanzania, and he would eventually hold a high position in the national government. He was strict, patriotic, and loyal to his family. He came from a small village in the Mbeya region of southern Tanzania, and he moved his way up to a comfortable position in the government. He believed in the principles of President Julius Nyerere’s socialist Tanzania, and he resented Western attempts to impose policies that would amount the continuation of a Western imperialist influence in Tanzania. While my father would pass away before my own social and political consciousness would develop, he would have an influence on their development. The political perspective of my parents played a role in their union, but ultimately my mother made the decision to return to the United States. My mother and I moved to the Cleveland suburb of Euclid, where I entered the 6th grade. Euclid was home to established eastern and southern European communities, which clashed with the increasingly Black population moving into Euclid from the city of Cleveland. In the midst of the racial tensions, I was one of about three African students in my school. The other students were from Togo and Liberia. Teachers and administrators, perhaps frustrated with the influx of Black families, took little interest in the teasing faced by African (or Caribbean) students. These years I spent at Euclid were among the most difficult, especially when you consider the normal changes teens go through during this period in their lives.

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I spent my junior and senior high school years attempting to distance myself from anything African. At that age my accent was waning, and I had begun a habit of mumbling or slurring my words to try to further hide my accent. The other African students in my school were more recent arrivals and as a result had stronger accents. The student from Togo rode the school bus with me and was constantly teased on the way home. I have never forgotten that, while I did not join in, I never came to the student’s defense for fear that my classmates would remember that I too was African. During my denunciation of my African identity, I whole heartedly embraced my African American identity. By the time I reached high school, I had unofficially changed my name to “Kesha” and immersed myself in Cleveland’s African American culture and community. With Cleveland’s history of racial segregation, I socialized entirely in Black Cleveland. All of my friends were African American, as was the music I listened to (hip hop) and the spaces I socialized in. I never socialized in Cleveland’s African communities. While I attended Kwanzaa celebrations every year, there was little contact with African communities in the area. At that time, I only identified as an African American. In addition to the racial and ethnic dynamics in the area at the time, my lack of a relationship with my father fueled my decision to choose one identity over the other. I did not understand why my father did not behave towards me like the fathers I saw on TV. African American representations of fatherhood were my only frames of reference. Additionally, communication with my father was primarily through my mother. When my father visited us in the United States, his strict and conservative values clashed with his headstrong and Westernized teenaged daughter. The cultural and generational gaps were significant, and neither of us was willing to move out of our comfort zones. I will always regret not being mature or ready enough to open up and really get to know my father. When I was finally ready to form a relationship with my father, he was gone. My father died during first semester in college. That summer, my mother and I returned to Tanzania to visit family and my father’s burial site. It was only the second time I had gone back to Tanzania since we first left, about fifteen years prior. I met my sisters and my brother and visited the village and people who claimed me as one of them, as their “American cousin.” This was interesting since I was considered the “African cousin” by relatives on my mother’s side of the family. They teased me about my lack of Swahili and ignorance of cultural norms, but I was a Kibona. This trip back to Tanzania was short, but it was defining. I had a people who I could claim, and a people who claimed me. Being a Kibona was not based on the language I spoke, or clothes I wore. It was my birthright, given to me by a father I had not really known. It was an inheritance that was finally ready to embrace. One incident

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in particular still stirs strong emotion. As a teenager, I had been determined to erase my Tanzanian identity by changing my name to Kesha. During this trip to Tanzania, when my father found out that I had adopted this name for myself, he was very surprised. It was then that I found out that my paternal grandmother’s name was Kisha (pronounced the same way). Kisha is the name I could have traditionally been given, as it was both a traditional name from my father’s ethnic group and the name of my father’s mother. The fact that I had unknowingly chosen that name for myself is something that continues to rouse strong emotions for me. After returning from Tanzania, I began my journey my dual identity. While in college at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) in Charlotte, North Carolina, I became eager to connect with other Africans in the area. There were few African students on campus, but I came to know several of the African professors on campus. I became active in African centered activities on campus and chose to write papers on topics related to Africa, absorbing any information I could find on Africa and Tanzania. I began to form a bicultural identity that was rooted in both African and African American culture. The African communities in both Charlotte and Cleveland were still very small and I initially felt like an “imposter” when I was around Africans in the United States. Like I was not “African” enough. This influenced my decision to participate in a yearlong study abroad program in Tanzania at the University of Dar es Salaam during my third year of college. During that year, I was able to form bonds with family members, as well as with Tanzania as a country. I explored Dar es Salaam and became comfortable in the rhythm of Swahili language and Tanzanian culture. I visited my family’s village and spent a lot of time with family, hearing stories about my father and learning family history. I also stumbled A LOT during this year. In a patrilineal culture where you are what your father is, there were cultural expectations placed on me that I sometimes failed to meet. This resulted in many awkward moments, and me stumbling over my inadequate command of Swahili to try to convey some important or sensitive information. There were also times I was in Tanzania that I claimed my American identity, when I felt it was to my advantage. I quickly learned the ignorance in that decision. Once, while attempting to purchase a train ticket to Mbeya from Dar es Salaam on Tazara Railway, I was not allowed to pay the student rate for my ticket, though I was a student. I did my best imitation of the indignant American, complete with the “how dare you!” attitude. It was a mess. As I stormed out, security was called and I was escorted back to the station. They asked to see my identification. The moment they saw the name “Kibona” everything changed. I was chastised for behaving that way, and I was told that they knew my father and that he would have been ashamed. I was mortified! It was the first time someone outside of my family insisted that I follow

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the norms of Tanzanian culture, a culture to which I belonged. That day I learned a very important lesson. Re-connecting with my people would not just happen on my terms. There are privileges to membership, but there are also responsibilities with membership. My name made picking up packages at the post office a much easier process than it was for my American roommates. My name also meant that I would often get called out about my poor Swahili skills, not following customs regarding greetings, or not adhering to social norms. Being a part of the “hip-hop generation” did help build a lot of bridges with my cousins and peers in Dar es Salaam. I arrived in Tanzania shortly after 2Pac was killed in 1996, and Notorious B.I.G was killed while I was in Tanzania. So many discussions with my peers centered on those two major events. I became friends with many other youth, who were part of Dar es Salaam’s hip-hop community. It was a time of growth for hip hop in Tanzania and I spent that year immersed in the hip hop scene, and making lifelong friends based on a common cultural connection. I left Tanzania with an identity that was well rounded. I returned to the States as both an African American and a Tanzanian. During my final year of undergraduate studies, I was excited to express my new dual identity, much to the confusion of my classmates and my sorors. Within my sorority chapter, I initiated a few events on African-centered subjects and helped organize a trip to the Million Woman March in Philadelphia. I also went natural, and finished school with a senior thesis on Julius Nyerere’s and Kwame Nkrumah’s views on Pan Africanism and Socialism. That final year at JCSU would help prepare me for Washington, DC. After getting my BA, I went to Washington, DC, for graduate school and a whole African world opened up. This was the late 1990s and Washington, DC’s African community was quickly growing. I arrived ready to be involved in all the cultural and social activities happening in the city. For seven years, I studied Africa at the graduate level, and for ten years I was heavily involved in Washington, DC’s Tanzanian and African communities. Having not grown up in Tanzania, I carried my father’s name as my passport into that community. The late 1990s and 2000s were a hub of cultural activity in the Washington, DC, area. Organizations like TransAfrica, Africa Action, and Africare were spaces where Africans and African Americans organized around social and political issues. The African Studies Department at Howard University and the African diplomatic core in the area also contributed to the African presence in the Washington, DC, area. There were African and Caribbean film festivals, the Caribbean carnival on Georgia Avenue, numerous Black night clubs and happy hours where you would find young Africans, African Americans, and West Indians dancing in venues that played African, Caribbean, and

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African American music . . . in the same venue! Summer was “soccer season” and country teams played each other, and we attended each other’s summer cook outs and festivals. Many of us had friends in the Senegalese, Kenyan, Nigerian, Cameroonian, Ghanaian, Zimbabwean, and so on, communities. One could regularly bump into people from all over Africa in DC, at that time. Various African transplants brought their fabrics, their music, and their food to the city and we all took part. In the 2000s, Washington, DC, was still Chocolate City, with a little bit of “peppa” for extra flavor. As for the Tanzanians, there were several associations and social groups to which people belonged. I became involved in Tanzanian community associations, served on committees, and was even trusted with cooking a Tanzanian dish (pilau) for a baby shower, which was a huge deal. This environment was like food for the soul. It gave me the space to validate all of me. It nourished my entire identity. Over the years my identity has developed into one that is firmly rooted in both African American and Tanzanian culture. My school year in Tanzania and my time in Washington, DC, were absolutely instrumental in my development. I eventually moved back in the Washington, DC, area with my husband, who is from Ghana, and a son who represents three cultures. We are raising him to claim all three cultures as his own. Being in the Washington, DC, area in this era means that he will have a different experience than I did. He will grow up around peers from all over the world, and in an area with large and diverse African and Diaspora communities. I do not know what the Washington, DC, area will be like as he gets older, but it has been very important to us that he knows who he is, and that he is embedded enough in those communities to confidently claim them as his own.

Chapter 4

Skins, Identities, and Their Tragedies The Learning and Healing of a Hispano-Guinean Woman in the Diaspora Carolina Nvé Díaz San Francisco

The moment my mother carried me under her arms and left my father, my life took an unimaginable turn. I was four years old when my mother went on to live her life as a single mother. My father disappeared and I grew up not knowing who my father was. I never saw a picture of him or knew his name. To me, that was tragedy. Being unaware of the origins of my black skin, or the reason why I looked different at school was calamity. I am a Hispano-Guinean woman in the diaspora. I was born in Spain, and I currently live in Boston, Massachusetts. I am the daughter of a Spanish woman and an African man born in Equatorial Guinea. My identity as Hispano-Guinean woman in the diaspora did not come by easy. I needed to know who I am, but silence, invisibility, marginalization, repression, and racism governed over my life. I left my home unwillingly. I persisted. Knowledge about the self has been a process of searching and struggling, and an investment in education. I COULD NOT TELL WHO I AM. SOMETIMES, I WAS CALLED “NEGRITA” My mother migrated from rural Ávila to Madrid in the late 1970s. During those final years of the military regime rooted in Spain, migration from the rural areas to the capital was usual. Like her siblings, and many others in her generation, my mother moved to the big city. Now I know she met my father not long after her arrival. My father arrived in Madrid in early 1978 on a scholarship awarded by the government of Equatorial Guinea, former Spanish colony, so that he could study economics at Universidad Complutense. This scholarship was also a 53

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way to remain distant from the terrors of dictator Francisco Macias Nguema. My father joined the massive migration waves among Equatoguineans out of the country during those years. I was born in Salamanca. My mother was on her own at the hospital giving birth, and under the care of Catholic nuns. They took care of her when she reached out for support. She was not with my father by the time I was born. Then, shortly after my birth, she was. My parents remained on and off in their relationship. Then, when I was four years old, they separated forever. How I wish now that my parents had stayed together! I think a relatively stable family would have saved me a lot of trouble. Perhaps, I would have been aware at an early age about the reasons why my skin is black. Perhaps, I would have been able to identify myself as Hispano-Guinean right from the beginning! I would have known the story of my father leaving Equatorial Guinea, arriving and living in Spain. I would have, perhaps, been a confident person while growing up. I would have been able to socialize with Equatoguineans. I would probably have felt part of something, that feeling of belonging. Perhaps, perhaps. With my father gone, the world of my blackness went into hiding. I could not tell who I am. In our hometown, no one near me could illuminate on my African features, or the realities of Africans, their families, and descendants in Spain. I grew up passively feeding off from the perceptions that others had about me. Sometimes, I was called negrita. I internalized that it was amusing to think that my skin could taste like chocolate. My nose was too wide. I believed it was normal for people to consider me an adopted child. SOY ESPAÑOLA I am Spanish. That is what I first thought about my identity. And I was right. My skin was different, and Spain was my country. My last names were Spanish. My favorite classes at school were Spanish language and literature. And what is more, I was a teenager concerned about Spain. I was aware of social and community issues. I knew about poverty and homelessness, drug addiction, violence, oppressing political parties, and authoritarianism. I wanted to find solutions to social suffering. I thought of others, and I wanted to become a strong fighter. I supported grass-rooted revolutionary movements against supremacy. I became a non-conformist. I joined the Department of political sciences at Universidad Complutense in Madrid. I had big hopes and was determined. I believed college education was a real chance to fulfill my dreams. I could become a politician. I believed in justice, social change, and the possibility of a better life in Spain for everyone. I was not particularly thinking about black individuals like myself, as

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well did not think about Africans and their descendants living in Spain for one minute. My black skin remained ignored. I acted as a non-conscious Black Spanish student. AM I SPANISH? NEGRA? The status of my identity as a Spanish citizen turned questionable when people gazed at my skin to inquiry this: “Are you Spanish?” Consequently, I explained this: “Yes. My mother is Spanish, and my father is from Equatorial Guinea. I was born in Salamanca. You know, my father migrated . . . then, he met my mother.” I had to justify my existence. I felt impelled to give explanations because it was unclear the fact that Spanish people could also possess black skin. Doubts started coming my way. My life in the city resulted to be a challenge. Physical differences among people were obvious. In my hometown, I was a lonely dark skinned person, and discussions based on “black skin” were out of context. What else is there? Nothing. My case was invisible. In Madrid, things were slightly different. There are black population. To everyone’s view, I merged into that black and distant population. I was no longer adopted. I became negra. I did not know any black individuals. Africa was far away from me. I did some research on blackness, negritud, and black skins, but I remembered feeling left empty handed. I could not decipher the reasons why I was sensing humiliation because of looks. The worst part was that I could not share those feelings. My heart cried for more. Where were the narratives on the ontology of perceptions, skins and symbols, identity, and black Spanish voices? I concluded that there was something wrong with me. I had planned to dedicate my energies to my country, but I was alone. I felt I was a lost case, and that my existence was a mistake. There came a time when I believed my world was not designed for someone like me. I walked around my familiar spaces like a soulless body. THE AFRICAN DIASPORA After almost a year full of classes, and a miserable life thirsty for support and personal growth, I left my school, my home, my country. I carried my passport with me, but at heart, my Spanish identity was in doubt, and my blackness. I moved to London, United Kingdom. London was a popular place. When I first set foot in the city, I was glad to see more dark skins. Black. I enjoyed

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the cosmopolitan picture of the city. The differences between colors over our skins are a beautiful relief. I learned that Black British citizens, Africans and people of Caribbean descent live in London. I learned about multiculturalism and human diversity. I heard the word diaspora for the first time in London. Diaspora, movement, migration. I started my bachelor’s degree in anthropology at the University of East London (UEL). I learned all what I could about African history, the relationships of the African continent with the rest of the world, sociality, economies of subsistence, capitalism, slavery, imperialism, and colonialism, worldwide migrations, wars and conflicts, and class struggles. I learned about the independentist movements in Africa, the philosophies of Pan-Africanism and Rastafarian cultures, civil rights movements, and the Harlem Renaissance in New York City. The fabric of the African diaspora is intriguing. I participated in a oneyear international exchange program (organized by UEL) at the Department of Native American Studies, University of New Mexico. In the desert of the South West, I listened to philosophies of thought and social action from Pan-Native American perspectives. I was welcome to visit the Pueblos, and the territories of the reservations. I learned about the great story of the Great Turtle Island with its harvest festivals and sacred rituals, native languages, mixed cultures, and also about the battles of Afro-Native Americans who fervently fought in the past and continue to do so, to consolidate their identities and rights as human beings. THE WORLD After graduation, I did not return to Spain. I moved to the east coast of the United States. I found work in community health research at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. At the School of Public Health, I joined a team that proposed and initiated studies on the relationship between nutrition, high rate of hospitalization, and low-income. Can affordable and healthy food keep illness at a distance? I started learning about medicine and healing. I worked and interacted with diverse communities, social scientists, and medical practitioners. I also befriended natural medicine practitioners and herbalists. I supported the herbal activism that flourished in Providence by the time I was there. Traditional and herbal healers pushed forward the integration of herbariums, herbal medical knowledge and practice into our pluralist medical systems. I met American-born individuals who told me they have European and Canadian ancestries. I also met Spanish-speaking individuals from Latin America, and African-Americans, Portuguese, Africans, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai.

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People often asked about my origins, and I always repeated the same line: “I am from Spain. My mother is Spanish, and my father from Equatorial Guinea. My father migrated. I was born in Salamanca.” I found that listeners showed curiosity about Equatorial Guinea, and I always confessed how little I knew about that “a small, tiny country located between Cameroon and Gabon in West Africa.” The exchange of ideas about origins, lineages, and trajectories encouraged me to reflect. I am Spanish because I carried a Spanish passport, and I am also related to the African diaspora. HEALING In my mind and heart, I placed Spain to one side. Equatorial Guinea became everything to me. It felt as if that country turned into the answer to my big question: Who am I? I believed that if I travel to Equatorial Guinea, I could probably understand my blackness. I worked hard to save up for a plane ticket. I made it in 2010. I did not know anything about the country. I went there as a tourist. I spent exorbitant amounts of money in hotels. I even dared to take a photograph without seeking permission first from a group of fishermen that I saw chatting by a beach in Bata one day. When they saw me with my camera, they were upset and shouted at me, and said something like: “Stop! Why are you taking pictures of us? Are you going to take them to Europe? Get out of here!” I was quite a naïve visitor during my first trip to the country of my father. I was unaware when I was there that Equatoguineans were being incarcerated because they spoke their minds. I did not understand political oppression in Equatorial Guinea. A military regime ruled the country, just like back in the days when my father was about to depart and start his new life in Spain. Nothing had changed. I was drawn to visit a national park, and I spent a few days near the rural areas behaving like nothing was happening. I had time to reflect about our relationship with biodiversity. Since immemorial times, Mother Earth has provided water, food, and medicine for us, our mothers and fathers, and our ancestors. Mother Earth has healing powers. I cached a glimpse of the complexities of the body, and on the million ways we can find ourselves in need of healing. Disconnection. I sensed that we can fall prey of that tragedy when we become dispossessed from what we believe is ours. What can we do, individually and as community, to mend our wounds? How can we reclaim our beliefs? How can we hold ourselves while we search like floating-naked souls? How do we find ourselves? How do we define ourselves? What do we think about defining ourselves? Where is home, the place where we can rest?

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How do we live with our disconnections, dispossessions, and our movements and migrations? AFRODESCENDIENTE, HISPANO-GUINEANA I moved to Boston, and I enrolled into a graduate program in medical anthropology at Boston University, School of Medicine. I spent two years studying medicine, healing, culture, and African and African diasporas’ traditional healing systems. I questioned how people of African descent like myself handle illness, or the tragedies of disconnection, dispossession, and disruption. I dedicated my master’s thesis to the Congolese diaspora I met in Massachusetts, and I learned something valuable: Acts of resistance and liberation equal healing and restoration. Congolese individuals and communities in the diaspora left the Democratic Republic of the Congo, their homeland. They transformed, and formed new lives and families in the United States. They and their children know their past histories. They remembered it. Some told me stories of tragedies that happened. The Congolese diaspora and their children care about the Congo. The Congo lives in their hearts. I witnessed how everyone, in their own ways, contributes to the wellness of their own bodies, communities and homeland through consciousness, social engagement, and political activism. From the distance, Spain and Equatorial Guinea returned to my life. I went back on time, and I imagined my father and other Equatoguineans leaving their homes, and forming new migration patterns and new families in Spain. Then, I saw them. There they were! Spanish nationals of African descent are called afrodescendientes, Afrodescendents. The children of the unions between Equatoguinean and Spanish parents are called Hispano-Guineans, hispanoguineanas, hispanoguineanos. I felt the awakening. Suddenly, I realized I knew all about my mother and her family, but nothing about my father. I needed to do something fast. I had the urge to find my father. Yes I did. The thought of Equatorial Guinea had always led me to the mystery of my father’s shadow. My father existed beside Equatorial Guinea. For a very long time, I have always called him in silence. It was time to call him aloud. By the end of 2016, I started looking for him persistently. Hispano-Guinean Woman in the Diaspora I returned to Equatorial Guinea in the spring of 2017. My second visit to the country was different. This time, I knew much more about Equatorial Guinea.

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I was there because I wanted to search for my father. I visited Malabo, and inquired about him, but nobody knew him. Without a name but I was fortunate because I had the chance to learn about medicine, healing, and health care systems in the country. I met the first Equatoguinean woman to become a doctor in medicine, one anthropologist, two writers, one university professor, three artists, a theatrical company and its director, and members of Asociación de Medicina Tradicional (Traditional Medicine Association). After my return to Boston, I continued my searching. Non-stop. On September 24, 2017, I talked to my father for the first time in thirty-four years. It was a warm Sunday afternoon. I remembered I waited for his call out in my backyard. I sat over the grass, and waited. Breathing. When my cell phone rang and I heard his voice, I felt free. I was being released from the burden of finding a father with no name. Our encounter reassured me that I was moving somewhere. We met in Madrid in January 2018. We hugged at the airport. We cried. I met his immediate family at his home in South Madrid. We look alike. It is pretty obvious that he is my father, and that I am his daughter. I have inherited his wide nose. My black skin comes from him, a man born in Equatorial Guinea. From then on, we started talking. He told me all what he wanted to tell, and I did the same. Being in Madrid with him felt as if I was entering into a new social dimension. Now, I know who my father is. Now, I know that I am my father’s daughter. I am a diasporic afrodescendiente Hispano-Guinean woman. NOW AND THE FUTURE Now, I can smile. Now, I am satisfied that I know more about my black skin. I perceive myself anew and recognizable. I can get the phone and call my father whenever I please. He enjoys open discussions. He is always available to me. My life has changed for the better. I have become a happier person. These are excellent achievements, however, this is not the end. Now, I need to acquire my father’s last name in order for him to transform me into his daughter before the law in Spain and Equatorial Guinea. This is an interesting turn, because it means that I will be officially Hispano-Guinean. I am also embarking into a new learning experience: Adult relationships between fathers and daughters. My hope is to become enlightened about the meanings of being a man’s daughter. Now, more than ever, I reflect on our stories, and the social and historical contexts in which my father and I have met. I wonder about the meanings of being a Hispano-Guinean woman in the diaspora. What am I supposed to do with this new identity of mine?

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Now, I see afrodescendientes in Spain actively exercising their freedom of expression. From the distance, I can hear their voices loud and clear. Afrodescendientes expose creatively and politically their experiences and phenomenological perceptions on living in the country where I was born, the country I left many years ago. I see them march like strong and confident warriors. Afrodescendientes transmit waves of ideas about racism, restoration, and what it means to be black in Spain. Now, I feel my love for Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guinea asks me to respect her. I will respect Equatorial Guinea. I will be humble. Now, I think about the future, my next move. And after these words, the closing is now. I am in Boston.

Chapter 5

When I First Wore Fish Leather or Black Girl in Iceland Sharony Green

I left for Iceland in late May. It was daylight for 23 of 24 hours then. The highs were in the low 60s and thus manageable. I am from Miami, Florida, with roots in the Bahamas and the American South. The plan was to track how I felt as a “Black” woman while moving through space Roediger 1991). Current-day politics figured into my query. How safe would I feel? What follows is an essay in which I do not try so much to shed light on the internal working of the most sparsely settled (and volcanic) place in Europe as much as I try to better understand myself in these strange times. The first part of this chapter finds me reflecting on my ties to other people of African descent during my time in Iceland. Such reflections pose tensions with the second part during which I provide greater context for my travels and thus, context for many experiences that made the sighting of someone who had shared ties to the continent a welcomed thing. I was without question a bicultural visitor in Iceland, or one who is seen as Black, but also someone who via other categories of analysis might be seen and, indeed, respond to others as an “African” even as I know such a designation is problematic as such terms are only a way to neatly organize certain bodies deemed different on the basis of color and labor needs dating back more than 500 years now. A woman I shall call Adhama was a blessing to meet during my stay in Iceland, first and foremost, because she was someone who could help me forget these academic ways of looking at the world around me, which are sometimes wearying as they explain much, but not everything. She was someone with whom I could be friendly and understand even as we said little. She was from Kenya although raised Sweden (Her name means glory in Swahili). Two weeks into my journey, we met in the capital city Reykjavik owing to the overtures of her husband whom I had earlier met by chance. 61

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He told me about his wife and children while I was visiting a shop. Within an hour, I was sitting beside Adhama. Perhaps he’d sensed in both of us a person needing a friend. If either of us was changed by having met one another with Africa in common, the change was an outcome of knowing we were not alone in our shared, but specific experiences as women with ties to a particular space often relegated as being bad by the dominant culture, and even by people who, on first glance, appeared naturally tied to this space: Africa. “I am from Detroit! Motown!” said Big Brother Almighty in Spike Lee’s 1988 musical comedy School Daze when asked by a more progressive classmate Dap to be concerned about social issues including apartheid in South Africa. But Big Brother Almighty was not unlike some earlier people of African descent in America who wanted nothing to do with Africa. To be clear, the American Colonization Society was established in the United States in 1816 to support the sending of free people of African descent back to Africa. As many as 13,000 people of African descent traveled there against their own wishes, believing that they were as foreign to this continent as White Europeans. Over lunch in a Reykjavik restaurant, this history was hardly on my conscious mind, but it might have been lurking just beneath the nice pleasantries. Through blood memory, we carry the complexities of our ancestors. All this as Adhama and I scoped the other out as Black women often do. We are conditioned to be on guard, rarely resting and when resting, critiquing the world. We are tired. But within two weeks, we were laughing with our guards down a bit, laughing quietly while attending a film with her husband and his friends. Her presence beside me in this theatre and our shared ties—no matter the ambiguity of them beyond the obvious color of our skin and thus ties to a constructed space—made so much unsayable more bearable. We leaned into each other like schoolgirls at one point. If we were ever unhappy before our short time together, and we were, that changed like seawater, shifting and curling, salty, but also beautiful. I’d share more about her experiences in Iceland, but doing so risks making her publicly visible in this place, which is more a small town than a small country. Be assured, however, that being bicultural, which is to say in this instance, women with ties to Africa inserted us into a Black women’s geography. Having survived many indignities assured us having negotiated much while trying to possess ourselves at the risk of alienating others, even ones we loved. And all of this sharing happened with the obvious realities that divide us, the ones made apparent with the popularity of motion pictures like Black Panther. I recently heard a brother going on and on via Twitter about the implications of Disney’s divide and conquer tactics inside Pan African

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storytelling. I told him in a few characters about how my 69-year-old Mississippi-born mother wanted to know more about what Africans did to Africans before European contact and how “Black Panther” addressed this. Silence. I get it. This stuff is hard to talk about. But think it about I did. Even before the movie’s release, I thought about all kinds of division including this sort as I took the privilege of walking around this country. I was determined here to be the Black flaneuse, a derivation of flaneur, a French word for an idle wanderer, the person reclaiming time by doing nothing in particular (Lauren 2017). The word flaneur came into being in the early nineteenth century to reference men who had the privilege of walking around cities with no seeming real purpose, something that is a privilege for any Black body. Black women who do as much are ahead of the game because we were always suspect, and when working class, we troubled even middle class folks who look like us.1 Oh, for the moments when we connect with others with whom we connect for even a moment. Take the traveling woman of African descent walking beside a White man in Reykjavik. “Was she from Europe?” I wondered. Africa? America? Our eyes did not easily say. She did smile. And I smiled back. Adhama being an exception, brevity was the name of the game when meeting people who looked like me in this place. Take the brothers from Jamaica looking for a party in Reykjavik. I made sure they knew the party was not with me. There for the solstice concert, they waved me on, laughing. I once bypassed an African man wearing the brightest orange pants. He did a quick tribal-like dance upon seeing me. All had to be right in the world with this man dancing. I nodded. He nodded back and we went on our respective ways. I howled when I saw another African wearing khaki shorts, expensive brown shoes, unlaced, and no socks in front of an art house theater. Reeking of cologne, he was hunting for the site of a music video shoot. “I’m going to do my own thing, Seester!” he said, hurrying away. On my final night in Iceland, Adhama and her husband invited me to their home where she made a delicious chicken stew. After dinner, there was tea from fresh ginger she had beaten and thrown into a pot where milk and sugar eventually boiled. We became Facebook friends, but the sort who communicate via it so infrequently as to make the entire thing a mere formality in line with the

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times. A photograph I posted of the snow on the palm trees in our back yard on a winter day in Alabama where I reside found her asking, “What is happening?” “Climate change,” I typed back. And then I reflected on the time Adhama once took me and her beautiful daughter into the mountains east of Reykjavik for a picnic only tell me as we moved through fog that she could not drive very well. I wanted to kill her. Thankfully, it began to rain and we instead shared egg sandwiches at a shopping center in Hveragerdi. There, we could enter a house that simulated an earthquake in Iceland. The sound of dishes was heard. I ran. Giggles from Adhama and her daughter followed (“Look at the American run! We do earthquakes and volcanoes here. She does not.” they may have been thinking, laughing harder inside). At this same shopping center, one can stand on a floor map that shows you that you are standing exactly between North America and Europe. This standing between the two continents is a result of how Iceland lies on a ridge dividing two plates that are drifting apart and this drifting leads to the intense volcanoes and many earthquakes. And the hot spot in which we stood politically and socially can be cooled if we consciously drift toward each other, moving beyond the named and unnamed trying to contain us. I am most remembering her story about how she was pregnant and riding on a bus in Reykjavik. I must assume no seat had been offered to her body, which some might have believed was supposed to withstand anything (“And ain’t I a woman [too]?” Sojourner had certainly asked). The bus jerked as the driver stopped and turned corners. She cut her eyes at him. But she said nothing, if memory serves her storytelling. The oppression of our people, including our women who bear full bellies and tired feet, is so persistent, time ceases to have currency (Morgan 2004). I think now of James Baldwin when he visited Switzerland in 1951. While traveling to Leukerbad, a small village in Switzerland, he heard the equivalent of the N-word coming from the mouths of young people (Baldwin 1953). He realized these Swiss youth were related to Dante, Shakespeare, Michaelangelo, Aeschylus, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Racine, the cathedral at Chartres, and even the Empire State building in ways he never could be. “Out of their hymns and dances,” he wrote, “come Beethoven and Bach. “Go back a few centuries and they are in their full glory, but I am in Africa, watching the conquerors arrive.”2 Back home in Alabama, I look at the licorice seasoning made from Icelandic sea salt that Adhama gave me, pondering this quotation. I had moved through space like Adhama and others including but the Haitian women in the Dominican-Republic, the ones at security checkpoints and in marketplaces (Shoaf 2017). Social anthropologist Jennifer L. Shoaff pondered the courage of such a woman who moves, asking, “When the earth tilts below and the

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ground shifts enough to cause her imbalance, or when the earth shatters, and all that is left is a space beneath and a moment frozen in time, does she move? You best be certain she moves” (Keep going!) (Shoaf 2017, 153). I say all of what I have said so far even though I am, like Zora, thoroughly sick of the subject of race. Land Ho!, a 2014 film, set this entire trip to Iceland in motion. In it, two aging men take a road trip through Iceland. The best part of the movie for me occurs when they stumbled upon a photographer. Full-figured. Dark skin. American. After a wade a pool of geothermal water in the middle of nowhere, one of them sleeps with her in. That is not what I found most intriguing. Far more interesting was seeing how she was Black. And calm. It was she who told one of them to come sit closer, destabilizing the social order around them all as Black folks do when traveling. Before my departure, I did not know that Iceland was a popular tourist destination on the heels of the 2008 financial collapse. Overnight foreigners doubled to two million before doubling again three years ago. All of this in a country of just over 300,000 people (“300,000” more tourists to Iceland in 2016). After my arrival via plane in the early morning hours, I traveled via shuttle to a hotel in Reykjavik, the capital. Upon waking after sleeping for several hours, I immediately wanted to see the Atlantic Ocean to better situate myself geographically and perhaps to immediately push my thinking on other people of African descent who had traveled across that body of water, willingly or not. However, with chilly rain falling, I only marveled at the sight of the Atlantic, or actually a harbor leading to it, from the sidewalk in front of my hotel. I saw the tree-less mountains in the distance. I was in Iceland alright. The next morning, I took a cab to a bus station where I paid about $70 for the ride to my artist residency in Blonduos, a town of 800. Iceland is filled with artist residencies. The one in Blonduos is located in a former women’s college known for textiles. The entire country is indeed known for textiles. Here, shelves of colorful yarn are common in grocery stores. On my way there, the beauty of this country was visible as soon as we got outside Reykjavik. Rogue sheep and lamb dot the roadside. Black sand was everywhere. After my arrival in Blonduos, I announced again and again my twofold mission to my fellow artists. There were eight of us, again all women, most middle-aged, most Scandinavian, and one other who might be considered “Other” given her ties to Asia. We hailed from the States, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Germany, and England. Having gone to a gifted program in the 1970s where I was one of only two African Americans as an elementary school student, being “the only one” in this setting didn’t entirely bother me.

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The framed pictures of the students who had walked through the building when it was a college were a constant reminder that we were indeed in a woman-centered space. Some of the graduating classes dated back to 1920s. I had the Class of ’67, mostly young women with big stiff hair, in my dorm room. This was fitting for me. I was born in that year. These students had taken courses in dressmaking, weaving, and knitting. This curricular past was made real in the creaking looms in the attic. I quickly got to know this room and the two shared studios, one of them outside the building. I got to know these rooms as I watched others make room for me, and I for them. There had been an initial bump in the road. “No, the body oil that I received as a sample from a European—yes, a European body care company in Atlanta’s airport on the way here—is not incense and yes, it makes me breathe poorly, too. Had I had I known, I would not have used it,” I thought, but never said following an accusation that was quickly hushed. Still, I relayed this incident to the artist who arrived after me who actually burned incense and without the retribution. Perhaps in solidarity, she never used it again. I noticed my fellow artists dried their clothing on a rack, possibly creating more intimacy than some wanted. Meal time required a bit of choreography in the small kitchen as we reached inside our respective cabinets and refrigerator shelves. I shared my suitcase full of pistachios. I had purchased them and breakfast bars from Sam’s Club to save money on food, which was very expensive in this country even though a round-trip ticket here from Boston can be sometimes had for $150. I know firsthand. A salmon pizza accidentally purchased at the hotel in Reykjavik cost me $42. The cheapest dish was doubtless rhubarb pie as this plant grew behind our building. Breaks became necessary. Once, some of us hike up a hill I’d long studied from my room. I was the only one who occasionally looked back to measure the distance back to our residency. I also looked on longingly at the one who shared how she had once hiked up another hill. It took her two hours. I decided she was the woman in Land Ho! Not me. Not yet anyway. A lesson on how to use the attic looms by an artist that was young enough to be my daughter left me yearning for hot chocolate. This became a weekly luxury in the town’s only cafe the moment I learned how to walk alone. I’d been there just two days. The artist who became a big sister of sorts suggested a stroll. She wanted to photograph some brownish red wool someone had thrown away. She had been carrying it around in big recycling bag. This artist did funny things like that. Once I asked her what she’d done on a particular day. “I picked up shit,” she said. Here, she’d lost me.

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“I picked up shit. The geese out back . . . they shit on the pathway.” This time, I laughed. It was on that very pathway that we walked that first time. I hurried beside her as we took the steps down to walk along the River Blanda. This river was behind our building and flowed into the Atlantic Ocean. From the shore, one could see a seal and an occasional spraying whale. “You must learn to sit. You must learn to wait,” the one walking beside me said, sounding like an elder. She had been to an African wedding in Africa, she told me possibly wanting to connect. The dance that she and other Europeans were expected to join in still brought a smile to her face. Because it did, I sometimes danced to hip hop, wearing my earphones, while I cooked. They could see, if not, hear, something Motherlandish, in me. I wanted to truly break the ice as I come, it is believed, from happy dancing people. On that first walk, as we proceeded, she pointed out the yellow bunkers where soldiers stayed during the Second World War and next, a slaughterhouse. Then she stopped and looked ahead at a distant pier, saying that’s where she was going next, the implication being that I was now on my own. I started toward a wooden bench. I inhaled the salt in the air. A happy dog approached. A woman quickly called. Perhaps she was having a bad day. Or maybe she did not know a Black woman was in town. Then again, she might not have even cared that a Black woman was in town. But what about that thing on her head? For years now, I’ve taken to wearing a turban made of grey woolen cloth cut from a second-hand dress. On cold days, nothing got through this thing. The highs were in the low ’60s, but it was still cold enough when the wind picked up. The head wrap unnerved people, even in the States. To make others relax in ways I never would have to do with Adhama, and because I was not entirely difficult, I stowed my makeshift turban. I began wearing knitted caps. Accommodating those around me as had the dancing enslaved who entertained his or master, and not him or herself, I began wearing felted ropes that I found in a scraps bag in the residency (Hartman 1992). I tied these pieces of thick color into my dred locks. I wore the ropes to create distractions. I was resisting the impact of unspoken surveillance. Let those passing think I was an artist who just happened to be Black. This is what I told myself, wondering if I was upsetting those around me as had other women, among them, the postbellum Black washerwomen of Atlanta I’d studied in graduate school (Hunter 1997). When asked why would she prefer to leave her former master’s plantation where she had food and shelter, Julie Tillory reportedly told a northern missionary employee working for the Freedmen’s Bureau, “To ‘joy my freedom” (Hunter 1997, 2). Some cars still passed slowly, but possibly for other reasons. Perhaps I was a celebrity in the way African Americans appear to many the minute we leave

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the States. After all, I learned Eric Clapton used to fish in this town. I learned, too, that Chaka Khan was in Reykjavik for the solstice concert. While thinking through such things, I often reached for pre-cut felt I’d purchased from Michael’s back home to actually create something during my residency, which was intended to push my thinking on my present research on racial and spatial politics on the Florida peninsula (I focus on the Seminoles’ encounters with the US military, the turn of the century experiences of Black Bahamians who taught White settlers how to grow on coral rock and the rise of the University of Miami football program circa 1980s. In all three cases, space matters to how the oppress claim power. Having earned my first graduate degree in dance, I wanted to push the envelope on this idea by exploring my experiences as a woman of African descent in the North Atlantic). But to be clear, textiles was the way to justify the trip to the skeptical. Before I left, I’d taken a course taught by a colleague on how many goods are made legitimate when created by only desired bodies.3 Women of all backgrounds felt the gendered, classed, and racialized exploitation owing to things made with their hands. Their handmade creations were devalued unlike facsimiles later made in factories. Knowing such history, and before I met Adhama I happily joined my fellow artists who helped the local women prepare for the annual knitting festival by hanging knitted pieces to the town’s light poles. When the festival arrived, I knitted clumsily beside others in a huge circle as the Icelandic Justin Beiber circa 1960s played a horn. I knitted and exchanged smiles with an aging Icelandic woman who said hello a week later in the town’s grocery store. There would be other warm exchanges, one in another town where I got my palm read by an aging Iceland woman who said, “I saw you.” “In Sauarkrokur,” she said next. “At the museum.” A week earlier, while visiting the tannery where I bought fish leather. Indeed, when the lights were turned low during the movie Adhama and I watched with her husband and his friend, I gave her a headband made of fish skin that via processing is turned into something that feels and smells like leather. It could be had for $4 a strip in person although months later, while trying to order this leather via email, I was told I needed a fishing and hunting license. All this as the same stuff was sold on Etsy for as little as $7 with no such notice. Maybe if my business card had said Nike all would have been well. Looking back, I decided my creations were a symbol of resistance for me for this reason, but also because of the fish’s origins in the Atlantic and thus its metaphoric ties to the Middle Passage. The headbands felt (and the earrings I’d later make), felt like an appendage of the Black woman geographies about which Katherine McKittrick as written in her exploration of the way in which Black women produce meanings in space (McKittrick 2006). She is essentially referencing the places were Black folk experience domination like transatlantic slavery, but also the things that Black women and only

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Black women can know, negotiate and experience (McKittrick 2006). To her, ships carrying ship crossings dating back to the slavery era do not just signify technological progression, but rather for sites for Black though, resistance and self-possession. One of the gifts of McKittrick’s project is allowing us to think about Black women, their actions and the way they inhabit space in new ways. Her theory counters traditional geography which assume, as she has written, assumes we can “view, assess and ethically organize the world from a stable (White, patriarchal, European, heterosexual, classed) vantage point” (McKittrick 2006, xiii). For example, the Underground Railroad can be seen as a network of routes and hiding places for escaping enslaved people and the individuals who helped them, but also the “material and psychic map . . . [containing] secret knowledge” (McKittrick 2006, 18). We might, as does McKittrick, consider the antebellum runaway mother Harriet Jacob who hid from her master in her grandmother’s attic. The attic was as example of “Black women’s geography.” I think now of Adhama on the bus with her big belly, but no offered seat. I also think of the time I told my fellow artists in Blonduos about a group local White Icelandic male teenagers, who sung hip hop whenever I walked by. Did this happen to them? Giggles and next, “No.” One of the young men even stood up and said something that sounded like “Beesh! Beesh!” as I walked by. “Was he calling me a bitch?” More giggles—even from me this time. I had been one of the Black women who cast a recent critical vote in Alabama (“My country [the world] needs me, and if I were not here, I would have to be invented”), but here I just another Black bitch (Hortense and Spillers 1987, 65). To some, I was just that and these are the ones I’d anger greatly if they knew I didn’t feel particularly weak as I moved through space. If anything, I returned home stronger because I had survived something else. I had made fish leather headbands, giving one of them to Adhama. I also gave her a keychain made from discarded fabric that I made in my Blonduos dorm room from discarded felt and thread in honor of Harriet Tubman. Strangely, as I recall those headbands, I think of the aging Icelandic woman, I shall now share more about. This is the one who read my palms and told me about a coming baby. This made no sense as I was menopausal. How did she know that I’d be caring soon for my mother who was in early stages of dementia? Once an adult, twice a child, I’d always heard. She told me, too, that I’d often been very healthy, but I was not as healthy as I’d once been. How did she know that a sonogram had after my return to the States would reveal growths on my thyroid?

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She knew this as we sat over a table during our second meeting. The first meeting is one I do not recall. I was visiting a pop-up museum featuring the work of Guðrún frá Lundi, an Icelandic mother who had J. K. Rowling-like success circa 1960s (Björnsson 2008). Lundi had done this after her children were raised. The elites hated her. The woman reading my palms was Lundi’s great-granddaughter. And now Lundi’s descendant offered an injunction to take better care of myself. I must trust myself more. I must not hold things in. Whatever divides us weakens in such one-on-one meetings, I decided. Community of the sort had with this woman was also felt in the Blonduos pool where one could unknowingly sit across from a town police officer. It was at the pool that geothermal water washed away much as did the waterslide where I laughed louder than I have laughed in years. Like Adhama, perhaps, I had long been conditioned to keep most things inside. But I did not stay quiet about the Black rocks at the rest stops. There were always beside a welcome sign in Iceland. These rocks were painted to look like a man and a mammy-like woman wearing an apron. When I told a local that these rocks carried other connotations in America, she bust a gut, laughing. It was not the intent of the Icelandic people to offend, she insisted. One night, I told my fellow artists about “Hear the Silence, a German film I’d seen a film festival in Harlem the year before. This drama was set in a village of mostly women and children during the Second World War. Russian and Germans soldiers were in the area. Everyone is enduring one another. Suddenly, everyone is perceived as being a killer and bodies began to fall. The point of the movie is that we all have a base instinct to want to live—not die. I know that when Adhama reads this essay, she will know exactly what I mean. And unlike the others, because of our shared ties as women with connections to a place people call African, we will not need to discuss any of this very long. Maybe we will laugh. And if we see each other again, we may simply sit and say nothing. NOTES 1. Select readings on the surveillance of Black women, especially at the turn of the century, as more Americans moved to cities in growing numbers, include Carby 1992; Wolcott 2001. 2. This is also the story of “still a ni----” O. J., as rapper Jay-Z makes clear in a 2017 tune on his #444 album. For more, see Golding 2017. 3. Dr. Heather Kopelson teaches this course at the University of Alabama.

Chapter 6

Reinventing Identities Crossing Borders of Values and Beliefs in Noviolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names Afua (Rachel) Ansong We Need New Names (2013) by Noviolet Bulawayo is written as a Bildungsroman: “a novel of formation that reflects the protagonist’s intellectual and spiritual maturation” (Boes 1). The German word Bildung refers to the “organic and teleological growth of an individual” (Boes 4). As Darling grows up (matures) and emigrates from Paradise to the United States, her desire to create an “organic” self becomes evident. By “organic,” I mean a character’s quest to ensure that his/her identity reflects ideologies of his/her national home. Darling creates this “organic” self as she interacts with her friends and family in Paradise as well as in the United States. In writing this Bildungsroman, Bulawayo emphasizes the relationship between Darling’s personal change and national setting as she matures into adulthood (Boes 5). This perspective elucidates Darling’s relationship with her national and foreign settings and her decisions as a subject in transition. Darling has “a desire for home which in turn produces a rewriting of home” (Davies 84). The migratory subject’s desire to reject or long for home creates its reconceptualization (Davies 84). Furthermore, this home can be a romanticized construct that reinforces negativity: a way of thinking usually created when people leave their birth country as children and desire to return after a long period. Their desire to reconnect to their place of origin leaves them feeling blissful, causing them to forget the usually negative aspects of their initial home, making a truism of the quote from Boes that: “home can only have meaning once one experiences a level of displacement from it” (113). Because Darling is only a child in Paradise, her understanding of her “home” is sometimes romanticized, especially when she moves outside of it (Davies 71). Equally important, she has a very elementary understanding of some of the political and social changes that are around her. Her sudden alienation in the United States, however, allows her to challenge, critique, and 71

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sometimes accept imperialist, colonialist, and Pan-Africanist ideas, which are connected to the formation of an African identity (Davies 84). In her first home Paradise, the reader perceives Darling as a child frustrated because of the scarcity of food. This frustration creates a longing for an escape. Although Darling’s perspective may seem naïve because she is simply a 10-year-old, her interaction with her environment sheds lights on the rather serious political circumstances that catalyze her hunger. Unlike its name, Paradise is a shanty village full of tin houses, where the schools have closed and food is scarce. Many people in Paradise desire to leave and settle in other places, which would probably present fewer challenges to their basic survival. While portraying the effects of Darling’s impoverished lifestyle on her development, the novel highlights actual historical events in the neocolonial setting. Drawing from the real life ideals of dependency and poverty, it defines Darling’s imposed identities as influenced by the political ideologies of her society. Places like Paradise represent reserves in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), designated by the white settlers for people to settle in, so they, the colonizers, could further exploit the better parts of land for its resources (Thomas 693). Darling’s character is based on real life individuals who have been living in Zimbabwe and have been affected by the governmental state of crisis. In a scene describing the White settlers’ invasion, characters who represent the older generation in Zimbabwe complain about how “whites drove [them] from [their] land and put [them] in those wretched reserves” (Bulawayo 77). These memories remind inhabitants of Paradise of their painful eviction from their comfortable and fertile homes. The novel uses language that reflects the anger and bitterness of the people who were forced into impoverishment. Even though the older generation is portrayed as the victim of such economic, political, and social corruption, it is the youth of Paradise who are represented with vibrant and confident voices as they actively seek for change. It is highly possible that the older generation has been worn out by the fight for change which seems impossible. However, the youth, who might not be privy to the nuances of the revolution, seem more eager to challenge these laws invading their lifestyle. The youth hope to correct the damages inflicted on their parents, grandparents, and themselves by the government from the initial laws of colonization. Darling is growing up to understand that she must also be an active participant in this change. Even though she cannot fully comprehend the political and social risks involved in this quest for change, she wants to stop looking at the bitter faces of her mother and grandmother. Yet, she is still quite immature in her reaction to the lamentations of her grandmother who has suffered under the colonial and postcolonial regime.

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As a child, Darling’s voice only rehashes the truth, as she explains that if the older generation wants change they should actively be part of the resolution. As part of their strategies to create change in Paradise, Darling and her friends search for food, and in particular guavas, which they steal from the big and nice houses of strangers in Budapest. The guavas symbolize the fruit of the land that flourish in the lands of the white settlers. Her imposed identity of one who steals a farmer’s ‘harvest’ is rather ironic since Darling and her friends should have access to the assets of their own land instead of having to steal them. Again, the only problem Darling and her friends see with stealing from these strangers is the fear of being caught, but they feel it is the fruit that gives them their courage to do it. We must, however, question who should in fact have the courage to enjoy the fruit of the land: Darling, the original inhabitant of the land or the descendants of these colonial settlers. Still, Darling and her friends move to Budapest to satisfy their hunger, passing Chimurenga Street. Because they are children and lack political perspective, their activism becomes very limited. They are not even aware that Chimurenga translates to revolutionary or guerrilla warfare in Shona, a Zimbabwean language. This name evokes the quest for revolution. Perhaps, the children might have not been aware of its political implications, but their resistance to poverty or inaction shows their courage and like their forefathers, the spirit to fight for change. Darling is not hesitant about claiming what rightfully belongs to her because the ongoing political conflict is actually to blame for her attitude. Darling experiences some personal change when she is displaced from her comfortable home into a shanty town. She develops an identity almost like that of an orphan which further lowers her self- confidence and in-turn her love for her nation. Even though she is not mature, her circumstances force her into a state of independence. Additionally, Darling’s father’s absence causes her family, Mother of Bones, and her mother, to become lonely and financially unstable. This instability further reinforces her sense of rejection and displacement even in her own home. Darling feels rejected by her father who is no longer available in the home to perform his responsibilities in terms of financial and emotional support for mother and child. She states, “Father comes home after many years of forgetting us, of not sending us money, of not loving us, not visiting us, not anything us” (Bulawayo 91). Darling certainly expresses her frustration in her fragile state of childhood. Also, it is during this time that she needs a father’s love and protection. To avoid dwelling on such issues, because in no way should a 10-year-old dwell on these problems, Darling and her friends think more and more about their own basic needs and survival. Yet, they are still thrust into the political issues in their community. When these children are in the middle of “harvesting” guavas on

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Julius Street to satiate their hunger, they are interrupted by a nationalist mob who demand: Kill the Boer, the farmer, the Khiwa Strike fear in the heart of the white man White man, you have no place here, go back go home Africa for Africans, Africa for Africans Kill the Boer, the farmer, the Khiwa (Bulawayo 113).

Apparently, all of Darling’s friends are terrified of being caught for stealing guavas but Bastard, the leader of the clan, is not afraid. He recognizes that their black identity exempts them from any impending harm from the angry mob. So, Bastard continues to pick guavas, the fruit of his land while the others indulge in what he believes is rightfully his. This scene underscores the survival of these children over their urgency to understand political issues that define their lifestyle. Darling and her friends recognize the social and economic hardship in Paradise when they travel to Budapest to play and hunt for guavas. To Darling, Budapest is like another world, with its large homes, manicured lawns, pretty flowers, and “big trees heavy with fruit,” that appear to go un appreciated (Bulawayo 6). These children who are always blunt and honest with their observations, recognize that the aesthetic beauty of Budapest is contrary to the ugliness of Paradise. While strolling around in Budapest these children notice that this environment is much more animated compared to the uninviting and lackluster setting of Paradise. Even though the children notice this difference, they lack the political understanding behind these differences. In addition to discovering her identity through escapades with her friends, Darling’s interaction with her female relatives further allows her to reinvent her sense of selfhood. In the text, Bulawayo uses Mother of Bones, Darling’s grandmother, and Darling’s mother as subjects to portray the effects of colonization on the older generation of women in Zimbabwe. These women’s beliefs greatly influence Darling’s conceptualization of her world. Mother of Bones, for example, exposes Darling to Christianity, which ironically represents how Western religion creates changes to traditional customs, but also brings hope to the people. From her mother, Darling learns to live independently and with tenacity. Since Mother of Bones represents the older generation, her words, actions, and experiences become vital to how Darling relates to Zimbabwe. The noun ‘mother’ suggests nurturing and caring characteristics. However, Mother of Bones earns her heart-wrenching name from the virus her son, Darling’s father, acquires while working in South Africa. HIV leaves Darling’s father with little flesh and lots of bones; his mother now becomes responsible for

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paradoxically nurturing a man who has ultimately already lost his life. When Darling looks at Mother of Bones she can see pain. Darling believes there is no single existing culprit who has created such a disillusioned generation. However, Darling is still unable to completely recognize the political reasons behind the pain unlike a reader who might have prior knowledge of the historical events in Zimbabwe and actually understand the impact of neocolonialism on these women’s lives. Like Mother of Bones, Darling’s mother becomes another essential female character in Darling’s development who teaches Darling how to survive in the midst of crisis. Because Darling never uses the possessive “my” when referring to her mother, she underscores that the foundation of their relationship is based on her mother’s maternal responsibilities. Since their relocation to the reserves, Darling’s mother is either at the border, trading to earn enough money to support her family or resting on the bed she built with the assistance of Mother of Bones. Her family’s forced relocation to poor land reserves completely redirects her lifestyle: Darling is forced to stay at home instead of attend school, her father leaves his home and his parental responsibilities in search for work opportunities in South Africa, and her mother is forced to work far from her home. This relocation eventually causes Darling’s mother to seek for comfort and financial stability from another male figure: the man Darling refers to as a ghost (Bulawayo 66). Even though, one would expect Darling’s mother’s life to be disoriented, she still exudes tenacity, overcoming this financial limitation by setting out to trade. If Darling’s mother is to blame for Darling’s belief that her father is irresponsible for neglecting the family, conversely her father is to blame for disrupting the joy and stability in the nuclear family. Darling explains this belief stating, “Mother had not wanted Father to leave for South Africa to begin with . . . and later when pictures and letters and money and clothes and things he had promised didn’t come, I tried not to forget him by looking for him in the faces of the Paradise men” (Bulawayo 93, 95). Darling explains how her father’s decision to abandon the family and migrate to South Africa leaves his family emotionally and economically unstable and her mother especially desperate as she struggles to maintain a comfortable and stable home. This need is ultimately linked to the devastating neocolonial government in the Zimbabwean economy, which led to poverty in the community and people like Darling’s father leaving their homes in search of greener pastures (Good 16). Darling notices that most of the time, “Mother is sometimes worried and sometimes mad and sometimes disappointed in him because Father does not do anything for [them], Mother complains about [their] tinned house, Paradise, the food that is not there, the clothes she wants and everything else” (Bulawayo 65). These complaints are warranted especially because Darling’s mother must play the role of both mother and father to Darling, and

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Daughter-in-law and son to Mother of Bones. With such pressure, Darling the child, is not likely to receive the love and attention she needs in order to mature with a world rounded perspective of her culture and values. Even though Darling feels rejected by her father, she does not want him to be replaced by another man, especially when this new man does not play the role of a father effectively. She assumes too that she will not receive the same attention from this man as she would have received from her biological father. She particularly complains about a certain man whom her mother brings to their very small house. In one scene where this man discreetly knocks on the door and enters their shack, Darling acknowledges that the man serves as a bed companion for her mother. Although Darling dislikes this “ghost,” it is evident that his presence brings relief to her mother, causing her to feel more like a woman. Therefore, Darling’s childish judgment regarding this man’s character is untrustworthy when she relays these faults and then complains that the man does not ask after her or bring them anything. Yet her bitterness towards this ‘ghost’ is extensive because she misses her father and would have hoped that her mother would not have replaced him so easily. The language Darling uses also becomes capital in her understanding of her immediate environment and herself. Ngugi wa Thiong’o describes language as a means of communicating and carrying one’s culture (13). Sadly, most Africans have had to sacrifice their mother tongues because the European countries that colonized them imposed their language on them, forcing them into a ‘psychological violence’ (Ngugi 13). According to Ngugi wa Thiong’o, this psychological violence disintegrates ideas and ways of life that come naturally. This ‘psychological violence’ becomes even more apparent with the introduction of the Western education which requires that students learn everything in English, painting their mother tongue as a secondary or inadequate form of expression (Ngugi 8). Many people in these regions have equated English with privilege. It becomes a new measure of intelligence and wealth as those who could speak and understand it were usually white or must have had access to a Western style of education which was fairly expensive at the time and usually accessible to the very few people (Ngugi 12). Unable to contemplate the traumatizing effect of imperialism and neocolonialism through language, Darling accepts English as the language of excellence and one that will grant her a voice among her people and foreigners. When speaking on the telephone in the house raided by the Africanist mob, Darling explains proudly that among her friends she is the most educated. However, when the white man on the receiver begins to speak her language in response to her elementary level English, she is a little more than disappointed because she wants to continue the conversation in English. Darling is unfortunately unaware of how colonialism has reconfigured her perception of language and

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only sees it to be humiliating and stupid if one does not speak what Ngugi calls “proper English” (Ngugi 11). More importantly, Speaking English, allows Darling to gradually develop an understanding of her immediate surroundings (Ngugi 3). Occasionally, Darling comes across several English words used by other characters that she herself does not understand, which limits her from having control over her thoughts, actions, or decisions. As she develops, she must either just sound out the words or accept the speaker’s gestures when speaking the word as the correct interpretation. Through this process, Darling’s mother tongue is subjugated while the English language becomes a necessity in communication. Darling easily absorbs new English words and their meanings because they seem intriguing and make her appear more intelligent. The incomprehensible English words are spoken by foreigners, who Darling perceives to be more knowledgeable than her relatives and friends who barely understand English. The privilege associated with English encourages Darling to strive in understanding new vocabulary and in knowing how to express them correctly. Darling is unaware of the political bias of language and does not question why she should be respected more for learning a foreigner’s language instead of her own language. For example, when Darling hears the word ‘wow’ from the daughter of a white settler in Budapest, she repeats this word stating, “wow wow wow, but I do it inside my head. It’s my first time ever hearing this word. I try to think what it means but I get tired of grinding my brains so I just give up” (Bulawayo 9). When this same woman, who can be likened to an NGO volunteer looking to capture the demise of these “poor” children, asks Darling to say “cheese,” Darling refuses to repeat the word saying “because [she is] busy trying to remember what ‘cheese’ means exactly and [she] cannot remember” (Bulawayo 11). Darling’s refusal to repeat the word “cheese,” reveals her irritation with the woman’s perception of her. On a larger scale, Bulawayo uses Darling’s rebellion to represents the “Africans” irritation with some of colonizers’ methods to “help” them: the proverbial white man’s burden. Since language is closely associated with culture, Darling simultaneously perceives her culture, (nationality) to be inferior to those of the colonizer. The results of colonization and the new forces of globalization causes this young child into believing that it is more prestigious to possess a Western identity than to possess an African identity, and Darling is particularly happy in identifying with “America.” Darling’s approach to the games she plays with her friends further supports this idea. Through these games, the text emphasizes the negative ideologies these children possess when they consider being from Africa in contrast to the positive ideas they contemplate, considering being white or originating from Western countries. Because of her age, Darling would argue that “country game” is a way for her and her friends to pass time.

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But, these games do more: they shape the egos of the children, forcing them to conceptualize unbefitting and negative ideas of home. Darling explains the concept of “country game”: To play country game, you need two rings: a bigger outer one, then inside it a little one, where the caller stands. . . . But first we have to fight over the names because everybody wants to be U.S.A and Britain and Canada and Australia and Switzerland and France and Italy and Sweden and Germany and Russia and Greece and them because they are “country-countries.” (Bulawayo 51)

In her list, Darling does not mention or even glide by countries on the African continent, explaining, “Who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart?” (51). Here, Bulawayo acknowledges the condition of Southern African region. She engages in a conversation with Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart because it is also a novel that reflects the difficulties on a people as a result of European colonization on the African continent. Still, Darling cannot understand the complications of colonialism, national warfare, the corruption caused by the greed of Europeans, the desire for some nationalists to subjugate their own people, or more importantly, the effect of all revolutionary actions on her self-identity. Rather, she only sees Europeans, especially in her land as those who possess power. These ideas, however, begin to change with Darling’s transition or immigration to the United States, which can also be considered as her escape from the national crisis. She begins to realize that life is not certainly more prosperous and easier, simply because one lives in the West, or America “the big baboon of the world” (51). Bulawayo especially comments on Darling’s transition to a different geographical space with cultural demands that vary from those of her home land. Darling no longer cherishes Zimbabwe, her home, but rather interacts with it as a space in crisis because of the increased poverty. Darling’s disapproving description of the living conditions in Paradise stands in juxtaposition to an aesthetically beautiful Budapest, an urbanely developed neighborhood that attests to the stark economic differences in Zimbabwe. This poverty influences Darling’s conception of home, family, and her understanding of language as a form of belonging and disalienation, all through the parameters of her evolving sense of self. Since Darling is only a child and consequently immature in this environment, she is less conscious of her identity and more concerned with playing with her friends, Sbho, Chipo, Bastard, Godknows, and Stina. However, Darling’s life also reflects the neocolonial state in a rather slow process of recovery as it suffers from the effects of colonization: Darling’s interactions with Mother of Bones, who recently converted to Christianity, and her hardworking mother, whom she simply calls Mother,

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offer her an insight to how female subjects in her national space interact within this neocolonial society. Darling’s hearth home is described in two settings. Before moving to Paradise, Darling lives comfortably with her father and mother, attends school, and receives enough attention and love from her parents. Yet, this bliss quickly changes when her national home plunges into an economic crisis, sending her family to Paradise, a land reserve and her second hearth home. In Paradise, many dangers arise from poverty. Also, the bond shared between Darling’s family members begins to disappear: not even religion or constant pursuit for change can bring about love for this place. Because of such harsh conditions, Darling fears to call this place home and with open arms embraces the United States as her new permanent home when given the opportunity to leave. This journey could mean two things: she does not return back to Zimbabwe because her visa expires or she later becomes a legal permanent resident and then a citizen of the United States or she no longer identifies herself as Zimbabwean because of the country’s crisis. The first gateway seems easy but rather treacherous. Many immigrants who do not cross borders come legally to the United States with a visitor’s visa (B1/B2). People like Darling who are chased away by poverty in their country usually have no intention of returning until they have accrued enough revenue to live better. They realize only after the come here that the system requires more that they had budgeted for: a permanent residence card and a social security number. The process is never simple and returning to one’s country means one cannot reenter the United States until ten years after probation. For minors like Darling the decision becomes difficult and a path to citizenship becomes a dream she’ll have to nurses for years, and constantly wake up to nightmares of being undocumented and likely to face deportation. II Before Darling walks out of the airport doors to start living in the United States, an immigration officer forces her to throw away a rainbow-colored string, given to her by Vodloza, a priest, before her voyage. This string represents the ancestral aspect of Darling’s Zimbabwean tradition, and so being forced to let go of this “crap,” as identified by Darling’s aunt Fostalina, signifies that she is letting go of the spirits that will “Deliver her well to that strange land where [the ancestors] and those before [her] never dreamed of setting foot” (Bulawayo 152). Fostalina seems to have partially assimilated into the American cultural system just a few years after emigrating from Paradise. By identifying this valuable traditional object as “crap,” Fostalina

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affirms the changes that become necessary for immigrants who seek to assimilate in the West. Darling also learns from Fostalina, who lives in Michigan, that speaking with the “African” accent is not beneficial; speaking with an American accent is more desirable when communicating with those not from your country. Fostalina’s words convey to Darling that once she is outside her national space, her values and beliefs will be challenged, ignored, or even worse, considered worthless. As Darling becomes part of her new community in the United States, she also becomes categorized because of her skin color and her country of origin. There are several terms that can be used to categorize Darling in the United States: “African,” “immigrant,” and “African American or Black.” I focus on these three because they pertain to Darling’s description of her own identity and others’ description of her identity. I also focus on these three because I want to reevaluate how these invented names reinforce prejudice and racism. In We Need New Names the marker “African” invokes an exotic as well as a troubled space. The term “African” is particularly problematic because it “is an attempt to create a monolithic construction out of a diverse continent of peoples, cultures, nations and experiences” (Davies 6). Also, because enslaved Africans who were brought to the United States lost contact with their countries of origin, the term “African” becomes a generic marker for their roots. Davies argues further that “Blackness or Africanness then, in operational terms has more to do with a sometimes essentialized, tactical assertion as a counterpoint to overwhelming whiteness or Eurocentricity, which tries to pose itself as unmarked but is historically linked to technologies of destruction” (Davies 6). Davies also suggests that we must interrogate terms, such as “African,” “Black,” and “African-American” since they are designated by Europeans to further legitimize their superiority over people of African descent. As a female writer from the African continent, Bulawayo further interrogates these terms especially through Darling’s migrant subjectivity. As a woman who has lived both in Zimbabwe and the United States, Bulawayo also writes this novel to represent her personal experience of the disadvantages of immigration and the new strength gained from her journey. As Carole Boyce Davies argues, the word “immigrant” on the other hand rejects the notion of belonging and creates a sense of ‘otherness’ (35). Immigrants feel that they have to compete with “citizens,” who have easier access to opportunities in a given space. For African immigrants, the term “Black” is problematic because it presumes a relationship to African American identity that is far from simple. Generally, the stereotype associated with the words “African American or Black” suggests that people of this ethnicity are second class citizens. The complexity in being labeled as an “African” in the African American context arises from the idea that the term “American” is linked to an imperialistic identity as well as whiteness, and those who have suffered

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under these imperialistic ideologies cannot belong to what has become a privileged category (Davies 6). Furthermore, being American is historically linked to European discovery and destruction of native communities and nations (Davies 6). In We Need New Names, Darling has more difficulty identifying herself as “African” since it is a term mostly used outside her national space. Since the text interrogates this term in the novel, Darling makes certain decisions that challenge the monolithic definition of people from that continent. As an “African,” Darling becomes more aware of the language she uses inside home and outside her home. Specifically, the type of accent she uses when speaking English becomes another element of selfhood, which may possibly represent her as an African American (Clark 267). While in Zimbabwe, Darling perceives speaking English as an advantage she has over other children. However, in the United States, where English is the dominant language, she must learn to speak English without a Zimbabwean accent so that she might more easily integrate into her new community. In the United States, Darling’s subjectivity balances with some difficulty, the values, traditions, and languages of her national home and those of her new home. Creating this balance is important, however, because it allows Darling to have a diverse character which in turn challenges the monolithic representation of her ‘African’ identity. By ‘sounding American’ or simply speaking English with the phonetics and slang of an individual born in America, Darling adopts the fluency of Americans. Even though this act may bring her comfort, it underscores her rejection of what we can define as her original language. Darling’s formation of a new migratory identity becomes evident when she begins to adopt the American accent so she can speak like her peers: Fostalina on the other hand, who has been brewed in Zimbabwean culture and is much older, finds more comfort in speaking the way she was raised. The different accents Darling uses when speaking at home and outside her home affirms how she wants to be perceived in her new environment since “[the] choice of language and the use to which language is put is central to a people’s definition of themselves in relation to their natural and social environment” (Ngugi 4). In relation to this new environment in Michigan, Darling believes it is more suitable to speak English outside the home and speak her mother tongue at home. Because of this decision, Darling faces further “psychological violence” (Ngugi 8). Although she thinks it convenient to speak English with the American accent, she does not fully understand that the acceptance of Western culture in this way requires that she simultaneously suppress aspects of her culture. In Michigan, television shows also serve as a means for Darling to adopt the correct accent and slang so she is not laughed at when she speaks to

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others. Darling confidently tells us that the various shows have taught her to imitate sounds in shows like “Dora the Explorer,” “Scooby Doo,” “Sponge Bob,” and so on (Bulawayo 196). Additionally, from these shows, Darling adopts American culture, such as the audacity to look someone in the eye. Consequently, her cultural values stand in contradiction with her newly acquired practices, yet Darling finds these new norms quite liberating. As Darling becomes more familiar with American slang, she is able to understand the impact of using the language and decides whether or not to adapt some of these ideologies as her identity forms. When she attends school, she is awed by the word “freak” and thinks to herself; “I remember it was the way they said freak that made me want to look it up” (Bulawayo 168). To further understand the connotations of this word, she looks it up on Google, a medium she did not have access to in Paradise. Darling describes her investigation: “I searched for the word, then hit images, and when all these crazy pics popped up I just stared at the screen and wondered how it felt for Tom; but I knew, we all knew just a week later, when they found him hanging near the lockers at school, the word freak! scrawled in a red marker on a locket behind him” (Bulawayo 168). Darling understands then that the word freak, which is one probably not included in her Zimbabwean vocabulary, carries a heavy negative attribution. She understands that one who is identified as a freak is worse than an alien. Her enlightenment grants her insight into American culture. She is now selective of the language or words she uses to communicate. Darling’s experiences as an African immigrant give her a clear understanding of the nuances of the American slang. Since Darling is a young adult, she still has the capacity to easily absorb these language changes. In contrast, Fostalina, spent most of her childhood in Zimbabwe and as a result struggles to speak with American English, which is much more easily understood by those in her community. When Fostalina calls Victoria Secret to buy a push-up bra called Angel, she is devastated because the woman on the receiver cannot understand her spelling of Angel, simply because she says it with an “African” accent. When Fostalina finishes with the order, she is embarrassed and seeks sympathy by calling another person, most likely another immigrant, who understands this familiar struggle. Fostalina does not acquiesce. She goes to her room, stands in front of a mirror, ignoring her skinny body, and “pronounces every English word she should have said to this lady” (Bulawayo 200). Through this scene, the reader witnesses another level of psychological violence, only in this case, the individual, who as an immigrant must completely renounce the style of the English language she uses to communicate. Even though Darling develops and uses an accent foreign to her, she must be careful not lose certain cultural values. Her employer, Chipo, and even her aunt Fostalina, remind her that she still comes from Zimbabwe where

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the memories of her childhood were nurtured. Darling herself, seems also to enjoy her association with people who remind her of Paradise. She greatly appreciates that Uncle Kojo, Fostalina’s partner, is Ghanaian and speaks a local language: even though they both don’t speak the same language, Darling is more comfortable that they can each recline to their mother tongues when tired of speaking English. Bulawayo affirms how immigration introduces the varying languages, beliefs, and cultures of the African people. And this home setting further diffuses the idea that people of the African continent are monolithic. While attending a wedding ceremony with her aunt, Darling expresses her personal beliefs about discipline, marriage, and even the etiquette of eating, which contradict those of her newly adopted American culture. At the wedding, Darling acts in a way that seems normal to her, but seems incomprehensible to the room full of white people. Darling is irritated by a young boy, Mandla, playing around with a ball. She observes that the white guests at the wedding are unbothered by Mandla’s actions which disrupt the reception. Darling immediately slaps Mandla without thinking about the consequences, when his ball hits her eye. When the white guests stare at her in silence, she recognizes the implications of her behavior. After this incident, she realizes the implication of her actions and will not repeat it. In between two worlds, Darling struggles to continue to accept modes of culture from her Aunt and even her mother, who are miles away, while learning not to enforce those same disciplinary modes on other children she interacts with in the United States. At this same wedding, Darling expresses her opinions about physical beauty. At her first sight of the bride, Darling observes that she is just “rolls and rolls of flesh” (Bulawayo 173). Essentially, Darling only believes that one should be voluptuous but not obese or overweight. In the restroom, two gossiping “African” women confirm Darling’s beliefs about a woman’s shape. Still, Darling is even more upset that Dumi, the groom, is smiling since his wife, in her view, is not attractive. Darling believes in upholding the norms of her national home and looks down on those Africans who completely change their traditional beliefs when they emigrate to the United States. On a larger scale, the text comments on the difficulties immigrants face in their quest for permanent residency in the United States. In her immediate space, the United States, Darling is required to perform her identity as a “civilized” being or else she becomes “savage-like,” a perceived negative stereotype of “African” people. When Darling uses her hands to eat at home, she performs cultural customs that have been repeated several times and have thus become part of her natural way of being. It is not foreign when she begins to discuss her struggles with using the fork and spoon, Western utensils for eating. When eating outside, Darling has the impression that

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she is being watched and this causes her to be very self-conscious. Darling crosses normative boundaries when she eats with her hands outside her home and must learn to use utensils to prevent further embarrassment. Darling’s quest to balance both her personal cultural ethics with those from her new home reflects yet another of her struggles. The type of friends that Darling spends time with in her Michigan neighborhood also reflects how she creates her subjectivity: one of her friends is African American (Kristal) while the other is Nigerian American (Marina). According to Darling, Marina seems to be traditional because she wears clothes that make her look like an old woman. On a larger scale Bulawayo presents these three as a way of addressing the various perspectives of African identity in the United States as well as the unity identity. In essence, all of Darling’s friends, including herself are considered to be Black yet amongst themselves, they consider each other to be part of a smaller ethnicity. This is when the comparison and the hierarchy are created. Darling perceives Kristal as inferior to her because she cannot write grammatically correct sentences. Darling’s sense of superiority comes from her belief that her language skills in English are better than her peers’. She is convinced that mastery over the English language grants speakers authority. Additionally, because there is no male figure, such as Bastard among her circle of friends, Darling pompously takes the leadership role. When Kristal teases Darling, telling her she sounds white, Darling is not troubled but sees it as a compliment. In contrast, Marina becomes upset when Kristal degrades her identity, pointing to negative stereotypes of many Nigerian immigrants living in the United States, such as the 419 email scams and Nigerian movies with incomprehensible accents or words. While in Zimbabwe Darling has to deal with class and her overwhelming poverty, she has to struggle with both class, wealth and race in the United States. The jokes Darling and her new friends share center more on race and nationality which is distinctly unlike those shared among herself and her friends in Paradise because those centered on stealing guavas could be considered for their survival and games for their entertainment. The novel genuinely offers the perspective of Marian, the second generation Nigerian American, Kristal a citizen of the United States, and then finally Darling, a first-generation Zimbabwean who discovers that she is undocumented. All these markers are further complicated when the girls becomes friends and interact with one another. Yet, they are able to stay friends because they find joy in relating to each other’s struggles: understanding and sympathy becomes a necessary anecdote to their survival. Darling can explore her new world with her friends, on her own terms, because her guardian, Fostalina, is preoccupied with work and losing weight. Particularly, she and her friends become curious about sexual activities and

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desire to have a sense of independence. Here, Darling’s environment does not require her to go in search of guavas or food to survive. She, thus, can now pay more attention to her hormones as a growing young adult. While living in a neocolonial state turns Darling into a “thief,” immigration steers her towards satisfying her curiosities. While her aunt is away, Darling watches a range of videos from amateur to lesbian pornography and her reactions range from disgust to excitement. Although Darling describes them as “disturbing images,” we see attributes of maturity since she develops the agency to choose the kind of images she wants to watch, independent from her guardian’s supervision. Yet, Darling develops a bifurcated sense of self, longing still for her childhood memories. When her friends in Paradise call her, interrupting a pornographic video session with her new friends in America, she recounts her struggle of living as an immigrant: “One part is yearning for my friends; the other doesn’t know how to connect with them anymore, as if they are people I’ve never met. I feel a little guilty but I brush the feeling away” (Bulawayo 212). It is not easy for Darling to simply forget the memories with her childhood friends, especially since these memories are surrounded with pain and a quest for change. Unfortunately, she cannot live two lives, or give the same attention to her friends in Paradise since she is in the United States and her expired visa leaves her no choice but to remain in the United States. Even worse, since her friends in Paradise remind her of her struggles and poverty, it might be easier for her to let go and hope for a more prosperous future. The ultimate resolution of the text reveals that Darling will have to decide whether she wants to become “American” or continue holding on to her “African” views. This decision simply means that she will totally assimilate into her new community, disregard the very potent culture of her new home or perhaps be in-between both cultures. Making this decision will come from a place of regret as she will consider the corruption in her county the ultimate reason for her displacement. She probably wonders how an innocent girl like herself became a part of such a predicament. She is now motherless, fatherless, and practically homeless. We do not know what Darling’s final decision will be and even though she is a young woman, who is always in the process of becoming, it is clear that childhood memories, memories of the past, and the concept of “home” will always be integral to how she completes this journey to selfhood.

Poem 1

Death upon the Homefront Shingi Mavima

Wise yester whispers grasp reluctant around my throat While wistful eyes wearily look over water-drenched field Tear streams trickle, staining the very soil we have long sought And shameless smile seeps in- a most poorly disguised shield Heart thunders in concert with the stampede of erstwhile herd And hair stands tall and undaunted, magnanimous as the trees Wandering wind wails, riddling mixed potion of weeping and word A difference deemed unremarkable when heard over the seas Homeward path lays fatigued, adorned by most familiar footprint And in the dubious distance dances a seemingly darling face Staring at me certain while I shamefully surrender to squint Breath and I wrestle, overwhelmed by unrelenting embrace And under ancient starry night, I lay thee, my love, down kind As my thirst-beaten lips move up towards the caves of your eyes I tremble; terrified by the troubled treasure I have long- left behind Dear friend, I run not into your celestial arms to stay, pray me pardoned. I merely come to die.

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Section 3

CRIOULO CULTURE AND PIDGIN MUSIC: AMERICAN EXPERIENCES AND WEST AFRICAN IDENTITIES

Chapter 7

Navigating Between Two Worlds (Re)defining My Identity in the Context of an All-Girls Elite Private School Terza Alice Silva Lima-Neves

Fear of the Red Doors: Walking through the red doors of upper school was intimidating. During my interview visit, the student host explained that the red doors signified the beginning and end of every young girl’s journey at the school. Every girl had to go through the red doors on the first and last day of school as well as graduation. Once I walked in on my first day, and felt the emotional weight of those doors. I was nervous and anxious: not knowing where to go, where my classes would be or who my teachers were. I also wondered if I had made the right decision in coming to Lincoln, and if I actually belonged there. I also quickly realized that I did not have to wear my uniform for the first day of school and because of this everyone could easily identify me as one of the new students. I also had to get used to the idea of a same sex school. Another important thing I noticed was that there weren’t many girls that looked like me. Brown girls, that is. CABO-WHAT? KNOWING THE PAST IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE PRESENT I was born and raised in Cabo Verde, West Africa. I grew up in the eighties, right after Cabo Verde’s independence in 1975. Although there weren’t many schools on the islands, my family instilled in me the importance of education. My father always told my two sisters and I that because he did not have the opportunity to go to school, he understood how important it was for us to be educated girls. He did not want us to be dependent on men when we became adults. My father worked hard his entire life. He’d worked overseas since the age of eighteen as a merchant marine on a Dutch cargo ship. He’d spent months at 91

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a time overseas, so my mom was the head of the household. She worked at the local blood center. We had a decent living because my dad worked abroad. When my dad came home, it was a huge celebration. He would bring chocolate, clothes, and toys. Almost every child on our street was guaranteed a gift, especially during the holiday season. Eventually, the company that my father worked for was sold, and he lost his job. He returned to Cabo Verde and worked a couple of jobs until it was time for him to try his luck again abroad. In September of 1988, my dad left Cabo Verde for the United States. I knew we had family in the States, as most Cabo Verdeans called it, and that it was one of the reasons he chose to come here. Once he was established, it was time for us to join him. In 1989, I left my family, friends, and the community that I knew for a new life in the United States. I was 13 years old. No one sat me down to ask for my opinion on the decision that was made. This new life would force me to miss and appreciate my small town, R’bera Bote a lot more than I ever imagined. I missed the simplicity of life and being among people that looked and sounded like me. Seven years would go by before I would return to Cabo Verde. The shock of a new country and culture was like no other. It would change family dynamics, especially between parents and a teenage girl who was very outspoken and independent. WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES: SKY SCRAPERS, NEW OPPORTUNITIES AND CHANGING FAMILY DYNAMICS We arrived in Boston on a rainy summer day. I was excited to land in America after a long seven-hour flight. I could not wait to see the big cars, tall buildings, stores, Hollywood stars, clothing and everything else that I imagined I could find in rich America because of the movies I had seen. We were picked up at the airport by my dad and cousin Vera, who was in the driver’s seat. I thought it was neat that a young woman was driving, a rare sighting in Cabo Verde when I was growing up. It was great to reunite with my dad. There was this profound sense of respect for him as my father figure. This feeling of respect sometimes felt like fear of a man who I knew was my father but often felt like a stranger. Up until this point, we had never lived together as a family unit on a daily basis because he’d spent so much time abroad. Now we would see each other every day. I would no longer spend much of my day with my nanny or at my grandmother’s house. That fall, I began my seventh grade school year at a middle school in Pawtucket, a small New England town home to several thousand Cabo Verdeans. When we first arrived in the United States my father worked construction, and

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my mom at a local factory commonly known to the Cabo Verdeans as Vietnam because of the gruesome working conditions. Eventually, my dad also got a position working at a local factory as a machine operator. It was a better job because he worked indoors and not outside as in construction, which was especially dreadful during winter months. I was a greenhorn, a title given to newly arrived immigrants who had not quite acclimated to the cultural life of their new country. I would often stay home with my family and watch television. I loved the many channels we had access to and especially loved the Spanish language programs like Sabado Gigante on Univision. Because of its similarities to Portuguese, I could understand most of what was said. When my parents finally bought a car, we would go for rides along the river in the city of East Providence during the weekends. We would sit by the river and watch people fishing, and passing by on small boats. Sometimes we saw the Brown University crew team practicing there as well. Looking back, I loved those times because it was something we did together as a family and it also got me out of the house. ONE SCHOOL, TWO LEARNING SYSTEMS: WAS THIS RACIST? My middle school was divided into two areas. One side, where the English as Second Language (ESL) students were taught, known as the International House and the other, the mainstream side, for American or fluent English speakers. We were educated in one school, two separate quarters, with some interaction during science, math and gym classes. There was tension, and sometimes fights, between students from the two sides. Sometimes, the mainstream teachers and students would call the immigrant students derogatory racial names. Looking back, I am not sure if the separation of the mainstream and ESL students was a racist practice, but I always felt we were treated differently by some teachers and administrators. Our ESL teachers were caring and made us feel comfortable. The International House represented a wonderful mix of African, Latin American, and Eastern European students. Our teachers, who represented a diverse group of people, encouraged us to speak English with each other, but it was a relief to know that we could speak in our native language. I felt comfortable because my peers and some of my teachers looked and sounded like me. In many ways, the international house’s cultural environment did not make me feel like a stranger in a new land. It offered me a refuge as I struggled to adapt to a new culture.

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MEETING MRS. ANDERSON AND GETTING TO LINCOLN My middle school years hold a special place in my heart because I met Pat Anderson, the woman who encouraged me to make a decision that would alter my life’s course. Her caring personality and colorful fashion caught my attention, and I looked forward to her English class. She was passionate about teaching and helping us acculturate into American society. Mrs. Anderson and I would have many conversations about my entries in a journal we kept for class. The journal was a way for her to have private exchanges with us; where we felt safe to say what we wanted, knowing she was the only one who would read our entries. My journal was the place where I freely expressed my feelings about being a teenage girl, and how my parents did not understand how much of a struggle it was for me to transition to a new culture while they still expected me to hold on to certain aspects of Cabo Verdean culture. I also wrote about my dreams of attending college and becoming a writer. When I was in the ninth grade, Mrs. Anderson approached me about taking some tests at a local private school to see if I would qualify for admission. She told me that I was a bright young girl with a promising future and she wanted to help me succeed. I didn’t understand what these tests entailed so I told her she would have to explain the process to my parents. She arrived at our third floor, two-bedroom apartment and told to my parents, while I translated to Crioulo, that there was an opportunity for me to attend the Lincoln School, a local all girls private school. She explained that I had to take a written test, and that if I did well, I could be awarded a full scholarship which would cover my tuition to the school. My parents trusted Mrs. Anderson because they believed, that as my teacher she had my best interest at heart because in our community in Cabo Verde, teachers were respected. Mrs. Anderson often invited me to dinner at her home in a suburban town, where single-family homes with beautiful front lawns were the norm, and children played in the streets. This was not common in Pawtucket neighborhoods that I saw. She taught me how to make Greek salad and took me to the beach during the summer because she knew my parents’ work schedules did not permit it as often. She became like a second mom, often giving me advice on life and long lectures when I made mistakes. We didn’t discuss the fact that I was a Black girl and she was a White woman. Most of our talks were based on gender inequalities and the struggles I had with my parents. She was not shy about expressing her displeasure with the patriarchal public school system and its (mis)handling of ESL education. She often described school administrators as angry, old White men who didn’t care about immigrant children. She was there for all the major events in my life, like my prom, high school and college graduations, as well as my wedding.

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IS AN AFRICAN GIRL GOOD ENOUGH FOR AN ELITE PRIVATE SCHOOL? AMONG THE MANY WHO WANT YOU TO SUCCEED, THERE ARE SOME WHO DON’T It felt awesome when teachers announced to the entire class that I had been accepted to a prestigious private school. But as much as my classmates and teachers supported me, Mrs. Anderson told me in confidence that they were administrators who believed that I did not belong at an elite school, adamant that it was no place for an African immigrant girl. She explained that there would always be people around me who would try to tell me that I did not belong because of my race, gender, or immigrant status, but to stay focused on my goals and use it as motivation to succeed. I wasn’t sure I belonged at Lincoln. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be successful; that I would fail because I wasn’t smart enough, that my English wasn’t good enough, and that I wouldn’t fit in because my parents did not have a lot of money. After all, how could I think that an immigrant girl who had been in the country for a short two years would ever succeed at the Lincoln School? When I received my acceptance letter, I was very happy! I was awarded a full scholarship for the three years of high school I would spend there. I still have that letter in my keep sake box. FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL: UNIFORM, LUXURY CARS, AND ME! I was in full uniform and I liked it, although I wouldn’t admit to it out loud. In this way, I wouldn’t feel less than adequate around the rich girls. In uniform, we were all seen as equals. After all, they weren’t on scholarships like me because their parents could afford to send them to elite schools. That morning, my dad dropped me off at school just like the other parents were dropping off their daughters. I was excited to be a tenth grader in the upper school. I noticed the expensive cars; Jaguar, Mercedes, and Lexus. I also noticed that the girls who were old enough to have their driver’s licenses arrived in their own cars. The fact that they had cars at sixteen and seventeen years old was amazing to me. My tenth grade class was more racially diverse than most classes at the school. I fit in quite easily because my classmates were friendly and welcoming. I found out through conversations later in the year that some of my classmates had also received financial aid and scholarships just like me. This was a relief and in many ways comforting. I was excited about the many opportunities that were available to me at my new school; a big library, computer classes, and sports. I knew very well that if I worked hard and was successful at this new school my life would change.

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FOREIGN GIRL AND FOREIGN FOODS In the beginning, it was interesting and fun to explain my accent to people, and where in the world this small country named Cabo Verde was located. It felt good to have my classmates appreciate my mother’s cooking as much as I did. I could not afford to purchase school lunch, and it was convenient to bring my own lunch since my mom cooked a hot meal everyday. They loved my mom’s rice and tuna dish as well as catchupa—my country’s national dish, a stew made with corn, beans, fish or meat, and vegetables. They also loved pastel—a fried dough pocket filled with sautéed tuna. When I warmed up my food in the cafeteria, the rich scent of the spices would escape from the container. Most loved the aroma, but I remember one classmate saying, “What is that smell? That looks nasty!” Needless to say, I was not so friendly with that classmate after that day. No one makes negative comments about my mom’s cooking! Later that school year when I joined the basketball team, some of my teammates would eagerly ask if they could come over to my house to eat after practice. I AM NOT ADOPTED, JUST ASHAMED In the beginning of my time at Lincoln, I was asked if I was adopted. Because of my parents’ difficult work schedule, they could not attend many of my school events. I would often ask Mrs. Anderson to accompany me. My parents were hardly ever seen at school functions. One schoolmate asked if Mrs. Anderson was my adoptive mom. I am ashamed to admit that on occasion I was embarrassed about my parents. I did not think they were good enough to bring to the events at Lincoln, or to be introduced to other parents. I was embarrassed that they worked in the factories and were not educated and rich like the other parents. They didn’t speak proper English and didn’t drive expensive cars. Sometimes I wouldn’t tell them about the events, even if they were available, and instead invited Mrs. Anderson or just did not go. I was extremely remorseful about my behavior. I knew that material wealth and formal education do not automatically translate into wisdom, knowledge, great character, and kindness, all values instilled in by my parents. I knew better but didn’t have the courage to do better. Even with all my current academic success, I know now that my parents are the smartest people I know, and I love them for the sacrifices they made for my sisters and me; especially leaving their beloved homeland to work twelve-hour shifts in factories under horrific and exploitative conditions while earning low wages. They weren’t perfect parents, but they tried to

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do their best with limited resources. My academic and professional accomplishments are mostly due to my strong commitment to let them know that I appreciate them. WHY DO I HAVE TO MAKE EGGS FOR MY DAD? ONE GIRL, TWO WORLDS My acculturation process at Lincoln grew more difficult. I found myself embarrassed and making excuses as to why I couldn’t attend school social events like dances, theatre performances in Boston, ski trips, and class trips to foreign countries. I didn’t want to put my parents in the uncomfortable position of having to say that they could not afford these costly trips, but missing out on these experiences with my classmates made me sad. My textbooks and other school-related expenses were costly; and my parents were not accustomed to the American concept of a young girl going on overnight trips. During the subsequent years, I still did not go on ski or international trips, but as my parents became familiar with some of my classmates and accustomed to certain American cultural practices, at times I was allowed to go to dances and other social outings like the movies or house parties. Being at Lincoln encouraged my parents to become more accepting of American culture. There were times that I wanted to leave the school out of anger and resentment. Why did they accept me and award me a full scholarship, knowing that this was the only way I could afford to attend the school, but still expect me to go on these class trips that cost thousands of dollars? From my perspective, there was a presumption at this elite school that all the students could afford these excursions, and some of them were decided upon during our class meetings. Normally during these discussions I remained quiet, filled with embarrassment and fear of being exposed as the girl who could not afford to travel the world. In my eyes, this lifestyle was the norm and a constant reality for most of my classmates, but not for me. I lived in two very contradictory worlds. There was my life at home and at school. As the oldest of three daughters, I was responsible for my sisters’ care. I had to make sure they completed their homework every night, ate dinner, took a shower, hair was fixed, and went to sleep on time. This was all before I completed my own homework and took care of my own affairs like preparing my uniform and lunch for the next day. I also had to make sure the house was clean. My parents worked the night shift so this was the least I could do to help them. I wasn’t unique in this aspect. Most of my Cabo Verdean friends helped their parents in the same way. These

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were tough times. After all, I was a teenager, barely 15 years old, with two younger sisters, 9 and 5 years of age. When my sisters refused to follow rules and gave me a hard time, I often crawled into my own bed after putting them to bed, turned on the local soft rock radio station and cried myself to sleep. I do regret not being able to play more sports. Although I was very passionate about basketball, my athletic skills were average and maybe if I had played organized sports at a younger age I could have become a lot better. I had to make sure I was home by the time my parents were leaving for their second shift jobs. During my junior year when I made the varsity basketball team, my classmates with cars helped by picking up my sisters and bringing me home after practice. During practice my sisters would sit in a corner of the large gym floor doing their homework. I wanted to play spring sports but it was too stressful to fit it into my parents’ work schedule. I played basketball during my three years at Lincoln. For the most part my parents couldn’t attend the games. My dad attended one game. We lost. At school, we were taught to be independent young women. We learned about courageous women who fought for women’s rights. We learned that with hard work we could achieve the same level of success as any man. There weren’t such things as women’s or men’s roles. It was during this time that I became more comfortable with myself and confident as a young woman. As a Cabo Verdean, this newfound confidence was problematic. I became more outspoken and this caused conflict at home, especially with my father. While it was okay for me to be independent and not let any man take advantage of me, this independence could not be exercised with him. Both of my parents reminded me that he was my father, the head of the household. Being outspoken and disagreeing with him was disrespectful. It was extremely frustrating as a teenage girl, to navigate between these two very different worlds: one where I was a free thinking young woman in a progressive learning environment and the other, an immigrant girl with very specific family and gender hierarchies. I remember being between 16 and 17 years old when I was asked to make white rice and scrambled eggs, a common quick meal in my house. I automatically said no because I hated the smell and sight of eggs, a fact known to my family. I didn’t understand why I had to make them for my dad. It turned into a big argument and I was found to be disrespectful toward my father. All I could think of was, “Why would I make eggs for my father when I don’t make them for myself?” In the end, I did not make the eggs; but of course, I was not spoken to for a day or two. This incident would later inspire me to write my masters’ thesis on patriarchy and the role of women in the development of Cabo Verde.

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WHAT IS BLACK AND WHO IN THE WORLD IS JANE EYRE? In English class reading the works of Charlotte Bronte, Shakespeare, and other similar writers was very challenging for me since I had not been prepared for reading classic literature in terms of language proficiency and historical context. These literary works were part of the American educational system, but at that time, I did not fully comprehend their historical context, and thus could not appreciate their significance. I don’t think they took into account that I was new to the American educational system. Lincoln did not have ESL education. To me, its education catered to girls from White, elite families who had been born in a world where Jane Eyre and Hamlet were the norm. We read some works by African American authors, however, these were also peculiar to me because although I was Black, my Blackness was not situated solely within the historical experience of slavery and racism as it was in the Americas. My ethnic background was a multidimensional and multiracial colonial experience. I didn’t know I was “Black” until I came to the United States. I did not begin to understand what it meant to be Black until I met my African American classmates at Lincoln and began to read the history of African Americans in the United States. I learned that in America, it didn’t matter how I perceived myself. All that mattered was how society perceived me. In America, I was not a Cabo Verdean girl, but rather a Black girl. I learned that Being Black in the United States is more than hip-hop music, baggy pants, talking slang, Eddie Murphy movies, and Michael Jackson. These were the images of Black Americans that were portrayed on television shows in Cabo Verde. Beyond Hollywood and the music industry, everyday Black life was never depicted in the media. I was slowly learning that Black life was also about a deep dark history embedded in the gruesome practices of racism, degradation of human dignity based on the color of one’s skin, and a systematic dismantling of the Black family which resulted in generations of dysfunctional relationships. The most important thing I learned about being Black in America was not from history books but from conversations I had with friends, who explained to me that the legacy of slavery left a profound void in the hearts of African-Americans who desired to know where they truly came from. I also felt a need to know my own experience as a Cabo Verdean immigrant. In school, we only learned about the European immigrant experience in the United States. The Cabo Verdean immigrant experience, which is such a significant part of American history, especially in New England, was not discussed in our classrooms. Maybe this would have made me feel like my

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experiences were important too. The school’s curriculum seemed to reflect the racial and cultural demographic of the educators and student body. As much as I understood and learned about being Black in the United States, and often attempted to identify with its history, I had to be honest with myself and face the reality: this was not my history. This was not my Cabo Verdean experience. My struggles were situated within the modern and voluntary African immigrant experience and not the horrific involuntary enslaved African experience. This was my reality as a teenager, and I could not deny or attempt to claim anything beyond this truth. Although I was among a group of friends, most of whom were African-American, I still felt like an outsider. I felt like someone who would never fully belong in this group. By no means am I saying that as a collective, Cabo Verdeans were strangers to discrimination and could not relate to these experiences. We faced racial and social discrimination in Cabo Verde as colonial subjects; and in America, as Blacks and immigrants. It wasn’t until I sat in a Black studies class in college that I began to understand that Black people, whether in Africa, Europe, or America, we shared common struggles. FINDING LIGHT AMID DARKNESS My senior year was bitter sweet. On the one hand, it was very exciting because seniors had special privileges, like being able to leave campus during free class periods. However, I was ready to give up all the privileges for the opportunity to go on to college. At that time, my family was still going through the very long, complex, and expensive immigration process. We did not have permanent resident status, which would have allowed me to receive federal financial aid, without which I could not afford to go to college. I watched with sadness and in silence while my classmates completed college applications, not knowing if or when I would ever get to complete my own. They never realized how lucky they were to be American citizens, and not have to worry about a green card or a social security number. These were topics that during that time we didn’t discuss as immigrants. I found myself depressed, not wanting to do school work and unable to sleep at night. My parents had come to this country so that my sisters and I could achieve our educational goals and now that wasn’t a sure thing. I told my parents that if I didn’t go to college, to send me back to Cabo Verde, where I could be happy. I was angry that I had worked so hard and in the end, the only feeling I was left with was uncertainty. My saving grace came in the form of City Year—a community service program that recruited young adults from diverse backgrounds to serve less fortunate communities for a period of ten months. I found out about City Year

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via members of the organization who had come to my school to do a presentation on the work they do in Rhode Island communities. I was excited for the opportunity because I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. If I were accepted to City Year, I could do a year of community service while waiting for the immigration process to take its course. The program also included a scholarship to help pay for my college expenses and a weekly salary that helped me be financially independent. I served as a City Year Corps Member at an elementary school, working as an ESL teacher’s assistant. I quickly gained the trust of the children because they knew I had also been an ESL student. City Year was a rewarding and empowering experience. I learned to better appreciate my community and the people who lived in it. The injustices like inadequate housing for the poor and lack of immigrant rights that I witnessed throughout my year of service further ignited my passion to study politics. During my year of service, I also became a permanent resident of the United States. I immediately completed my college applications and mailed them off. I vividly remember the cold and snowy winter day when I received my Providence College acceptance letter. I read it and cried, knowing that my future was now more certain than ever. I was finally on my way to achieving what my parents had sacrificed so much for me to accomplish. LEARNING TO LIVE BETWEEN TWO WORLDS AND MAKING IT WORK I am thankful I walked through the red doors. My experiences at Lincoln were complex, filled with great lessons, and personal development. At such a young age, I found ways to navigate between two extremely different worlds without completely losing myself in the process. I was often successful in bringing these two worlds together through culture. I shared my Cabo Verdean culture with the Lincoln community via gastronomy and dance. In addition to an increased demand for my mother’s food, my classmates and their families enjoyed traditional dance performances by my friends and me during school talent shows. I also invited some of my Lincoln friends, White and non-White, to go with me to cultural events. I introduced these two worlds to each other, hoping for acceptance and recognition of two great cultures without diminishing the value of either space. I had to learn to accept that these two cultures became two contrasting aspects of my identity as a Cabo Verdean-American immigrant woman. I remain flexible in order to learn how to continue to balance my two identities—my (Black) American and my Cabo Verdean selves. I have made peace with the fact that as an adult, this struggle will never cease to exist, even after decades of living in the United States.

Chapter 8

Having My Kenkey and Eating It Too Being Black and Bicultural Margaret Eva Salifu

As a Ghanaian living in the United States, I have often wondered if I could literally have my kenkey and eat it too; if I could enjoy being simultaneously Ghanaian and American. Is it possible? I like to think that the food that people eat links them to a particular culture. As a Ghanaian immigrant, I remain attached to native Ghanaian dishes while I explore green bean casserole and many American pies and cakes. Of course, cakes and kenkey are not as related as they may sound. Kenkey is the English word for dokon, fermented half-steamed and boiled corn dough—balled and clad in leaves. People familiar with Ghanaian cuisine know that there are two main kinds of dokon: the Ga and Fante brands. There is another variation, duckunoo (though made with sweet potatoes) in the Caribbean, an intriguing African diasporic food nexus to note. Ga kenkey is wrapped in sun-dried corn husks; Fante kenkey, in sun-dried plantain leaves or some fresh, broad, and aromatic leaves (like the fig leaves that Adam and Eve wore in Eden). The types of kenkey are named for two major ethnic groups—Ga and Fante in Ghana—whose staple foods include kenkey. Fante kenkey is unsalted, yet as tasty a dish as any food-lover could imagine—my favorite, especially when served with grilled fish and pepper sauce. Living in the United States, I have often craved for Fante kenkey, but alas, the versions attempted and sold in African markets across US cities are a sorry laminated variety. I tolerate this brand, but whenever friend or family visits from Ghana, I receive the organic Fante kenkey deal, “wona de okyia wo” (“your mother greets you”)—literally joyfully. My mother’s figurative greetings help anchor me, sustaining the balance I seek, as I navigate being Black and bicultural in the United States. Given that I relocated to the United States during my adulthood, I am still unabashedly attached to my Ghanaian culture, yet I explore and embrace what is American, too. In that position, I thus identify myself as bicultural. And in 103

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trying to answer the question, “When are you returning to your country?” that Americans frequently ask me, my responses have tended to vary to include, “At the right time”; or “I’m not sure.” My more truthful and complicated reply, though, is “I wish I could live in Ghana and the United States at the same time,” because I have long nursed a yearning to bestride both spaces: On the one hand, I love to hold on to Ghana’s sense of close family and community in which one can, for example, strike animated conversations or pick casual quarrels with even passers-by; navigate crowded and loud markets; countenance ubiquitous hawkers and beggars seeking economic attention; dance in-step to rhythmic music at church and social gatherings, including funerals; relish local dishes of fufu and palm-nut soup, banku and okro soup, kenkey and fish; chew organic sugarcane till saturated fullness; wear winsomely traditional outfits of kente, bubu, kaba, and slit without risking being exotic. Life is more colorful and less-lonely there, as I like to think. On the other (with regard to the United States), I appreciate a less-stifling national economy, painless access to international-standard education, well-stocked and up-to-date libraries, high technology, and ultra-modern healthcare facilities. I am constantly searching for positive ways to navigate living Ghanaian and American, being bicultural—which I think is a complex lifelong process. I manage my bicultural positioning like a balancing act, assiduously keeping my juggling pins in the air, so to speak. I consider balancing two cultures in the United States as resting on the premise of the “inclusive nationalism” that former US President Bill Clinton mentions in a December 4, 2017, opinion piece in The New York Times—“the inclusive nationalism, in which you can be proud of your tribe and still embrace the larger American community,” as opposed to “tribalism based on race, religion, sexual identity and place of birth” oblivious of the “other’s” positive contributions to the country (Clinton, 2017). As Ella Louise Bell rightly notes in her study about the bicultural life experience of career-oriented Black women, “The theme of ‘balancing’ is continually repeated in [Black] women’s bicultural images. Perhaps this is a means for the women to communicate both an intrapsychic and a geographic shuttling between the Black and White worlds” (473). Endeavoring to achieve a balance enables me to extract from both African and American cultural settings. And as Bell further indicates, “In this context, being bicultural is a strength, providing richness and resources in a woman’s life” (473). The dilemma of having to access the dominant culture and continue to retain my alterity and my connection with my cultural history forms part of my bicultural experience—requiring the balancing and vigilance necessary for “having my kenkey and eating it, too” in the United States. Depending on the setting, I have had to negotiate my bicultural role, sometimes, by suppressing one of my cultural identities, which tends to inflict measures of strain on me. When that happens, particularly in a predominantly White setting, I

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deploy a mental exercise by which I stay physically present while my mind escapes to seek solace and to fortify my being with nourishments of psychological affirmations that include my mother’s greetings that accompany Fante kenkey parcels. I borrowed the escape strategy from Aunt Cuney’s grandmother in Paule Marshall’s novel, Praisesong for the Widow, where the character’s body “might be in Tatem but her mind, her mind was long gone with the Ibos” (39). Aunt Cuney recounts the myth about a group of enslaved Ibos, who, upon arriving at a landing in South Carolina, foresaw their future; unhappy about what they saw of their fate in the New World, they walked on water back to Africa. Neither chains nor the ocean could stop them from escaping. The notion of escape that Aunt Cuney’s grandmother adopts works effectively as a coping strategy for me. Balancing and alertness are particularly necessary in my struggles with the complexly perennial racial constructs of the United States. I note how racial paradigms in the country are so etched in the sociocultural fabric; how they manifest often subtly, requiring an alert mind to register the harm. I cite an epiphanic encounter: In March 2016, one of my former students extended a well-meaning invitation to me to attend an Easter drama in her church. I was much obliged. In a packed auditorium, I found myself amid a largely White religious audience. There was a conspicuous Black minority presence, but that did not matter. I was moved by the spiritual uplifting during the first part of the drama—so intensely touched that tears poured copiously down my face, as I witnessed the stirring narrative of Jesus of Nazareth. But my tears dried up abruptly when I became conscious of the casting. Jesus was obviously White; so were Peter and John. In fact, all the others, except two, were White. But there was no cause for concern, since they had not all been identified yet. Barabbas the Rebel, too, was White (rebellion is positive until it involves Black people). I was not perturbed yet. My eyes pinged open, however, when Judas kissed Jesus on the cheek to betray him—the acme of betrayal; Judas Iscariot was Black! Thomas the Doubter was Black, too. “Wait a minute; what the heck is going on here?” I mused. The two token Black cast members were made to perform negative roles in the play, and no one saw anything wrong with that. Pastors and congregation alike saw nothing wrong with the casting? Well, I did; that is why I write about it now. Why did the organizers not cast Jesus Black? Alright, if a Black Jesus would be a stretch, why were the Black men not given other positive roles to perform? James and Andrew, perhaps? I sat in a daze through the rest of the drama, as I firmly promised myself that I would never ever partake in such a racist circus again. When my student invited me to attend their Easter drama in 2017, I restrained myself from yelling, “Heck no!” as I politely declined the invitation. Racial constructs are at work even in churches in the United States—often subtly. Young and impressionable minds are fed with these

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pernicious images about Blackness. When the young ones grow up, they in turn relay such defective notions to the next generation. And the vicious racial cycle continues. Deeply-set racial constructs of the United States have rendered me alert, as I interact with people from the dominant White culture. As I try to straddle two uneven sociocultural and political spaces, I glean the positive. The negative, some of which have been traumatic, I try to forget. I have had to exercise this mechanism during my graduate study. Being African in a predominantly White academic setting, I made history in 2017 as the first African to earn a PhD in English from a university that was founded in 1894. During my graduate study and postdoctoral fellowship in the same university, I was the only Black person in the Department of English, and I experienced what the protagonist, Sissie, in Ghanaian writer and critic Ama Ata Aidoo’s novel Our Sister Killjoy encounters in Germany. Throughout my PhD journey, I felt like the American version of Sissie, “das Schwartze Mädchen,” in Killjoy—noticing “differences in human colouring” (12). Like Sissie, I knew “it never mattered”; “But what she [Sissie or I] also came to know was that someone somewhere would always see in any kind of difference, an excuse to be mean” (13). It would be dishonest, however, if I dwelt only on the downs of being the first and only African in my department. I acknowledge the support I received particularly from faculty, thus crystalizing the truth in Ella Louise Bell’s observation that career-oriented Black women in the United States, it appears, have a high degree of resources available to them, primarily because of their complex bicultural life structures [. . . .] Resources are defined as those people in a woman’s environment who can provide support, expand opportunities, and offer assistance in developing new competencies. Since this group has large networks, there are more people available who can give resources [. . . .] Most often, the people with resources were mentors, professors, sponsors, colleagues, husbands, and personal affiliates. (472)

The majority of my professors recognized my grit, and they afforded me much support and assistance. Then again, I could easily have fallen by the wayside had I not exhibited excellence and progress. While I deploy my academic competence to teach and share my Black experience in the White world that I navigate in the Department of English at the said university, I tend to be strategic and cautious, as I encourage my peers and students to learn or unlearn notions about Blackness. The endeavor is often calibrated, and not as spontaneous as I would wish it to be—partly because I am careful not to offend White audiences in academia and because no other Black people have been available to readily endorse my efforts or legitimize my

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Black understandings. In a White environment, I choose my words carefully and exercise emotional intelligence. I have often felt as a trailblazer, who must set excellent examples for other African graduate students who might succeed me in the Department of English. While the condition can be frustrating, I continue to explore the best ways to navigate White academia. So far, the survival strategies that I have deployed include a generous measure of open-mindedness, a dash of forbearance, a weird mixture of carefulness and ambivalence, a warm sense of humor, and cured maturity. So far, I am not doing badly, as I simultaneously enjoy and endure a predominantly White academic environment that has thrown my Blackness into high relief. Evidently, people find an excuse to be mean toward the “other,” and it is a sad case to encounter this situation within Blackness itself. Racial constructs of the US society mark some Blacks as non-immigrant African Americans, others as Black African immigrants. I have encountered “otherness,” in the form of prying questions—who, what, where, when, why, and how—of my being Black in the United States. The question about who I am often begins with a seemingly innocuous, “What is your name?” My first name is not especially Black, but my last name leads to a further question, “Where are you from?” They want to decode my Blackness. Why not? After all, my accent is still as thick (with all the kenkey I want to eat), and I still look “so African”—whatever that means—as I hear mostly from African Americans. Of course, Blackness is ever heterogeneous, and I have experienced my layer of the many layers of being Black in America. Interestingly, many of the African Americans I have encountered register me as “other.” Sometimes, I smile or frown to myself under such circumstances, as I ponder: “If you, whom I consider ‘sistas’ and ‘bros,’ have reservations about my right to live in the United States, what would Kw/Esi Bronyi (the White one) tell me?” But the situation becomes more complicated when African immigrants themselves begrudge one another the right to live and work in the United States, finding ways to frustrate their fellow African’s efforts to succeed in an already difficult racialized and ethnic terrain. A Ghanaian friend of mine lamented over the immeasurable stress he had to endure when he was a graduate student in the United States. His advisor, a fellow African, had decided to let him smell academic pepper over his thesis proposal, which bled profusely in crimson ink anytime he sent it to him. Yet the professor had no strong suggestions to offer him. Time passed, alerting him to change his topic and to seek another advisor. The point here is that in addition to racism in the United States, intra-Black differences and damage abound; they hurt more, often feeling like a sibling’s stinging slaps—slaps that can make a person see white flashes. Literal white flashes with regard to the bloodless pain caused; and metaphorical, making a Black person more appreciative when White people exhibit genuine thoughtfulness toward her/him.

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In my position as a Ghanaian immigrant, I embrace the diversity, freedom, and the wealth of resources that the US proffers. In the same position, I contribute positively to the country’s intellectual growth. From my vantage point, I harness my research background in African and African diasporic literatures to teach the rich corpuses of work through which Africans and people of African extraction have endeavored to express their experiences and aspirations through their own words and images. I identify myself as a skilled individual (not a threat nor liability) whose contribution adds to the nation’s intellectual growth. I am in the massive company of immigrants in the United States who like to participate in inclusive nationalism, by which I can be proud of my tribe and still embrace the larger American community—by which I can have my kenkey and eat it, too.

Chapter 9

Music of My Flesh African Music, Cultural Affirmation, and the Production of Social Space in the Diaspora Nana Afua Y. Brantuo

There is something about the bass and drums that form the foundation of African music that never fails at beckoning my body to shake and move.1 That sacred union between the bass and drum is further amplified with guitar and vocals that evoke eons worth of innate, traditional movement. Beyond being a catalyst/stimulus of joy and happiness, music from the continent continues to function as an essential medium for understanding and affirming the complexity of my multinational, multiethnic West African identity. Growing up off the continent and living in a nation that often pushes my people to the margins of society, African music functions as an art form that encapsulates the beauty and complexity of societies throughout the continent. In many ways African music, for the children of the Diaspora, is essential to our cultural retention and survival. Used for celebrations of life as well as a means of transmitting ancestral knowledge and history, African music serves as teacher, archive, healer, weapon, and tool as we enter new lands and integrate into new societies. AFRICAN GIRL CHILD IN THE DMV My unconditional love and appreciation of/for African music is deeply rooted in my lineage.2 I am a child of palm wine and highlife, a daughter of a brief union between two West African immigrants navigating the Washington, DC, hotel industry as waiter and waitress. When Nana, a Salone woman (also the daughter of a union of a Salone woman and Guinean man), happened upon Kwabena, a Ghanaian man, their mutual love for music from the continent brought them together. When time allowed, they would dress in their finest 109

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outfits to dance the night away at Kilimanjaro Restaurant and Nightclub—the most popular African nightclub in DC during the 1980s and early 1990s. From what I’m told, all eyes were on them when they stepped on the dance floor—dancing to popular tunes from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and the Congos. In the midst of their journey together, I was born in the winter of 1990. An African love child growing up in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, my memories of early childhood are few but vivid. Both fiercely unapologetic in their Blackness and African identities, my parents made conscious decisions around location, household aesthetic, attire, and cultural artifacts to ensure that I understood who I was and where my people were from. African masks adorned our walls. My book collection (which included a world atlas) was almost exclusively comprised of books by Black authors from the Americas and Africa. My father subscribed to Ebony, Essence, and Jet magazines and enforced a strict “no white dolls” rule in our home. Nothing, however, stands out in my mind as much as the music that played in our home. My mother was our deejay, maintaining an extensive library of music from Africa and the Diaspora. It was common for us to spend the entire weekend listening to the latest cassette tapes and vinyl records of tunes from the continent, often purchased alongside cassava leaf and meat from local West African markets. You name it, she had it. Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Tshala Muana, Miriam Makeba, Angélique Kidjo, Salif Keita, Africando, Sekouba Bambino, Koffi Olomide, Mbilia Bel, Yondo Sister, Sam Fan Thomas, Daddy Lumba, S. E. Rogie, Bunny Mack, Kanda Bongo Man, Soukous Stars, Pepe Kalle, King Sunny Ade, Franco et TPOK Jazz, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Bunny Mack, S. E. Rogie, Cardinal Rex Lawson, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Rex Gyamfi, Amakye Dede, Pat Thomas, African Connexion, Awilo Longomba, Werrason, and dozens more were on rotation throughout the weekend. The sweetness of the music made it almost impossible for me to resist moving my body to the beat. My mother took it upon herself to show me how to move. She had smooth moves, similar to Mbilia Bel. Barely moving the upper half of her body, her waist and legs did most of the work. She would move with a smile on her face, clapping to the beat during her favorite parts of a song. She would place her right hand over heart and wine down to the floor and I would watch her in awe, wanting to learn all of the tricks to her movement. “You have to move like this, Fifi” “Like this, Ma?” “Ah ha! You are getting it. You dance like my people.”

It was a running joke between my father and mother that his Ashanti moves could never touch her Mandé (Susu to be exact) moves. She was right.

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Each song came with a brief lesson on the vastness of the African continent, courtesy of my father. “Effi, this is Daddy Lumba. He is a Ghanaian Highlife musician.” “Effi, we call Miriam Makeba Mama Africa. She is South African.” “This is Congolese Rumba. It’s a mix of traditional Congolese music and Cuban rumba.” “This singer sings in Lingala. His name is Pepe Kalle.”

No song played without a brief lesson. Each song, as I was taught, had its purpose. Some were political, some simply for enjoyment. Sometimes, songs played in the background as my parents relayed to me the histories of their nations and people. Other times, songs were played simply for dancing. In retrospect, I understand more clearly the logic behind this early immersion into African music. Both working class immigrants working in the hotel industry, my parents were unable to dedicate as much time as they would have liked to teaching me their languages. There was no money for yearly trips to their nations of origin and with a civil war ongoing in Sierra Leone, my parents provided me with the most accessible, tangible aspects of my culture. They brought Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone into our modest apartment with hopes and prayers that I would love, respect, and honor a continent that has been characterized as dark and backward since the onset of European colonization. The love was inevitable and grew as our community grew to include neighboring African immigrants. And outside of our apartment, African parties became my saving grace as an adolescent navigating a society that made no room for tall, dark-skinned, bigger-bodied African immigrant girls.

AFRICAN MUSIC AND THE CREATION OF AFRICAN CULTURAL SPACES IN THE DIASPORA By the time I reached adolescence, my parents’ romance had ended for a myriad of reasons—many of which were grounded in the patriarchy that had been etched into him from birth. Our family dynamic was only further complicated by a poorly facilitated family reunification process, on my father’s part, that brought siblings and a stepmother into my life. Though bound together by blood, we were strangers in a newly forged family unit. In true African style, no one talked through the messiness of our new realities. My life was further muddled by struggles faced at school. While I excelled academically, I struggled with my self-image and self-esteem. I was a West African girl navigating the harshness and toxicity of US beauty

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standards. My height, my skin tone, my hair texture, my size, my facial features, my entire physical being was problematized. All that my parents and family members praised and uplifted and affirmed were constantly torn down by my classmates. I was struggling in silence, unsure of how to discuss all I was facing while at school. However, with parents who were quite astute and recognized my teenage insecurities, weekends were transformed into “cultural retreats” centered on parties held by various aunties and uncles. Those Friday and Saturday evenings were jubilation. Pure African joy. I, along with other young Africans my age, followed our parents to aunty’s and uncle’s houses, ate until our bellies were full, danced when our parents wanted us to show all the adults our moves, and fell asleep in a room designated for the youth after a certain time so the adults could talk culture, politics, and dreams of returning home. Everyone would be wearing the latest clothes, a mix of African and American styling. Rice and stews and meat pies and akara (or bofrot) took over dining room tables, with enough to make a to-go plate for the next day. Water, Malta, juice, and Guinness (for adults only of course) flowed throughout the evening. Most important, the sitting room or the basement was the designated dance floor and the deejay of the evening played the latest African tunes and sprinkled in a few popular American and Caribbean hits. Even now, I can see clearly the moves of the women. In my eyes, they were all stars and I would watch so I could move my legs and waist just as they moved. I can hear the laughter, the loud back and forths when the uncles would talk about leaders and corruption. I see myself in a basement dancing in a bashful manner only to run upstairs to the kid’s room to play and fall asleep in a spare room. Nothing stood out more than the music . . . artist after artist, hit after hit, those nights were pure magic. In those houses, in those basements turned dance floors, our parents recreated the dancehalls of their home countries while simultaneously creating much needed spaces of cultural affirmation for us, a new generation of Africans living in the United States. The dance floor was open to us all but spaces throughout the home were allowed for the gathering of men, women, and children. These parties were the highlight of my week. It meant the world to me to be in these spaces, to be loved on by my community. The women in particular, affectionately known as aunties, would shower me with affirming words. “Look at that beautiful smile.” “Look at that skin. So dark and lovely.” “You’re growing into such a beauty.”

I yearned to be in the midst of these women throughout the week. They saw me and saw beauty and were intentional in naming all the things that made

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me a beauty. The same skin, gap tooth smile, full lips, thick body, and coarse hair that I was often taunted and teased for were attributes of divine nature to them. I saw them and saw all that I was and could be. And nothing was more fulfilling than dancing alongside them. There is something about the movement of an African woman’s body that is entrancing. These were women with wide hips, thick thighs, thick arms, and big behinds . . . and they moved effortlessly. Powerful, sensual, and smooth moves all done with a smile. Beyond the dance moves and exceptional senses of style, these women were my entry point into political and social dialogue and commentary. The men in these spaces often thought themselves to be authorities on African and American politics but one only had to venture into the kitchen to be immersed into conversation among women that showcased an acute political consciousness. I would hear my mother exchange her thoughts and perspectives with other Salone women, much of their conversations centered on the civil war ravaging the country. Their analysis was nuanced, centered on women, children, and the elderly as opposed to solely discussing politicians and leaders. Discussions also touched on the needs of community members that would be migrating the United States. “What schools will the children go to?” “I can host a family for a month or so.” “War changes people. We will have to bring home, the home that existed before the war, to them while they are here.” “Nights like these, in our homes, will bring joy. They have to know they can come eat, drink, and dance.”

The foresight of African women is never to be underestimated. These same women, the architects of these sacred spaces, would be the same women taking in the new wave of African migrants. These same women would come together, recognizing a surplus of clothes and gadgets going unused, to send barrels back home for family, friends, and even strangers. In their presence, under their guidance, I learned just how critical of a role African women played in creating and maintaining healthy communities and nations. They opened their homes—with wide arms, tables spread with food and drinks, and sweet African music—to make the rough reality of life in the United States as working-class West African immigrants easier to bare.

OUR MUSIC AS CULTURAL MEDIUM AND MANIFESTATION A child of the Diaspora simultaneously takes and makes space, balancing “a state of being and a process of becoming” (Zeleza, 2009, p. 32). This ongoing

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journey that shifts from sense of place to placelessness involves a seemingly never-ending balancing act of several identities while navigating societies that struggle with cultural hybridity. For me, and I imagine for others, music from the soil played an essential role in shaping my identity, despite being thousands of miles away from the continent, and continues to lessen the load of being both and neither African and American. My existence and my understandings of my multiethnic African identity mirror the ways in which music from the continent can house several nations and ethnicities, a manifestation of cultural cohesion which has been much more a part of my reality than cultural clash. Music was my entry point into Ghanaian, Guinean, and Sierra Leonean culture as music serves as the pulse of any nation and the ethnic groups that populate it. I was able to hear the languages of my parents and my ancestors. I was able to move to rhythms of traditional and popular music. When in certain settings, such as naming ceremonies, funerals, and weddings, I knew how to move with ease as music is heavily aligned with our rituals and cultural practices. Music has served and continues to serve as a medium for cultural transmission as well as a manifestation of the shared genius of the continent and the Diaspora’s cultural productions. Whether focusing in on the origins and evolutions of various music genres (i.e., Highlife, Palm Wine, Congolese Rumba) from the continent and throughout the Diaspora (i.e., Kaiso, Cuban Rumba, Bélé) or discussing continental and cross-continental collaborations (i.e., AfroCubism, Africando), the reciprocity and the cultural remittances between Africa and the African Diaspora evidence a rich history of duality that continues on in the present (International Organization for Migration, 2012). NOTES 1. It is important to note that the term “African music” simplifies and reduces the variety and richness of the dozens of genres across the African continent. For the purpose of this article, African music will be used as a blanket term for music created by popular African musicians (largely from West and Central Africa). 2. DMV is a term used to encompass the Washington, DC, metropolitan area (DC, Maryland, and Virginia).

Chapter 10

Local Accra with a Twist of International Luxe Zoë Gadegbeku

I mean can you imagine spending $120 on a single cover charge? That’s how much my roommates and I pay to heat our house in a month! I had lost count of the number of unsuspecting interlocutors I had dragged into listening to my latest monologue about all the luxury being advertised for the upcoming Christmas season in Accra. My long-suffering audience usually consisted of any unfortunate soul curious enough to ask me how I was feeling about going home for the holiday after a year of being at work and school in Boston. These listeners were usually American, and so probably unfamiliar with the complicated terrain of wealth and social class in the city I still obstinately refer to as mine, despite not having lived there for more than two months at a time over the past 7 years. They were suitably alarmed at the picture I was painting of my city, soon to be transformed into a playground for “returnees” like myself, with pockets full of foreign currency to be exchanged for a seemingly always flailing cedi, to be spent at rooftop bars and brunch spots that actively sold “New York vibes” and other international charms but with the twist of Accra’s heat and “flavor.” If the length of our lunch break and my listener’s patience would permit, I would continue to pontificate on the bizarre and cruel nature of the at times mundane, at times spectacular ways global inequality flexed its apparent permanence in Accra. I felt uncomfortable at this fixation I was nursing, yet went on griping until I did so during office hours with one of my former professors, when she interrupted me, “Why are you talking about this so much? Are you going home soon?” Embarrassment prickled beneath my face, slightly sweaty from the heating turned on too high, even for December in Boston, and from the exertion of pointing out for the thousandth time, how disturbing I thought it was that so many of my contemporaries were gearing up to revel in in the excess and enjoyment that the majority of Accra dwellers, let alone people 115

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across the country, could never partake. As far as I was concerned, my disgust was righteous, forged and galvanized in my rage against a matrix of capitalistic greed that had managed to sustain itself to convince most everyone caught up within it that it was inescapable and necessary for our world to continue to turn. But I still felt shame, because of this relatively newfound fixation on this jet-set class of elite Africans who I felt were the sleek, well-appointed walking manifestation of all our problems. I felt as though my obsession was unhealthy, as evidence by a “deleted items” folder full of screenshots of social media pages I had sent and exchanged, at the latest display of “Afropolitan” ridiculousness bottomless buckets of ice and champagne. Before we were either fashionable socialites or principled (and perhaps more than a little) hypocritical killjoys or some confusing amalgamation of outlooks between these poles, we were schoolchildren together, in the same private school uniform that signaled to anyone in the know that we were children of air-conditioned privilege. Ours was an international school that ran a British curriculum, but quoted its fees in US dollars in case the prominent placing of ‘international’ in our name wasn’t obvious enough. Unlike the students at our rival American school, we didn’t learn foreign accents unless we had recently arrived, and we secretly sneered at that other school for how pretentious they sounded and behaved with their swimming pool and condescending security guards—I mean your school is in Abelenkpe, not New York—even though we were convinced we had the more rigorous academics and prestige conferred by the fact that we were founded when Ghana was still the Gold Coast. Our class rosters were packed with the children of diplomats and employees of multinational corporations; children who represented the second and sometimes third generation of wealthy Lebanese and Indian families that owned several business and properties in Accra and around the country, Ghanaian children whose grandparents faces were printed on our money, and those whose families had only more recently come into some of that money, children whose “expat” status meant that the only regular interaction they had with Ghanaians outside of school were home helpers and drivers, and that their parents—or most likely their parents’ employers—paid higher fees than Ghanaian students did. When we were not yet old enough to employ euphemisms to conceal the elitism reinforced by our rarefied school atmosphere, that is before we moved to secondary school, being “local” was one of the more biting playground slights we leveled at each other. The criteria that made one “local” was never precise or explicit, it ranged from accents that were too thickly Ghanaian, to a dismissive reference to school children from nearby schools who came to participate in sports tournaments with our teams, girls markedly different from our multi-ethnic array of wavy ponytails and long braids with their mandatory close-cropped haircuts. Being of Ghanaian parentage or citizenship,

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and having spent one’s short life in Ghana didn’t automatically qualify one as “local,” nor did the possession of a thick Ghanaian accent that sounded more like singing the juicier the gossip or the more excited one was, especially if you weren’t Black. After all, children who were Korean or American with Ghanaian first names and a distinctly Ghanaian lilt to their speech were affectionately teased and admired for their symbolism. They represented the best of our “unity in diversity,” our truly international and decidedly not local community. Our school sat in a calm, green neighborhood dotted with colonial bungalows on stilts in varying stages of decay, but we faced the world. Implicitly gaining the understanding that our Accra, Ghana, Africa was somehow not enough, not a part of this global space to which we were to aspire, away from the immediate world beyond the edges and tall trees that shaded our school from a city where most children were not learning and playing in the kind of “globe” that we were. My current cynicism is a cloudy prism through which I am compelled to look at this education, a lens that amplifies the elitism and colorism that set the parameters for our navigation of the canteen, the car park after school, and the city beyond. If I can compel my present cynical self to sit aside for a moment in my consciousness, I will remember that this early introduction to African cosmopolitan dreams, the Afropolitan before it was trendy and then quickly a term used derisively, actually entailed as much pleasure as it was fraught with what I can now name as a certain anti-blackness or antiAfricanness. We celebrated UN Day every October, but we mostly called it National Costume Day. UN Day was the highlight of the first term that lulled and dragged its way from September to December with few public holidays or school sanctioned breaks on the horizon. It was one of the few days a year on which we could abandon uniform in favor of outfits that represented our wide array of ethnicities and cultures, and when class was cancelled for a day full of parading, eating, and general primping of itchy fabrics and posing with flags we had colored in by hand. At some point during the festivities, the entire gathering of students, teachers and staff would join together for the school song, a rousing anthem that celebrated our multicultural community of “different races, different creeds, and different aspects too,” and called for such admirable ideals as a harmonious world in which there would be “no need for war no need for strife.” Each stanza ended with the refrain “Understanding of Each Other,” which according to the lyrics was the ultimate path towards attaining peace. It was also the loudest part of the song, presumably because that line was the only one most anyone had committed to memory. We sang for the global citizens we would someday become, taking pride in our inevitable launch away from the local and more towards the international. Our education managed the amazing feat of being outward-facing, looking eagerly towards other lands

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were all these proverbial “different races” resided in abundance, but narrow at the same time, ignoring the reality of our immediate surroundings, and the extent to which our comfort and relative luxury relied on the deprivation of other Ghanaians. Between the primary and secondary levels, or somewhere mid-leap from the “small school” to the “big school” across the street as we called it, I got the idea that representing Ghana as an Ewe child would not suffice. It didn’t matter that my paternal grandmother’s Togo was only next door, or that my maternal grandmother’s links to nomadic ancestors from Sudan were faint and barely recognizable to any family member still living. I alternated between claiming these countries on UN Day or any other day that people would listen. I wished to be from an elsewhere that was automatically more enchanting than our here and now. Perhaps my Togolese heritage could explain why I was so good at French, and maybe I could thank my unknown Sudanese foremothers who must have had some other heritage in addition to “just” Black, in order to account for my long (relaxed) hair swinging past my shoulders. I can cringe now at donning the same Fulani ensemble my aunt had lent me, a gift from her teenage years when my grandparents lived in Nigeria, to represent all these other countries that were anywhere else but Ghana. There is even a little unintentional comedy in my misguided efforts as self-representation, especially when I remember the senior girls whose side eyes betrayed their confusion at my shifting ethnic identification, “What country are you representing?” Togo? But wasn’t it Sudan last year? Amidst the annual reveling in the mini United Nations that was our school grounds, I had internalized the idea that if my feet were going to be planted to the local patch of dirt called Adenta, Accra, I had to have evidence of family ties somewhere less ordinary, less local, no matter what those places were actually like. While we were constantly reminded of our connection (or the pursuit of one) to people far beyond Ghana’s borders, my time at that school also drew me towards an understanding of the African diaspora that would remain hazy and mostly unnamed until I left Accra myself and joined the tenuous ranks of international students at university in the US. Our Form 2 History teacher, Mr. Graham, had a voice that resounded all the way down the veranda to the other classrooms, but he was especially loud when it was time to discuss the triumphant resistance of people of African descent in the diaspora depicted in our textbooks; a nebulous no-place where white greed and inhumanity had trapped our cousins indefinitely. “And you know, Nanny—that’s an Ewe name—I’m an Ewe . . . The name is Anane, a child born after twins. And Toussaint! Toussaint fought the French and won!” There was always an insistence to claim these distant relatives as our own, to call the names of those who didn’t bow their heads quietly to subjugation

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and eventual death. It was clear that Mr. Graham reveled in the pride of claiming the fiercest rebels against white violence as kin. We had learnt about Haiti’s victories without the subsequent tragedies, with no mention of power shifting from white hands to Black, and brutally wielded against other Black people, so that years later, as Haiti reeled in the earthquake’s aftermath, I couldn’t reconcile my history lessons with what we saw on the news. My mother and I sat in silence, watching houses flattened like so many matchboxes, and we broke at the site of a woman sitting outside the ruins of her home, dressed in red and black as if she could just as easily have been on her way to a funeral down the road from our house in Accra. When parents at our school launched fundraising efforts and donation drives for Haiti, I couldn’t yet understand that most of this money would end up in the pockets of dubious multinational non-profits who would use it to furnish the luxurious lifestyles of their employees, much like some of our own classmates whose parents worked for the same sorts of institutions. I can now wonder how much relief money intended for children in some remote part of Ghana ended up paying for fees for international schools like mine and to live in the quietest, greenest neighborhoods in town, where colonial Europeans had most likely lived before them, sometimes in the exact same French-windowed, multi-story houses, or in the gated communities and apartment complexes that replaced these colonial structures in some places. Even with frequent school trips to Cape Coast to visit the Elmina and Cape Coast castles, monuments marking the Transatlantic Slave Trade, any awareness I had of my connection to a global African diaspora, was still a sort of numbed pain sitting in the background of Ghanaian history, waiting for the right jolt to bring it back with intensity. If Mr. Graham’s monologues about Black resilience included a reflection on our ancestors’ complicity in this horrific business, that we all held varying kinds of culpability and trauma, that we were enslaved and enslavers under the same sky, sometimes under the same roof, it is possible I have muted or even scrubbed them completely from my mind. In the landscape of my memory, the castle’s harsh white-washed walls stood sturdy even after so long, and the canons appeared as though they could shoot firepower into the air at that very moment if loaded. There was a bedroom with wooden paneled floors leading to a narrow balcony overlooking the courtyard, where according to the tour guide, colonial officials would choose the women they “wanted.” The guide’s voice echoed moments later in a tiny chamber with the lingering metallic smell of blood and human life thickening the air: “I’m going to put the light off for you to see what it was like.” He then pointed to the small exit that open out towards the ominous “Door of No Return” and how much smaller it was than the entrance because those people that had survived that nightmarish confinement would have lost considerable weight by the time they were brought out. The heavy silence in

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our group would be interrupted only by the quiet sobs of a few tourists who were being led back through the Door Of No Return, with a few fishermen casting casual glances at a scene they’ve definitely witnessed before, and us hushed and embarrassed schoolchildren trying and failing to avoid staring at these returnees from that ambiguous diasporic elsewhere. Every aspect of our education pointed to our eventual attainment of global citizenship, a process which would begin with scholarships to universities in the US and Europe. We sought opportunities beyond what we were taught to understand as a Ghanaian professional world too limited and constraining for our brilliance. We were always reminded that we were working towards British board exams that would be graded and placed alongside students from all over the world, that there were records about A and A stars we had to surmount from the years before us. My school’s literature department became the space for me to learn to refuse the idea that our work was only successful if it could garner approval by some anonymous room of white people around a table in Cambridge, England (whether they were actually located in Cambridge, we would never know.) My literature teachers encouraged me to approach the usual suspects from the European literary canon without a shred of the reverence we were supposed to have for anything white. There were poems to take a part in order to look inside their functioning so we could understand their power and perhaps write better, and in any case, I was a lot more invested in the lives of Ama Ata Aidoo’s Anowa and Esi Sekyi than Wordsworth’s Lucy and her “untrodden ways.” My creative and academic writing helped me to grow bolder in questioning and rejecting this presumed Black and African inferiority that was the undercurrent of so many of the ways we were growing to understand ourselves in this global bubble within a local space. Yet, I knew that the primary goal that I was supposed to be striving for involved leaving and taking advantage of my dual US-Ghana citizenship and the scholarships I could access because of it, to make the miserable time my mother spent in Dallas, Texas on my father’s green card worth it. Many of my Ghanaian classmates had parents who had this sort of international experience submerged in their past, back beyond the garages full of European cars and swimming pools perpetually unaffected by Accra’s frequent water shortages. A lot of our parents’ generation migrated abroad to “hustle,” working jobs that their children would probably never have to, cleaning and food service among other occupations. A few of them put themselves through higher education like my mother did, only to realize that the racism and misogyny of England in the 1980s would see her getting one temporary position after another, being turned away from apartments to rent, when all her law school classmates were settled in full-time practice. My mother went on to work as a nanny for a Trinidadian family in Washington, DC. She couldn’t practice law in the US, and after meeting my dad

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and moving to Texas, she didn’t work outside the home, while my dad lost his sales job for running up the office phone bill, and tried his hand at various other jobs and entrepreneurial ventures that ultimately failed. My mother returned to Accra with a barely one-year old me, with $20 in her purse as she often recounts, but the older I got, the more her conviction grew that I would also take the same journey outwards and away from Ghana, but one with an assumed linearity to culminate in educational and professional success. I belong to a generation that benefitted from our parents’ international hustling, but for many of us, there is no need to pry into the details of that time of financial and class precariousness when many of us can now live a more breezy Afropolitan life. It should be no surprise then that throughout my undergraduate years, and even now as a graduate student, I have continued to run into some of my former schoolmates and acquaintances in various waiting areas at Heathrow, in the line for a coffee at Dulles or Logan, or in the crowded aisle aboard a plane packed with many others like ourselves competing for the limited overhead storage space with our over-sized bags masquerading as hand luggage, as we make our yearly pilgrimage back to Ghana for the Christmas season. In these moments, some of my smiles are the forced kind that hurt one’s jaws after a while, and some are heartfelt for the people I have genuinely missed or am surprised to see. I’ve found that the older I’ve gotten and the less time I’ve spent at home, I’ve become more inclined to let my eyes slide past people for whom I cannot muster the right amount of exuberance to try and pass small talk back and forth. The large amount of time that has elapsed since we left our global-local cocoon as made it so that I feel little obligation to keep up appearances considering how much our paths have diverged. Still, I catch myself taking mental notes of which of my fellow returnees disappear once we pass the boarding gate, as we aren’t riding economy together, so I can gossip later with my mum. These children were in first class ooh! Turning left after getting on the plane, can you imagine? That I would feel a lingering need to do this sort of appraisal reminds me of how ingrained are those ever-shifting strata of class, ethnicity, and national identity within me, despite the political consciousness I am always trying to study and write myself towards, and despite the awareness of how much my plenty is facilitated by the suffering of other Ghanaian people. During past summer internships in Ghana, or in casual encounters with Ghanaians whose facial expressions slip into knowing smirks when they find out where I went to school, I am constantly over-eager to distance myself from those elite circles, that I am indeed suitably hardworking and self-deprecating, that I understand that I am experiencing a grossly unfair advantage over other Ghanaian people. How much does my self-awareness and even self-flagellation matter, when I am still a returnee, only in Accra for a few weeks in December and

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the New Year celebrations? How much does it matter that my certificates and degrees written in Latin I don’t understand have come with a high personal debt, and that even my ticket home was purchased with money from a loan refund I will have to pay back eventually? The fact remains that my present shaky financial and social standing as a newly minted masters holder, an adjunct, and a hungry artist are only a part of the upward climb that is only bolstered by my possession of a blue passport alongside my green one, and an ambiguous accent that can shift from Ewe to French to the American slang I learnt in college with relative ease. I have also accrued other kinds of privileges that allow me to navigate the slippery hierarchies of gender, class, race, ethnicity among other things; the daughter of a lawyer and grand-daughter of a teacher, perhaps always headed towards a lettered life. I am the great-grand-daughter of a woman entrepreneur with the same pronounced cheekbones I hold in my face, who was fluent in French because of her extensive travels around West Africa to trade in fabrics, with three children to care for and a husband who was long left behind for being unworthy of her tenacity and ambition. Where else would I go, but further than these women have gone, as they expect? We, myself and my jet-setting peers, are attempting to make ourselves out of our forebear’s compromises and hustles, and out of the injustice and corruption that props up a Ghanaian society where international flights cost more than most people will ever make in a year. Many of us are also caught in a doomed cycle of trying to convince ignorant white classmates and coworkers that we belong to “the Africa they don’t show you,” trying to distance ourselves from the images of lack and hopelessness that most people in the West associate with our continent, the kind of special African lack we the privileged few benefit from, but do not want associated with our gentility. “The Africa they don’t show you” exists as Twitter photosets that show lush green landscapes and exclusive resorts, and at polo matches complete with all-white attire and champagne in the afternoon—colonial nostalgia re-cast with Black characters—and in high-end clubs where admission is made much easier the further one appears to be from Black. This Afropolitan identity seems to be accompanied by a drive to prove to the global that our local is not as downtrodden and unimpressive as they may think. This global life many of us aspire to is one sustained by inequality, of haves and have-nots caught in a perpetual tug of war concealed by the wave of a white hanky on Sunday morning and platitudes about God’s blessings. Somehow God continues to heap blessings only on those who already have riches in excess. A new government appointment for a barely qualified person from a prominent family is not nepotism, but God’s favor. Perhaps God is a Ghanaian elite too. I will spend most of my Accra Christmas in blissful ignorance of the date of my return to Boston, dozing on my Grandma’s couch after a plate of too

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much fried yam. I am not the anxious, abrasive person I am in Boston. I even have a different Ewe name that you can only call me if you knew me as a child. I will catch up with the longtime friends who have either moved back to Accra or are visiting like me, those of us who are too broke and also too disgusted by the excesses of our peers to partake in the bottle-popping and non-stop brunching. I will realize that much of my concern for how unequal our social and economic spaces are is self-serving. These my Afropolitan contemporaries who seem largely unapologetic about their excess and unfair access to comfortable lives become a convenient canvas onto which I can project my own anxiety about the unethical system which has made my life possible. It is much easier to screenshot and sneer at the latest antics of Accra’s elite and elite-adjacent, than it is to reckon and wrestle with a world that doesn’t have to be as unlivable as it currently is. I remain a Black, Ghanaian writer in the search of a room and a desk in which to do my work, no matter the continent, because I can’t allow my imagination to be curtailed into accepting that we have no choice but to continue to trample each other just to grasp at more wealth and more luxury for ourselves.

Section 4

DIVERSE IDENTITIES AND REPRESENTATIONS AMONG SECOND-GENERATION ETHIOPIAN MIGRANTS IN AMERICA

Chapter 11

Ethiopia on My Skin, Black Power in My Heart How Growing Up Black and Multiethnic Has Taught Me to Navigate Different Forms of Anti-Blackness Yelena Bailey One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother telling me that I was an Ethiopian princess. This was part of a story she would tell me daily, as I got ready for school. She told me I was royalty and that I should not let any of the kids at my predominantly White school make me feel otherwise. These tales that my mother would spin speak to a much larger history of Ethiopia in the Black American imaginary. From the Rastafari deification of Haile Selassie to the celebration of Ethiopia as an exemplary anti-imperialist Black nation, Ethiopia has long stood as a symbol of Black empowerment. The problem with this narrative is not only the way it glosses over the plurality of Ethiopian identity and the struggles faced by people like the Oromos, but also the confusion it caused for a young bicultural child like myself. As a kindergartner, my world was defined by the stories and truths my family taught me. What I knew was that my father was from a land called Ethiopia and that my mother was African American. So, when my mother told me tales about being an Ethiopian princess, my young mind could not distinguish metaphorical Ethiopia from the place of my father’s birth. In hindsight, the result of this confusion is rather comical. I spent weeks telling my classmates stories about my father who was an Ethiopian king. When my teachers suggested that perhaps my mother was not being literal, I stubbornly refused to believe them. Eventually my mother was called and notified about this “problem.” She responded by saying that her daughter was the only Black child in her grade and that she was both Ethiopian, by way of her father, and a princess in the eyes of her mother. To tell her anything different would be to undermine an important confidence in herself and her identity. 127

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To this day, I am grateful that my mother refused to deny me this early sense of pride. As convoluted as it was, she understood the significance of such a story. As an African American woman who grew up in the 1960s, she was all too aware of the difficulties people like us often face. Even for me, as someone who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, these realities were not far removed. I can distinctly remember being thrown to the ground by police with my mother. I was fourteen. It was 2001. We were leaving a laundromat and had forgotten to turn on our headlights until we got to the street. Apparently, the officers thought it was a drug dealer signal. Reasons aside, this was my first terrifying encounter with the dangers of being Black in America. This, among many other moments, is the reason why my mother urged me to embrace my Ethiopian looks. She was keenly aware that to be East African was to have access to a different type of Blackness. In fact, it was resembling an East African woman that led her to meet my father, an Oromo refugee. My father moved to the United States in 1981. He fled Ethiopia during the Red Scare and spent the next several years living in Sudan and Kenya. Originally, he had planned to move to Europe, but when the opportunity for Western immigration came, he was sent to Minnesota. Although extremely different in climate (my dad grew up in the rainy mountains), Minnesota was home to Scandinavian Christians who shared a religious tradition with my father. Interestingly enough, it was his religious identification as a Christian that granted him the privilege of White sponsorship and a college education. Of course, my dad was intelligent enough to get into college and he grew up the relatively well-off son of a government employee, but in America it takes more than merit to make it. This “more” came in the form of my father’s religion and his ethnic identity. Unlike African Americans, he was assumed to be different, but still intelligent. He did not face the same systemic barriers that my mother did, nor did he have to confront the same cultural and ideological assumptions. In contrast, my mother had to talk her way into the University of Minnesota and prove herself before being able to transfer to a prestigious private university. While both my parents managed to get a college education, their respective paths illustrate the nuanced differences between the way their Blackness is perceived by others. It was at college that my parents met. One could say that as Black students at a predominantly White university, their meeting was inevitable. My mother was one of only a handful of African Americans at the school, so when she was in desperate need of Black community, she often found herself spending time with African students. Her time at college coincided with the first major wave of East African immigration to Minnesota. And because my mother, like most African Americans, is herself of a mixed racial background, her features appeared Ethiopian to many of these new students. Between her straight narrow nose, light brown skin and chemically relaxed

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hair, my mother appeared indistinguishable from the Ethiopian women on campus. So, when my father saw her working at the university library one day, their romance made all the sense in the world. Even after learning she was African American, their romance grew. Intrigued by the prospect of connecting with her African heritage, my mother immersed herself in my father’s traditions. Arguably, my father’s love for my mother was fueled by his desire to embrace his new home in the United States. My mother was the perfect embodiment of this desire. Culturally and politically she was a strong Black American woman. Physically, she looked like home to him. By the time they had both realized just how great their differences were, it was too late. They had brought a child into the world. Although my parents tried to reconcile, I ended up being raised primarily by my mother. While my father is an important part of my life, my identity has been shaped by the fact that I am closer to my mother. In part, this is due to the fact that my mother has developed a strong political consciousness around her Blackness. She experienced desegregation firsthand and has been the victim of racialized violence. Despite being raised and educated in environments that systematically attempted to break her, my mother reclaimed her identity by embracing the Black power movement. She embodies the phrase “Black is beautiful” and raised me to make this mantra my own. Unlike my mother, I am a dark-skinned woman. Knowing the stigma associated with my color she proactively worked to instill a sense of pride in me. These are the kinds of actions that illustrate the unique contributions my mother has made to my personal identity. As many second generation children find out, growing up Black in America is an experience most Black immigrant parents cannot fully understand. As a result, when I found myself navigating experiences of overt and covert anti-Blackness, my mother offered an invaluable source of empathy and understanding. The irony in this, is the fact that despite growing up closer to my mother and my Black American identity, my appearance seems to scream Ethiopian to all those I encounter. To say that I look Ethiopian is an understatement. While I do not want to affirm the notion that ethnic groups all have “a look,” my experience has taught me that this is true to some extent, at least when it comes to Ethiopians. Up until this point, I have used the term Ethiopian rather uncritically. However, as the child of an Oromo—the indigenous and often highly oppressed group within Ethiopia—I am aware that this label is insufficient. But, much like any other ethnic group in America, after immigration your identity becomes something new, something no longer your own. Among East Africans, I am Oromo. To the rest of the world, I am simply Ethiopian. The political implications of this are too numerous for me to explain here. Suffice it to say that within the boundaries of America, I fit “the look” of an East African. Ever since I was a child, I remember random strangers coming up to me and

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asking, “Are you Somali?” or “Are you Ethiopian?” In part, I think this was an attempt to display their cultural knowledge. I, however, often felt like an animal in a zoo playing a game called, “name that species.” More recently, I remember an incident at an LA Galaxy match. David Beckham was retiring, so I drove up with a few friends to witness his final game. As we were wandering around the stadium, looking for a good place to buy a drink, a young man pointed at me and shouted across the way, “Ethiopian!” At that moment, all I could do was laugh and nod. The guy who pointed me out was African American. There was something particularly strange for me in that moment. On one hand, a fellow Black person was recognizing and affirming my East African identity. Los Angeles has a large Ethiopian population and I am sure this played into his recognition of my features. On the other hand, by naming me as East African, he was also naming me as non-African American. In his joyful proclamation, there was no ounce of doubt about my identity. In trying to affirm that he knew what I was, he was excluding me from an identity we both shared. Being multiethnic and yet completely Black, I have developed a fluid and complex understanding of my Blackness. I learned that the meaning of my Blackness is often dependent upon context. Growing up, for example, my childhood best friend was Oromo. I would learn our history from her father, attend cultural events with their family and eat traditional food at their house. I think it was providence that led me to that friendship. In many ways, it helped me to understand and value a part of me that may have been lost. It was actually this part of my identity that helped me to cope with the experience of growing up Black in America. When I was young, I would fall back on my Ethiopian heritage anytime I felt the pressures of racism around me. In this way, I would claim a status of exception that was never really mine. I remember one instance, I was having lunch with some friends at school. My high school was peculiar in that it was predominantly working-class students of color, with the exception of the honors students. Among the fifty or so students in the honors program, my Oromo best friend and I were the only Black ones. Desperate to avoid any racial tension, I clung to my friend and our shared identity. So, when our friends started a debate one day on why Black people give their kids such ridiculous names, like Shanaynay or Shoniqua, I just sat there silently. On the inside I was wounded and offended, but on the outside I showed no emotion. I knew that to them I was not Black, Black. I was their exotic Ethiopian friend. I knew this because it had been said to me repeatedly, albeit in a less direct way, and at some point, I had begun embracing this loophole within anti-Blackness. While being seen as Ethiopian allowed me to avoid direct confrontation with a lot of racism, it did not shield me from ethnic prejudice. Because

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my Ethiopian heritage is obvious when one looks at me, I have often been caught in the awkward situation of being perceived as Ethiopian, only to fail the test of authenticity. Since I was raised by my mother, I never learned to speak Oromo or Amharic. So, when I run across other Ethiopians, who almost always greet me in Amharic, I find myself repeating the same, disheartening lines. In fact, they are almost second nature to me now. “Yes, I am Ethiopian. Well, actually I am Oromo. Sorry, I do not speak Amharic. Oh, you speak Oromo, well I don’t speak that either. You see, my mother is African American.” This is when the dreaded moment comes. There is a nod of understanding and a look of pity. “What a shame that she isn’t a true Ethiopian/Oromo girl. Too bad about that Black American mother.” Fate had decided that while I may look entirely Ethiopian, I lack all of the cultural markers required for true belonging. And so, I learned that while I was Ethiopian to outsiders, I would always be Black American to those within the East African community. Despite the personal discomfort I have with my own East African identity, I have learned to navigate personal and professional spheres based on how my ethnicity is understood. Up until now, I have relied on my looks, the visual marker of my Ethiopian heritage, to gain access to opportunities rarely open to African Americans. I finished at the top of my class in a competitive high school honors program. I received a master’s degree from NYU and a PhD from the University of California. While I am aware that other African Americans have made equal or greater achievements, I also know that they are often the exception, not the rule. Moreover, to get there, they often depend upon economic, social and cultural capital to which working-class Black women like myself rarely have access. Instead, I relied upon a sort of ethnic capital. Within the hierarchy of Blackness, my perceived Ethiopianess has racialized me as intelligent and exceptional in contrast to my African American counterparts. I have used this social reality to my advantage and at times, to my shame. Even now, this use haunts me. In graduate school, I began to embrace my Blackness in new ways. I conducted research on various Black identities, political ideologies and cultural texts. The result, at least I thought, was a newfound confidence in my Blackness that permeated every aspect of my life. I felt reaffirmed in my experiences as a Black American woman and began to see myself more wholly through that lens. However, despite my persistent push toward claiming my African American identity, I was frequently reminded that the world did not see me that way. Two years ago, at a national conference for a fellowship program, I heard Dr. Elijah Anderson talk about his book, The Cosmopolitan Canopy. The talk centered on the idea that Black people, regardless of their class, may find places of reprieve from anti-Blackness in cosmopolitan spaces. Despite this,

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they cannot escape the implications of their Blackness and are reminded of their difference in very specific and jarring ways. Throughout most of the presentation I merely nodded in affirmation and drifted away in other thoughts. The talk, while intriguing, was nothing new to me. Instead, it was given for the other 98 percent of people in the room, the ones who were White and completely unaware that Black people often modify their behavior depending upon the space they inhabit. Later that evening, the members of my fellowship cohort went out for drinks. It was the last time we would gather together after a four year program. Although we were all graduate students at different universities, we had bonded through a series of online colloquiums and annual conferences. Since this conference took place in New Orleans, we figured there was no better place for a final night out. After checking out a couple of local bars, we finally settled on a place and began to reminisce. At this point, the alcohol was setting in and opening the door for frank conversation. I distinctly remember this moment, the bar decor, the angle I was sitting at, because it shook me in a way I did not know was still possible. As we talked that night, one member of the group knelt in front of me, almost apologetically, and asked with all sincerity if I felt Dr. Anderson’s talk was true. At first, I thought this was another moment where a White friend wanted me to justify their rejection of someone’s theories on race and racism. But as I looked into this friend’s eyes, I saw the earnestness with which he asked the question. Gently, I replied that it was absolutely true. He then asked, “even with us?” To him, he felt he had known me on a level that transcended my Blackness. To some extent this was true, but the reality is that I always, even if it is in some small way, find myself muting and performing my race in different ways around different people. After hearing my reply, this friend followed up by saying that he was shocked because to him, I had always been Ethiopian and not really Black. This was the moment that truly shook me. I had spent years with this person. He knew my research on the Black community, my political stances, etc. I had been explicit in telling them about my family background and being raised by my African American mother. But somehow, despite all of this, my Blackness could not transcend my Ethiopian features and the desire on others’ parts to see me through that lens. In many ways, this was the moment I accepted the fact that my Blackness is rarely determined by my culture or my politics. Rather, it is determined by that of those who perceive me. In some ways, this continues to offer me privileges. As a professor, my students are far less likely to label me as an angry Black woman because this is a stereotype that has historically been applied to African American women. Likewise, they are more willing to hear me discuss issues of race and racism. In my personal life, I have an easier time

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dating because my features are perceived as “western.” Never mind that East Africa is the “cradle of life” and that the more appropriate view would be to say that Westerners have our features. Regardless of these realities, because my looks are closer to that of the mainstream and they are determined to be more desirable. Up until recently, I never questioned the privileges of my East African Blackness. Being perceived as East African allowed me to circumvent many of the systemic and cultural obstacles posed by anti-Blackness. However, this reality has changed dramatically within the last fifteen years or so. Ever since the events of September 11, 2001, Islamophobia has continued to increase within the United States. At the same time, Islam has become racialized as not only Middle Eastern, but also Black. People of Somali and Sudanese descent, for example, have been the target of anti-Islamic discrimination. This discrimination is perhaps best exemplified by the inclusion of these two East African countries on President Trump’s immigration ban list. Despite the fact that I have never worn a hijab and my father is from an East African nation that was not banned, history has taught me that these nuanced differences matter little. Over the past several years, I have noticed more and more people asking me if I am Somali. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I no longer live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, home to one of the largest East African populations, and America’s largest Somali population. Growing up in Minneapolis, it seemed like people could either differentiate between East African ethnic groups, or that they just did not care. This latter attitude is no longer a luxury I have. People do care. They care because, unlike the era of my father’s immigration and my childhood, the way East Africans are racialized is changing. We are no longer the exceptional Black immigrant. Instead, we represent a double threat—Black and immigrant, minority and Muslim. Somehow, East Africans occupy the lowest position on America’s race ladder while also being paradoxically excluded from American identity altogether. As I consider these changes, I find myself perplexed. I was accustomed to the structural and cultural barriers posed to me as an African American woman, but I had learned to navigate those by banking on my Ethiopian heritage. Now, I find that my greatest weapon against American anti-Blackness has been turned into yet another obstacle. How long will it be until the next person who points at me and shouts their idea of where I am from does so in a menacing way? What will happen when I attempt to travel abroad? These are questions that hundreds of thousands of people are asking themselves today, both Black and non-Black. My desire is not to selfishly detract from discussions of Islamophobia. Rather, my personal journey points me toward the ways in which these questions intersect with others. In addition to fearing TSA and being publicly identified as a “Muslim other,” my mind is occupied with questions like; will I be shot if I am pulled over at a stop light? Will I

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ever own a home and build equity the way other Americans have been able to do? The questions represent a unique overlap in my Black identities. In the twenty-first century, people like me are forced to confront the changing contours of anti-Blackness. America might have a long history of creating and perpetuating racism, as it also has a history of challenging and reforming it, but the convergence of Islamophobia and anti-Blackness constitutes something entirely new. Recently, I taught Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Americanah, in my African American Literature course. My inclusion of her work is representative of my own understanding of Blackness as something complex, plural and diasporic. While the story itself is full of well-written and complex characters, one in particular stands out to me. Dike, the protagonist’s cousin who was born in the United States to a Nigerian single mother, is a rather minor character in the grand scope of the text. Yet, he is the one who resonates most with me. Although he is of Nigerian descent, he is raised in primarily White settings and experiences what it is like to grow up Black in America. His struggles with this identity, which culminate in a failed suicide attempt, speak to a generation of people like him, or should I say, like us. What intrigues me most about Dike’s story, as well as my own, is the way it illustrates the fluidity of multicultural Black identity. At times, Black identities are competing, like when I was encouraged to identify more as Ethiopian for the sake of social mobility. At other times, these identities converge, as is the case when I consider the fact that while the sources may vary, both of my Black identities mean a heightened awareness of the potential violence that may be inflicted upon my body. As I think about the generation of others like me, who live at the intersection of these experiences and are confronted by these two forms of anti-Blackness, I wonder what it will mean for the future of Black identity and social engagement. Will it give rise to new forms of protest or new alliances? Will it fracture the Black community even further? As an educator, my hope is that others like me can look back and realize that my story is not necessarily new. From Claudia Jones to Claude McKay, Black people in America have continually negotiated their identities and belonging while simultaneously embracing a sense of community. I hope that these histories are not lost, but reclaimed. For me, understanding this has been lifesaving. I hope that it will do the same for future generations.

Chapter 12

Black Immigrant Communities Misrepresented and Underserved in the United States Mekdela Ejigu

I am an Ethiopian American woman who was born to Ethiopian immigrants and refugees in Los Angeles county, California; I have lived near Los Angeles for most of my life and attended university in Northern California. While organizing with communities of color in both Santa Cruz and Los Angeles, California, I have experienced setbacks due to my identities as a Black African, second-generation immigrant, woman of color. In the United States, Black immigrants face a double erasure: we are not included in the Black narrative that focuses solely on African Americans and we are not included in the immigration narrative. I have experienced push back in multiple communities (African American and non-Black immigrant) with the idea that one cannot be both Black and an immigrant. Black immigrants and their descendants are met with a combination of anti-Blackness and xenophobia (the hatred or fear of immigrants) in the United States. The online magazine The Body is Not an Apology published the article “7 Ways Non-Black POC Perpetuate Anti-Blackness in their Communities” which highlights how the idea that Black cannot mean African, Caribbean, or other people in the Diaspora, like Afro-Latinx peoples, is a form of anti-Blackness (Muniz 2018). The erasure of Black immigrants is dangerous; if every Black person is assumed to be African American there will be no resources allocated for Black immigrants, putting them at even more risk. The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) is a nonprofit organization created to address this very issue: its mission is to unite African Americans and Black immigrant communities to advocate for Black immigrant rights in the United States. In the article “Bringing Black Immigrant Issues to the Forefront,” a BAJI representative describes the difficulties with organizing for Black immigrants in the United States. (Baba, 2017). There are roughly 400,000 undocumented Africans in the United States and some are saying that they are being ignored: this is 135

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especially worrisome in the Trump era of travel bans and anti-immigration policies, including the revoking of TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for 50,000 Haitians and 200,000 Salvadorans (Baba, 2017). Trump endorsed a bill that would repeal the Diversity Visa Lottery Program and cut the number of Green cards (permanent residency cards) issued to immigrants to the United States by half. In an interview about immigration policies, Trump called Haiti, El Salvador, and the nations of Africa, “shitholes” and expressed support of immigration from countries like Norway. Although this outright racism is exceptional, it is symbolic of the political and cultural climate Black immigrants are up against in the United States (Figure 12.1). Attempting to strip identities away from Africans, Caribbean people, Afro-Latinx people, and so on is anti-Blackness: no one should be allowed to police the identities of another group of people. I have run into the view that Black cannot be African, Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, and so on enough that it is a pattern. Nigerian author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie once wrote, “Dear non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become Black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I’m Jamaican or I’m Ghanaian. America doesn’t care. So what if you weren’t Black in your own country? You’re in America now” (2013). I have had people tell me that I am not really Black, to act “more Black” or otherwise police my identity

Figure 12.1  A Dark-Skinned Black Immigrant Woman Wearing Sunglasses and a Hijab Gestures with Her Mouth Open Like She is Speaking. Relief printing artwork by Mekdela Ejigu. Source: Figure created by author.

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and Blackness. This makes me feel invisible, increasing the identity struggles that come with having a hyphenated identity, being third culture or bicultural (in my case being Ethiopian American). Furthermore, it is psychologically damaging to constantly have my identity negated by strangers and people outside of my community; it reminds me that my community and other Black immigrant communities are invisible in the United States. It is most often non-Black people that police my Blackness; this is possibly a result of the fact that Black immigrants disrupt the United States’ construction of the Black race which is based on the local ethnic group African Americans. More than anything this tells me that the construction of the Black race in the United States does not account for the Blackness of people from Black countries outside of the United States, a telltale sign of United States imperialism. The US narrative conflates Blackness with being African American and erases Black immigrants by simultaneously failing to include them in the immigration narrative. This has the unfortunate effect of pitting marginalized groups against each other. However, the Black race has as much variance and complexity as any other and to deny this is dehumanizing and anti-Black. An acquaintance of mine is also from an East African country and she is undocumented. When she tries to organize around immigration on the East Coast, she receives push back because she is Black and is told that she therefore doesn’t belong in immigration organizing spaces. I recently experienced something similar as an organizer in Los Angeles; it occurred to me that immigration is framed as an issue that does not affect Black people and Black issues are framed solely as African American. This inspired me to create a platform for dialogue and incite change with my blog Mekdela. The US framing of Black as African American means that there is significant pressure on Black immigrant communities, especially American-born second-generation immigrants, to assimilate to the African American community. Growing up, I witnessed most Ethiopian Americans I knew in my Ethiopian community assimilate and learn to culturally pass as African American. I always considered myself to be in the minority of Ethiopian Americans that identified more with my Ethiopian heritage. However, my recent organizing experience made me realize that I have subconsciously been assimilating and passing as African American my whole life, even when I thought I primarily identified as Ethiopian. This opened my eyes to how people react to their surroundings and subconsciously make decisions that allow them to survive and thrive in their environments. I also became aware of my privilege in being able to pass as African American: I can speak English and I understand the intricacies of US racial and social constructs and hierarchies, among other things. This knowledge makes me concerned for immigrants from Black countries that do not speak English, understand what it means to be Black in the United States, or the consequences of deviating from the narrative and the unspoken social

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rules associated with being Black in America. With police brutality and other discriminatory policies aimed at African Americans that cost livelihoods and lives, it is possible that Black immigrants will be targeted as well. US erasure of Black immigrants results in this group being ignored on the ground and denied resources provided to other immigrants. A current example of this is the Muslim ban implemented by the Trump administration: 3/7 of the countries on the original ban and 3/6 of the countries on the second ban are African countries. The original ban included Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Iraq was later removed from the ban only to reappear on a different iteration of the Muslim ban. However, the media reported the Muslim ban as an “Arab” issue. This effectively erased the Black African Muslim countries and people affected by the ban including Sudan, Somalia, and the native Afro-Arabs of Libya, a north African country. This is an ongoing issue in the representation of Muslims in the United States: Black Muslims like Somalis and Sudanese people are classified as Arab just because they are Muslim. This is a symptom of the erasure of Black immigrants in the United States, US construction of the Black race and the media’s conflation of the Muslim religion with Arab identity. It is also an extension of the erasure and oversimplification of the African continent and its countries. A common refrain heard in the United States (and as I’ve been told, in other Western countries) is that Africa is a country. Not only is this due to a lack of education, but it is also an insidious form of racism that considers Black countries like those in Africa to be inferior or less than due to anti-Blackness. This manifests in literature written in the slavery era with racist descriptions of Africa and Africans being taught in present-day US high school curriculums, as in “The Heart of Darkness.” This manifests in a US media that paints a picture of a mythical place called “Africa” that is only the site of disease, war, famine, and grass huts. This is what Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie also describes as “the danger of a single story” (2016). The Western media has so sensationalized its coverage of poverty and natural disasters in African countries, that this is all Westerners seem to know about them. This promotes the white savior complex, or the view that Black and Brown people need white people to rescue them from destitution. Unsurprisingly, the white savior complex does more to aid white people than the Africans allegedly being “helped.” This, in turn, affects the way Africans like me are perceived and treated in the West and prevents us from owning our own narratives. But what the Western narrative of Africa neglects to mention is that certain first world countries like America have staggering poverty rates: the narrative creates the notion that Africans are not equal to Westerners, rather than a message of helping the less fortunate. I attended a networking event for Ethiopian-Americans from all over the United States where we were asked what stereotypes of Ethiopia we had

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encountered, juxtaposed with the Ethiopia that we know. Everyone in the room, including myself, had encountered the same stereotypes of Ethiopia and Africa: extreme poverty, lack of development or electricity, people living in huts and interacting with lions or monkeys. When describing the Ethiopia we know, imagery of the buildings, skyscrapers, houses, innovation and promise sprang to life. This is not to say that there aren’t Ethiopians that live in huts (there are), or that there are no lions or monkeys in Ethiopia. The issue at hand is the persistent “othering” of African countries by the West: the image of undeveloped, poor, diseased countries that need money or charity from outside, which promotes the white savior complex. The reality is that there is industrial development in every African country; there are booming businesses, developed cities, middle class to rich communities, and so on. There are also huts, beautiful green scenery, and wild animals that are just as worthy of respect and admiration. To be clear: the problem is not with rural areas, wildlife, or the absence of development; in fact, I would like to challenge the Western-driven narrative that development is superior to rural countryside. The problem is that the West (Western media and Westerners included) is immersed in a narrative that positions it as superior to the rest of the world because of its development, wealth, and power. Through the proximity of living in the West, Black immigrants and their descendants like me can perpetuate this harmful ideology here and when we go abroad to our homelands. Though it illustrates an important point about the “othering” of African countries and people in the United States, the original discussion at the event smacks of internalized Western superiority. Signs of development, that is, buildings, skyscrapers, and houses were associated with innovation and promise while signs of the absence of development or huts, lions, monkeys, and no electricity were coded as negative due to stereotypes. The advent of industrialization due to globalization brought a new dimension to class tensions in Ethiopia as it did in many other Global South countries. It is important to acknowledge our inherent biases as people who live in Western, developed societies and even developed parts of Ethiopia. While I am on this topic, I aim to recognize the United States’ erasure of another group of people: Indigenous/Native peoples. When I was a community organizer, it also occurred to me that the United States erases Indigenous/ Native people in a similar fashion: they are not part of the immigration narrative (and rightly so), but they are also not part of any narrative. The US media never shows the lives of the Indigenous/Native people living within its borders. US history textbooks often brush over the genocide of Native people during the inception of America and present a sanitized, fabricated version of history that casts America’s founders in a more positive light. To refrain from complaining about the erasure of one community, Black immigrants, and remain silent on the erasure of another, I will shed light on the situation here.

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The systematic erasure of people that are Indigenous to the United States means that they are sometimes mistakenly believed to be gone, while they are still living with the incredible systemic racism placed on their communities. This results in the deprioritization of their issues in people of color/organizing spaces and their absence from the narrative of people of color struggles in the United States. Native people in the United States have the same or higher rates of police brutality as Black people in the United States (Hansen, 2017; Racine, 2017). Due to systemic racism, many Natives live on impoverished reservations and are isolated from the general population, where there are high levels of poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence (Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2017). Additionally, one out of three Native women are raped in their lifetime and 86 percent of sexual crimes against them are committed by non-Native men (Amnesty International, 2007; Williams, 2012). Due to structural racism, policies, and media silence, this information is neither common knowledge nor readily accessible. The erasure of certain groups of people and their subsequent marginalization is reminiscent of a concept Angela Davis calls “people doing the State’s work.” The idea behind it is that people are constantly immersed in the oppressive systems of America; so, they start to internalize these harmful ideas and eventually begin to espouse them themselves. In order to counter these harmful narratives the United States is promoting about people of color, we must deprogram ourselves through education and constant vigilance. The interactions described in this chapter are a result of people internalizing false US messaging in one capacity or another and then enacting these ideas onto other people. This is not the fault of individuals or individual communities, because the processes of internalizing the dominant narrative and systems of oppression are inevitable. However, by becoming aware of this pattern/process, individuals and communities can monitor their own media consumption, knowledge, and actions. This would make the work of dismantling systems of oppression (including racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, classism, etc.) much more effective in the long run. I believe that communities of color are stronger together and working to counter anti-Blackness, Black immigrant, and Indigenous erasure will benefit everyone at the end of the day.

Chapter 13

Identity Theft Semien Abay

I am a 20-something Black Ethiopian American woman. I was born to two Ethiopian immigrants in San Jose, California, in the early 1990s. Though my parents were from the same region and ethnic group in northern Ethiopia they could not have been more different. My mother is from Axum, Ethiopia, in the Tigray region. The Axumite people are known for their conservative culture as well as being devout Orthodox Christians. Axum has very strong ties to the Orthodox religion. It’s rumored that the Ark of the Covenant (i.e., the Ten Commandments God gave Moses) is actually hidden somewhere in Axum. My mother and her family fit the mold. Church, school, and family were at the center of her world. Her first time leaving the country was when she came to the States in the 1980s after graduating high school where she moved in with her brothers who were already in California attending UC Davis. Roughly two hours from her birthplace was my father’s hometown, Adigrat. The Orthodox religion was important in his town as well, but not so much in his life. My Dad was a rebel. I’m not saying he rebelled against religion or his culture. My father was an actual rebel. You know, the kind that try to topple regimes and dictators in order to establish a new political power. He was that kind. During my parents’ youth the communist Derg regime was in power led by Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam. Throughout his reign, roughly half a million people were killed. Some were accused of plotting against them and consequentially tortured and killed. Others simply belonged to the wrong ethnic group (like the ones my parents belonged to) and thus were killed. Some will say that the accusations against the Derg are overblown and that they weren’t as bad as the current party in power says they are. I can’t claim to be unbiased in this situation so I’ll have to leave it at that. 141

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My Dad joined the rebellion as a teenager and dedicated his life to overthrowing the Derg. They were an organized group known as TPLF (Tigray People Liberation Front) or Weyane. In 1991 they, along with other rebel parties from various parts of the country, finally took down the regime and established the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia as we now know it. One of their high-ranking leaders, Meles Zenawi was elected to be prime minister. By this time my father had been in the United States for a few years organizing the Ethiopian Diaspora to contribute what they could to the revolution. He was forced to leave Ethiopia by his fellow associates in order to evade persecution. My parents met sometime in the late 1980s in the Bay Area and gave birth to my older brother shortly after they married. I was next then followed my younger brother. My Dad’s nationalism never wavered. The English translation of our names is Liberation, North (me) and History. While my Mom also loved her country, her name options for us were more religion centered and accepting of Western culture. My older brother would have been Christopher. I would have been April, and I’m unsure of what my little brother’s name would have been because I think by then she had given up hope on naming us. My older brother and I were sent to Ethiopia while we were toddlers to live with our extended family as was the norm. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins typically had a hand in raising the children. My parents were alone here with the exception of the Ethiopian community. They relied on the family back home to help raise us for almost two years in order for them to focus on finishing school and saving money. By the time I came back from Ethiopia I was almost 4 years old. My older brother was 5 and had already begun kindergarten there when he came back to the States. I can’t remember too much from back then, but I do remember that our first language wasn’t English. We had been taught Amharic and Tigrinya at home; I had more time to learn English before starting school, my older brother was kind of thrown to the wolves. My home life was kept as Ethiopian as possible with a little of American culture thrown in. We ate injera with wot on the regular for evening meals and sometimes lunch, but breakfast was of course cereal on weekdays. On the weekends we’d sometimes have injera with scrambled eggs or if I was lucky gumfo with berbere and irgo (plain yogurt). We had traditional Ethiopian clothing and went to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Saturdays. At this point we could only semi understand Amharic and Tigrinya so attending the Ethiopian Church was more about interacting with the community than learning about God. For biblical educational purposes, we would attend the English service on Sundays at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. There were also the many, many, many Ethiopian fundraisers

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and celebrations we attended that would go until 3 am on Saturdays. The Ethiopian Diaspora was always organizing events to raise money for Ethiopia as it was still in a fragile state. Besides needing money to rebuild the government, Tigray and its neighboring northern states were still recovering from a devastating famine that occurred in the early 1980s. It was this famine that inspired Michael Jackson to produce “We are the World (USA for Africa)” in the mid-1980s. I of course didn’t know or pay attention to any of this as a kid. These events were just an opportunity to hang out with other kids, drink soda, and eat himbasha (traditional bread) until 3 am in the morning. Outside of my home, I was influenced by the fairly diverse neighborhoods I grew up in which comprised of Indians, Mexicans, Chinese, White and Black people. I knew that not everyone was like me, but it didn’t matter so long as we shared a love for Pokémon, NSYNC, Sailor Moon, or some other entertainment-based common ground. Outside of my Ethiopian culture, Western music, movies, books, and television dominated my life. I couldn’t name any Ethiopian songs or singers even though my mother played their cassette tapes daily. I was living for Kids WB cartoons, Harry Potter, Britney Spears, Disney, Backstreet Boys, DragonBall Z, and so many other pop culture mainstays of the 1990s. Most of my elementary school years were spent at a predominantly White school so my interests had never been an issue. Hell, my Dad was the one who got my older brother and I into Mama’s Family. No, not Big Momma’s House with Martin Lawrence. Mama’s Family, starring Vicki Lawrence, as a hot tempered White grandma raising her adult children in a southern blue-collar suburbia. There were no people of color on that show or many of the other ones I grew up with yet it didn’t bother me because race didn’t exist at that time for me. Halfway into my 4th grade year we moved to a new neighborhood that was mainly comprised of Muslim Somalis, African Americans, and a few other Ethiopian folks. My new school was much more ethnically diverse and the kids there were different than what I had been accustomed to. The girl chosen to give me a tour of the school was a pretty Caucasian girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. During the tour two boys ran past her (one Latino and the other Black) and one of them pinched her butt. She giggled with delight while I stood there completely dumbfounded. She then explained to me that one of them was her boyfriend while the other one also liked her. I just nodded and kept the shock to myself. I’d never met a kid my age with a boyfriend or who had ever had their butt pinched by the opposite sex in that manner. Around this time is when my older brother tried to Black-ify me. He would call me an Oreo or Whitewashed and accuse me of loving White shows whenever he caught me watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Nanny, Just

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Shoot Me or some other beloved sitcom of that era. When The Proud Family premiered when I was 10 years old, he encouraged me to watch it. “This is the kind of show you should be watching. I wish you had something like this growing up. This would have been better for you.” Those weren’t his words verbatim, but you get the gist. He was accusing me of not just acting White, but wanting to be White. Being the naïve kid I was I began justifying myself as I thought a Black person would and loudly emphasizing when I watched a show that had people of color in it. “I only watch Sabrina for the magic and witches!” “I’m only watching this until Fresh Prince comes on!” “Oprah is Black!” Up until that time my persona was never something I had to put effort into. I liked what I liked and didn’t care for what I didn’t. It never had any more significance than that. My older brother introduced me to the idea that other people could determine my identity for me. I had to not only physically have brown skin and black hair, but I also had a role to play. I was expected to talk a certain way and like specific things or else I wasn’t being a proper Black person. There was never a time in my life that I can recall where I didn’t know I was Black. I’ve always known I was Black and was never made to feel like I wasn’t. Black to me was a grouping based on skin color, which didn’t make that much sense since most of the people referred to as Black were actually of varying brown skin tones. The notion that people as light skinned as baby Raven Symone could be perceived as “Blacker” than me made me realize that Black wasn’t about skin; It was about attitude. I had the skin so I knew I had to start acting like it and most importantly defending it. I tried for a brief period of time to be as “Black” as I possibly could. I listened to rap and I attempted slang. That was the most I could do. Fortunately, and unfortunately, for me I was lazy when it came to keeping up appearances so my “Black” period only lasted a few weeks. My older brother’s immersion into what we believed Black culture to be was more authentic and becoming of him. He played basketball and football, wore baggy clothes, used slang appropriately, owned a Jay Z album and never tired of watching Friday. He was a better Black person than I could ever be. Our parents were less than enthusiastic about his changed behavior, but besides telling him to stay away from certain people and throwing away his do-rags there wasn’t much they could do to stop him. As a teenager I was still conflicted about my lack of Black personality traits. By then I had learned that there weren’t just stereotypical Black characteristics that people expected of me, but specifically stereotypical Black female characteristics. Sassy, loud, tough, fiercely independent, sassy, comedic, done up, angry and did I mention sassy? I tried, but again failed miserably with the exception of being independent that came naturally. The only

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stereotype I never wanted to be was that of the angry Black female. It was so harsh and presented Black women as violent and aggressive. I didn’t want to scare people. I liked people and I wanted them to like me. I’m not sure at what age I realized that White people and select others felt threatened by the presence of Black people; Black folks were associated with crime, bad manners, and violence. By my teenage years I was actively fighting against these stereotypes, but only outside of school. Outside of my high school I smiled more. Articulated more. Kept my hands visible while shopping. Made small talk in a voice an octave higher than my natural one. Fake laughed unnecessarily . . . . It was a performance I later learned wasn’t acted out by only me. I don’t know where I learned it. I only knew that if I did it enough times then maybe White people’s idea of Black people would change. After all, they had just met one that was so sweet and well-mannered. How could that not change their perception of an entire group of people? It became a reflex that followed me throughout my college years. Had I known the term White fragility back then perhaps I would have been different. I know some people are turned off by that term, but hear me out. White fragility refers to the state of protection that White people live in from race-related stress. In the subtlest of ways people of color are made to feel responsible for the level of comfort that the White people nearest to them experience. This is not meant to be an attack on said White person. For the most part they’re oblivious to it. I doubt any of my White friends are aware it has happened to them. They didn’t ask for it, it was just given to them. High school was probably the most stressful time with regard to identity. At home I was me (unless my brother was around then I’d have to change the channel to My Wife and Kids). Outside of school I was Becky. At school I let it be known to everyone that my background was Ethiopian, but depending on the group I was with I sometimes felt the need to prove I was also Black by using phrases I didn’t normally use or by subtly pointing it out. “Is it because I’m Black?!” “It’s cause I’m Black, isn’t it!?’ “Why? Because I’m Black?!” I didn’t know why I was doing this. I only knew that I felt I had to. It was a very confusing time. Fortunately for me acting Black never conflicted with the conservative culture I was brought up in. Sure, it didn’t necessarily parallel the “proper” Ethiopian woman’s mannerisms, but it didn’t directly oppose it so I didn’t have much of a moral crisis internally. Unfortunately for me, besides learning how to be a Black woman, I was now entering the age that Western culture deemed appropriate to not just witness, but engage in dating, relationships, and the physical activities that came with it. If it wasn’t already clear to everyone reading, I grew up pretty sheltered and in a very traditional household. Hollywood had taught me that high school kids do drugs, drink alcohol, and have sex. I thought I’d be prepared for all that, but it’s one thing

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to see it on screen and another thing completely to see your friend sucking face with her new boyfriend out in the open in real life. I was 14 and up until that point had never seen anyone my age make out with another person and at school of all places. Thinking about it now, it’s not as big a deal as I’m making it out to be. It was a little more than a goodbye kiss but let me reiterate when I say I came from a conservative culture when it came to relationships and had NEVER seen people kissing in public. I tried to accept that it was common and that dating at 14 was totally acceptable, but the Ethiopian in me was very much caught off guard whenever I saw it in action. I attended an Ethiopian wedding once as a child and at the moment where one normally kisses the bride in Western tradition, the couple kissed each other on the cheek. At home, my parents didn’t show much physical affection either. Neither did the parents of my Ethiopian friends. Hugging or holding hands was the most I’d ever encountered. When it came to movies or TV shows, my father didn’t care too much about the PDA we saw, but my mother was a different story. I remember watching Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in her room when she walked in. I was about 13 at the time and she had just walked in right as the Prince was leaning in for a kiss. My mother saw and made a noise of disgust and asked if this was the kind of garbage I liked to watch. My mother actually loves most Disney movies, but whenever anything relating to physical affection would pop up she would make her disapproval known. I knew my Dad was different than most Ethiopian parents with his laidback approach to those kind of things so I assumed that my Mom was the norm back in Ethiopia. I was dead wrong. I traveled back to Ethiopia after college in 2013. I wasn’t trying to find myself or challenge myself. I just wanted to visit the family I hadn’t seen in almost two decades as well as see the country I had been told so much about. One thing led to another and five months after I had unofficially moved to Ethiopia I found myself in an argument with an older colleague of mine about whether or not I was a “real” Ethiopian. He was under the impression that because I wasn’t an Ethiopian citizen, couldn’t speak the language and had been brought up in a foreign country I was less Ethiopian than him. My argument was that I was an Ethiopian because of my genetic make-up; additionally, there were eighty ethnic groups in Ethiopia and they all didn’t speak the same language nor were they brought up the same so how do I differ? We were in a small office with three or more people who chimed in and the consensus among them all was that I was indeed not an Ethiopian. I was American. While I was not happy with their judgment I knew that I didn’t agree with it. Their definition of an Ethiopian was different than mine so I’d have to leave it at that, but this time around I knew that my definition of who or what

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I am mattered more to me than theirs did. That same topic resurfaced again almost two years later in the same building, but in a different office with a friend of mine who was half Ethiopian and half Ivorian. He understood what it meant to have half of his background constantly overlooked because though he spoke the language and grew up in Ethiopia, his features were more Ivorian thereby making him a foreigner in his homeland. However, that didn’t really help me when making my case. He agreed with my former colleagues about my identity. During out argument he asked me how the headlines would read if I were to die in Ethiopia tomorrow. I hated to admit that he had a point. I would be referred to as the American because I was not a local and I carried a foreigner’s passport, but I would not agree that that made me less of an Ethiopian because the two were not mutually exclusive. I could be and am both since they are in two different categories. My nationality is American. My ethnicity is Ethiopian. My race (though there is no such thing as race in Ethiopia) is Black. As a Black person of Ethiopian descent, I consider myself an ally to all Black peoples from all over the world because though we are diverse we are grouped as one and treated as such. I recognize that our ethnicity doesn’t matter as much to others in the United States so much as our skin color and our racial identity. Our ethnicity is personal. It’s just for us and those like us. Our nationality is a privilege albeit a tough one to bear at times. Nationality is mainly paperwork in my opinion. You can be stripped of it. You can buy it. You can even forge it, but the cultural aspect of it is what sticks with you. I could give up my American status in lieu of an Ethiopian one or a Canadian one or some other country, but to deny the United States would be to deny a culture that formed me. People constantly inquire about what an American culture is. Well there is no one American culture. The Bay Area mannerisms, music, slang, and food differ than what you’d find in Los Angeles. Same goes for New Orleans and Charleston, New York City and Dallas. The list goes on. The term American encompasses all those cultures, peoples, and lifestyles. What I now know is that because there is no one way to be an American, a Black person, a woman or what have you, one must form their own identity that is truest to one’s self regardless of what is expected.

Section 5

CLASS AND CITIZENSHIP: AFRICAN AMERICAN AND AFRICAN MIGRANT EXPERIENCES IN SOUTH AFRICA

Chapter 14

On Being African . . . American Gabriel Peoples

I will use a combination of recollections (largely from South Africa), choreopoetry (developed in collaboration with Rodney Brown, MFA), and academic theory in this personal chapter where I navigate the setbacks and benefits of embodying a bi/multicultural identity I coin as African . . . American1. Portions of the choreopoem that I will share are reductions taken from a lengthy series of “I am from” poems that unfold in reverse chronological order up to the point that I am forming in the womb. They narrate the places and the spaces I have been as where I am from: this idea that everywhere I have touched has affected my origin, where I am and have been constitutes my belonging. This notion of origin complicates current xenophobia and discrimination based on nation state constructs like citizenship. Though not shared here, the setting of the final stanza (my mother’s womb) reflects a transnational sense of origin that a different type of solidarity and empathy can be built around, the female body we all come from. Selected stanzas from the poem function as meditations on the African Diaspora as an idea and a myth sandwiched between the peoples and throughout the land of South Africa. Diaspora becomes this thing that connects me as an African . . . American in the United States to Black South Africans, while still performing as this barrier that divides us. AFRICAN (RETURN?) . . . AMERICAN (DEPARTURE?) In 2003, I left a country (the United States) where I was a second-class citizen for one (South Africa) where, due to my American citizenship, I experienced an upgrade to first-class migrant. The last couple of hours out of the twentyfour-hour flight, a flight that was as psychically draining as it was physical, I watched an American biographical drama called Antwone Fisher. This 151

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movie chronicled the life of a Black American boy who was born to a teenage mother in prison, raised in the foster care-industrial complex where he experienced institutional and sexual violence, and concluded with him as an adult meeting his father’s (who was murdered before he was born) blood-relatives for the first time. As the landing gear unfolded on my flight’s plane, Fisher met his grandmother. I was in tears. One boy’s life became a metaphor for my African . . . American body: “To lose your mother was to be denied your kin, country, and identity. To lose your mother was to forget your past . . . I was an orphan” in the ellipses of time and water, culture, and geography between Africa and North America (Hartman 2007, 85). Diaspora is generally conceived of in one of two ways: 1) as a unified consciousness across distance of a real or imaginary connection with a common place of origin, operating in a coherent and cohesive way across a group of dispersed bodies despite the traumas of separation or 2) the hybridity, mobility, and ever-changing dialectic of dispersed people as that which connects them as a Diaspora (Chivallon 2002). In that moment, Fisher’s story brought to the surface the first notion of Africa as the continent, the motherland, from which it is possible I was separated from as an involuntary migrant. Antwone Fisher also evoked the second notion of Diaspora being birthed through movement and hybridity. Indeed, it conjured the painful loss of my mother two years earlier and the people who I gained as mothers, such as my father, teachers, and aunts, challenging gendered and biological notions of who can be a mother and how the role is more of a moving target than anything fixed. Perhaps the idea of motherland is as well. Indeed, the idea of Africa and the memory of it is not monolithic, but fluid, and dependent on where, when, and who or what in or of Africa is being thought of. In Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route writer and historian Sadiya Hartman explores the memories of the descendants of enslaved Africans as well as those Africans who condoned their enslavement and considers how categorically different they are. She writes, The story of slavery fabricated for African Americans [in the tourist industry of Ghana] had nothing to do with the present struggles of most Ghanaians. What each community made of slavery and how they understood it provided little ground for solidarity. African Americans wanted to regain their African patrimony and to escape racism in the United States. Ghanaians wanted an escape from the impoverishment of the present, and the road to freedom, which they most often imagined, was migration to the United States. African Americans entertained fantasies of return and Ghanaians of departure. From where we each were standing, we did not see the same past, nor did we share a common vision of the Promised Land. The ghost of slavery was being conjured to very different ends. (Hartman 2007)

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While Hartman is speaking of the tensions she experienced between herself, in being an African American tourist in Ghana, and Ghanaians encountering and entertaining or debating her (assumed) thoughts on and memories of that place, I felt a similar haunting in South Africa: a land that experienced its own form of colonizing First Nations people (Khoikhoi) and enslavement (of imported Indians, Mozambicans, and Sri Lankans among others) uninvolved in the direct traumas of the triangular trade of the Americas (Thompson 2014). The discourses of these histories whisper in the air as I’m called “brother,” sometimes by vendors in the Essenwood Flea Market in Durban or random strangers on the streets of Soweto (short for Southwestern Townships or as I later found out “So where to?”), or then-named Johannesburg International airport. There seemed to be an acute awareness of my African . . . American, or at the very least Black, maleness, and/or Diasporic homelessness. Whether it was my caramel skin tone, overly confident walk, slightly baggy clothes (it was 2003 after all), or that I was a stranger, people knew I was a “brother.” This term also affirmed the inextricability of my gender from my race: being male and proximal to the Blackness of those calling me brother. I was familiar, but whether it was as a fellow Black person, foreign African . . . American, or a combination of both I could not always tell. While on my way to pick up my luggage at Johannesburg’s International Airport, I was greeted by two men who told me I had a nice hat that one of them seriously wanted. They were talking to me as if they had known me previously; it gave me a warm feeling about South Africa upon arrival. The same I-knew-you-before attitude occurred throughout Soweto, even from the hustlers. Dancer (Rodney Brown) thrusts arm in front of the performer (Gabriel Peoples), balls fist, and performer and dancer fist bump. The momentum of the fist bump pushes them away from each other as if to say what ties us together as a Diaspora also pushes us apart. Dancer recites quote: I’m called brother by strangers “Because you are my brother I will set up a plan for you when you get back with your group” Brother haunts me As a constant reminder Of the privilege of mobility And that I was here once Performer steps in front of dancer while widening his arms, readying to say something more important.

I’m called brother back at home too. It’s very similar for the ways in which this fictive kinship is used to create a sort of false bond between strangers.

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One stranger, however, ends up using it to push an agenda upon the other. Being from the North American city of Detroit, Michigan, I’m very used to this kind of encounter. Thus, encountering it here creates a type of familiarity, but also strange unease. Being of a people, and at the very least of a politics, dislocated from homelands that were created anew, encountering the endearment, “brother,” here reopens a Diasporic wound that makes vulnerable the void between the “African” part of my bi/ multi-cultural African . . . American identity. “Brother” also makes visible the privilege in the “American” part of my African . . . American identity, which I do not fully experience until I leave the country. It reopens conversations around ethnicity, moreover race, as a social construct and ontology. The ellipses explain far more about my (dis) connection with both Africa and North America than either geography does on their own or in combination. What happens when one, like me, does not belong to an ethnic group with a distinct homeland, yet, what I do have is referred to as a social construct. In terms of the historic nation-state and the figurative sense of the words of the iconic Mbube group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, many African . . . Americans, like me, are, in the words of Paul Simon and the Ladysmith Black Mambazo, in their song “Homeless,” from their 1986 album, Graceland, “homeless, homeless, moonlight sleeping on a midnight lake.” Contending with the notion of homelessness, Cultural Studies scholar Paul Gilroy’s concept of the Black Atlantic might suggest that the ellipses I present in the concept/identity African . . . American becomes a new type of homeland or space that exists outside of the nation- state framework. Using the metaphor and technology of the slave ship, Gilroy envisions a supra/ transnational, traumatic (humans as commodities commodity exchange), and creolizing (cultural exchange) space of belonging that is in constant motion that too was between Africa and the Americas as well as Europe and the Caribbean. The late Chicana cultural, feminist, and queer theorist Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s use of bridges is also generative in thinking about this ellipses in African . . . American as a type of home. She writes, Bridges are thresholds to other realities, archetypal, primal symbols of shifting consciousness . . . . Bridges span liminal (threshold) spaces between worlds, spaces I call nepantla, a Nahuatl word meaning tierra entre medio . . . . Transformations occur in this in-between space, an unstable, unpredictable, precarious, always-in-transition space lacking clear boundaries . . . and living in this liminal zone means being in a constant state of displacement—an uncomfortable, even alarming feeling. Most of us dwell in nepantla so much of the time it’s become a sort of “home.” (Anzaldúa & Keating 2002, 1)

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Both what was lost and gained in that middle passage, in that laborious and traumatic break, between African . . . (and what is now) . . . American became a type of bridge and mobile home for me, whose roof was in continual need of repair and I was continually reminded of being under, and whose grounds I was continually reminded of standing on while they shifted. While having an emotional Diasporic return to Africa, I experienced a simultaneous reminder that the racism of America that relegates me to a second-classed citizen in my birthcountry still had its constraining hold on my body. AFRICAN (ENDEARMENT) . . . AMERICAN (DENIGRATION) While being called “brother” gave me a peculiar belonging and sense of familiarity, my historic displacement from the continent of Africa was compounded by another phrase I encountered while in South Africa. Depending on the group, we would have different things we would gift people who we taught the HIV prevention module to.2 One day at Cato Crest Primary School, I went to retrieve some Yiba Nothando (Zulu for “have love”) buttons from another classroom for a group of 8–11 year olds. I left that classroom to another one where Sarah, a White American woman who also taught, was going to briefly introduce me to her students. Just before she could introduce me, the entire class resoundingly and joyously greeted me with, “What’s up my nigga!” Three times! Off of students’ tongues easy like Yebo What’s up my nigga!” The endearment rolled Off of students’ tongues easy like Yebo Performer, dancer, and extras (unless White) all say,” What’s up my nigga!

If anything spoke to the need for African American Studies in South Africa, it was that. Had I experienced a Fanonian moment? Taking up Du Bois’ sense expressed in double-consciousness of “always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others,” Postcolonial scholar and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon deals with what one sees and imagines when stepping out of one’s self to define one’s self, seeing one’s identity through the eyes of the other, and, in particular, experiencing existence through the eyes of a White child while on the bus in the French colony of Martinique. Except for me there were no White, but instead Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele, and Swazi, children in a South Africa politically led by members of the virtually Black African National Congress. Out of his most popular lines in Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon (1986) writes on the unspoken stigma that was grafted into his skin after a White boy publicly gestured, “Look, a Negro!” to him:

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My body was given back to me sprawled out, distorted, recolored, clad in mourning in that white winter day. The Negro is an animal, the Negro is bad, the Negro is mean, the Negro is ugly; look a nigger, it’s cold, the nigger is shivering . . . the little White boy throws himself into his mother’s arms: Mama, the nigger’s going to eat me up. (113)

The violence of being marked as a derogation of Black or what Fanon describes as being “battered down by tom-toms, cannibalism, intellectual deficiency, fetichism, racial defects, slave- ships, and . . . above all: ‘Sho’ good eatin’” emerges here (112). Fanon highlights the moment of “seeing” Black and how that public sighting informs our notions of fear, threat, and contamination. The stereotypes of, and pathologies associated with, Blackness are, for Fanon, inextricable from being marked as such. His description is a reminder of the ways in which Black performances of masculinity become rendered through visual and sonic technologies and given back to us as fragments, distorted Black bodies, and embedded with demeaning metaphors. In that moment, my description of my feelings would have read differently than Fanon’s: My body was joyously given back to me as if reinvigorated with meaning and stature. This meaning and stature had been grafted onto my body by me, an African . . . American, and those unlike me. My body was narrowly reduced to a global sign of its rich currency and simultaneous valuelessness. The nigga is (un)familiar and (mis)understood, the nigga is cool, the nigga is an aspirational identity, the nigga is inspiring, the nigga is beautiful. Look, a nigga! Let’s greet him the way we’ve seen on television, the way we’ve heard in music, the way we address ourselves.

I was certainly more confused than offended as their greeting transformed into a Q & A about what music I listened to. They did not know of the rap artists Mos Def and Talib Kweli that I mentioned, but asked if I liked 50 Cent, Ashanti, or Ja Rule, how a dollar bill looked, what the age was to fly a plane, and whether the girl was really urinated on by R. Kelly. Is this what America meant to them: Commercial Hip Hop music, sex tapes, money, and mobility? While I did not respond to the “nigga” greeting beyond my surprised and confused look, I would later address the sentiment through the choreopoem I recited throughout my 2015 visit to Johannesburg and Durban, ZA. Lebo3 says to criticize That which you love (love love) “Love love love” is echoed by a small number of people, contrasting with “thied,” meaning hood. The larger group echoes “tied, tied, tied.” But I couldn’t

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Couldn’t tell the Cato Crest students How apartheid was Theid theid theid To nigga An idea to divide Our human pangea Based on biology, power, and fear

Indeed, I would use that moment now, not as an opportunity to constructively critique the children, but to think about the connections that word has to the perception of Black bodies in North America as primitive and savage in comparison to White bodies and the divisive effects of apartheid that placed a similar hierarchical value on racial groups. Importantly, I would add how it was being deployed now, by the same people it was meant to reduce, as a phrase that articulates racial belonging, common struggles, and homoracial/ social affection. Indeed, this is reminiscent of what Black Feminist historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (1992, 266–267) calls the metalanguage (or global sign) of race, in which distinguishing through race is used to maintain relations of power, but is also used to articulate cultural identity and heritage among those othered. The devaluing of Black South African and African . . . American bodies becomes a bridge between us as well as something that ignites our ongoing struggles to be valued. AFRICAN . . . AMERICAN: THE CHASM THAT THEFT AND THRIVING CREATED My culture and body as an African . . . American unfortunately too often only gains value when it becomes iconic,4 and regardless, it remains illegible to those who do not embody it. I encounter a wall, a barrier of understanding, between those like me who live in a break and those who do not or refuse to acknowledge that they too live in an incoherent space between coherent homes that they refer to as their cultural identity. This wall allows us to look at the same facts and arrive at different conclusions (or truths). In the summer of 2017, I was in Italy for a short period. During this time, my friend (who is Colombian and African American) and I were met by our Italian Airbnb host at a restaurant in Varenna where one of these walls were erected. When we were ready to leave, she noticed how I did not speak much but was following what she and my friend were discussing in Spanish. Afterward, she asked me a presumptive question in English, “are you South American?” I was perplexed, but given the context, I guess the presumption could make sense. Yet, why not ask where I’m from. “No,” I responded. “I’m African American.” “That’s odd,” she quipped in return while walking away.

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My friend asked me later, “did you notice how she thought it strange that you identified as African American?” I certainly noticed, but not every moment is a teachable one, so at the time I left it alone. Nonetheless, I decided to follow-up with her as I was also uncomfortable with the term that was at the very least popularized by Jesse Jackson 1988 and often assumed to reference the men of that race when used without appending “women” to it (The JBHE Foundation, Inc 1997, 12). I sent her a WhatsApp message after I left, in which I asked her to clarify why she felt African American was so “odd” to use. She responded by asking me what I knew of Africa. Then she gave me a British anecdote. To paraphrase, British people came to America centuries ago, do they identify as British American? Besides maligning united countries, the United Kingdom, then the Kingdom of Scotland or England, with a continent, “Africa,” or acknowledging the differences between voluntary and involuntary migration, she submits many of the concerns that the term African . . . American attempts to bring to the vanguard. What do I really know of Africa, its stories, cultures, people, and politics to lay any claim to it. Indeed, what does “African” mean when an Afrikaner I encountered in Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park claimed that he is more African than I am. How can I lay claim to a country that historically belonged to First Nations people and renders everyone else as essentially immigrants or involuntary migrants. Yet, the host also misses the necessity of approximating entire continents, which comes from the records lost and destroyed and the trauma experienced by African . . . Americans by European settlers in North America who traded them as commodities. For similar reasons of African and African Diasporic theft, and understanding the break left in its wake, middle-aged African Americans in the middle and upper classes were the early adopters of costly genetic ancestry testing (Nelson 2017). This testing is yet another method, labeled as scientific, which involves meaning-making work that scholars and artists have long employed to bridge the chasm that theft created in search of that which may never be known about African . . . American histories and cultures. There remain archives of written information, narratives, and song, for example, which have yet to be recovered about me as an African . . . American; yet, there also remains unwritten repertoires of thriving knowledge, which can only be re-membered through imagination, gesture, and life history: theories in the flesh,5 knowledge that African . . . American as a bi/ multicultural identity and concept intentionally leaves space for in its break with the legible.

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NOTES 1. This chapter also functions as a preliminary exploration of the concept and identity of African . . . American. 2. The central reason I was in South Africa was as a student, and later an alumni, of the Pedagogy of Action (POA) study abroad, founded by Dr. Nesha Z. Haniff. Our mission was to not only spread an accessible, yet substantial, way of learning about HIV prevention and addressing stigma around the virus, but to also change ourselves and gain perspective on the challenges we face and the privileges we wield for use as tools toward greater awareness of oppression and action against it. 3. Lebo Mashile is a South African writer and actor. 4. Nicole Fleetwood (2011) discusses iconicity as, “[T]he ways in which singular images or signs come to represent a whole host of historical occurrences and processes” (2). 5. According to Hurtado (2003), theory in the flesh emerges, “where the physical realities of our lives—our skin color, the land or concrete we grew up on, our sexual longings—all fuse to create a politic born out of necessity” (220).

Chapter 15

Cultural Diversity, Culturally Fluid Experiences of a Ugandan, South African Sayuni Brown

I was born in a village in The West Nile region, Uganda. We are Nilotics and hail from the Source of The Blue Nile. Arua is the name of my home. Maracha is where my grandfather’s people are from. I’m Black, then a woman, then African, then Ugandan. I am Ugandan, South African. It has become standard to understand people and their differences before I address them. I understand the different cultures so well that I am able to project the correct cultural norms when dealing with each cultural group. In this method of understanding cultural differences and norms, I am able to position myself in each diverse group and form an identity for myself. I do not have dual identities or move between them, I am complete with different cultures and understandings. I could advise people that I am in fact, culturally fluid. If I could perhaps speak my mother tongue, I would confidently say I have two identities and can move in between them. So how do I deal with names like kwere-kwere? When I recently looked into the dictionary and saw the word kwere-kwere, it actually hurt, deeply. After all these years. Painful memories filled my mind in that moment. There is no justification for Black South Africans to call us by an insult that they made up out of hatred and misunderstanding. Sometimes I want to ask my peers if they even knew first-hand what it was like in the struggle? I want to ask them if they know about their exiled brothers and sisters who happily lived in other African countries. These South Africans, are very privileged to be in their country. So, as quickly as the pain settles in, the bells of rejection ring through my eyes in tears. Letting go of pain is important, which I have only come to understand as an adult. I think of all the others who have had nobody to confide in. Now, I identify more with those who have good hearts and minds. Other aesthetic charms do not matter. 161

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FAMILY, POLITICS, AND TRANSITION At the time, the transition from one political party to the next and recovering from war was making life for people almost impossible and the situation, for most West Nile inhabitants, was totally out of control. After Amin left, there were three presidents that temporarily came in while waiting for the official national elections. (President) Yoweri Museveni’s (then, a Freedom Fighter) soldiers highjacked an Airplane on which my father, who was traveling back home to Arua, had boarded at Entebbe Airport. He was then detained in the Toro District, in the West of Uganda, where they stayed under terrible conditions. He, my Father, single handedly delivered a woman in labor who delivered twins. This woman named her children, Museveni and Amin. After negotiations, the entire group of people were released and brought back home by the Red Cross Organization. Three years after this incident, my parents decided to further their studies and were sponsored by a German Relief Organization. The whole family (father, mother, myself, and my younger brother) relocated to London. I was, then three years old, moving into a new country, new culture, and strange language. I remember nothing of that initial experience! I started preprimary at a nearby school. Living in Highbury (Near the famous Arsenal home stadium), (which had later become my favorite soccer team). One of the few experiences I remember is of my father, taking me on his bicycle to school. He would drop me off and continue to the train station, where he would commute to University. During this time, skin color was the last thing on my mind. I have vague memories of always being indoors or snowed in and looking forward to sunshine. I remember making friends with a young girl in school because we had the same winter coat. There were no color, or complexion issues, we all understood that our parents were not here (primary school) and this is where we would learn. No class issues or even basic accent issues. We were all one, we were all dumped here to listen and learn. There was a small Ugandan community in England at that time. Most Ugandans there were traveling to and from Uganda for studies and/or work. I never understood anything about life then. Only that English became my mother tongue. My parents, who were both from different regions in Uganda, would communicate using English.

BACK TO THE MOTHERLAND When my parents completed their studies in England, we moved back to Africa. We had applied for visas to South Africa, but because it was during

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the apartheid era, so, during the “screening process” we waited in Harare, Zimbabwe, this was in 1988. This was before the fall of the apartheid government and the election of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. South Africa was beautiful. Summer seemed to be all year round. There were open plains and vast areas of mountainous stretches of land. Not once did the thoughts or words of Uganda and England come to mind. I understood that perhaps my parents did not want to communicate about the war they left behind. I also understand that if they had a choice, they would not have left Uganda in the way or at the time that they did. So this became our new life, our new home in the former Bantu Homeland, known as Transkei Mthatha, Capital of Transkei. Pre-1994, in Mthatha, Transkei, now the Eastern Cape Province, apartheid was still very fresh within South Africa. This move was the beginning of all things new. We moved into then Transkei, which was separate from The Republic of South Africa, but very much part of the Apartheid era. This is the area where the Xhosa lived. Many prominent families like those of former president Nelson Mandela, Honourable Bantu Holomisa, Royal families Ndamase, Sigcawu, and Matanzima hail from this area. There were many other Ugandan families who had already moved to the area for work purposes. The Ugandans formed a small community. Families from different ethnic groups of Uganda joined together in a new country, all escaping the Amin regime. War was very traumatizing, even apartheid has no comparison. The Ugandan community understood that they were in South Africa for work purposes. We tried not to interfere with what was going on among the South Africans themselves. Many of the Xhosa were very skeptical about new Blacks coming into their country. Whereas, at home, I felt I belonged. I was rejected by Black South Africans for being too dark skinned and speaking English. Comments like “She’s a Ghana, from Africa,” were often used by Black South Africans to describe other Africans were common Because there were many Ghanaians who had also moved to the Transkei, so we all fell under one group and were often called Ghanaians. We were all dark skinned and all spoke English, or languages other than Xhosa. It became normal to steer clear of those who would judge me, and to embrace those who were either more curious, or understood my position. For the first time I understood what it meant to be different. All of a sudden, languages were different, people stared and whispered among each other about us. I knew in the first grade that I had a dark complexion. My nickname was “black mamba.” As a child, to be compared to a snake, was both a shock and hurtful. The emotions I felt then, I am now able to put in words. Though the questions are still difficult to answer: Why am I a snake? Is being Black bad? Who do I look like? Why do I look like this? Am I worthy of love and attention? Why do they hate me? Do I look like my parents? Why does

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everyone say I look like my father? Why don't I look like my mother? (My father has a dark complexion while my mother is light in complexion) Why is this a problem? Who am I? All I could do then was try and take it all in, one emotion at a time. It is never easy to try and decipher emotions as a child, there are no words to properly explain what kind of confusion and hurt you are feeling. I started developing an awareness about myself through others surrounding me. I started to realize that I was different, I also looked at all my friends differently. This started to become standard. I began to think there is such a thing as a perfect human, and that perfect human is not me. It was a special kind of hell going from pre-school, to primary, and then to high school as a kwere-kwere (foreigner). In the Transkei, we were also called Amaghana (the term used to describe foreigners from Africa, closely attached to the country name Ghana. As stated earlier, many Ghanaians had come to The Transkei for work, especially in the medical profession. At an early age I understood that I had real friends, and I had friends at school. I learned how to relate with both. There were family friends who were mostly from Uganda and other African countries. I saw all of these people as family. We were in the same struggle. Our parents did not speak to us in our mother tongue, we spoke in English. I learned how to speak Xhosa through friends, while Afrikaans was taught as a school subject. I later learned Sotho when we moved to the Free State Province. Having been in boarding school in the Eastern Cape, I became used to the way I was treated. When I arrived in the Free State Province, there was a difference. I had to become used to a slightly different way of life. Sothos often mixed their language with Afrikaans. Mixed race Sothos called themselves Coloureds. Many of them preferred Coloured to the term mixed race. Unlike in the Eastern Cape, where there seemed to be a dislike of Whites, in the Free State province there seemed to be a worship of Whites. For instance, in the Sotho dialect, there is a song of endearment sang to the bride leading up to her wedding day. “Jwang, jwang, jwang, le bone, mwana o tswana le kalade” Loosely translated means (Of wonders, she’s as beautiful as a coloured) . While many may have different opinions, these are my observations. Either way, there was more of an acceptance from the people in the Free State. People in the Free State accepted my complexion, and would often say that I was a “dark beauty.” The experience in the Free State helped me embrace myself more. During this time, I also understood more of myself and how to love myself, outside of the family home. I found myself opening up more and being able to openly discuss my differences. This is when I realised the struggle was different for different cultures. I learned a lot, in terms of relating with South Africans, while I was in the Free State. Realizing, Dealing, and Understanding Xenophobia: To be Hated by People Who Look Just Like You.

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I am an African, in South Africa. The depth of damage apartheid has done to the mental heart of this country is extensive, and African migrants are often the scapegoats for the country’s social and economic problems. Many South Africans do not see themselves as Africans, and when the country is facing problems, Africans from other countries are often thought to be the blame. Even though the country endured decades of apartheid, Whites were not seen as an immediate threat. They were not questioned to the extent at which some Freedom Fighters had been eliminated. Most of the questions and comments from Black South Africans include: Why don’t you go back to your country? Why are you here?, You people have come and stolen our jobs, You people have come here and taken our women!, Why don’t you speak your own language?, Why do you have such black skin?, It must be really hot where you are from, Are you from Africa? I have been in South Africa for over twenty-five years, but wherever I go I am asked where I am from. This question is often asked by other Blacks. Many of the Whites in South Africa see us all as Black, and it is only when I speak that they ask “Where are you from?.” I have found that certain whites are not as guarded towards the blacks from other parts of Africa, as they are towards black South Africans. I recall a time in high school when a girl did not want to date a boy because he was a kwere-kwere. In South Africa I am called both kaffir (by Whites) and kwere-kwere (by Blacks). When nobody relates with or what you do and who you are, you learn to become strong. Being strong, while understanding your position within a group, is important. It is hard being in a social group and wondering: Can I talk?, Does my opinion count?, Will they criticize my words?, Or frown at my accent?, How will I know if what I’m saying is culturally accepted? When I became strong and comfortable with myself, those questions no longer mattered. I was free to question and voice my opinion, while expecting any form of resistance. The terms kwere-kwere and kaffir no longer hurt, at the end of the day, those became just words to me. RELATING WITH OTHER UGANDANS WITHIN SOUTH AFRICA Most Ugandans in South Africa are from the larger Ugandan ethnic group, the Baganda. The ethnic group that I am from, the Lugbara, is smaller. My ethnic group is also often stigmatized because it is the same ethnic group that Idi Amin belonged to. Most of my closest family friends where from the same ethnic group. I found their attitude and way to life very liberal. Among the Lugbara, we do not use the words mother or father. We call each other by name. Everyone is seen as equal and understands their position. Disputes

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are settled in community meetings. Very similar to a court set up, there is the defendant and the accused, then there is the jury. People get up to talk. This meeting is usually held under a special tree in the community, and people are welcome to listen. Disputes are settled in this manner. It was very comfortable for me to be around the Lugbara, my father’s people. My mother’s ethnic group, the Banyakole, are a proud people. I recall my mother telling me stories of how her father refused to let her marry a man from another tribe He asked her why she did not find a man within her region. The Banyankole people looked at me and my siblings as “different.” The Ugandan children living in South Africa were all raised differently. I found that my parents were more liberal in their parenting. When I would visit other Ugandan homes, it felt very foreign. My friends often completely changed their demeanor in front of their parents, or their accent and way of talking completely changed. I saw that some of my Ugandan friends used bits and pieces of their mother tongue to relate with their parents. There were many different Ugandan traditions which I knew nothing about, that my friends were taught in their homes, by their parents. For example: Kneeling when greeting adults or serving food and beverages, and also greeting in your mother tongue. I knew none of that. It was extremely interesting to see. I would question my mother about these things once I would return home. (I would say to her, “Yuuh, Mommy, do you know that I saw (person) kneeling to greet the visitors! I can’t do that!” Then my mother would laugh and respond by cautioning me that when in Uganda, “we do as our people.” We as Ugandan children understood each other. Our world was/is rooted in technology, Western Media via Satellite television, Social media, and the education we have received in this country. We connect on a different platform having created our own identities. So, even when I would travel back to Uganda, I found that the only differences between myself and my cousins was the countries we grew up in. The war in Uganda forced many of my uncles and aunts out of the country. So, when the holidays come, we all meet up in Uganda. We are all one in mind with different accents, Ugandan, British, American, Canadian, and so on. It becomes the biggest and best reunion! There are euphoric feelings of seeing people who look like you, people who have similar behaviours to yourself. People who can relate and share the weird stories of growing pains with African parents in foreign lands. In those moments, the pain of being uprooted from my country almost vanish. If I had a choice I would have never left. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t want to leave the village. I would be able to speak both my father and mother’s languages. I would understand the history of the rich culture I have inherited through blood.

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Some of my family members who stayed in Uganda have what I often crave, they can relate to my people, speak to my people, understand my people. When I want to talk with someone, I need a translator, when I want to be taken as a Ugandan, I am seen as a tourist. My accent tells my people that, I am different from them. HOW HAS BEING BICULTURAL FRAMED WHAT IT MEANS TO BE AFRICAN IN SOUTH AFRICA? Often, in order for me to make friends, I have to set aside those “things” that they cannot understand and accept an almost shallow bond. The closest friends I have, who are South African, have been exposed to different African countries through travel, their parents, or other family members. Or, they are White or mixed-race. When I meet a foreigner on the streets, I often make it a point to greet them; this gives me a sense of pride. The biggest challenge, when realizing how different I was from everybody around me, was trying to accept myself in that realization, that we are different. I had to find ways of comforting myself. Learning and reading about people in similar dispositions. Reading about Rwanda, Somalia, Burundi, and the DRC; as well as about Patrice Lumumba, Idi Amin, D. F. Malan, Verwoud, Chinua Achebe, and about enslaved Africans in America on cotton plantations. I became thirsty to understand people going through struggles and it filled me with strength. I wanted to understand the people who orchestrated hate and deliberately dehumanized others. I knew that I was not alone and that this situation could have been worse. Once I found ways to deal with rejection and exclusion, I became selfassured, independent and what it meant to feel a part of something. I dealt with any criticism head on. I have no claim to anything besides being a Ugandan woman, who lives in South Africa as a citizen, but thinks like every person who has ever tried to discover themselves, lost on a beach looking out into the vast ocean, craving to know more, discover more and see more. HOW HAS ALL THIS IMPACTED MY ACTIVISM? There are many ways to be assertive in everyday life. The simple conversations I have with new people now involve selective issues about xenophobia and race, should the opportunity avail itself. Social media has become a tremendous vehicle for pushing a passion, and it also leaves one open to different global opinions. I see the world now, as one big village.

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I have chatted with Arab teachers going into refugee camps to teach English. We chat about the different stories that individuals have based on their experiences. I have learned about xenophobia among different Arab cultures. When discussing South Africa and its political position with African American citizens, we often find common ground. We often discuss being Black in America and being African in America, and how those two dynamics differ. When I hear people talking about me in an African language, in a public area, I usually respond in their language, as a way to alert them to the fact that, speaking your language in public about a person you assume has no knowledge based on their appearance is wrong. Fighting the fight in small ways as an individual is effective. Until they stop the xenophobic attacks against African migrants in South Africa; burning us with tyres (necklacing) torching our shops, and chasing us out of their country, it is A LUTA CONTINUA! Ignorance is not bliss. We are here to bring each other out of mental slavery, one word at a time.

Chapter 16

Migration, Language, Race, and Identity in South Africa Analyzing Congolese Diaspora Links Eugene M. Bope In migratory patterns, migrants leave their country of origin to settle in their country of destination as a new home. When relocating in their new home, it is a space filled with new languages and cultures. Therefore, migrants have to learn to accommodate their linguistic and cultural belongings to the host country. The focus on this essay is to examine the francophone migration from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) into South Africa. The Congolese migrants bring their languages and cultures in their new home where they have to acquire South African languages, in particular English, in their goal to improve their chances of success in the country. Also, different factors that contribute to changes in language functions, like languages maintenance and languages loss, will be examined. Being a Congolese migrant and a Black African in South Africa for twelve years, the chapter will be based on my personal descriptive approach relying on my experience in a multilingual new home (South Africa). The chapter aims to explore the following question: how the Congolese cultural background impacted on the changing patterns of migration for the maintenance and/or loss of Congolese languages in South Africa? To answer the above question, the essay has four main parts. The first part provides a historical overview of international migration in the changing patterns of migration and the diversity of migrants in South Africa. It also attempts to describe relations of Black African migrants among different groups and their relations with Black South Africans. The second part discusses the migration and its effects on the language repertoires of Congolese migrants in South Africa. The third part touches on the importance to retain a Congolese identity in South Africa. The fourth part analyzes the maintenance and the loss of Congolese languages in South Africa. 169

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MIGRATION TO SOUTH AFRICA: AN OVERVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND CONGOLESE INFLUX IN SOUTH AFRICA Since the end of the apartheid government and the beginning of democracy in 1994, there have been changes in the migratory patterns of South Africa (Adepoju, 2003). Migration management in the country faced rapid changes, and was subjected to radical transformations (Segatti, 2011). The changes in the post-apartheid migratory patterns made South Africa a major magnet on the African continent, attracting a large number of Black migrants from various countries (Adepoju, 2003). South Africa was reconnected to the world economy, which really had an influence on the international migration into the country (Crush, Williams & Peberdy, 2005). International migration is a process of persons leaving their country of origin or their habitual residences and moving to establish themselves permanently or temporarily in another country (IOM: 2011). It involves the crossing of national borders. During the period 1990–2000, South Africa became a major hub in SubSahara Africa for international migrants (Segatti, 2011). Also, the emergence of the country as the main economic hub in Sub-Sahara Africa opened new opportunities for international migration in a new democratic and non-racial South Africa, where hundreds of thousands of Black migrants from other countries came to South Africa. Furthermore, since the end of apartheid, the number of permits granted annually, particularly temporary residence, work, study, business, and tourism permits have been on the increase (Statistics South Africa, 2008). The Statistical release on permits further shows that between 1992 and 1999, the total temporary residence permit and visa holders went from 3 million to 9.9 million (Statistics South Africa, 2008). African migrants were also progressively granted with temporary residence permits and visas. During the 1990s, the number of permanent permits went from 1,400 to 4,000. By 2004 that number was even higher, and a total of 10,000 permanent permits were granted to a number of international migrants to reside in South Africa. The continuous economic and political instability in Africa during the 1990s also contributed to international migration into South Africa. The social-political instability and unrest in various African countries have increased migration flows of African refugees and asylum seekers, skilled and unskilled, documented and undocumented, migrants into South Africa. Compared with the rest of Africa, South Africa is an important destination country that offers better socioeconomic opportunities to many migrants from other countries. In South Africa, many international migrants find better educational opportunities with which to expand their opportunities for jobs. In addition, the stability of the democratic principles and human

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rights, including the respect of civil and political freedoms in South Africa, attract thousands of international migrants. In several African countries, there continue to be struggles for democratic reform. South Africa, in turn, gives opportunities to a large number of migrants to freely express their political opinions and to exercise their rights as political activists. South Africa also has advanced medical infrastructures, and offers better education opportunities that are accessible to international migrants. Those opportunities continue to increase international migration in South Africa. These push and pull factors for migration to South Africa from other African countries were also noted in the United Nations (2013) and United Nations for High Committee and Refugee (2014) reports when they stated that the trends and patterns of international migration in South Africa continued to increase due to the ease of access to social economic rights, medical facilities, and education opportunities. Moreover, continuous political instability in many countries such as the DRC, Zimbabwe, and the Horn strongly contributed to the increase of international migration in South Africa (Segatti, 2011). In prior studies of migration, Portes and De Wind (2004) discuss the “push” and “pull” factors that are driving the decision of migration. Similarly, Liang (2007) established the push-pull factors as the basis of the laws of migration. The push-pull, are the two factors that push migrants to leave their country of origin on one hand, and on the other hand that pull migrants to a country of destination. As a country of destination, in 2011, South Africa was among the first receiver countries for applications from asylum seekers around the world. Between 2012 and 2014, the number of asylum seekers had grown faster than that of refugees. The country dealt with 230,000 new asylum applications (UNHCR, 2014). Compared to that number, approximately 65,520 applicants had been recognized as refugees under the 1998 Refugees Act and were allowed to stay in the country in 2014 (UNHCR, 2014). When it comes to statistics for refugees in South Africa, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2014) indicates that the huge influx of refugees is mainly from four countries: Somalia, the DRC, Angola, and Ethiopia. In the past twenty-five years, multiple factors influenced the decision of the Congolese people to emigrate, including continuous political instability, social and economic deterioration, ethnic cleansing, and war. The Congolese migration flows to neighbouring countries, and to South Africa in particular, have increased due to continuous political instability in the country. The beginning of the Congolese transitional political system toward democracy announced by President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1990, created political instability and conflict in the country, leading to an increase in the number of Congolese refugees fleeing toward neighboring countries. The transitional

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political system contributed greatly to the social and economic deterioration of the country. In such conditions, and in the presence of political repression, Congolese migration has continued to increase. The persistent political unrest during the 1990s contributed to fast social and economic decline in the DRC, driving Congolese migration outflows, often to various African destinations. Between 1992 and 1993, ethnic tensions were developing in the Katanga province, during the President Mobutu Sese Seko regime. A devastating ethnic war erupted in the Katanga province between the Luba of Katanga and the Luba of Kasai, leading thousands of Congolese to flee the country. President Mobutu used the ethno-political divisions in the province to destabilize his greatest adversary Etienne Tshisekedi, a Luba of Kasai. He entered into an alliance with the then Katanga governor, Gabriel Kyungu Wa Kumwanza, a Luba of Katanga, to fight the Luba of Kasai, who were considered foreigners. Moreover, Gabriel Kyungu Wa Kumwanza encouraged the chasing out of the Luba of Kasai, to be replaced by autochthonous Katangese. As a result, more than 5,000 Luba of Kasai died in that conflict (Minority Rights Group). Following the expulsion of the Luba of Kasai in Katanga, many fled into neighboring countries, and several headed to South Africa. The violent ethnic massacre in the Katanga Province was a significant contributor of the Congolese migration flows to South Africa. It should also be noted that many of the Luba doctors and engineers from Kasai who were working for the Gecamines, a mining company in the South East of the Katanga Province, also migrated to South Africa to escape the ethnic cleansing. Following the 1998 second Congo war, the Rwandese and Ugandan rebellion in the eastern provinces of the DRC led to further forced migrations of Congolese fleeing as refugees, many into neighboring Tanzania, while more than one million were internally displaced in the DRC. Large numbers of Congolese refugees in Tanzania continued to migrate by travelling across Tanzania, through Malawi, to Mozambique, and into South Africa. Other Congolese refugees came to South Africa having travelled from Rwanda to Tanzania, through Malawi, Zambia, and then on to Zimbabwe. After requesting asylum permits at the South African border, a large number of the Congolese refugees and asylum seekers have ended up in poor areas of Johannesburg, especially in the region of Yeoville. Yeoville is also home to a large population of Black African migrants from Nigeria, Cameroon and Zimbabwe. Many of these migrants come to South Africa to reside temporarily or permanently. Post-apartheid migration patterns also led to significant movements of Black South Africans into the major cities. Many Black South Africans moved from rural areas to urban areas, often living in close proximity to migrants from other African countries.

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RELATIONS BETWEEN BLACK AFRICAN MIGRANTS AND BLACK SOUTH AFRICANS With the influx of African migrants and Black South Africans into the cities, the urban areas became overwhelmed, and this presented several challenges. An estimated eight million undocumented migrants were in the country by 1994 (Human Rights Watch, 1998). The numbers of Black African migrants in different cities of the country could be greater in comparison to the number of Black South Africans, who migrated from rural areas to municipalities (Landau, 2006). The presence of great numbers of foreigners, especially Black African migrants, in the country was perceived as a threat, by many Black South Africans, to their employment and socioeconomic opportunities (Landau, 2006). In the narrow job market, characterized by the high rates of unemployment among Black South Africans, some employers preferred to work with Black African migrants, who were willing to work for lower salaries. Black migrants coming from other African countries were often willing to work for lower wages, despite their qualifications and experiences (Crush and Williams, 2001). Therefore, there was a perception that when a Black migrant from another African country occupied a job position, it was equivalent to one less job for a Black South African (McConnell, 2009). Black African migrants are viewed in negative terms, which exposed them to an anti-immigrant sentiment in the country. As a result of the tensions, Black African migrants have been victims of xenophobia in South Africa. In fact, most xenophobic attacks in the country have been principally directed at Black African migrants. These attacks have included physical attacks, as well as the looting and destruction of businesses owned by Black migrants from other African countries. Black African migrants become targets of violence by Black South Africans who believe that they are fighting for their right to have access to the job market in the country (Webb, 1998; Oelofse and Gifford, 2001). The xenophobia attacks toward Black African migrants have negatively affected relations between Black African groups and Black South Africans in the country, creating a lack of cooperation and unity among the groups. Some Black South Africans have accused Black African migrants of stealing their jobs and have claimed that Black African migrants are undermining local businesses. Some Black South Africans assert that Black African migrants are the main causes of unemployment for Black South Africans (Neocosmos, 2006; Marcos, 2010). Some other Black South Africans also assert that foreigners, especially Black African migrants are a criminal threat to the country (Crush and Williams, 2003). Black African migrants are often accused of being responsible for organized crime networks, arms trade, human trafficking and others criminal acts. The negative attitudes toward

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Black African migrants have also been articulated by some South African political and community leaders. In public clinics and hospitals, and in state offices, Black African migrants often perceive that the negative treatment they may receive from state officials is due to their being non-South Africans. It is important to note that these perceptions are directed primarily toward Black migrants from other African countries, and not toward Black migrants from Europe or the United States. Black migrants and visitors from Western nations often report on an “upgrade” in their socioeconomic status (Glanton, 2006; Bailey, 2008). These migrants benefit from a class and citizenship privilege that is higher than that of many Black South Africans, while Black migrants from other African countries are assigned a class and citizenship status that is below that of many Black South Africans. A CONGOLESE IN SOUTH AFRICA In the recent years, political tensions influenced the decision of many Congolese to migrate. The abuse of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association led to detention and imprisonment, leading to an increase in the number of Congolese seeking to escape the violations of human rights in their country. Many Congolese come to South Africa as the country of asylum. The decision to migrate is based on two factors. First, migration is associated with several primary causes that “push” migrants to leave their countries of origin. Second, migration can be associated with several causes that pull or attract migrants to South Africa as their country of destination. For two decades, migration flows of African migrants to South Africa are characterized by push-pull factors. I decided to migrate to South Africa at the end of 2005, following the political and social instability situations in the DRC. During the period prior to the 2006 elections, the political situation of the country was tense. Many Congolese and political activists were threatened by security forces because of their political affiliations. Basic human rights were not protected and state security forces were implicated in many serious abuses. The repressions of civil liberties became a lifestyle of Congolese people, in particular those with political affiliations that were in opposition to the government. Civil and political rights were seriously affected, creating an environment of fear for political activists, many of whom were forced to flee the country for their safety. These are the conditions under which I fled the Congo. Contrary to other Congolese who had travelled across two or three countries to reach South Africa, I flew from my home town of Lubumbashi to Johannesburg, South Africa, arriving on a visitor visa permit. After traveling

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to Pretoria to the Department of Home Affairs for Refugees, I was issued with a temporary asylum seeker permit. The temporary asylum seeker permit gave me the right to “study” and “work” in South Africa. The process to the final decision for formal refugee status took three years. In January 2009, I was granted with a refugee status permit that is normally renewed every four years. The refugee status gives permit holders freedom of movement and other rights that South Africans are entitled to. During the time of extending my refugee status, I had never encountered any verbal abuse or humiliation from a Department of Home Affairs (DHA) official. However, I observed several times how others Black African migrants, especially Asylum seekers being poorly treated by DHA officials to show that they deserve poor treatment because they are foreigners. Also, I have seen in clinics and public hospitals Black African migrants being victims of discriminatory attitudes and receiving poor treatments from medical personals because they are foreigners. MIGRATION AND LANGUAGE The process of moving from one geographical space to settle permanently in another one impacts changes in the language functions of the migrants. According to Blommaert and Dong (2010), the migrations of people from one geographical space to another geographical space involve new encounters, as the newcomers meet and interact with the current occupants. Every time migrants move to a new place, they have to accommodate their cultures and languages to the new environment, where there are also cultures and languages. The new environment becomes a space where both migrants and local people harmonize the symbolic value of the home cultures and languages. For migrants the home cultures and languages have an impact in building their new identities. Additionally, local people often need to learn migrant languages, rearrange their language contacts and change language functions to adapt to the languages of migrants (Vigouroux, 2008). In addition, Bourdieu (1991) admits that there is pressure on a migrant to adapt to the new laws of the market when entering a new linguistic market. English is one of the main languages, which is frequently used in administration, education, politics, and daily life of people in South Africa. Moreover, English is spoken in many countries around the world making it a language of the world (Rubdy and Saraceni, 2006). As such, English is universally recognized as a preferred language of administration used in different international organizations and a communication language in international business (Nickerson, 2005). English looks to be a language of high status, which is used to ease communicate between people from different

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languages. Therefore, it is a language that imposes itself to the world (Rubdy and Saraceni, 2006). As a result, the spread of English has expanded in its sphere of expression (Schneider, 2014). When moving to another country as new home, migrants revaluate their language functions and cultural belongings to settle in their new home. The DRC is a country located in central Africa with a population estimated to be approximately 56 million people (Kabemba, 2001). The country consists of more than 250 ethnic groups. About 700 local languages and dialects are spoken in the DRC (Kabemba, 2001). The four national languages are: Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba, which are widely spoken in the country. Also, the constitution of the country (2006) stipulates in its first article of Section 1, Chapter 1 that “French is the official language of the DRC.” Therefore, French is a language frequently used in administration, education and politics as the government language. Article 1 of the constitution makes French the only official language of the country. Therefore, French is widely spread and has acquired national recognition as the preferred language of communication between speakers in the country. Moreover, people in the DRC consider French as an essential language to acquire because of its status as an international language. It is a language that offers opportunities in the francophone countries. Mufwene (2001) notes that whenever a population or group of people joins a new community, and that new community controls socioeconomic system, it is the newcomers who must adjust to the host language. Bourdieu (1991) notes that: languages are learned because of their symbolic power. Clearly, migrants chose a language because of its symbolic power and associate with the group speaking that language for potential social benefits. Giving this background, when Congolese migrants came to South Africa, some parents deliberately chose and invested in English for the success of their children in the academic system as well as the benefit of their integration in the country. They use English as their home language. This is because it is the main language of administration and education in South Africa. Also, they themselves adopted English in order to improve the English skills of their children. As a result, English becomes the preferred language spoken by children as well as the main language of interaction in families. English thus surpassed French and the other four national languages from the DRC in importance. French and the other four national languages lose their status as home languages are replaced with English. Despite the awareness of the importance of using French and/or the other four national languages as their home languages, many parents fail to transfer the Congolese languages to their children, with English being the language of communication between parents and children. Most parents speak French and/or one of the four languages when they speak to one another at home, but decide that their children

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should learn English. As a consequence, slowly, French and other four Congolese national languages are losing their linguistic values in South Africa, as parents have realized that while French has a status of an international language, that status is not supported in South Africa, their new home. English shifted from its use only in the academic environment, to surpass French by being the primary language spoken in the home of Congolese living in South Africa. On the other hand, some Congolese migrants view French as a useful language to be used when speaking with other francophone migrants or when in francophone countries. Despite the lack of the status of French in South Africa, other parents continue to speak French among fellow Congolese migrants. Because of its status as an international language, today French is spoken in the Congolese diaspora. Moreover, Congolese migrants use national languages, in particular Swahili, Tshiluba, and Lingala, when conversing with one another. As French is both a national language of the DRC and international language used in several francophone countries around the world, it is an imperative to use and maintain it in South Africa as a prominent home language. When I relocated to South Africa in January 2006, I came with French, Swahili, and Lingala. Upon arriving in South Africa, I came into contact with English and other South African languages in the country. As a new comer, I had to invest in English to better integrate myself into the country. First, I took my home languages of French, Swahili, and Lingala and accommodated them in my new home South Africa. Second, I started to build a new identity compatible with my new life in my new home. As English is the main language of education in South Africa, I acquired the language through the English school called the “papillon” in Rosettenville. The “papillon” was an extension of the Wits Language School that offered English classes to refugees in a Methodist church in Rosettenville. Rosettenville is an intermediate area of inner-city of Johannesburg situated in the south that is home for a large number of Black African migrants, especially from Cameroon, Nigeria, Burundi and the DRC. As English is frequently used in education in South Africa, I learned English to succeed at the university and get jobs opportunities in the country after my studies. Also, English helped me to integrate into South African society. As a migrant in South Africa, English becomes, in most cases, my first language to communicate with South Africans and other Anglophone migrants. But, when living in the country, I continue to use French, Swahili, and Lingala as home languages. When I had children, to raise them, I put my Congolese cultural background first. I privileged French and Swahili in my family. English and other South African languages are not used as much as French and Swahili in my home. French is an important and valuable language for me, and even though

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it is not supported in South Africa, I have decided to transfer my home languages to my children born in South Africa. French and Swahili are used in the family as home languages. My children communicate among themselves in English mixed with French. They use French when they speak to me, English to communicate with their South African friends, and French when they communicate with their Congolese and francophone friends. I continue to use French, Swahili and Lingala when I speak to fellow Congolese migrants in the diaspora. French is an important language as it is our official language in the DRC. For that reason, it continues to carry a status of an international language for francophone communities in South Africa. It is therefore the language I use to communicate with my fellow Congolese migrants and migrants from other francophone countries such as Cameroon, Côte d’ Ivoire and Gabon. It is important to note that migration is a driving force, which generally leads to the maintenance or shift of language functions. When arriving in South Africa, Congolese migrants move with their languages (French, Swahili, Lingala, and Tshiluba) and cultures to their new home (South Africa). They also have to accommodate and adjust their language functions and cultural belongings in South Africa where English is used frequently as the language of education, politics, and administration. South Africa becomes a place of acquisition of English for opportunities. Moreover, as South Africa is home to diverse cultures, it also becomes a place for building new identities. CULTURAL IDENTITY According to Coetzee-Van Rooy’s (2002) definition of cultural identity, there is a connection between language, ethnicity, and race. Therefore, culture is an important element to consider in a racial identity. As mentioned in the previous section, French is the official language in the DRC. It is frequently used as the language of education, administration and politics. Swahili, Lingala, Tshiluba, and Kikongo are the national languages which are widely spoken in the country. The Congolese culture has a link with the country’s official and national languages (French, Swahili, Lingala, Tshiluba, and Kikongo). As such, being in South Africa, the Congolese culture influences the choice between English, Zulu, Sotho, and Xhosa as South African languages. I am a Congolese from the DRC, a Black African and I am proud of my cultural identity. I was born and raised in Kolwezi, a mining city in the South west of the Katanga Province. I speak French, Swahili and Lingala that I learned in the DRC as part of my Congolese cultural identity. When I relocated to South Africa, I brought French, Swahili, Lingala and Congolese culture with me. In my new home South Africa, I found languages and cultures.

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When I continue to speak French, Swahili and Lingala as part of my repertoires to my fellow Congolese migrants in diaspora, I deliberately choose to retain my cultural identity in South Africa. It holds a symbolic power as an emblem of me being Congolese outside of the DRC. Also, the Congolese identity reminds me that I belong to the Congolese nation. In addition to that, as mentioned it before, in my family I speak French to my South African-born children. In doing so, it builds and strengthens their link to their Congolese cultural identity in South Africa. Also, when they use French to communicate with the Congolese community in South Africa, they retain the culture of their land of origin (DRC) in South Africa. This is very important in retaining a Congolese identity in South Africa. A loss in the ability to speak any Congolese languages, impacts the strength of a Congolese cultural identity. Maintaining that identity is important in any African country, where one’s ethnic identity can be more or as important as one’s national identity or citizenship. This includes South Africa, where ethnic identities are also an important aspect of one’s cultural identity. Maintaining Congolese ethnic identities are also important when confronted with ethnic and racial discrimination or attempts to stereotype or dehumanize African migrants in South Africa. It is important to maintain strong cultural identities that will allow both the integration into South African society, as well as an ability to maintain a sense of self-pride when faced within xenophobia in South Africa. Our children learn and improve their English skills at school, and they also learn Zulu, one of the most widely spoken languages in South Africa, especially in the cities. Additionally, Zulu shares some structural similarities with Swahili. Though some Congolese who migrate to South Africa do not transfer their language to their children, as a Congolese migrant in South Africa, I have seen the importance of retaining my Congolese cultural identity in the host country. While I transfer Congolese languages and culture to my children, I do not see myself as a South African. Building on this background, it is clear that speaking French, Swahili, and Lingala in the diaspora is a symbol of retaining a Congolese cultural identity. Even if Congolese languages have no use in South Africa, cultural identity has to be retained. Children have to have the knowledge of their homeland’s languages. Congolese languages are seen as an important element of belonging to the Congolese cultural identity. French, Swahili, and Lingala have to be perceived as valuable commodities compared to South African languages, such as English, Zulu, Sotho, and Xhosa. Through parents’ cultural background, Congolese languages need to be maintained despite the threat of its total disappearance among some Congolese migrants when their children reach primary schools. Children have to know French, Swahili, Lingala, Tshiluba, and Kikongo as a symbol of their cultural identity in the host country.

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As discussed above, it is clear that Congolese parents grew up speaking French, Swahili, Lingala, Tshiluba, and Kikongo. They learned those languages in the DRC as part of their Congolese cultural identity. When they relocated to South Africa, they came with their languages and cultures. In the host country, they acquired English. Most of Congolese children born in South Africa did not learn Congolese languages. Their parents speak to them in English. The perception is, there is no need to transfer Congolese cultural identity from parents to children. To retain the Congolese identity, parents have to ensure that they transfer the Congolese languages such as French, Swahili, Lingala, Tshiluba, and Kikongo to their children. This will help them to build their Congolese cultural identity in South Africa. MAINTENANCE OR LOSS OF CONGOLESE LANGUAGES Portes and Hao (1998) argue that different studies can be used to explain the maintenance of home languages when a migrant leaves the country of origin and settles in a new country. They conclude that when relocating to their new country, the first waves of migrants usually maintain their home languages. In the new home, migrants come with their languages. They also tend to learn the relevant languages of the host country, which they add on to their home country languages. They become multilingual in the host country. According to Kamwangamalu (2013) the maintenance of languages depends on the transfer of the cultural symbolic function to the next generation migrant linguistic group. Most often, the migrant children of a specific linguistic group acquires the parents’ languages as a symbol of their cultural identity; those children are likely to retain those languages. However, when the migrant children of a specific linguistic group do not continue to speak the language of their parents, and instead adopt the language of high status of the environment, it likely that they will lose the parents languages and replace them with the dominant languages of the host country. The assertion by Kamwangamalu are similarly noted by Fishman, (1965) when he states that the maintenance of languages usually happens when a language is spoken across different generations of linguistic groups, and that languages are lost when the offspring migrants’ linguistic group do not speak the parents languages and choses the language of the host environment. In the same line, Kasanga (2008) admits that parents’ language guidelines have an influence on the maintenance of home languages. As such, the maintenance and loss of the migrant languages depend on their attitudes. It is clear that the maintenance of Congolese languages in South Africa is challenging. On one hand, many Congolese parents maintain the

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Congolese languages because of their belonging to the homeland languages. Their link to the DRC confirms their cultural identity as Congolese migrants living in South Africa. On the other hand, the children of these migrants, especially those born and raised in South Africa, offer another idea. For many of them, the maintenance of Congolese languages is not necessary, as they do not use these languages to interact with friends and family. In most case, the maintenance or loss of the Congolese languages depend on the importance that parents give to the languages of their homeland while in South Africa. As a Congolese migrant in South Africa, I choose to maintain Congolese languages, especially French and Swahili, in my family. The two languages are a symbol of my Congolese cultural identity and my reminder of my belonging to the DRC as my nation, outside of South Africa. Through the use of Congolese languages in South Africa, I identify myself and my family as members of the Congolese diaspora, the Congolese community in South Africa. Even though children use South African languages, such as English, among themselves in the house as a mean of communication, I always transmit to them the Congolese languages to maintain the language’s symbolic power as their Congolese identity. Moreover, it has to be underlined that the maintenance of Congolese languages builds good relationships in the Congolese community. When as Congolese in diaspora, I use and maintain the Congolese languages in South Africa as prominent languages of interaction, those languages help me to fraternize and work together with other Congolese migrants in welfare and cultural union in the host country. CONCLUSION Migration is a driving force that leads to the maintenance and the loss of languages in many situations. When migrants leave their homeland and country of origin, they usually bring their languages and cultural identities with them to the host country. As the new space is not empty with languages and cultures, migrants adjust their language functions and cultures to fit into the host country. They invest in the host country languages to better their life. In South Africa, the Congolese migrants’ have both Congolese and South African languages as languages of symbolic power. In most case, Congolese parents maintain the Congolese languages learned back home as a symbol of their cultural identity and sense of belonging to their homeland. Moreover, children lose Congolese languages and adopt English as their home language in order to improve chances of success. Congolese languages brought into South Africa by parents are “dethroned” by English. This, results in the loss of the symbolic power of Congolese languages brought to South Africa.

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Congolese languages that can carry their status and use into the diaspora are more likely to survive and be maintained. As for me, to raise my children in South Africa, I will ensure to transfer French and Swahili to them. Those Congolese languages will continue to be maintained in my house because of their link to my cultural background and cultural identity as they remind me that I belong to the DRC.

Chapter 17

The Realities of the Diaspora Life in France and South Africa Tafadzwa Zvobgo

I must begin by asserting that living abroad is different for each individual. The experience involves a complex entwining of culture, race, class, and gender dynamics. I am currently living in Paris, France, and have been here since 2013. My encounters have informed my personality, way of thinking, and how I interact with other people. For instance, one of these encounters includes an enlightening conversation I had with an American friend. While walking and shopping along the Champs Elysee one winter night we began discussing our future plans. I asked her if she would like to go back and live in the States again. She said she was done with that and accepted her expat life and looked forward to the adventures that were to follow. When she was speaking it felt like the word expat just jumped out and punched me in my face. I immediately asked myself, why don’t I call myself an expatriate? Do we not meet the same criteria? We did. The main differences were our race and that I came from Africa and she did not. However, upon further reflection I realized why I do not identify myself as an expatriate. It is because the word just did not seem to accurately reflect who I was. I tend to identify myself with my nationality, Zimbabwean, rather than my ethnicity, Shona, or my race, Black. When meeting people for the first time, I am regularly asked why I speak French with an English accent. My first response is to inform them that I am not French and then I tell them where I come from. I am often confronted with a confused gaze to which I reply, “it’s in Africa and we speak English there.” This is followed by an inquiry into why we speak English there and not French as some French Black and White citizens believe (despite it not being the case), most African countries were former French colonies. As far as they are concerned the only Black Africans that decide to come and live in France are African Americans or those from Francophone Africa. As a result, in order to explain my bilingual 183

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proficiency, I am regularly forced to link my identity to my country’s colonial heritage. Identifying myself with my nationality has become synonymous with identifying myself with my colonial heritage. Every so often, these types of encounters give me the impression that those I am interacting with are trying to indirectly disclose that Francophone Africa belongs to France and Anglophone Africa to its former colonies. This often makes me feel like an outsider as if I don’t belong here because I come from a country that was not colonized by France. Yet I had never identified myself with my colonial heritage before coming here. Yes, I believe Zimbabwe’s colonisation and our war for Independence is an important part of my country’s history. But not once did I think that it would ever be relevant in my day to day life. Living in France has changed that for me. I am not the only African here and I have met quite a few Africans in Europe. However, I have had difficulties socially integrating within other African communities, both from Maghreb and Black Africa. Nevertheless, during our interactions, there was often an acceptance, understanding, and respect for African culture. This recognition and appreciation of our African culture, in a collective sense, was much more present than during my interactions with non-Africans. For instance, as a sign of respect, the use of epithets was the norm. What non-Africans would consider as small idiosyncrasies, were normal to us and there was no need to justify, explain or expound on the issues. We got one another and in France the remark that confirmed this was: vous connaissez comment on fait chez nous (you know how we do it at home). Chez nous (our home) was instinctively used to assert that we are part of the same family and from the same place, even though we originated from different countries and ethnic groups. Our cultural identity was fundamentally the same despite the fact that we were inherently different. Our “Africaness” linked us. These interactions often made me embrace my “Africaness” because my autochthonous cultural traditions and identity were acknowledged, esteemed, and valued. For most Black Zimbabweans living in the diaspora has a certain connotation whether it applies to you or not. It means you live overseas, as an economic migrant. You either used education, professional advancement, or political persecution as a way out of Zimbabwe. And if ever things do not go well, you are discriminated against or you find yourself overworked or underpaid, you are expected to hunker down and take it. The typical response is: “What can you do, unongo shingirira (you endure it)! You do what you have to do to survive, that’s the diaspora life for you.” This labeling has negatively influenced my activism. I often find myself questioning if an experience has crossed the threshold or not of “diaspora life” discrimination that should be tolerated and if I should act. And this has led me to condone a certain level of exploitation and discrimination either at work or university and, at times, has

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even led me to let those questionable racist or xenophobic phrases pass without calling them out. Because of this I often feel I have to do something and I find myself overcompensating during social gatherings or what the French refer to as “aperos” when discussing controversial issues with my Black and European friends. Most of my European friends have preconceived ideas about who I am, my background and my experiences. They assume that life was hard for me, I fought my way out of Africa and often insinuate that I basically suffered my whole life in Zimbabwe, believed my childhood was terrible and had gotten on a boat to come to France in search for a better life. I must acknowledge that others have had harder lives than my own and their commendable stories of courage and determination are worth noting. Nevertheless, I am not one of them. These preconceptions have inadvertently impacted the French academic world that I am currently in. Being a Black female immigrant academic I find myself having to work harder, to shout louder, march more or clap harder than anyone else out there just to be recognized as an equally capable intellectual as my expatriate or western colleagues. And dating? Well, that’s another complicated issue because I value the importance of lobola, which is a form of dowry or bride price paid by the husband to the wife’s family in most Southern African cultures. When deciding who to date I tend to subconsciously consider their propensity to accept the principal of lobola as a condition of our potential relationship. Does this mean that I am unnecessarily fastidious about whom I date? I don’t think so but at times I wonder does this make me too complicated to date? Some of my dating experiences with non-Africans seem to suggest so. Either way, over time, I have begrudgingly come to accept that it has become part of my selection criterion. I am more willing to date someone who accepts the notion of lobola than someone who is not. My dating experience in South Africa was different. There I unintentionally only dated Zimbabweans. I just happened to always end up with Zimbabweans. For some reason I felt more of a rapport with them than other nationalities living in South Africa. It was just easier. Questions over their acceptance of lobola never came up because they, like me, knew what it signified and understood its importance. But so did other Southern African nationalities. So why did I find myself drawn to Zimbabweans? Possibly because of the isolation that exists in South Africa. Ironically, there is a certain level of segregation which exists in the country. During my time in France, I know I am Black but I never felt Black. On the other hand in South Africa, I knew I was Black and I felt it. By feeling Black I mean feeling disadvantaged, ostracized, ridiculed, invisibilized, and not valued. Living in South Africa was unique for me. It was beautiful, dynamic, trendy, and yet the underlying currents of its beauty were, at times, unseemly

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on account of the inequality, disconnection and division among the people and intolerance towards Black Africans. I felt that Black Africans were often catergorized according to discriminatory undertones linked to their nationality. A Black African was either seen as a criminal of some kind: a thief, prostitute, drug dealer, money launderer, human trafficker, or as taking Black South Africans employment opportunities. For some obscure reason, White Africans were excluded from this category. On top of this, xenophobic attacks against Black Africans were on the rise. Why were my fellow Black brothers and sisters prejudiced toward me? Was it because of my nationality, my gender, or the shade of my Blackness (a large number of South African woman are light skinned or “yellow boned”)? I struggled to understand this dynamic. As a result, as a Black woman from Zimbabwe, I felt the need to deny my native cultural identity altogether to fit in. This is because the realities of xenophobia and the violence and discrimination associated with it meant that embracing and revealing my Zimbabwean cultural identity among South Africans was not a possibility. Only when I spoke about my travels, life, and educational background did people change their disposition toward me, I was no longer that Zimbabwean girl that was escaping poverty and taking their jobs but an educated traveler who planned to leave. Living in a country that is not your own is never easy in terms of culture negotiation, identity construction, and maintenance. Many people question your presence and are even threatened by it. Before moving to South Africa I assumed that being an immigrant within Africa and especially South Africa, our neighbour, meant that I would be accepted and welcomed. I assumed that living in Europe, for example, would be more difficult because I am aware there is racism, there is inequality, there is oppression. However, I found that those in Europe I assumed would see my Blackness and make me feel it, did not. The people I viewed as brethren made me feel worse. I must say that my experience in South Africa has not been as bad as others. Those that “look” Zimbabwean, those that “sound” Zimbabwean, those that “smell” Zimbabwean and those that live in Gugulethu as opposed to those that live in Rondebosch, Cape Town, have it worse. One’s appearance, class, gender, race, or shade of Blackness inform the experience you will have in someone else’s country. As a person that has lived in different spaces within the diaspora, I must say that I never felt Blacker than I did in South Africa. This may be due to the crowd I kept, they are what you call “woke,” our conversations were filled with arguments about great African liberators, racial inequality, and what identity means in South Africa. It seems that in the space I occupied race, class and gender tend to be the only conversational topics, this intensified by the reality that I studied at the University of Cape Town (UCT), a hub of racial, and gender-based activism. You begin to question who you are, who you want to be and how the world views you. Nevertheless the fact remains,

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when you are an immigrant you never forget you are an immigrant. Understanding, growing, and keeping one’s identity within this immigrant status especially in a hostile environment becomes difficult. At times it becomes easier to abandon your own cultural identity and assimilate to the culture in the space in which you occupy. To remain Zimbabwean is somewhat a doomed exercise. My experiences in the diaspora, particularly in South Africa and France, have informed my personality. My identity has become multifaceted. I concede that I have internalized my native cultural identity and adopted a blended form of an African Francophone, Anglophone, and European cultural disposition. I cannot escape my Anglophone disposition because of being raised in an environment where it dominated. Likewise, my native Shona culture was an integral part of my upbringing. I relate with it, I try to embrace it whenever possible and I am proud of it. But I find that I have also adopted, whether involuntarily or voluntarily I do not know or wish to reflect on the reasons why, certain aspects of French and South African cultures. These characteristics tend to fully express themselves when I am in the corresponding environment. For instance my love for house music is suddenly accentuated when I visit South Africa and I find myself constantly using terms such as “wena,” “just now,” “ah no man!,” “lekker,” or “eish!.” Moreover, I have a propensity to revert to my cautious nature, of not publicly expressing traits that will reveal my origin, for fear of being labelled as an unwanted Black foreigner. Ironically, it is when I am in Zimbabwe that I struggle to revert to my “original identity.” When asked by other Zimbabweans where I live, I naturally reply “I live in the diaspora” and they immediately know who I am, an economic migrant living abroad. Paradoxically, when I am in Zimbabwe I struggle to label or identify myself because of my blended cultural identity. At times I ask myself, do I still belong? Living in different spaces changes you. The food, the music, the language, the dressing, the views of a certain space penetrate your mind and being until you are left constantly negotiating, analyzing, critiquing, and tweaking your identity. There is no beginning and end to one’s identity, it is forever transforming. One’s identity is constantly being informed.

Section 6

TWO INTERSECTING DIASPORAS: CARIBBEAN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES IN AMERICA

Chapter 18

Migration, Immigration, and Gender Afro-Caribbean Experiences from a Bicultural Socialization Perspective Shelvia English, Dayne Hutchinson, and Kat J. Stephens Black immigrants have migrated to the United States in large numbers since 1965. This mass migration of Black immigrants to the United States contributes to the changing demographics within the Black population and the meaning of Blackness in the United States (Benson, 2006; George Mwangi, 2014). Afro-Caribbeans in particular, comprise almost half of the 4.2 million Black immigrants in the United States (Anderson & López, 2018). With the increasing diversification of the United States, particularly with regard to the heterogeneity within the Black community, it is important to consider the racial and ethnic identities and potential differences related to gender and gender norms of Afro-Caribbeans. Gender influences the migration of people, yet has been understudied and underrepresented in the migration literature over the years (Bauer & Thompson, 2004; Curran, Shafer, Donato, & Garip, 2006; Pessar & Mahler, 2003; Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006). The small body of research on gender and migration typically focuses on the gender binary of men and women (Pessar & Mahler, 2003). Pessar and Mahler (2003) argue that gender and gender identity are fluid and are a socialization process; therefore, scholars should not overlook gendered transnational experiences. Suárez-Orozco and Qin (2006) further emphasize the importance of considering gender when conducting migration research because of the hidden differences across gender in the lives of people, especially in their work and family life. For example, when considering the migration trends of Afro-Caribbeans, Foner (2009) asserts that within the last few years, West Indian women have dominated migration from the Caribbean to the United States. Yet, there is little understanding of the disproportionately higher rates of women migrants, what their experiences are like, and how gender intersects with other identities such 191

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as race, ethnicity, nationality, and socioeconomic status (Mahler & Pessar, 2001) for Afro-Caribbeans. This chapter is a review of the literature regarding Afro-Caribeans immigration experiences in the United States and how they negotiate their multiple identities (e.g., race, ethnicity, nationality, generation) when gender and cultural norms are called into question. The review of literature primarily focused on first-generation Afro-Caribbeans; however, we draw on some research on second-generation Afro-Caribbeans to further inform how they navigate their identities, and the comparison of these processes for both groups. First-generation immigrants refer to those who migrated to the United States, and second-generation are those born in the United States to at least one foreign-born parent (Rumabut, 1994). The term Afro-Caribbean in the immigration literature centers primarily on English-speaking countries in the Caribbean such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Guyana. Some studies reviewed may also include other countries that are non-English speaking, such as Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. We begin this chapter with an overview of bicultural socialization. This framework serves as the context through which to understand the literature. Then, we highlight some of the major themes that emerged from our review of the literature. Next, is a discussion of the themes through the lens of bicultural socialization and how this perspective can further inform an understanding of Afro-Caribbeans generally, and their identity negotiations specifically. We conclude this chapter by offering implications for future research. BICULTURAL SOCIALIZATION Across the bodies of literature on immigration in the United States, many scholars explored how immigrants adapted to their host society. Of particular interest, is how immigrants come to understand, adopt, and ascribe particular US norms as a part of their integration process (Alba & Nee, 1997). From the immigration literature, scholars developed several cultural theories and models related to assimilation, acculturation, integration, alteration, and multiculturalism (Alba & Nee, 1997; Berry, 1997: de Anda, 1984; LaFromboise, Coleman, & Gerton, 1993; Valentine, 1971). These models are interrelated in that they attempt to explain how and why immigrants and their children abandon or hold onto their ethnicity and cultural norms from their home country as they attempt to achieve economic and social integration in the United States (see LaFromboise et al., 1993). While these theoretical perspectives are helpful in understanding social and economic incorporation of immigrants, there is less of an understanding about the impact that immigration and subsequent integration have on immigrants’ identities, especially their

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racial, ethnic, and cultural identities. Cultural identities refer to the collective practices employed to reinforce the norms of one’s ethnic background and is a culmination of “one’s true self” (Hall, 1989, p. 69). One cultural model derived from the fields of sociology and psychology is bicultural socialization (de Anda, 1984), which is also referred to as biculturalism (LaFromboise et al., 1993) or bicultural identity (Benet-Martínez, Leu, Lee, & Morris, 2002). Bicultural socialization is the degree to which an individual negotiates or integrates two cultures as a part of his/her sense of self (de Anda, 1984; LaFromboise et al., 1993). Many immigrants encounter a dual socialization process as a result of being socialized in their homeland and transitioning to the host country. The point at which bicultural socialization occurs is when an individual encounters social norms and social identity constructs that are different from or in contrast to the norms and identities of their homeland (Benet-Martínez & Haritatos, 2005; LaFromboise et al., 1993). Consequently, immigrants often negotiate competing cultural norms and decide on the ways in which they choose to adjust to or resist the cultural norms in order to present an integrated sense of self (Benet-Martínez & Haritatos, 2005). An early development and application of bicultural socialization is evident within Valentine’s (1971) work. Valentine conducted a study on Afro-Americans, and his work challenged other deficit-perspective cultural models of its time. Valentine advanced the idea that Afro-Americans are an ethnically and culturally diverse group due to regional, economic, and native differences. Because of these intragroup differences, the author argues Afro-Americans are bicultural in that they must learn and adopt behaviors from both their culture and the culture of the mainstream (Euro-American culture). Even as many Afro-Americans try to navigate these dual social systems, they cannot escape the pervasiveness of mainstream culture due to enculturation through mass media, school, and other social institutions. de Anda (1984) also draws on Valentine’s work in which she identified six factors that likely contribute to an individual becoming bicultural, which are: (1) extent to which the two cultures (norms, values, attitudes) overlap, (2) presence of individuals who pass on the culture (“cultural translators, mediators, models” p. 102), (3) scope of feedback about attempts of reproducing social norms, (4) problem-solving approaches of minority group and their connection with the values of the majority culture, (5) extent to which individual is bilingual, and (6) degree of differences in physical appearance such as skin color, physical features, and so on. de Anda argues that bicultural socialization theory “holds the most promise” for exploring how an individual determines their behaviors, to varying degrees, within two cultures (p.101). Therefore, one’s ethnic culture and the culture of the majority are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but can coexist based on the degree to

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which an individual integrates aspects of both cultures into their lives (BenetMartínez & Haritatos, 2005; Benet-Martínez et al., 2002; de Anda, 1984; Valentine, 1971). Benet-Martínez, Leu, Lee, and Morris (2002) extend previous work on bicultural socialization to more closely examine the shifting that occurs based on the perceived compatibility between two “cultural orientations” (p. 496). They term this cultural shifting, bicultural identity integration (BII). In their study of Chinese Americans, they found that individual differences in bicultural identity affect how cultural knowledge is used to interpret social events. Additionally, Chinese Americans have separate American and Chinese cultural frameworks, which inform their behaviors and are “activated by situational cues” (p. 509). An individual switches between cultural frames in response to external cues. One may choose to behave in a certain way depending upon the cultural cues or respond in opposition to the cultural cues (Benet-Martínez et al., 2002). Identification with one or both cultures is context dependent (Benet-Martínez & Haritatos, 2005; Benet-Martínez et al., 2002). The process of individuals responding to internal and external cultural stimuli is a reflection of BII as more of a continuum rather than polarities of identification. Bicultural socialization was selected for this review for its utility in examining group phenomena as well as individuals’ processes for navigating identity (LaFromboise et al., 1993). LaFromboise, Coleman, and Gerton (1993) note that bicultural socialization helps an individual to develop competence in more than one culture. The authors identified several components involved in the process of bicultural socialization including: “contact with culture of origin, loyalty to origin culture, involvement with origin culture, acceptance by members of origin culture, contact with second/majority culture, affiliation with the majority culture, and acceptance by members of the majority culture” (LaFromboise et al., 1993, p. 402). Although some may experience internal and external conflict in navigating two cultures (Phinney & DevichNavaro, 1997; Valentine, 1971), there are also benefits of two cultures in that an individual can develop a positive sense of self and draw strength from both cultures (LaFromboise et al., 1993; Phinney & Devich-Navaro, 1997). The skills one can develop include: knowledge of cultural beliefs and values, positive attitude toward both groups, bicultural efficacy, communication competency, role repertoire, and groundedness (LaFromboise et al., 1993). Bicultural socialization of an individual is not simply shaped by the two cultures, but also the other identities the individual possesses, such as gender, religion, and sexual orientation (LaFromboise et al., 1993). This theoretical lens is useful in not only understanding how immigrants integrate into the United States, but also how they do this while navigating their multiple identities. Specifically, bicultural socialization allows us to consider the

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intersections of migration, gender and ethnic identity for Afro-Caribbeans in a US context. THEMES IN THE LITERATURE We focused our review on fifteen empirical studies to highlight the contributions of their findings in broadening the awareness of Afro-Caribbeans. Our review of the social sciences literature revealed two broad themes. Namely, ethnic and racial identity negotiations, and the impact of migration on the role of women and family structures. Some themes have subthemes, which points to some of the nuance around these topics. A few of the studies pointed to gender norms and experiences, but spoke more directly about women and girls, with little attention on men and boys. MAINTAINING AN ETHNIC IDENTITY Scholars have established the importance and fluidity of ethnic identity for Afro-Caribbeans (Benson, 2006; Jones & Erving, 2015; Malcolm & Mendoza, 2014; Waters, 1994). Jones and Erving (2015) posit that AfroCaribbean ethnic identities are complex and fluid and are negotiated based on context. Where Afro-Caribbeans are positioned geographically, the racial and ethnic makeup of the population, and how other people perceive them, are significant factors that shape their identity negotiation (Jones & Erving, 2015). Additionally, Jones and Erving (2015) suggest that peer groups, how Afro-Caribbeans’ interact with them, and exposure to discrimination impact how Afro-Caribbeans negotiate their identities. Malcolm & Mendoza (2014) conducted a qualitative study to better understand how Afro-Caribbean international students perceive the overgeneralized and homogenous idea of ethnicity, and how homogenous institutional factors shaped the identity development of Afro-Caribbean international students in the United States. They found that participants compartmentalized their ethnic identities based on Caribbean, international, and national origin. Their decision to compartmentalize was based on institutional contexts and groups, such as inside the classroom or when spending time with other international students. These findings assert that Afro-Caribbeans are able to separate their ethnic identities based on situational contexts and audiences, particularly when it might be most beneficial for them. There are also certain ways in which Afro-Caribbeans emphasize their ethnic identities. In some instances, Afro-Caribbeans place a significant amount of value on the maintenance of their language (dialects) and accents when

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negotiating their adaptation to their US environments (Malcolm & Mendoza, 2014). Wilson (2009) noted that Afro-Caribbeans practiced language code switching that was situation specific. In particular, listening and speaking skills were an important aspect of American integration for Afro-Caribbeans (Wilson, 2009). Participants in Wilson’s study expressed having to tone down and/or repress their ethnic accents in work and school spaces to avoid ridicule, otherness, and the stereotypes associated with immigrants not being “from here” or perceived to be incompetent. While language is still an important aspect of Afro-Caribbean ethnic identity, Wilson (2009) reported that Afro-Caribbeans would turn it on and off in school or work spaces as they deem necessary. Similarly, Bauer and Thompson (2004) noted differences in speech in their interviews with Jamaican men and women, in which the women were more likely to adjust and speak with less of an accent, whereas the men generally spoke patois. Another way in which Afro-Caribbeans and other Black immigrants hold onto their ethnic identity is through particular behaviors. For instance, AfroCaribbeans held on to motifs, which continued to tie them to their native countries. Specifically, they wanted to hold on to their sending country’s passport even after becoming naturalized citizens of the United States (Wilson, 2009). Giving up these motifs gave way to feelings of guilt associated with the idea of forgetting about their roots. Social distancing was another behavior of ethnic preservation (Benson, 2006; Jones & Erving, 2015). Generally, when they first arrive, Afro-Caribbeans may strongly identify nationally or ethnically and limit their social interactions with African Americans, based on negative stereotypes (Jones & Erving, 2015). Benson (2006) found that Black immigrants generally distanced themselves from native-born Blacks because of the perceived association with downward mobility. This social distancing technique, however, only lasts a short period of time, as Black immigrants are faced with racial discrimination in the United States (Benson, 2006; Fries-Britt, George Mwangi, & Peralta, 2014; Jones & Erving, 2015). Over time, they come to realize that their fate is intertwined with native-born Blacks and begin to identify with a racial consciousness (FriesBritt et al., 2014; Jones & Erving, 2015). An additional factor that contributes to the maintenance of ethnic identity is family. Family serves as one of the primary sources for formal socialization (Muruthi, Bermúdez, Bush, McCoy, & Stinson, (2016). Muruthi et al., (2016) conducted a study on Afro-Caribbean mothers in the United States and their child-rearing practices. The authors found that Afro-Caribbean mothers emphasize raising their children “the Caribbean way” by transmitting certain aspects about Caribbean culture and values (Muruthi, et al., 2016, p. 420). Muruthi and colleagues also found that participants expressed a certain level of fear that their children will become “too Americanized” (p. 423) or overly

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influenced by American norms and forget about their heritage and culture. This fear, unfortunately, is rooted in and further complicated by the negative stereotypes associated with African Americans in the United States. Also, this fear comes from the realization that Afro-Caribbeans could face racial discrimination and be stigmatized by their racial identity. UNDERSTANDING RACE AND ADOPTING A RACIAL IDENTITY OVER TIME Understanding why Afro-Caribbeans maintain their ethnic identity is connected to their perceptions of race and the adoption of a racial identity over time. Several studies illustrate that the length of time Afro-Caribbeans spend in the United States is related to their development of a shared sense of fate with African Americans (Benson, 2006; Case & Hunter, 2014; Fries-Britt, George Mwangi, & Peralta, 2014; Hall & Carter, 2006; Jones & Erving, 2015; Thornton, Taylor, & Chatters 2013). Many Black immigrants arrive to the United States with preconceptions about race, but their perspectives are challenged, and many times altered, based on their encounters and interactions with others (Benson, 2006; Fries-Britt et al., 2014; Jones & Erving, 2015). Benson (2006) found that most Black immigrants developed a shared racial group identity with African Americans over time. One of the reasons for this was due to the amount of time they spent in the United States and level of exposure to discrimination. The longer they lived in the United States, the more likely they were confronted with or made aware of racial discrimination, thus leading many of them to develop shared common interests and sense of fate with African Americans (Benson, 2006; Case & Hunter, 2014; Thornton et al., 2013). Fries-Britt, George Mwangi, and Peralta’s (2014) conceptual model, Learning Race in a U.S. Context (LRUSC), illustrates why racialized encounters compel foreign-born Black students to eventually consider and develop a racial identity over time. The model centers the homeland context and previously held racial understandings of Black immigrants in an effort to explain that increased racialized encounters over time lead to an ideological shift. When confronted with a racialized encounter, Black immigrants are compelled to reconsider their previous understandings of race, consider their own racial identity, and realize the importance of race in the US context. Increased length of time in the United States encompasses a process of racialization in which Afro-Caribbeans make intentional decisions about identifying racially or ethnically (Case & Hunter, 2014; Malcolm & Mendoza, 2014; Wilson, 2009). As Afro-Caribbeans interact more with African Americans and also encounter negative stereotypes related to Black people

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and Blackness, they are more likely to develop a Black or Black American identity (Benson, 2006; Jones & Erving, 2015). Jones and Erving (2015) argued that everyday discrimination informed the identity preferences of foreign-born Black Caribbeans in that they were more likely to identify as Black. This finding is similar to what Fries-Britt and colleagues (2014) suggest in their conceptual model. Additionally, encounters with racial discrimination are often tied to mental health issues such as stress (Case & Hunter, 2014; Jones, Cross, & DeFour, 2007; Thornton, Taylor, & Chatters, 2013). In particular, there are a few studies that explored the connection between discrimination or racism, and stress among different ethnic groups of Black people in the United States. Thornton, Taylor, and Chatters (2013) learned that racism-related stress (increased racialized encounters) increases perception of shared fate among Afro-Caribbeans and African Americans. Similarly, Case and Hunter (2014) discovered, racism-related stress increases with length of time in the United States. The results illustrate that the “importance of racial group membership” to one’s sense of self, (p. 417), which is one element of racial identity, did not predict cultural racism-related stress for Black Caribbeans. This finding suggests that although Black Caribbeans may develop a Black identity and even a closeness to native Blacks, the importance they place on that identity varies. Moreover, time is a significant factor that shapes AfroCaribbeans’ racial perceptions. Similarly, identity negotiations are also tied to gender in that Black women may experience gendered racism because of their intersecting identities (Jones, Cross, & DeFour, 2007) and the role they play in migration and maintaining the family structure (Bauer &Thompson, 2004; Muruthi et al., 2016). KEEPERS OF CULTURE: ROLE OF WOMEN IN MIGRATION There is very limited literature examining gender and family dynamics in the lives of Afro-Caribbeans in the United States. Despite the limited research, what is evident is the matrifocal structure, reliance on women as keepers and sustainers of culture, and the impact of migration on families (Bauer & Thompson, 2004; Muruthi et al., 2016; Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006). Bauer and Thompson (2004) conducted a case study of narratives of Jamaican men and women and their children who live in Britain, Canada, the United States, or Jamaica. They found that these narratives reflected a history and importance of matrifocal structures that spans across time and borders. In particular, women were most often the initiators, agents, and planners of migration for themselves and their families. Although results showed that men and women

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were almost as equally autonomous in their migration, their migration decisions and experiences were in many ways influenced or supported by women. Afro-Caribbean women are paramount to entrenching ethnic affinity of their native countries in their children, through parenting, in a fashion that maintains the Caribbean way and sending children back to their native countries for extended periods of time to develop this relationship, cultural understanding, and affinity for extended family members and their native countries (Muruthi et al., 2016). In their role as a mother, Afro-Caribbean women generally pass on particular cultural values and messages related to discipline, education, and family support. Other parenting practices include “spanking” or “beating” as a way to convey and maintain their authority but such practices are rejected in the United States, which challenges AfroCaribbean’s cultural beliefs (Muruthi et al., 2016). For many people across cultures, family support is crucial (Park, 2012; Yosso, 2005). The same is true for Afro-Caribbeans, and family support can sometimes be limited or interrupted due to the fact that families are broken up as a result of migration (Bauer & Thompson, 2004). For instance, Bauer and Thompson (2004) found that some mothers made the decision to leave their children with family in order to seek economic opportunities abroad. However, these decisions are not always favored and often opposed by their family members. Therefore, family support can be strained not only by the actual process of migrating but also the decision to migrate, especially when families cannot travel intact. Once family members leave, there is less family to rely on not only for support with their children but also financial and emotional support (Foner, 2009; Muruthi et al., 2016; Waters, 1999). However, women have demonstrated the importance of maintaining familial and social networks, which helps them to rely on those domestic and international connections as a source of support (Bauer & Thompson, 2004). The value and emphasis women placed on their Caribbean culture is also evident in Alfred’s (2003) work. In her qualitative study on the formal and informal socialization influences on learning for adult women in United States postsecondary institution, Alfred learned that the participants stressed the importance of discipline, hard work, and cultural values in their approach to education. These values shaped their behaviors and “ability to manage multiple dimensions of their lives in the United States” (p. 252). Afro-Caribbean women bring with them spoken and unspoken messages about how to be a woman and their socialization challenged or reinforced values and practices in the United States. Women in the study also articulated the struggle to find a balance in maintaining their cultural values and adopting new ones in their host society. Such cultural tensions can sometimes lead to stressors, but for some women their ethnic identities and background help to mediate potential stressors. For instance, Caribbean women were more likely to report

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less racist-related stress than African American women in Jones, Cross, and DeFour’s (2007) study. The authors suggest that the cultural identities and background of the Caribbean women mediated racism-related stress in that they likely place less importance on their race compared to their African American peers, and thus are less likely impacted by racist-related incidents. This is consistent with the literature on how Afro-Caribbeans and other Black immigrants navigate racial incidents and racial identity. Overall, the findings from these studies suggest that there are unique differences in women’s role and experiences with regard to their integration and navigation of identity. DISCUSSION The literature review reveals that Afro-Caribbeans typically experience fluid ethnic identities based on context, geographic location, exposure to discrimination, and complex definitions of Blackness. They negotiate their ethnic identity when faced with decisions related to upward mobility and race. This decision-making process often times can include highlighting or moving away from accents or other identifiable attributes that would label them as “other.” Thus, their identity decisions are based on perceived benefits related to the situation they are in at that moment. This process is best understood through the lens of bicultural socialization. Afro-Caribbeans recognize the salience of their ethnic and national identities in informing their everyday life choices. Yet, when they are confronted with complex values, beliefs, and attitudes within the United States associated with race, immigration, socioeconomics, gender, and other social and cultural factors, they negotiate the ways in which they will exhibit an integrated identity. Rogers (2001) offers that Afro-Caribbeans may take on some of the negative racial stereotypes that are assigned to native born Black people due to the way race is positioned in the United States and the meaning of Blackness in America. Holding on to and emphasizing their ethnic identity can be considered a bicultural technique for Afro-Caribbeans from these perceived negative assignments. There is significant power in the cultural cues that in many ways dictates Afro-Caribbeans’ identity choices. For example, Wilson (2009) emphasized the importance Afro-Caribbeans placed on retaining their passport from Jamaica. They attached a particular meaning to their sending country’s passport that was strongly coupled with their national identity. Even though obtaining United States citizenship did not make them any less Jamaican necessarily, the mere perception was enough to limit their decisions. Bicultural socialization can occur in many forms, but what is important to note is that it seems to be a lifelong process (de Anda, 1984), and not a stage that occurs after Afro-Caribbeans arrive to the United States. Although

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their adoption of a racial identity is likely to increase over time (Benson, 2006), Afro-Caribbeans are still able to maintain a strong ethnic identity. They are constantly negotiating ways of being in the classroom as adult learners (Alfred, 2003), adopting a racial identity (Jones et al., 2007), translating cultural values to their children (Muruthi et al., 2016), and choosing when to speak patois or with an accent in different circumstances (Bauer & Thompson, 2004; Malcolm & Mendoza, 2014). In essence, Afro-Caribbeans are constantly compartmentalizing their identities to fit the situations at that moment in their lives. Such shifting and compartmentalizing behaviors reflect multiple identities. Moreover, the studies reviewed above capture the difficulty and success Afro-Caribbeans experience in integrating their identities, particularly in instances where there is cultural incongruence (BenetMartínez & Haritatos, 2005; Benet-Martínez et al., 2002). Bicultural socialization can also occur on a continuum, and Afro-Caribbeans can be at multiple different places in that process. In the instance of social distancing, it tends to occur when Afro-Caribbeans first migrate to the United States. In this case, they are less likely to experience bicultural socialization as they are still very firmly attached to their cultural practices, beliefs, and attitudes. According to the bicultural identity integration (BII) framework (Benet-Martínez & Haritatos, 2005; Benet-Martínez et al., 2002), when individuals try to avoid adopting a different culture from their own, over time, and with increased interaction they eventually experience bicultural socialization. This is also seen in some of the gendered experiences highlighted within the studies. Women were typically the agents of migration and translators of culture for their families. They needed to be able to articulate the ways of the new host country to their families in order to understand how to navigate it. This is perfectly illustrated in the parenting practices piece by Muruthi and colleagues (2016) where mothers discussed their fears around their children adopting the behaviors seen within American society (some of which they perceive to be negative), which runs counter to their cultural values. Another example is around the practices and beliefs of beating a child and finding a balance between both cultural perspectives and practices. Therefore, Afro-Caribbean women have to negotiate motherhood differently, and blend cultural values with American expectations for motherhood. Bicultural socialization for Afro-Caribbeans is real and legitimate and must be considered in the migration literature of this specific population. While much of the migration research is based on majority men samples and experiences, it still lacks a gendered perspective which considers how men integrate into American society as men and foreigners as well as the congruence and dissonance regarding gender roles and norms between their home and host country.

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IMPLICATIONS This chapter provided a nuanced look at the literature on Afro-Caribbeans’ experiences in the United States from a bicultural socialization perspective. We address ethnic identity fluidity, navigating a racial identity, and the impact of migration and the role that women play in it. Afro-Caribbeans hold integrated identities that are influenced by context, geographic location, exposure to discrimination, and a multitude of other experiences. This chapter also highlights the complexity of the bicultural identity process for Afro-Caribbeans, and how length of time in the United States directly influences the process of forming and creating an ethnic identity. Additionally, this chapter highlights the roles that mothers play in infusing cultural values in the AfroCaribbean family and the impact of this on girls and women. Yet, despite all this, large gaps still remain in our understanding of this group as a whole, but particularly across different countries, gender, and generation status. Implications for future research of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, particularly from the Anglophile countries, are varied. There is nuance across nations, language, ethnic, racial, national identities, allegiances, gender among other social markers. Recent research explains some of the tensions Afro-Caribbeans experience in navigating their ethnic and racial identities. Using a bicultural socialization lens helps to further shed light on how this process may occur. If Afro-Caribbeans do not see themselves connected to their Blackness and Blacks in the United States, then how do they unify as active and participating members of society? There are still limitations in our understanding of how the identity negotiation processes may differ across gender, generation status, and country, and on the intersection of immigration and gender. When looking at identity differences and experiences of Afro-Caribbeans from a gendered perspective, it is important to consider women’s roles in the migration process, how they negotiate and form their identities, and how this process is translated to their children through parenting practices, family expectations, peer interactions, and other primary socialization groups. By centering gender and performances of gender in future analyses of Afro-Caribbeans, it can increase our understanding of the nuance of their gendered experiences (Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006). Future research should explore how and why gender informs Afro-Caribbeans racial and ethnic identity decisions. Some of the literature on secondgeneration youth suggest that differences in racial and ethnic identification is in part due to how Black boys and girls are treated and socialized in the United States, regarding criminality toward the former and particular feminine expectations for the latter (Lopez, 2002). The gendered perspective for the first generation is nearly absent from the literature. There is also room to

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consider how the multiple identities of race, ethnicity, gender, and generation status further shape Afro-Caribbeans’ experiences and identity negotiations. Further considering identity dynamics in the research can inform understandings about how Afro-Caribbeans engage in systems such as education, politics, and the labor market, and how such experiences are further complicated by gender. The contemporary categorization of gender is broadening faster than new literature and knowledge is being produced. Future researchers should not only look at gender through lenses that are interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, but also lenses that are contemporary, inclusive, and diverse. Gender intersects across multiple identities, including ethnic, racial, and national identities. These identities are not monolithic—even among the English-speaking Caribbean (Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006). Migration itself is not without impact, and is not a one size fits all, flawless experience. The stress from migration and acculturation is a stressor on families, distorts the roles of family members, and amplifies complex statuses of mental, physical, and overall health (Suárez-Orozco & Qin, 2006). Scholars, educators, and policy makers must begin to center more research and resources around this population as they navigate their bicultural identities in an increasingly racialized American society, with culture, values, and norms that are sometimes incongruent with expressed native values and expectations of family. We recommend additional research, education, and policy considerations around globalized identities of the Caribbean diaspora especially for faculty, staff, administrators, and policy makers that engage with this population in the United States.

Chapter 19

The Meaning of Blackness Cassandra “Dr. Cass” J. St. Vil

I grew up in a Haitian and African-American home. Not that my parents weren’t both Haitian immigrants to the United States, they were. Yet, despite American occupation and participation in the history of Haiti, we socioculturally “became African American” once we arrived in the United States. Haitian immigrants of the nineties held local spaces in protective neighborhoods like Flatbush and Crown Heights, Brooklyn, that helped maintain their (our) identity and culture. Although I was born in Flatbush, we then moved to a multicultural street in an area of Queens as suburban as you could get in New York City. Mine quickly became the one “Black” or “African-American” family on that city block. Although a socially safe community that respected ethnic diversity, we did make racial distinctions, largely based on appearance and the origin of your parents on this immigrant-friendly street. Thus Haitian = Black = African American. Although racial distinctions were made early in my upbringing, meaning behind Blackness would only be attached once I entered high school. The high school I attended was a nine-story building in lower Manhattan, where thousands of New York City students commuted from their respective boroughs, carrying with them attached meaning to what race was. This early idea of Blackness would become my torment. From these paramount experiences as a Black urban adolescent, I would later discover my lifelong career promoting positive meaning of Blackness and expanding access to quality education for urban teens. For the first time, at age 14, I would confront singularly-shaded perceptions of what Black identity was. To be Black included artificial fingernails and hair weave, residence in Harlem, Jamaica (on the far side of Queens from where I grew up) or anywhere in Brooklyn as a New Yorker. To really be “with it” also meant academic underperformance, opposition to any kind of authority and a permanent attitude as annoyed or outright angry. Ironically, I 205

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learned these social expectations from my Black friends who tried to emulate these stereotypes. It was my fellow Black students themselves who would question, challenge, and tease how I simply did not fit in, declaring that I didn’t “act Black.” I loved to read which supported my growth as a writer. I generally followed the rules and could write well, which resulted in good grades . . . which would alienate me from my Black peers who were committed to finding their own identities by living up to the stereotypes of Black students as academic underachievers. As early adolescents, our conversations around Black identity weren’t complex. We conveyed what we knew, and what we knew was largely informed by what we saw around us. Growing up in the eighties and nineties, the image of the Black absent father was pervasive. The Black community was in recovery of the crack cocaine epidemic, and almost every Black person knew someone currently in or recently out of jail after a long-term prison sentence. Blackness, in itself, was contained in local spaces where permitted by society, which included particular genres of music as R&B, rap and hip-hop, and sports, largely basketball and football. These weren’t the domains of Blackness in reality, as I would come to understand later, but the deep pockets of stigmatization and stereotyping in which Blackness was held. This period would be painful, of course. The remainder of high school would continue as regular confrontations in trying to understand Black identity, even after I transferred to a smaller high school in Queens. Our Haitian ways, food, language, and customs at home did not fit the mold of what it meant to be Black in the United States. I began to recognize, however, how people mistreated Blackness, even beyond the stereotyping and stigmatization many of us (Black kids) had internalized during those years of development. When I looked in, I didn’t know who I was (Haitian, Black, immigrant’s child, African American, other). But when I looked out, I was socially informed that I was indeed Black then associated with all-thingsnegative ranging from crime to hyper-sexualization to lowered academic expectations. How could I, as a 14-year old Black student develop a positive sense of self in that realm? How could my Black peers develop anything other than stereotypes to hold each other to when all they had seen where disastrous images of Blackness about them? How could their meaning of Blackness, and further, self, develop in any other way than broken? Where were the positive expressions of Blackness and what it means to be Black? Within this identity confusion as a Black teen desperately searching for affirmation, I landed upon cognitive dissonance with my ethnic identity as a Haitian American as well. The nuances and complexities of my own identity were unraveling as a teenager where I would make the most crucial decisions of my early life. While considering where to attend college and what to study, navigating living on my own and sharing what I understood of myself to be

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with the world, I also had to question what it actually meant to be Black and Haitian. What did I need to master about these two cultures that would make me fit in among my peers? How should I manage this bicultural identity? What would make me Black? Could I be a good student while Black? Do all Black people in America act the same? If so, how do they act? What do I have to do in order for me to be “Black enough?” What about my growing sense of self made me Haitian? Did I have to speak a certain way or language? I once had a conversation with a new friend I had met who innocently reopened these questions of identity all over again. This friend was surprised to learn that I didn’t consider myself to be Latina, given where Haiti geographically lays in the Caribbean. I had never considered it before. I had received much exposure to Latino communities throughout my life and felt connected to and committed to Latino uplift. I had also come to understand and respect Afro-Latino communities but never myself thought to see myself as Latina. The simple question my friend asked puzzled me. Why wouldn’t Haitians be considered Latino? Latin America has not received its name under the assumption that its countries are all Spanish-speaking. It does not only include countries which had former influence from Spain (which, by the way, Haiti also has as part of its history). Haiti is, nonetheless, in Latin America, as is Jamaica, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. The Guyanese are excluded in similar ways, planted on the South American continent with both Spanish and Portuguese speakers around them, but their skin tones somehow disavows their Latino-ness? It’s almost as if we were somehow relegated to Blackness, othered. For the first time I had to consider: Why is it that the islands and countries with people of the darkest complexion are removed from the strong Latino community sense that I have come to regard so well? Why wasn’t I allowed to be both Haitian and Latina, and bicultural in that way? Why aren’t Haitians considered to be Latino enough? I do not want to project a racial hierarchy, with Latinos being regarded as any higher than Black groups. I also don’t want to minimize the multitude of racial narratives that contribute to Latino cultures the African, European, and so many more influences that comprise Latino heritage. But I can experience rejection. For many political reasons outside of the scope of this chapter, including colorism, Haitians aren’t viewed in the same cultural group as any of its Latino brethren, although it neighbors the Dominican Republic. Haitians come in a variety of hues, but the majority of which hold complexions of cinnamon or darker, thus socially perceived as Black, whether they identify in such way or not. That the majority are considered Black could be something to highlight or praise, valued for its contributions in history and resilience despite obstacles. Yet, the image of Haiti is held in a tight grip of anti-Blackness, among a million other social ills the beautiful country is

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reputed for. I can think of countless places and groups that are considered Black laden with similar stories of catastrophe. I don’t devalue or remove myself from my community in Black or any of these examples that show up. I love my R&B, and celebrate my Black athletes. I now know Blackness to include many of the examples of identity shared with me when I was a teen, but am not limited to them. Yet this early pain in adolescent identity development prompted an extremely committed process of self-discovery once in college. I somehow bumped along, surviving depression, isolation, and a perpetual questioning of what my racial inheritance meant until I could take a few courses as a minor in African & African American studies. I never thought to be anything other than Black. I always knew it to be my heritage, but what I was desperately searching for at age 19 was positive identification with who I was as a Black person. As a college student, I read everything I could find and anything listed on my syllabi in Black courses. I was able to expand the reach of Black = African American to also include that Black was an identity expressed all over the Pan-African Diaspora. Once ignited, my curiosity sparked the focal point of my career in education and Black uplift. After finally finding myself in what I was learning, I excelled exponentially while in college. My grades were stellar and I was actively involved as a campus leader. I would graduate with honors, enroll in a graduate program in social work and immediately after, a doctoral program in African Studies. I would complete my PhD at Howard University in less than four years, at the age of 26. I don’t share this aspect of my story to rush through academia, but to emphasize the significance in finding your cultural self in your studies. The turning point, at age 19, when I first immersed in positive versions of myself would inspire my work as a culturally centered social worker and later, educator. I have since had the opportunity to engage in African-centered uplift, promoting the histories, cultures, and contributions of Black peoples all throughout the globe. Hungry and passionate about this work, it had been fifteen years and experiential practice in more than twenty countries in the African Diaspora before I realized I was in my professional career as an Africanist. As such, I am dedicated to helping others find positive understanding of Black peoples, Black identity and its diversity, with a focus in working with Black urban teens. I work as an educator among urban adolescents to defy the stigmatization that our generations have inherited about Blackness. I now lecture and write on the subject, and aspire to lead a high school network for a multicultural community which engages culturally centered pedagogy as its core curriculum. I do not have to choose between my ethnic identity or my racial identity as a Black person. Actually, my Haitianness and upbringing in the United States

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is a reflection of the multifaceted diversity within Blackness. It reminds us that being Black, in itself, is non-monolithic and has us deal with the many Black identities enveloped within Blackness. Therefore, being Black is not one category or archetype. I cannot assume a particular language or style or behavior to ever become Black enough. There are nuances in my meaning of Blackness which allow me to also be Haitian, raised in the States and maintain a love of reading. Those are the elements within my Blackness. However, my Black identity, its meaning and value, has been terrorized so much, so widely and for so long, I have no choice but to recognize Blackness as one group, only so much to stand in solidarity with a global Black community which has had countless numbers of its Black groups within it terrorized. I see Blackness as a socio-political group, looking to advance the stories of the countless numbers of Black cultural groups that are often marginalized. From that standpoint, I recognize Haitian identity, I recognize Haitian-American identity, I recognize African identities (yes, there are 54 countries on the continent and countless cultural groups within the continent [some of whom don’t even identify as Black or commit to racial constructs so heavily pushed in the United States]) and I recognize African American groups. I value that within the massive, worldwide sociopolitical group of Black peoples, there are members who hold bi-, tri- and multicultural identities, again reminding us that the meaning of Blackness can hold a number of definitions. Blackness isn’t an exclusive club. It doesn’t belong to one particular country or continent, practice or language. It cannot be defined by a specific and limiting definition to express how people behave or what they eat or how they speak. It is not solely athleticism or genre of music. I use my own personal experience and journey into Blackness to have found my life’s work in Black uplift. I work to recognize and promote the many contributions Black communities have shared with the world to reveal how our influential presence, historically and at present. I do so to replace the tendency we each hold to nay say about the depth of Black cultural groups, flattening the meaning of our existence. To me, Blackness now means the wealth of diversity that the Black sociopolitical group holds and the opportunity to share this richness with the world. Recognizing the intragroup diversity within Blackness, is only part of my current work in culturally centered practice as an Africanist. The second aspect is in advocacy through education: I am astonished that no matter the what-or-where of Blackness in the world, Black identities (communities, cultural groups, peoples) and Blackness overall continues to be threatened, stigmatized, and crushed. The meaning of Blackness in the world gets trampled over daily. We flatten its diversity, its richness, its integration into the social fabric of the world to become an inferior thing, a suffering thing caught in perpetual struggle. Should the world continue to remain settled with having a

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sizeable portion of its members walk about feeling broken, we will continue in disrepair. A positive understanding of Blackness, recognizing a rich diversity of Black global groups is beneficial to the entire planet. It’s not solely the burden of Black peoples to advance their plight, but the responsibility of the globe to see the worth of all of its members. My active work now is in preparing greater numbers of ambassadors who recognize, learn about and have positive regard for the Black peoples throughout the world. No matter the field or professions we move into, we are equipped with the curiosity and commitment to learn as much as we possibly can about the diversity of Black global groups and celebrate the richness and contributions of Blackness in this world. I now create African-centered secondary schools which work to positively reframe Black identities in curriculum and pedagogy. I facilitate training which promotes equity, diversity and the inclusion of culturally relevant material in content among educators, social workers and youth workers serving urban adolescents in communities with large Black populations. I question and challenge limited meaning and definitions of how Blackness is expressed and work to no end to see to richness of Black identities be recognized and valued.

Chapter 20

Being Black and Bicultural Racial and Ethnic Identity Formation of Haitian Americans in Chicago Courtney Pierre Joseph

“You aren’t really Haitian, you are American.” Over the years, I remember family members telling me that I was not Haitian enough and that I would never be because of my parents’ decision to migrate from Haiti to the United States. As a second-generation Haitian American, I seemed to live in a middle ground: a gray area between the land of my birth and the land of my parents’ birth. Being Haitian meant more than just where I was born however; it also meant a certain worldview and cultural value system that at times seemed incongruent with the American life I was given. For example, while in middle school in the late 1990s (the time when being “cool” was critical), ankle bracelets were all the rage. I asked my parents to buy me one, but to my dismay, they deemed ankle bracelets to be inappropriate. Apparently, only prostitutes in Haiti wore this type of jewelry. Yet, we were not in Haiti; we were in the south suburbs of Chicago, and all my friends were getting ankle bracelets. How were ideals of decency and femininity from an island that felt so far away dictating my ability to fit in with my peers? They were right; I was not Haitian enough, not in that moment and not in many other moments that socialized me in the American diasporic context. At the same time, I was never American enough. Friends, classmates, teachers, and others all looked at me through the gaze of the “other,” especially when I showed up to parent-teacher conferences with two adults both speaking with heavy accents. After-school play dates were not guaranteed, even as I watched my American friends beg, plead, and demand their parents to grant their wishes. My mother was not one to be tested; respecting your elders meant being asked and told, not doing the asking or telling. Thus, I tried to navigate the strict parental and cultural guidelines while trying to fit in with my friends. In the end, it still felt like I was not getting the “American” part of my identity right either. 211

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Being Black and bicultural is something that other children of Black immigrants have wrestled with, especially as the demography of the United States has changed over the last fifty years. In the 2001 text, Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation, Alejandro Portes and Rubén Rumbaut argue that the children of newcomers who arrived in the United States since 1965 were “the most consequential and lasting legacy of the new mass immigration to the United States” (Portes & Rumbaut 2001, 18). The children of the mostly Black and Brown migrants who came to the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century remade the racial and ethnic fabric of the country, and Haitian Americans living in Chicago are one example of this shift. The American-born children of Haitian immigrant(s) embody the dual identity of diasporic life; being both Haitian and American, they actively engaged in the process of creating a hyphenated racial and ethnic identity. Their journey of identity formation was not always easy or linear, and their struggles exemplify the many factors that influence second-generation Black experience. Sociologist Tekle Woldemikael argues that second-generation Haitians assimilated into African American society, an identity imposed on them by American institutions (schools, churches, banks, media, etc.) despite cultural and linguistic differences (Woldemikael 1989). By becoming African American, they became American because their skin color dictated where they fit into the national and social sphere. However, Woldemikael does not take into account that African American culture is not fixed or timeless; second-generation Haitians in Chicago also helped shape and reshape what it meant to be Black in the city and beyond. Therefore, this study examines the experiences of Haitian Americans in Chicago in order to understand this process of Black bicultural identity formation. How do Haitian Americans in Chicago self-identify? How does this identity change over time? I argue that they did this via a multi-step process: a rejection of Haitian identity and an exploration of American identity; a reclamation of cultural heritage via concrete and symbolic return to the homeland; and putting their identities in conversation via a hyphenated selfidentification. By putting in constant conversation their Haitian and American influences, second-generation individuals redefine the boundaries of African American identity and dismantle the monolithic narrative of Blackness in the United States. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND METHODOLOGY This chapter draws from numerous theoretical approaches related to the study of the African diaspora and immigrant assimilation processes. Historian Frank Guridy describes the unique, dual nature of the African diaspora: “both the

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dispersal of Africans though the slave trade and their ongoing social, political, and cultural interactions across various boundaries after emancipation.” (Guridy 2010, 4). Haitians in Chicago represent these interrelated aspects of this definition. First Haiti, located on the island of Hispaniola, was the site of Christopher Columbus’ first permanent colony, which eventually became the richest slave colony in the Western hemisphere. Second, in the late eighteenth century, Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, a Haitian man, founded the first nonnative settlement in Chicago (Cain 2017). This early settlement set the foundation for ongoing social, political, and cultural interactions between Chicago and Haiti for over two centuries which led to Haitian diaspora to form in the city during the late twentieth century. The diasporic experience involves the constant interaction between the homeland and the hostland and the process of the hostland becoming the new homeland through these interactions. Historian Kim Butler, among other scholars, defines the homeland as the site of dispersal, the ancestral homeland of migrants that creates an anchor point for the possibility of return. In contrast, the hostland is the new space where migrants form a diasporic community which may develop into the new homeland over time (Butler 2001). The differentiation between the homeland and hostland is critical to Butler’s four-pronged paradigm to categorize diaspora: the dispersal of a group to several locales; a real or imagined relationship to the homeland which serves as the foundation for diasporan identities to form; the group’s self-awareness of a shared diasporan identity; and the existence of the diaspora over at least two generations (Butler 2001). The Haitian diasporic community in Chicago embodies each of these features. For instance, Chicago is only one of many locales where Haitians have formed diasporic communities; there are Haitian diasporic communities in New York, Boston, Miami, Paris, and Montreal among other places. Haitians in Chicago also have forged real and imagined relationships with Haiti based on memory, travel to the island, and family and friends who still live in Haiti. As Robin D. G. Kelley and Sidney Lemelle argue, diasporic identities and solidarities are based on an “imagined community” which create “dynamic political, intellectual, and cultural movements” (Kelley & Lemelle 1994, 7). There is also a strong self-awareness of a shared diasporan identity among Haitians in Chicago, represented by their need to self-identity as Haitian when possible. Finally, the Haitian diasporic community in Chicago has existed over at least two generations and is currently entering its third generation. As this diaspora grows over time, “they combine the individual migration experience with the collective history of group dispersal and re-genesis of communities abroad” (Butler 2001, 192). Furthermore, Alejandro Portes and Min Zhou introduce the conceptual framework of segmented assimilation to highlight the conflicted assimilation process faced by the second generation. Portes and Zhou reveal that the

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first-generation Haitians are heavily oriented toward national pride and in instilling a strong sense cultural identity and ethnic distinction, clash with the assimilation process of their children. This “vulnerability to downward assimilation” for the second generation in the United States is caused by the greater consciousness of systemized American racial discrimination in comparison to their parents, their region of residence, and the absence of social and economic mobility opportunities (Portes & Zhou 1993, 83). This segmented assimilation concept contends with the specific vulnerabilities of the Black immigrants based on race and how their assimilation processes are subject to their ethnic history. Finally, the methodology used for this research is a qualitative analysis of oral histories conducted by the author. Over a three-year window, approximately forty oral history interviews were conducted with self-identified Haitians (those born in Haiti) and Haitian American (those born in the United States) identified individuals from the Chicago-land area. These oral histories examined the migration and assimilation experience of these individuals based on the specificity of their hostland; that is how living in and matriculating in Chicago shaped their racial and ethnic identity formation. The information from these oral histories, combined with newspaper research from Chicagobased publications, were analyzed to determine how these Black immigrants and their children self-identified over time. For this chapter, there will be a focus on the experiences of the 1.5 and 2nd-generation Haitian Americans in particular. The 1.5 generation Haitian-Americans refer to those who came to the United States as children (under the age of 18) and 2nd generation refers to those born in the United States to at least one immigrant parent. THE HAITI-CHICAGO CONNECTION: A BRIEF HISTORY Most people do not immediately think of Chicago alongside Haitian diasporic communities in the United States; instead cities like Miami, New York, and Boston come to mind due to their size and visibility. New York is home to about 130,000 Haitians today and Miami boasts about 275,000 Haitians, while approximately 15,000 to 30,000 Haitian descendant people live in Chicago today (Migration Policy Institute 2014). In relation to the whole US population, the national Haitian community has lower incomes, employment rates, and is less educated, but there has been significant educational attainment, household income, employment, and remittance volume gains between generations. For instance, the Haitian second generation has a higher median household income than the first, and they have made significant educational advances, “graduating from college and earning advanced degrees at rates

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above the general US population” (Migration Policy Institute 2014, 1). These advancements highlight the more middle-classed base of the Chicago diaspora; indeed, this group has higher educational and professional attainment, especially when looking at the second generation (Cain 2017). Despite being relatively smaller than its counterparts, popular focus on the larger diasporic enclaves overshadows the long and unique history of Haitians in Chicago beginning with Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, a free Black man from Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti) who is credited with founding the first non-native settlement in Chicago around 1780 (Rosier, 2015). DuSable’s time and work in Chicago created the first link between Haiti and the Windy City which eventually led to the formation of a Haitian community there. The Haitian community in Chicago did not immediately form after DuSable left the city in 1800; it took another 150 years for other Haitians to start calling the Midwestern metropolis home. Important historical shifts during the 19th and 20th centuries cemented the idea of Haiti in Chicago, which I define as understandings and misunderstandings of the Black island republic as a symbol of Black freedom perpetuated by people of African descent in Chicago in response to White oppression and segregation. These historical moments include the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition; the 1915–34 Haitian Occupation by the US; the 1933–34 Century of Progress International Exposition (the World Fair again held in Chicago); the ascendance of Duvalierism in Haiti starting in 1957; and the change to US immigration policy in 1965 with the Hart-Cellar Act. Each of these events not only cemented the idea of Haiti for Black Chicagoans who developed the Black Metropolis during the Great Migration (1910–1970), they also supported a consciousness of Chicago for Haitians who also migrated to the city for a better life: more educational and job opportunities and safety to raise a family. First, the Haitian Revolution mobilized African Americans in Chicago (and beyond) around the possibility of freedom and independence during the antebellum period, and a small number of Haitians migrated to the United States during the Revolution, which opened the door for later migration (Girard, 2010). After slavery in the United States ended in 1865, the government officially recognized the sovereignty of Haiti and appointed noted activist, intellectual, and orator Frederick Douglass as the first African American ambassador to the Black republic. Although his tenure was short-lived, Douglass created another critical connection between Haiti and Chicago that led to the formation of the Haitian Pavilion at the 1893 World’s Fair. The fair, which commemorated the four hundred years since Columbus’ voyage and the emergence of the United States as a leading global power, presented a unique opportunity for the growing Black community in Chicago to display the progress they had made in the thirty years since they became free citizens in the United States. Historian Christopher Reed argues that the fair

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provided an opportunity for the heterogeneous Black community of Chicago to participate and thus meet the requirements of their newfound citizenship (Reed 2005). One of the only places that provided a space for the Black experience to be seen and heard at the fair was the Haitian Pavilion. Scholar Barbara Ballard asserts, “the pavilion of the Republic of Haiti stood as the only structure erected by a Black nation and the only autonomous representation of people of African descent in the White City” (Ballard 1999, 26). This diasporic space served as the headquarters for Black protest of the fair and a site for various discussions about the plight of Blacks in the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa. Douglass was appointed Haiti’s commissioner at the 1893 Chicago World Fair, and he helped to (re)educate Blacks in Chicago about the importance of Haiti to their freedom and tied the freedom struggles of Blacks across the diaspora. During his impassioned speech in at the opening of the Haitian Pavilion, Douglass questioned why Haiti was shunned by many Americans, despite its contributions to the cause of freedom. “A deeper reason for coolness between the countries is this: Haiti is Black, and we have not yet forgiven Haiti for being Black or forgiven the Almighty for making her Black.” (Avila, “Haiti crisis tugs at hearts,” 2010, para. 11). Thus, he noted the need for African Americans and Haitians to unite in their “undesirable” and unapologetic Blackness. The 1915–34 US Occupation of Haiti similarly linked African American freedom domestically with Haitian struggles for independence and further cemented connections between Haiti and Chicago. On the macro level, the occupation solidified Haiti’s economic and political dependency on the United States in the modern age because the United States took control of Haiti’s bank and changed key policies in Haiti’s constitution (Renda 2001). On the micro level, the occupation led to the cultural exchange of ideas, goods, and people that led to further travel between Haiti and the United States, including Chicago. African Americans used the Occupation as a way to protest larger racial oppression, using venues like The Chicago Defender and other Black print media to share these critiques widely. Thus, by the 1933–34 World’s Fair, African Americans were well aware of their connections to Haiti and created an exhibit to honor their common Chicago ancestor, DuSable. The work of Black women like Annie Oliver and the National DuSable Memorial Society (NDMS) pioneered the twentieth-century activist push to legitimize the legacy of DuSable in the city as a way to assert the importance of Blackness within the city (Oliver 1936). The post–World War II period marked the moment when a more visible Haitian diaspora in Chicago formed, due to the rise of Duvalierism in Haiti and the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act. The 1957 presidential election of Francois Duvalier birthed a thirty-year dictatorship in Haiti defined by the violent

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suppression of political dissent, and many Haitians fled the island to create new homelands elsewhere. The eradication of racialized national quotas in US immigration policy in 1965 made it a prime location for Haitians fleeing, and the preexisting connections between Haiti and Chicago in particular led some Haitians to the Midwest. These historical shifts are key to understanding how and why a small yet impactful Haitian diasporic community formed in Chicago. REJECTION OF HAITIAN IDENTITY AND EXPLORATION OF AMERICAN IDENTITY For many Haitian Americans in Chicago, the first part of their racial and ethnic identity formation process is a rejection of their Haitian cultural identity as they explore their American cultural identity. Intra-racial misunderstandings, generational tensions, and diasporic gender norms complicated how Haitian Americans saw themselves and their Chicago surroundings, as revealed in the oral histories. For those in the 1.5 generation, having an accent makes this process even more difficult, and Catherine D. describes as how her sister worked to hide her accent and learn popular Black vernacular in order to fit in (Catherine D., personal communication, June 21, 2016). Her sister, Fabienne, elaborates on this experience, explaining that she was teased and bullied for having an accent, even by African American classmates. This made her want to try to “Americanize quickly,” and she started shopping for the latest fashion and joined extracurricular activities to assimilate with her peer group (Fabienne D., personal communication, June 30, 2016). Similarly, to anthropologist and poet Gina Ulysse describes being ridiculed by African American classmates for her “performance of Blackness” based on her accent (Ulysse 2006, 34). For some of the 1.5 generation, this language barrier also meant that they held back a grade once they got to the United States which further disconnected them from their peers. Others learned English in dual language programs, which existed at schools across the city, including Kozminski Elementary in the Hyde Park neighborhood and Paul Revere Elementary on the south side. Even for second-generation Haitians who were born in Chicago, language was an issue. Haitian Creole was often their first language and the one primarily spoke in the home, so they too had to learn English quickly in order to Americanize and fit in with peers. However, parental and cultural expectations sometimes made the Americanization process difficult, and many of the Haitian American respondents discussed how their parents’ strict expectations clashed with what their American friends were doing. For instance, when friends invited to a sleepover, many Haitian Americans attested to immediately knowing the answer would

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be no from their parents. While some American friends had late curfews or could go where they pleased, Haitian Americans had to be home at a certain time and had to check in with their parents often. These expectations led to parental resentment, which sometimes translated to generational tensions within the home. Moreover, for Haitian Americans in Chicago, the expectation of going to college was not a matter of choice as it was for some of their peers because the numerous higher education institutions in the city served as a major pull factor for Haitians. These discrepancies not only made the peer matriculation more difficult, they also showed the extra responsibility placed on Haitian Americans to live up to their immigrant parents’ cultural expectations despite now having a reference point from their American cultural homeland. It seems Haitian American men navigated this process a little better than their female counterparts, highlighting how gender expectations from Haiti translated into the diaspora and shaped racial and ethnic identity formation. Hamilton J. and Remy A., two male interviewees, relayed having a relatively easy time assimilating into American life and culture because Haitian boys are not monitored in the same way as girls are. Many of the female respondents discussed the difficulties of trying to maintain being a “good Haitian girl” while trying to experience the freedom being American afforded them as young women (Hamilton J., personal communication, July 24, 2016). For instance, Lacey D. described feeling cultural pressure to go to a college close to home based on the cultural standard of Haitian women living at home until they are married (Lacey D., personal communication, September 2, 2016). Dating for Haitian American women proved more difficult as well, since cultural norms of Haitian courting did not mix well with American norms. Mae Y., part of the 1.5 generation, described how she never went to any of her high school dances because dating was often restricted to the girl’s home in Haitian culture (Mae Y., personal communication, September 27, 2016). According Ulysse, the patriarchal protection of Haitian parents served as a way to protect their investments in their children as social capital, but this protection often clashed with the self-definition of young Haitian women inspired by Black feminism (Ulysee 2006). This clash can be seen in how Mae felt that she had to sneak out behind her mother’s back in order to experience American culture and dating culture (Mae Y., personal communication, September 27, 2016). These nuances uncover the first part of the Haitian American racial and ethnic identity process: a rejection of what is deemed to be old-fashioned and outdated from the homeland replaced by an exploration of American culture, seen as providing more freedom and autonomy. Issues of language, style of dress, dating, and overall self-presentation provide areas where Haitian Americans can push back against what their parents and culture expect in

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order to fit in to their surroundings and peer group. This peer group, based within the African American community, also provides reason for Haitian Americans to reject ethnic and cultural norms, by critiquing Haitians’ performance of Black identity and serving as an example of acceptable Blackness in an American context. RECLAMATION OF HERITAGE: CONCRETE AND SYMBOLIC RETURN TO THE HOMELAND In the creation process of this bicultural identity, scholars Lynellyn Long and Ellen Oxfeld address return movements as integral to the migration experience, which is embodied by the Haitian Americans who after traveling to Haiti in their adulthood are more accepting accept their cultural heritage. In this acceptance is a reclamation of Haitian identity and heritage which comes to play an important role in how Haitian Americans identify. With this reclamation also comes the sense of debt and duty toward Haiti, translated in aid efforts and participation in community institutions and organizations. The second generation took the helm of mobilizing relief efforts in Chicago after the 2010 earthquake which is estimated to have killed over 300,000 people (BBC 2010). They also became the face of the Haitian diasporic experience in the press in the aftermath of this watershed moment. For instance, Kwame Raoul, Illinois State Senator and son of Haitian immigrants who migrated to Chicago in the 1960s, symbolized the growing visibility and leadership of many second-generation Haitian Americans in this moment. “Since the earthquake last week, many people have understandably turned to the state’s most prominent Haitian-American politician for some insight into Haiti’s seemingly eternal plight, and some guidance on how to help its suffering people.” (Avila, “State Sen. Kwame Raoul,” 2010). In response, Raoul gave countless interviews about the quake, “wearing a lapel pin of the American and Haitian flags intertwined,” (Avila, “State Sen. Kwame Raoul,” 2010). This symbolism highlighted Raoul’s dual identity which shaped his response to the earthquake and likely made the press more comfortable with interviewing him. He was seen as an American, thus making approachable and an effective communicator on behalf of his community. Raoul’s story exemplifies the important turn back toward the homeland in the identity formation process of Haitian Americans. In 2004, Raoul was appointed to the Illinois Senate, replacing Barack Obama. Raoul’s parents migrated to Chicago in the 1950s, and he was born in 1964 on the south side of the city (Avila, “State Sen. Kwame Raoul,” 2010). Raoul’s father was a doctor, which speaks to the educated and professional nature of much of the Chicago diaspora, and he followed in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a

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professional career in law. It seems Raoul’s parents pushed the importance of education much like many others in the Chicago diaspora. He graduated from DePaul University and Chicago Kent Law School, and he worked as a Cook County prosecutor and senior attorney for the City Colleges of Chicago (Avila, “State Sen. Kwame Raoul,” 2010). Raoul’s campaign also mobilized the Haitian community in Chicago, and they held fundraisers for his campaign which included traditional Haitian cuisine (Sula 2011). Furthermore, Raoul’s election represented a watershed moment for the Haitian diaspora in Chicago, deemed a “sign of maturity for our community . . . [with] the second and third generations fully immersed in the process,” as reported by Haitian Chicago pioneer, Harry Fouché (Avila, “State Sen. Kwame Raoul,” 2010). This quote demonstrates the important role of the second generation, like Raoul, in cementing the Haitian diaspora into the Chicago landscape. These victories did not mean that they turned away from Haiti, however; as historian Francois Pierre-Louis argues, “their evolution as Haitian Americans has taught them that the best way to really help Haiti is by having political power in the US at all levels of government” (Pierre-Louis 2011, 69). By establishing themselves in Chicago, they could better help Haiti and attempt to balance the dual nature of their identity. The 2010 earthquake also served as the catalyst for Haitians across generation to return to their ancestral homeland. Several oral history interviewees that I spoke with were some of the first people to touch down in Haiti in the days and weeks after the earthquake. Catherine D.’s brother went to Haiti right away to search for missing family (Catherine D., personal communication, June 21. 2016). Jacque P., whose brother serendipitously was flying to Haiti on the day of the quake, went right to work to help family and friends (Jacque P., personal communication, June 25, 2016). The Haitian Congress, one of the oldest Haitian organizations in Chicago, brought the donated materials they amassed to Haiti three weeks after the earthquake, making sure that the material got to those in need. Further, the earthquake inspired Damia H. to return to Haiti permanently, believing that if Haiti was going to get better, it would require those in the diaspora to come back home and stay there (Damia H., personal communication, July 9, 2016). For those who stayed in Chicago, their engagement with Haiti increased via participation in Haitian organizations in the area. Daisi T. attested to becoming more active in another organization, Concerned Haitian Americans of Illinois (CHAI), after the earthquake, while many first-generation Haitians described feeling encouraged to see that younger Haitians doing more for Haiti (Daisi T., personal communication, July 7, 2016). Scholar Khalid Koser posits this shift back toward the homeland the final part of the diaspora lifecycle: patterns and process of dispersal, patterns of settlement and identity formation, perceptions

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of and return to the homeland (Koser 2003). In this way, the Haitian diaspora in Chicago had now come full circle. The 2010 Haitian earthquake served as an opportunity for Haitian Americans to reclaim their Haitian heritage. After rejecting their ethnic heritage because they deemed it be the barrier to their American life and assimilation, they found strength in reclaiming their Haitianness when the homeland needed them most. That is, when the world turned its gaze back to Haiti after an unimaginable tragedy, Haitian Americans also found their voice and an avenue to form a bicultural identity. They had an opportunity to create a platform to teach people about Haiti which required them to rethink about their Haitian culture in a positive way. Thus, they became active in relief efforts and some returned to Haiti, which shows the reconnection of their diasporic ties and represents an important part of their racial and ethnic identity formation. CONCLUSION: JUDGE LIONEL JEAN-BAPTISTE, HYPHENATED IDENTITY, AND REDEFINING AFRICAN AMERICAN IDENTITY Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, a member of the 1.5 generation, is one example of a Chicago Haitian who established himself in the new homeland through political office and helped redefined African American identity. Born in Haiti in 1949, Jean-Baptiste migrated to Chicago in 1964 as a teen to rejoin his mother who had already been in Chicago (Lionel B., personal communication, June 22, 2016). While he grew up within the growing Haitian community, he described being influenced by and involved in local African American community organizing, including fair housing initiatives in Evanston. He left the Midwest to attend Princeton University and did his thesis on transforming the Haitian peasantry into a revolutionary force for change. After graduating in 1974, Jean-Baptiste lived in Brooklyn for a decade, and he found a second home in the vibrant Haitian diaspora there. In the 1980s, he returned to Chicago and attended Kent University for his law degree (L. JeanBaptiste, personal communication, June 22, 2016). He worked as an attorney in Chicago, focusing on immigration, personal injury, domestic relations, and real estate law. Jean-Baptiste also continued his social and political engagement in Chicago over the 1990s, supporting youth initiatives, the NAACP, and Haitian organizations, including the Haitian American Community Center (HACA) which had been active since the 1970s. In 2001, Lionel Jean Baptiste was elected as second ward alderman of Evanston, with an 85 percent popular vote, making him the first Haitian American to hold political office in the Chicagoland area (Valburn 2011). His

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historic election garnered both financial and political support from the Haitian community as well as Evanstonians across race and ethnic background. Baptiste saw his election as an important moment in the development of the Haitian diaspora in Chicago: “Wasn’t it time for us to step into the mainstream of American life and come out of the invisibility?” (Valburn 2011). Unlike the larger diasporas in New York and Miami that boasted several Haitian-American political officials, Baptiste’s victory was the first foray for Chicagoans to engage in the larger city and state politics. Despite having a long history in the city, it seemed that the turn of the century represented a watershed moment when Chicago Haitians were ready to “transcend . . . nationalistic and ethnic boundaries” and accept Chicago as their new homeland (Valburn 2011). They mobilized around a 1.5 generation representative and found power in their new environment with Baptiste’s victory. After the 2010 earthquake, Jean-Baptiste also became a spokesperson for the diaspora, and he used the moment to bridge the divide between his hyphenated identity based on a shared historical past. While speaking behind a banner depicting King, he urged participants to share Haiti's full story, especially during Black History Month. He argued that Haitians deserve credit for helping end the “slaveocracy” that existed throughout the Americas, and implored those in the African American community to “Teach this history. . . . Teach these lessons” (Avila, “Haiti crisis tugs at hearts,” 2010, para. 8). In retrospect, this study explored the experiences of Haitian Americans in Chicago in order to understand this process of Black bicultural identity formation. As the case of Judge Jean-Baptiste exemplifies, Haitian Americans built their own identity via a multi-step process: a rejection of Haitian identity and an exploration of American identity; a reclamation of cultural heritage via concrete and symbolic return to the homeland; and putting their identities in conversation via a hyphenated self-identification. By putting in constant conversation their Haitian and American influences, these individuals redefine the boundaries of African American identity and highlight the various ethnic cultures that make up modern-day Blackness in the United States. Acknowledgment: Ms. Paula Pelletier assisted in editing this article and preparing it for publication.

Chapter 21

Always Remember Black Is Beautiful A Narrative on Being Afro-Trinidadian in the United States Keisha V. Thompson

“Always remember Black is beautiful.” That’s the last thing I remember my grandmother saying to me on the night my family gathered to wish us farewell before leaving Trinidad and Tobago for the United States. It seemed strange at the time. My grandmother was not a very sentimental woman, but she was a fighter. As a single mother she fought for herself and for her children. I saw firsthand, how she literally would also fight for her grandchildren whether they were 2 or 32 years of age. So when she said those five words to me, I heard the fight in her voice and I didn’t understand why it was there. I was 12 years old then. Several decades later, that same fight rose up within me during a meeting with several colleagues. I left that meeting and began penning a piece. Not entirely sure of when or how it would be appropriate to share. But definitely knowing that somewhere somehow, my voice needed to be heard. So now it’s being shared here. I’m sitting in the room as my colleagues talk about me. They do it to my face with no concern that I am there and I can hear them. It hurts. Their words feel like daggers thrown at me. And they all land in critical areas. “Our students and their families are new to this country” they say going on to elaborate on the challenges of not understanding the American system of learning. “Our students are new to the concept of college,” therefore we need to learn about their cultures by having them bring in native dishes. Variations of these comments are often offered as explanations as to the difficulties that my colleagues encounter while trying to hold on to their archaic teaching pedagogies. These discussions often times go past the topics of immigrant students, and then delve into the class differences between my colleagues and our students. My colleagues do not realize that sitting among them is a firstgeneration immigrant, a first-generation college student. Their discussion 223

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confirms my sense of “otherness” in the academy, a sort of “no-man’s land” if you please. I don’t belong and there’s nothing I can do about it. Their words range from being condescending to painful. Why do they feel comfortable and even empowered to do this? Some might say they don’t know that they are doing something hurtful. Others may say that they know and simply do not care. But they’re your colleagues, you say. Why would they talk about you in this manner you ask. I can safely say that they both do not know nor do they care. To them, they are simply discussing the challenges that our students encounter and their brilliant analyses and solutions as individuals of privilege. Our students are mostly first-generation college students. They tend to be first- or second-generation immigrants. The vast majority also tends to be men and women of color, also of lower socioeconomic status. I see our students as a reflection of me. I am a first-generation immigrant, college graduate, and a Black woman. I will never understand the place of privilege from where my colleagues come. The middle- and upper-middle-class culture of the academy will always elude me. It will never include me in these conversations except as an unknown subject. It’s not the first time that I’ve felt excluded from a group to which I belong. It’s actually in fact not a foreign feeling. I’ve been in a different “no-mans” land before, and I’ve claimed it as my own. It’s the hyphenated place of Blackness. Being an Afro-Trinidadian woman in the United States of America I’ve navigated into a space of being bicultural and Black. I don’t remember ever having conversations about being Black while living in Trinidad & Tobago. I recall overhearing others commenting on my brown complexion, and “nice hair” within my family. These comments and conversations can be tied back to the issue of colorism in Trinidad & Tobago. As is the case in most former British colonies, the ruling class and later upper class were often lighter hued individuals. Starting with the British, Spanish, and Portuguese colonists, and later creole or mulatto individuals who were the results of interracial births. Depending on who you speak to colorism affects both lighter and darker hued individuals. Although history, particularly as it relates to economic and class shows the darker skinned individuals of society being negatively impacted. There is a period in time post-Independence where darker skinned individuals were denied educational and employment opportunities. With the advent of the 1970 Black Power Revolution came newfound pride in darker hues, and the opening of opportunities in the public and private sector for more equity. I also recall being referred to as a “darkie” in an endearing way. None of this really meant anything to me. I grew up around individuals of varying hues, religions, and racial backgrounds. The main tension between those of African origin and those of East Indian origin did not permeate the community in which I grew up. I do recall an incident in high school, where an Indian

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classmate lashed out and said “why don’t you all go back to Africa.” He later apologized profusely, when the entire class Indian, African, and otherwise ganged up on him. It seemed like a fleeting moment. We all moved on after that. But, I believe we moved on with the awareness, that this individual held some contempt for those who were not like him. It was not a defining moment for me. Maybe because my father is of both African and Indian heritage, and he daily celebrated both parts of him. So the idea of race was not firmly planted in my mind. I don’t think it was firmly planted in my identity either. As I entered the 7th grade in Brooklyn, my Trinidadian identity was firmly planted. I wore a purse around my neck made from a calabash. On the purse was a carving of Trinidad and Tobago. My classmates would eye it warily and ask me “what is that?”. In my thick accented voice I would say a purse. So now they made fun of the way I said purse. But I wore it every day. The teasing was non-stop, and I quickly tired of it. My school was predominantly Black and Latino. Most of my classmates were African American, Puerto Rican, and from the Dominican Republic. There was a population of secondgeneration Caribbean students from various islands, and a few first generation who migrated to the United States at younger ages than I did. My next door neighbor was from St. Vincent. We bonded immediately, and actually stay in contact today. She didn’t speak with a Vincentian accent though, neither did her sisters. I slowly began to mimic her way of speaking. I quickly learned slang, and to my mother’s chagrin frequently responded to questions with “huh.” I remember a Latino classmate teasing me one day, he repeatedly sat there yelling, “Trinidad, Trinidad, Trinidad. I’d had enough. Channeling my grandmother’s fighting stance, I turned to him and in my accent stated. “First of all Trinidad is not my name! And second, me and you is not friends, so you have no reason to call me!” That was the last time he called me Trinidad. I also remember being told that I eat like a White girl. To this day, I am greatly confused by this. I also remember some African American classmates referring to Caribbean people as coconuts. In music class learning the bass clef spaces ACEG was taught as All Cows Eat Grass. One young lady decided that it meant “All Caribbeans Eat Goat.” What was clear to me was that in a group of people who mostly looked like me, my difference stood out. What was also clear was that those who came before me figured out how to not stand out by changing the way they spoke. What 12-year-old wants to stand out? So my slow mimicking of my Vincentian friend, became a full-blown American accent. I remember my 7-year-old sister struggling as well and asking me “how to speak like that.” I explained some phonetics to her, and we practiced. At the same time, I became involved in my local church choir. This was an interesting place to be as an adolescent. I would say that approximately 99 percent of the church was Caribbean. My peers were all either the children

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of first-generation immigrants or were themselves immigrants. The mixture of accents and languages was quite interesting. My second-generation peers would often times try to mimic their parents. They never made fun of my accent at that point, (later in life they would tell stories of how thick my Trini accent was when they first met me). They seemed to enjoy showing me their ways of being Caribbean and I watched how much they were in fact American. I would have to say it is at this point that I actively began negotiating being in different spaces. At school, I spoke like my classmates, at home I spoke like my family members, and at church I listened to people speak in multiple ways. In some ways, my church community insulated me from the greater American culture. All the music at church had a Caribbean tempo, in fact the church also had its own steel orchestra. All of the food at church functions was Caribbean fare from the various islands represented in the congregation. My siblings and I had previously complained about any food we deemed American that my mother cooked. Life pretty much went on like this until I got to college with the exception of one incident. In high school, I attended an after-school program at one of the local colleges. One of the tutors in the program was a gentleman from Trinidad & Tobago. I told him, I too was Trinidadian, and he responded with a frown. “Why do you speak like that,” he asked. I didn’t have an answer. I don’t remember the specifics of what was said, but what followed was a lecture on how it was wrong of me to hide my Trinidadian accent with an American one. I remember feeling very ashamed, and very angry. I was ashamed because I felt like I wasn’t being a good Trini, I felt angry because somewhere in my consciousness I realized that this man could not possibly understand what I’d been through as a 12-year-old new to the United States. As a teenager, I didn’t have the vocabulary or even the bravado to push back against his views and opinions. I remember thinking, it’s too late, how do I just start speaking differently now? It wasn’t possible, and I didn’t know why. My college was a very diverse space, and within that space were international students. Some of these international students came from the various Caribbean islands. It was at this point that I was faced with the idea that I wasn’t Trini enough, or too American. Naturally when someone says they’re from the Caribbean or from Trinidad, I would say I’m from Trinidad! Even when people would simply ask where are you from I would proudly state Trinidad & Tobago. Then the confused looks would start. Or I would simply be dismissed. People would say you don’t sound like it. Or there would be activities taking place, that I would not participate in, and again my cultural identity would be challenged. “Are you going home for Carnival?” My response would always be no, I don’t participate in Carnival. Then I would be asked “what kinda Trini are you?” Although I wanted to be around my fellow countrymen and Caribbean peers, it simply was too difficult. The difficulty

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came from the fact that I was becoming more comfortable in my skin, while still figuring out who I wanted to be. The challenges to my cultural identity were an additional component I simply did not want to deal with. I remained cordial with most individuals who challenged me, but intentionally spent time only with those who accepted me without reservations. Another thing that complicated these relationships is the place in Trinidad from where I originated. I grew up in an area called Morvant, it also is referred to as Morvant/Laventille. It is an area that has come to be associated with high crime. There is the perception both within and outside of Trinidad that most if not all people from this area are criminals, or associated with criminals. People never consider that there are decent people in this area, raising their families and contributing to society in a positive way. Many of the individuals I encountered in college and later in graduate school would often refer to my area in a condescending fashion. This of course added to the tension between us and led me to keep my distance. Similar to the incident from my teenage years, I became angry, but this time I did not take on the shame. Although, I did not possess the language at the time, what is clear to me is that those individuals who migrated to the United States at a later stage than I did could not possibly have a clear understanding of my experience. They also were here temporarily, and were not concerned with fitting in. I always snickered to myself though, because although they never adapted an American accent, the longer they remained in the United States the less they sounded like their original selves. They weren’t so different from me, but somehow needed to assert that they were. In the first semester of my master’s program, I was enrolled in a theories of counseling course. Within this course we covered various racial identity theories of counseling including that of William Cross. An exam question forced me to confront my Blackness. Prior to this, it was not a thought for me, I knew I was Black but above all I was West Indian, Caribbean, Trinidadian. My community in Brooklyn was so insulated that very rarely were issues of race discussed or examined. I felt like I may have been on the periphery of Black-White relations in the United States. I was at times aware of what I now know to be microagressions, but largely unbothered. Anecdotal evidence indicates that one can grow up in “ethnic” New York City and not face overt racism. I say ethnic New York City for a reason. Individuals oftentimes refer to the city made up of five boroughs as a melting pot. In my experience it’s more of a lunch bowl with compartments. You know the ones that separate the rice from the meat, and also separates the salad? I think it’s one of those. Large groups of people from various racial, ethnic and at times regional backgrounds gather in segregated neighborhoods. They attend their own schools, churches, and other institutions. So it is entirely possible to only be around people who are just like you for most and in some extreme cases all of your

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life. The exam question was about selecting a racial identity model and placing yourself in one of the stages. My initial reaction was to push back. I’m Caribbean, this does not apply to me. But in my course of study reflection and self-awareness were pillars. The more I reflected on it, the more I realized that I had not faced my “crisis.” Cross proposed that most individuals tend to be in the pre-encounter stage until they are faced with an event that forces them to shape their Black identity. I now believe that my insulated upbringing kept me in the pre-encounter stage for some time. So the essay question was in a sense the catharsis of me entering the encounter stage. At this point I believe my view and acceptance of my Blackness was lukewarm. As I delved more into the literature, engaged more with people outside of my community, I also held firmly to my Blackness along with my Trinidadian identity. The Trinidadian identity is a complex one. One into which I am currently delving with my scholarly work. In my opinion being Trinidadian, particularly in a foreign land takes precedence over race. I’ve discovered that, the nation-first identity oftentimes prevents Caribbean individuals from recognizing and/or identifying issues of race. Being as it is more complex than I’ve been able to understand, I continue to explore and wrestle with it. Another layer comes in to play in terms of class. Class and race are interesting bedfellows. Being a first-generation immigrant, I’ve found it difficult at times to relate to those who have firm roots in American society. More so individuals who may be Black, but come from some background of privilege or affluence. Being in college and ultimately being a member of the academy has made this very salient. Back to leaving that meeting feeling isolated and enraged. I’ve found peace, because the hyphen in which I dwell has given me some powerful tools. The most powerful tool is the ability to learn the nuances of a culture, while still maintaining my strength and my identity. So that day I made a firm decision and I have stuck to it. Sometimes I say it out loud, and sometimes I meditate on it. But the message is firm and clear to my colleagues. “I am not going to become a caricature of myself in order to help you feel comfortable with your privilege. You keep poking and prodding to get a prescribed reaction. The more I refuse to give that reaction, the more frustrated you get. You see I’ve learned a lot from watching you. From working in your world, I’ve learned that there is no place for emotions, let alone emotional responses. So I give you nothing. I’ve mastered your poker face.” And the attacks intensify! But I have my grandmother’s fight and her words. My bicultural Blackness is complex, it is storied, it is resilient, and it is beautiful. I dare anyone, Black or not to say otherwise.

Poem 2

American Double Toasted Banana Nut Bread Maurisa Li-A-Ping

the first time my mother had a double toasted banana nut bread from Starbucks, i learned what it meant to be American the way in which America, can take a simple homemade bread put it behind a glass window, make a museum out of it my mother knows how to make banana nut bread, but chooses not to says granny would make it all the time as a child back home in Guyana i guess it’s something about the museum that attracts her each time i go to Starbucks i order a double toasted banana nut bread i do not tell my mother about my addiction to Starbucks banana nut bread i know she will use her glue gun to line the dunce bucket to make a clown out of me she will say things like, oh, you only eat Starbucks banana nut bread ’cause i eat Starbucks banana nut bread. i do not like lying to my mother, but sometimes i have issues translating her mockery into love i know that even her tough love is a form of cultural capital a tool used to remain resilient my mother stands in a Starbucks line with a fatigued and weary spine many people think she is waiting for her double toasted banana nut bread but both my mother and i know she is waiting to have access to things that our immigrant ovens cannot provide i always order a double toasted banana nut bread each time i go to Starbucks my friends in graduate school call me hollywood say i’m doing it for the culture, call me messy say i’m doing it for the “gram, for the snap,” for the “book”

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i chew on my bread as soft as my jaw will allow trying to block them out and savor the warmth they don’t always remember that their ovens were born in America i continue to chew, knowing that tomorrow i will be back in a Starbucks line waiting,

for a dream i cannot yet bake

Section 7

THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN COLOR AND RACE IN AFRO LATINX IDENTITIES

Chapter 22

Call Me Survivor AfroLatina Diasporic Identity, Survival, and a Tale of Two Negritudes Jessica Omilani Alarcón and Indhira Serrano

Life can be painful being both Black and Transnational as each generation of humanity represents a total sum of the human experience. In one being, a journey culminating in a complicated composition of the shadows of enslavement and domination, colonialism, and the invasion of native lands while simultaneously representing a fusion of combined attributes of ancestral brilliance such as the majestic genius of Africa, the curiosity of Europe, and the spiritual connection of an indigenous soul. To be Black and Transnational is also to be complicated. This narrative essay compares the experiences of AfroLatinas, living two different experiences, one in the United States and the other in Colombia. Their lives will be juxtaposed in relation to the ways their Negritude (Blackness) and Latinidad have been questioned, nuanced, and reclaimed as they embrace the totality of their identity. The two authors reflect on the ways enslavement and institutionalized racism have affected race, color, and the potential for success in the African Diaspora specifically focusing on an AfroLatino context in the Americas. It is no secret that race is a social construct, a creation that was designed to enforce ideals of discrimination and to justify unfair practices, some of which still remain today. At the core of this ideal is the notion of White superiority and the inferiority of all peoples of color worldwide. White supremacy has socially constructed a de facto practice that demonstrates that in order to have the greatest opportunity, access, and possibility in life, one would need to adapt to the ways of the dominant culture/race. Therefore, taking into account the complexity of all which has created the Black Transnational being, this chapter looks at various forms of Colorism in Latin America and in the United States and considers the possibility that 233

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fitting in has been adapted as a survival instinct and the psychoses the African Diaspora developed with regard to skin tone, mestizaje, and language (slang/ proper) is a complex system that developed as a survival mechanism. In the Caribbean and throughout the Americas, during Colonial Era, Europeans had children with people of African descent. There was a strategic enculturation of the idea that, the more one’s attributes resembled a Eurocentric phenotype, the greater chance of survival. Although there was not a real acceptance of Mulattoes, the ones who had more European features were the ones with most opportunities, creating a culture in which people were enculturated to embrace European roots and to despise and hide African roots in order to survive. The long-ingrained, institutionalized systems of self-hatred and Euro-centric glorification are hard to erase. It takes re-educating oneself and a strong conviction that Afro-ethno features are not birth defects. Afrodescendientes deserve the same opportunities to pursue happiness and accomplish goals as any other human beings. At the same time, an aspect of diaporaness is in embracing the sum of three roots. African, European, and Indigenous. Furthermore, to embrace African Ancestry and African features does not represent a renouncing of other roots. That decision would, in fact, render a person to be an incomplete human being. Edouard Glissant (2009) theorized that rather than being a people of simply roots, the African Diaspora is comprised of routes, an entire rhizomatic system of interconnected routes, journeys and destinations that have structured our current being. We propose that healing the complexities of being Black and Transnational takes regarding oneself at a crossroads of journeys through time and space. Identity as a form of survival, provides a point of departure and analysis, as opposed to blame or condemnation for inherited mind-sets. Understanding the root or route of the issue provides for opportunity to change and grow all that embraces every aspect of identity without seeing any part of the whole as inferior, lacking, or abominable. AFRICAN DIASPORIC IDENTITY Moving beyond the idea of race as a social construct, one must also consider that the way in which people perceive Blackness, Latinidad, and Negritude are not ideas and constructions that have been pulled out of oblivion. There is a cultural and historic value attached to ethno-racial identity. Historical contexts and survival are the trigger for acceptance or rejection of identities. In fact, identity is never as simple as a mere rejection or denial. To understand the weight of Blackness, first it must be understood the way we became Black.

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ON BECOMING BLACK In one manner, Blackness as an identity is an underlying result of survival and unintentional (and in some cases, intentional) Pan Africanism. In The Pan African Connection (1983) Tony Martin describes Pan Africanism as: Inevitable with the inception of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Europe by scattering Africa to the winds, inevitably if unwittingly set in motions the process which would bring scattered Africa together again at a higher level. (Martin 1983 vii)

In other words, the Middle Passage fragmented clusters of African identities and dispersed seeds from the continent to the Americas forming what would become the African Diaspora. The fragmentation of Africans forged a series of interconnected new identities in the New World that, through the processes set in motion, brought scattered Africa together again in one Black identity, at least initially. Furthermore, due to the racist nature of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, distinguishing Black from White, and establishing Whiteness as benevolence and superiority, was necessary to maintain a system of mental, physical, and spiritual control. Therefore, the system of racism created a distinct Black and White race. In the continuum of Black/White, the binary was offset by the other interacting communities such as the Indigenous peoples and intermixing inevitably happened. Corresponding with the time period of Trans-Atlantic Enslavement was the Age of Enlightenment (1685–1815) and the scientific movements going on in Europe, where beside measuring skulls and exploring anatomy, there was a rush to create detailed developments of taxonomies, genius, and species. Systems of classification existed prior to the eighteenth century and in the European sense have been traced to Aristotle during 384– 322 BC. He organized animals by type and binomial definition. Although his system focused on key elements such as animals with blood/ without blood or aquatic versus non-aquatic, an important factor is that each strata of the taxonomy is also associated each classification with a hierarchy. The next major adaptation would come about in the eighteenth century with Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), he called it the System of Nature. This system differed from Aristotle’s chart in that Linnaeus’s system was designed with a hierarchy of power, access, and survival (Bauer, 2015). Darwin’s taxonomy system, still used today, came much later during the nineteenth century. Without delving too deep into taxonomies and the issues therein, I would like to return to the point I am making that the seventeenth and eighteenth century was a time when the European world was heavily into classifying,

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Figure 22.1 

Jessica Omilani Alarcón and Indhira Serrano

Omilani in Espagnac, France 2004. Source: Photo taken by author.

labeling, identifying, and creating stratums (Spangenburg & Moser, 1993). They assigned power and prestige to plants, social groups, and of course, to people. The taxonomy of race and identity in the Americas falls directly in line with the scientific trends of eighteenth-century Europe (Cohen, 1982). Europeans were also obsessed with the idea of being “discoverers.” Enslavement resulted in the displaced Mande, Yoruba, Fon, Asante, Hausa, Igbo, and Fante transformed them into a homogenous nomenclature— African. Africans transported to the Americas went from being humans to being Slaves. Systems of White supremacy upheld the idea that Slaves were Black. To create distinctions within the Black race, there were sub-races and subcategories such as Mulato, Octoroon, or Grifa created, and each subcategory was assigned a hierarchy, privilege, or punishment and perceived characteristics, and the remnants still exist today (Brathwaite, 1974). In order to maintain race-based enslavement, a system of taxonomy grounded on principles of White superiority had to be created (Martinez, 2002). Blackness had to be socially constructed as evil, threatening, ugly, servile, and powerless. To create division and encourage praise of Whiteness, privilege was given to people with a lighter complexion, more closely resembling the dominating class/race.

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Figure 22.2  Omilani’s grand parents and father. Source: Omilani’s family photos.

Centuries of this mentality influenced the self-perception of AfroDescendants in the Diaspora and discouraged the embracing of the features and characteristics that make us distinctly Black. Society has created patterns that convince people that to be Black is to suffer. These tactics were not unique to the United States or the Americas in general either. Repetitions of racial/skin complexion–based taxonomies can be seen throughout the world. Additionally, it should be noted that Black did not have a widely negative nor homogenous connotation before the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The African Moors ruled Spain for over 500 years, in Spanish Moors are called Moros, this is one of the sources for the theory that perhaps the term Moreno (meaning Black or Dark Skinned) is derived from the Moors; the Black Mahouts were so popular that there was an illustration of a woolly haired Mahout on Etruscan (Italian) coins in third century BC; Hannibal was Black, Alexandre Dumas was a Haitian Mulato, and Carthage is in Africa. The point is, the contributions of Africa and African descendants are no secret. The crux however, is that this strategy and method is not exclusive to Eurocentricity in opposition to the African Diaspora. European have used the same tactics against other Europeans throughout history.

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Figure 22.3  Omilani’s mother (L) and Omilani (R). Source: Ominlani’s family photos.

Omilani: As a matter of fact, I recall living in France as a younger girl and learning in school that French as an official language is a recent development. I traveled through the South where people still spoke Occitane (Indigenous French language). In school we were required to learn about the Goulois and the tribal wars in Europe. Indhira: Don’t forget, White is also a Transnational and a multi-cultural conglomerate. Just as there was no such thing as Black there was also no such thing as White. What we call White today was a mixture of tribes that eventually mixed or blended, hybridizing into what we know as White today. Identity is complicated and in order to have a clear view of the effects of centuries of color-based hierarchies, classism and racism we have to look at the entire picture for what history implies both explicitly and implicitly. Omilani: We are a culmination of history and time that continues to change, even during our lifetime. The more we speak, the more we understand the ways our perception of life differs based on geographical roots. I was born and raised in the United States and lived a primarily African American experience. Yet, at times I felt very aware of the difference between my family, a mixture of Afro-Indigenous, Filipino and Puerto Rican ancestry and the local communities. At times it created a complex in either direction; I would feel a need to be extremely immersed in African American identity, or something would pull me to ask questions or want to be connected to my other identities, especially because of how African American history was presented in school. In the States everyone was given a glamorized version of Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock and were taught that Black people were Slaves who came

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Figure 22.4  Indhira’s family photo. Source: Indhira’s family photos.

through Civil Rights but that was it. When Black History was mentioned it was only Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and even then, it was taught as if one was good and the other was bad but became good at the end of his life. Also, it definitely seemed like Black History started in the United States and then spread to other spaces. Although I knew that Marcus Garvey was Jamaican and Kwame Ture is from Trinidad and Shirley Chislom is Trinidadian as well, they were still situated within an African American Context. We called Latinos “Spanish” and although there are so many Afro Puerto Ricans and Caribbean people in my family, somehow “Latino” seemed like someone or something else outside of what I saw everyday. How about you? Indhira: The only thing I was taught about Black history was that Black people were slaves and were brought to Colombia to work on plantations and in the mines and the only picture I remember was of Black people with almost no clothes on tied in chains. SURVIVAL AND IDENTITY As AfroLatinos are becoming more visible and central to discussions in Latin America and in the United States, so too are the divisive misconceptions we have about each other. Some of the misconceptions are developed in school, as is highlighted in the prior section. Omilani studied in the United States and

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was given a version of history that makes it seem like enslavement and racism was a tragedy that only happened to African Americans. Indhira’s ideas of Blackness were shaped by a color system in Latin America that extended beyond skin complexion. In the article, Identidad del Negro en Latin America (1978) the Revista Rotaria explains that the problem is not simply about pigmentation: La piel ha sido el instrument socorrido por el colonista europeo para imponer su supremacia, lo que ha generado una corriente alienadora que obligaba a que negros, indios, mulatos, y zambos traten de blanquear su piel para parecerse al amo. (Revista Rotaria 1978) Skin (complexion) has been a tool of European colonialists to impose their supremacy, they created an alienating feeling that obligated Black people, indigenous, mulatos and zambos to try to whiten their skin to appear more like the slave master. (Translation provided by author.)

According to the Revista Rotaria, this is where we, Afrodescendientes in Latin America developed complexes and the desire for Whiteness. The author continues, “paridojicamente, en el proceso de autoblanqueo, para major acomodarse a la mirada y complacencia del amo, el negro puro no se mira a sí mismo como tal. Se olvida de su color y de su origen africano y, contrariando toda evidencia, se proclama blanco.” [ Paridoxically, in the process of selfwhitenining, to better accommodate the look and complacency of the master, the pure Black person does not look at himself as such. He forgets his color and his African origin and, to the contrary of all evidence, proclaims himself White.] An important aspect regarding survival in the African Diaspora context is the realization that there is no absolute wrong or right. There are various positions people had to take in order to survive. It can be easy to blame the person who has adopted self-hate, but what about the context they are living in? The world surrounding that person was set up in a way that gave privilege to all things most closely resembling, as the rotaria magazine expressed it, the slave master. Ultimately, encounters on the path to survival have made some people reactive, others have to decided to fight and become warriors for identity, and there are others who find their comfort in blending or in assimilating, and then there is another faction of the population who have not chosen a specific path or do not have any option to choose because their surroundings shape identity for them. Sociocultural environment teaches humanity to hold certain positions, and this is one of the most important arguments we are making in this paper. In

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order to bring about mutual understanding between the fragments of the diaspora, returning to our original idea, we hope that the diaspora will realize we are one people affected by the same system that initiated the fragmentation. There are people who benefit for the biased racial structure in the Americas and others who suffer from its consequences. Moving beyond survival is not just about accepting what has been taught to you, it is about changing approaches to identity. This change cannot be one-sided, both the oppressed and the benefactors of the unjust system have to open their eyes to what has been done. We are fed the idea that Blackness is a blemish, a punishment, and a sentence to sufferment. It is embedded in language with phrases like, black soul, dark (meaning evil), black cloud, black hole (void), black sheep (outcast), devil cake (black cake), black balled (banned), or black mail (entrapping a person with their past actions). There are even jokes about “yo momma so black” with a dark hue of skin as the central punchline. Contrastingly, one can find white lies (not that bad), white clouds, angel cake (white cake), white witches (good witches), white collar crimes, or a white knight (someone that comes to save the day) and I have never heard any White “yo momma jokes.” The psychologological toll cannot be contained within the confines of academia and structured scholarly analysis. We need the fluidity to breath the words of our lived experience, so, at this juncture, we will shift the focus from theory and academic text to our personal narratives. While we share numerous commonalities, there are areas where our narratives and understanding of Negritude (Blackness) in relation to Whiteness and color diverges. These distinctions are acknowledged, not to establish one or the other as more veritable, but instead to illustrate the complexity of diaspora, identity, and the ways in which our fore-parents expressed identity as bitter or beloved. MIS RAÍCES, MY ROOTS Indhira/Grandmother and Skin Complexion My grandmother was born of a multiracial family. My great grandfather (her father) was White, with blue eyes, and blonde hair. My great grandmother was as Black as us [Indhira and Omilani] and then my grandmother’s siblings were of every complexion and mix. My grandmother was the one who inherited the darkest skin and I believe that Influenced the way she lived her life. In her family there was a great appreciation for being lighter. They placed a lot of importance on mejorando la raza—Improving the race. I remember how she kept telling me that I was not beautiful enough. Although it was told to me as a joke, it still hurt me, and I think that in the bottom of her heart, she expressed to me what she felt about herself and being

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the darkest. She was proud of me and at the same time she was ashamed of my complexion. I had to reinvent myself from out of the concept my grandmother placed in my mind. Even now, I have an auntie who really truly believes that my nose and features and my hair are defects which I have to hide, and I know for sure she loves me a lot but it’s what she was taught. INDHIRA/ON BEING BLACK IN COLOMBIA When I was in Barranquilla when I was already a model and an actress, I came back and I had to go to a hotel where there was a Black guard at the door. When I arrived, he put his hand on my chest and said, “The servant gate is in the back” and suggested that I go there. When I informed him that I was a guest at the hotel, the guy didn’t apologize, he was suspicious until I went inside to check in. It lingers in my mind that he never apologized, and he was Black. Sometimes it seems that in Barranquilla where I was born, I have received some of the most racist treatment in my life. It is as if the Black people over there are so convinced that “if you’re White—you’re right and if you’re Black, stay back.” Something that has been planted in our heads by the dominant class is that opportunities for us to break past the glass ceiling are very rare if not impossible. Those who are able to break through are seen as exceptions to the rule, however, I believe that it is not a fixed rule. Although there is truth to the fact of environmental limitation, it is exactly that—a limitation of the environment—not the person. To immerse yourself into the idea that you can’t because of your environment gives no strength to the power and ability of one’s personal will and self-determination. Success can challenge the way you think about yourself and the way others perceive you, and this challenge appears in both positive and in contrary ways. OMILANI/GRANDMOTHER—HAIR TEXTURE I had some of that happen too, but for me, it was a little different. My grandmother’s complexion was very close to White. Her hair was straight and wavy. If I wasn’t the darkest, I certainly felt like the darkest one. My siblings have straight, slightly wavy hair too and I came out with a huge brown curly afro. My hair was always long and very thick. When my grandmother would do my hair, she told me it felt like straw. She was so loving and caring. I laughed with her about my straw-textured hair that was always tangled. I just remember lots of pushing my head away from her, while I sat on the floor

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or a stool between her knees while she tried to comb out my hair and then, because I would move too far away from the comb, she would pull me back by my long locks. I was definitely pelo malo—the one with the “bad hair” yet I would go to school and be told I had good hair. Girls would run up to me and pull my hair and call me all kinds of names—zebra child (Black and White), although I wasn’t Black and White, mut, high yella, red bone, Vanna Black (not Vanna White) and White girl. OMILANI/ON NOT BEING BLACK In my mind, to this day, if I never had a mirror and never saw myself, and if you asked me to describe myself, I would say I look like Grace Jones. In my mind, that is who I am. I wear my culture proudly, yet my Blackness has always been challenged. From the time I was the only Black child in my firstgrade class or when the children would ask me if I was Black or White and I never knew how to answer because no one ever told me anything about race at such a young age. As I grew older, one thing that spoke loudly was the fact that there were people who felt I was not Black enough. It really shocked me that people would be so adamately angry that I embraced my Black identity and am proud of my African roots, yet if I claim any of my roots that are also a major part of my identity, they are equally offended. When people tell me I am not Black, I think of my Mahogany-skinned mother I grew up admiring and adoring. I love that she is so strong and caring. I am not the oldest, but for some reason, when I came along, she gave me her entire name. It would be impossible for me not to see her in me because I carry her name. Even visually, people say we are twins. I cannot measure the Blackness on our skin. My spirit and soul reflect my mother and my ancestors. I, too am mahogany like her and I am proud of what I see in the woman who carried me before I entered this world. I did not beg for lighter skin and hair that is looser than some. In fact, because of the mixture of my family, I always was cognoscente of my darker skin and my coarser hair. This point is even more difficult because some of the cognizance of my difference was ignited in my own household. Some would argue that my father is not phenotypically “Black,” yet that is how he identifies. He is the one who instilled the revolutionary spirit within me, at seven years old he had me reading Before the Mayflower and the Autobiography of Malcolm X. He would take me to lectures and I grew up nurtured by radical Black Conscious figures like Stokley Carmichael (Kwame Ture), Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Del Jones, Maya Angeolu, Ben Chavis, and the list can continue. These were not storybook figures for me, these were the people who shaped my childhood and who took the time to share wisdom

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with me as the youngest person in the room (most of the time). This army of consciousness I speak of, shaped my thinking and informed me that Blackness, Africanness, and Diasporaness had very little to do with skin complexion and everything to do with understanding the world around us and how that world affects our community. Yet, behind the curtain of consciousness I was also given a glorious narrative of my great grandparents being from Spain and how proud they were of that heritage. There were so many contradictions all around me that still pull at my being. I was taught to love and hate everything that I am. Through our own personal experiences in Colombia and in the United States, although we come from different cultural backgrounds, we both have been confronted with situations that shift our definition and acceptance/questioning of Black consciousness leading us to define and reclaim Negritude in our own terms and not necessarily based on any prior movement. A TALE OF TWO NEGRITUDES Indhira: When you speak of Negritude and Blackness, I realize that in Spanish there is not a word for Whiteness. There is no Blanquitude. There is Blancura which is the quality of being White but there is no Blanquitude as a movement or Blanquitude as a definition of the shades of White. It’s just interesting because we need to create that word, or they create that word but the comparison was interesting to me. Omilani: Maybe the difference is that whereas oppressed peoples need movements and collective support to reinforce our self-love and brilliance there is no need for a White empowerment movement because it is already there. All over the world. The Blanquitude movement started with Colombus in 1492. Indhira: It was interesting that in the States there are “people of color” that are not Black people. In Spanish, people of color are only Afrodescendants. In English people of color are can be any race of Spanish descent, Mexican descent, Indigenous, and so on and so forth. It was interesting to talk about it because in the States they have put bigger separation between White people and everybody else. That does not necessarily exist in the rest of Latin America. It is interesting because here in Latin America there is a big difference between being Indigenous and being Black but when you’re mixed you recognized for the features that are more characteristic of you. The second concept is regarding “deserving.” This relates to the belief that the Blacker we are, the less we deserve and the things that you are able to earn or achieve are attributed to your White heritage. So then you will hear people say things such as “you are intelligent despite being Black or beautiful despite being

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Black or smart despite being Black” and despite being Black we keep on listening to these statements and have been since we were growing up. So we have to begin to break this kind of thinking. Omilani: This returns to the concept of how we all became linked by history and time, unfortunately caught in a nefarious game of taxonomy. Sometimes I call enslavement profitable kidnapping and within this revolutionary spirit in me, there is an important part of me that loves all people irrespective of color or background. In spite of all of that, it is impossible to turn my head away from the continuing effects of White coloniality, White supremacy, and oppressive measures that shape societies today. I also cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that there are alternatives. Enslavement existed before the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, but those people who were enslaved blended in with societies and were part of the community. You can walk through buildings in Spain and see Arabic, Jewish, and Christian symbols all in the same architecture because the African peoples were very tolerant of other cultures and identities. The Moors did not go in and destroy edifices. Willie Lynch may have been a fictional character, but the speech accurately describes the method and the implications mental enslavement has had on both the African Diaspora and those who are not African Descendant because we are not alone in the world. I truly believe we cannot break the chain of inequity without there being mutual involvement and commitment from all peoples irrespective of color, class, or identity. Indhira: We have a personal identity, but identity is shaped by all these experiences, it is shaped by what came before us, and how those experiences were shared with us. Here in Colombia sometimes there are divisions between Black people who recognize themselves as Black and have important movements and people like me who are a little bit lighter. Not all of them, but many of them treat people that are lighter as if we were guilty of something as if we have some responsibility of the mix that created us. As if this so-called advantage of being lighter is something that we have to pay for and that is unfair. BLACK, WHITE, AND COLOR OFF THE PAGE We felt it was important to approach this work of looking at race and identity from the two perspectives we bring; one as a trained scholar with the theory and knowledge of the discourse on race and identity and the other as a nonacademic, actress, hoping to remind academia of what it is like for the people off the pages. This is a frequent topic in academia because academics, even ones who study social change, and community development, can become closer to theorists and textbooks than they are to the people. We hope the disconnection can be repaired.

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It is important for academics to understand how the things about being Black and Transnational affects “normal” people, people in the street not academic people and how we feel about identity absent of the pretext of theory and full of the presence of real life. With that reflection of the inner self and we have to cure ourselves we have to heal ourselves and understand who we are and define that version of self—in our own terms.

Chapter 23

The Routes of Rhythm Reggae and Antillean Black Identity Ryan Mann-Hamilton

My father was among the first group of Peace Corps volunteers sent to the Dominican Republic in 1962 in the aftermath of the assassination of the Dictator Rafael Trujillo. He was stationed in Samana, where he met my mother whom he courted and later asked for her hand in marriage. Although he had never left the Dominican Republic, my grandfather warned my mom that they would face obstacles being a multiracial couple. They married in 1965 and moved to Puerto Rico in 1966, where my father was to work at the University. My father went on to do his doctoral work in Florida, but my mother did not accompany him for it was in the segregated south. The landmark Loving vs. Virginia civil rights ruling that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage was passed in 1967 the year before my mother first visited the United States (US), landing in Tallahassee, Florida. On that initial trip my mother inadvertently challenged the color line by walking into the local supermarket to get some goods to cook for her husband and his advisor. Since she spoke no English, rather than be kicked out, she was guided through the supermarket by the manager and allowed to purchase the items she needed. Although my father chose to never speak of it, my mom presumed that part of the reason for moving to Puerto Rico was as a result of their relationship. A biracial couple did not go unperceived in the context of the United States or that of Puerto Rico. Though Puerto Rico (PR) is a territory of the United States, many of the mainland laws were not enforced on the island. They presumed the island was a better site to live because of the less bounded categories of race and colorism, but the experience of Black communities and their economic status was not much different. Their relationship was affected by these circumstances and as described by my mother, they stopped holding hands in public, limiting their affection to private spaces. 247

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In this chapter I trace the different spaces, places, and encounters that led to my Antillean Black Identity formation within a bi-racial and bi-cultural household. The experiences that we have as youth and the exposures during our early years of development are central to the formation of our identity. I use auto ethnography to interrogate my experiences of adolescence and struggles with identity formation in my early years. The construction of one’s identity is constructed and complicated through movement, exchange, and through historical and geographical contingencies. Therefore I understand Black identity formation as a process rather than a finished product, constantly reworked and malleable to space and place. My sister and I were both born and raised in Mayaguez, PR. Living in PR gave both of us the privileges and the pitfalls that come with US citizenship. Our English sounding surnames were our first mark of difference and folks would question our Puerto Rican identity when we mentioned them. Many were perplexed and wondered how someone from a Spanish-speaking island could have Mann or Hamilton as a last name. Our upbringing and our cultural backgrounds were sufficiently different to attract attention, thus we continually challenged their limited views on what it was to identify as Puerto Rican. As we extended our network of friends our very act of being pushed a broader conception of what it was to be from the island and the different routes some took to arrive there. Though our physical appearance would fall within the historical rubric of Puerto Rican mixture between Indigenous, African, and European, we were also marked as foreign because of our color. Once it was deciphered that my mother was Dominican it was easy to imagine us as non-Puerto Ricans. Thus in their eyes Blackness rather than included in that rubric, had been imported. Many Puerto Ricans would jokingly state, “y tu abuela donde esta” (where is your grandmother?), “were all Black behind the ears,” placing Blackness somewhere in their past, but not a reality of the present. The notion of Blackness behind the ears now seems more like a mythological origin story than one of inclusion and equality in the context of the island. The referencing of the past as a site of Blackness rather than the present in some way presupposes that the “improvement of the race” has occurred and the strides toward Whiteness and thus privilege are en route. Therefore to be seen or to claim Dominican in the context of Puerto Rico meant an automatic connection to Blackness. This classification also required facing xenophobia and the utilization of stereotypes and a stigma of stupidity, unjustly attributed to Dominicans. This widespread perception indicates more about the colonial mindset that embraces these classifications than it does of the subject it references. Unable to talk to anyone about these matters, and as a response, I denied being Dominican, claiming Puerto Rico as my only home.

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My sister and my experience were eight years apart and differentiated largely along gender lines. As a male in a patriarchal island society, I didn’t have to be constrained by the beauty standards that she was judged by. The privileging of White standards of beauty is a common theme within Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean and is a direct result of the colonial context of Spanish and later US control. My sister was ridiculed for her hair, her nose, her long legs, and specifically her color. For me these beauty values meant that as a younger man, I rarely had any girls who found me attractive or deemed it a possibility to take me home to their parents. EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT TO DECIDE THEIR OWN DESTINY Perhaps my only memory of any discussion of race was when my father announced to me that my grandfather was not dead, but had chosen never to meet us because we were not White. I had just turned 13. Conversations about race never occurred in our home. Once my parents divorced it was never discussed as a family. In the context of Puerto Rico conversations around race were commonly deemed as divisive rather than constructive. To claim Blackness within Puerto Rican society continues to be a claim to a different experience and routinely denied by even the most educated. We understood who we were, it was an unspoken truth, but we also had no tools to combat and deflect those who chose to question our identities or our mixed race status. In part, this lack of affirmation led me to believe that anything in life was possible as long as I tried. The tired old lie of meritocracy would be shattered when I encountered it face on upon arrival in the US years later. EVERYTHING ME SAY, YOU SAY PRO TO THE BLACK My sister went off to college in the states and on her return trips she would bring me mix tapes. Day and night I played those reggae and dancehall tapes, the rhythms sucked me in, the lyrics gave me strength and allowed me to affirm that I too was Black. In the summer of 1993 my parents sent me to visit my sister who was now studying at City College in NYC. She would let me wander around 125th st. in Harlem, and I would walk up and down the streets soaking in African American culture around me. Finding freedom in my developing Black identity, I felt new connections in my encounters with the Diaspora. This was the summer of “Whoomp there it is” and “Insane in

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the Brain.” Spike Lees film Malcolm X had come out the year before and so I snatched up Alex Haley’s autobiography from one of the street vendors, eager to take it back to the island and show my friends what I had encountered. I identified with the young Malcolm, struggling to find his own place in the world. As I read, I glimpsed the conversations and discussions I had been missing, the tides were beginning to change. After my summer in Harlem the 9th grade began like any other year, except now I began to perceive and speak out against injustices around me. I read voraciously on the Civil Rights struggle, listened to reggae recordings constantly, able to identify songs in the first three seconds. I searched for others who were on the same path of exploration, but found few who shared my experience. The group of friends I gravitated to, loved reggae music, but I never felt they had the same connection to the words, to the history, and the feelings of Black pride expressed in the songs. In more recent conversations I asked them about their feelings towards reggae and if it had been of influence in their upbringing. None of their reactions indicated any notion of having to think about race in reggae or the Black performers of the music they so dearly loved. At the end of the day they had no inclination to claim Blackness, and preferred embracing their mestizo privilege able to appropriate reggae when they chose.

IF YOU LIVE IN A GLASS HOUSE DON’T THROW STONES None of my friends ever looked like me, I was usually the only Black kid in the group. Upon reflection, I realize many referred to or referenced me by the color of my skin: Negrito, Moreno, Prieto, Sugar Daddy, Mutombo, Shaka, and Rasta. Most of us gravitated toward reggae, internalizing the power of rebellion, the search for freedom and desires to counter capitalism and our colonial status. Their dazed osmosis of the music disregarded many of the elements that I found important. In those lyrics my friends failed to listen to the voices and stories of struggle and pain of the history of enslavement, and the actions of Black resistance and solidarity. As they sang of chasing “crazy baldheads out of town” they would turn and make racist comments about Dominicans and other poor folk. For many of them reggae was a voyage with a return, for me it was a deeper exploration into my self and what would be the beginning of an activist and academic journey. For each comment they made I would find a song as a response that inspired me to take a different route of thought and action.

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THE CRACK OF THE WHIP, THE SLAVE SHIP, AND MY BRUTALIZED SOUL During the school year, I remember an afternoon when Manolo, one of my classmates called me a nigger in the play yard. I had read about the power and violence behind the word as it was used in other spatial contexts, but it was the first time hearing it on the island. My instinctive response was to try to fight him, to permanently close his mouth. My classmates and friends, surprised at my response, held me back. They had no reaction to the word and hence thought my actions were aggressive and unwarranted. Some laughed as if agreeing, others told me to let it go, unfazed by the comment as they all shared a whiter skin. I don’t know if I was struck more by the act of verbal violence or the lack of response of others in the perimeter.

BLACK MAN YOU’RE AN AFRICAN Black History or the contributions of people of African descent to any of the history of Puerto Rico were not themes that were taught. Reggae became my history book, leading me down a path of connection. I began to see myself not only as a Black male, but connected to Africa and the larger African Diaspora. I listened to stories about Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, the maroons, and learned about Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela. Reggae made me interested in exploring new locations and I set out to find the rhythm across multiple places like Chile, Guatemala and Panama where many Jamaican descendants continued to labor. Reggae filled a void, and I consumed it as it consumed me, a symbiotic relationship of growth and redemption. I developed a critique of “Babylon” as a site and system and delved into the larger functions of inequality and the continued dispossession of the Black Diaspora across time and space. Through reggae I constructed my Antillean Black identity, a Black diasporic identity that rather than exclude, encompassed. I was slowly moving from thought to action.

COLONIZED EDUCATION One of the most important lessons was to understand the failures of my education that made me praise the warlords of colonization. When Peter Tosh sang, “You can’t blame the youth when they don’t know,” that youth was I. Our colonial education gave no importance to the contributions of my

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ancestors, as if our history was only that of the enslaved. Through the music I developed a condemnation of the “shitstem” and I began to arm myself with book knowledge. But there are many things one cannot learn only through books, additional knowledge required experiences. I had completed two years of university in Puerto Rico, but my initial college experience was not much different than my high school environ. Student affairs, student government, and cultural and race-based clubs were not a part of the educational tapestry on the island. Additionally, courses that interrogated race as a social construct or delved into the history of the African Diaspora were few, if any. When I transferred to Humboldt State University in Northern California at 19 I expected to be able to navigate what I had been told was the complicated nature of identity politics in the United States. Humboldt State was and is still a predominantly White institution and many in the community preferred the embrace of trees and natural resource conservation to social justice and equity. Coming into adulthood in the United States presented a conundrum for me. Though I am bi-racial, I have had to deal less with being half White or being perceived in that way. The only person that attempted to highlight my Whiteness was my father when I confronted him as an adult about the lack of conversations about race within our household. More than an experience of biracialism my initial experience in the United States became a conflict of biculturality. I arrived claiming Puerto Rican identity and simultaneously Black identity. I expected to work my way in and out of both Latino and African American social and cultural circles without any problems, I was wrong. Initially I felt that for the Latino students on the west coast of the United States less experienced with Caribbean kin, my skin was too dark. For many African American students I spoke Spanish and hence my Blackness became suspicious. Two historically disadvantaged groups had difficulties exploring the connections between their experiences. Part of this disconnect materialized out of the privilege that many Latinos can claim by not being Black or identifying Black ancestry. Many can escape being seen as different, until their cultural or linguistic expressions are noted. There was little desire to talk about the stereotypes and racism within Latino and Latin American communities, always naming it as something that was a problem of arrival in the United States. One learns as much about oneself through their own journey of exploration as one does through the gaze of others. As a student in search of a community I participated with MeCha, but found their expressions often excluded me. I participated in the Black student Union, but felt my experience as a Black Caribbean fell outside of the borders of their African American identity. Throughout my seven years there, I experienced a number of racist incidents, threats and comments from colleagues and others. But I would not succumb to the constructions of Blackness that only encompassed US culture. I

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attempted to verbalize and practice a more diasporic vision that encompassed multiple locations, and was not restricted by language or space. I began to embrace a more open definition of myself, and to develop a Pan African and Pan Caribbean identity that analyzed the divisions between culture, language and nationality, but also the commonalities in the Black experience. Upon graduation I took a job as staff and later as faculty at the institution. Alongside students, we worked hard to create spaces where we could question and push at these identity boundaries. I began to advise both Latinos Unidos and the Black Student Union and through conversations we created a course titled AfroLatinos that we hoped would continue to build solidarities. Throughout this process I continued to learn of the ways that I too had succumbed to notions of anti-Blackness, but also what perspectives I had been missing in reggae music. As a rhythm dominated by men, an analysis of gender and an acceptance of different sexualities were conspicuously absent. In order to build the solidarities necessary to begin transforming our communities an intersectional analysis was necessary that interrogated the interconnected structures of oppression that targeted the Diaspora. PROUD DESCENDANTS OF THE AFRICAN RACE Finding an adequate response for who I am and how I identified required an exploration of my past. As I immersed myself in reggae I began to ask about my families history. The questioning began with my mother, and then onto my aunts and grandmother. Piece by piece I began molding the different oral histories that were shared and constructed a narrative of who we were, who I was. The more details surfaced, the more beautiful the story became. I traced my Black ancestors throughout different locations in the Caribbean and the United States. I followed their forceful maritime journeys from Benin to South Carolina and Baltimore. From there some of my ancestors moved to Philadelphia and others to New York. From these locations the Hamilton and Vanderhorst names journeyed to the region of Samana as part of the formation and support for the newly independent Haitian Republic. I traced movements of other family members within the Caribbean, from Cuba and Nevis to the site of Samana. This would mark the beginning of my academic work of tracing my history and the different stops of the journey my family took within and outside of the Caribbean. Excited and thirsty to tell this story of movement, migration, and exchange, I applied to graduate school in anthropology to learn the best methods to continue this enterprise. The personal, had become the political. Today I continue the work of uncovering narratives of difference in the classroom and in the neighborhoods, knowing well that many more efforts are

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necessary. I share my stories and collect others that challenge the simplified ways we narrate our history and construct our identity. This story and many like it provide details to the obstacles in the formation of a Black identity, and the struggles and challenges to develop a more diasporic one. I continue using reggae as musical therapy, as the lighthouse of my nomadic identity and I continue to claim a Black identity from multiple locations. Reggae continues to be a tool of liberation, and a site to affirm my identity and to critique and transform the society in which we live. I envision an African Diaspora in solidarity, rather than fighting for the crumbs left from the privileged. Although this is an individual story, many share similar experiences that add to the complexity of the Black experience. Our identities are never complete; they are constantly shifting and expanding. We arrive at these identities through different experiences, at different times, and through varied locations. On the journey we create and destabilize categories along the way. As we uncover these stories we embrace a more ample definition of the Black experience and the different routes taken to maintain our dignity and our smile.

Chapter 24

Afro-Latinidad Being a Black Latino Anthony Curtis Polanco

Being raised in Los Angeles, California, in the early nineties was an amazing, diverse but challenging experience. I was raised in a multiethnic community in South Central Los Angeles in the Crenshaw district. I was raised by a Panamanian immigrant and African American scholar and advocate. As a child I struggled with a sense of identity in a pre-dominantly Hispanic and African American community. I was too Black to be Latino but too Hispanic to be considered African American. I grew up believing that being Black was exclusive to being Latino. This misunderstanding of the difference between ethnicity and race resulted in a conflicting dual identity that made me feel culturally segregated. I acted one way with my African American peers and another with my Latino peers. Whenever I would speak Spanish, I would get weird looks from both Latino and African American peers and this made me feel ashamed to even consider myself as a Latino. I would also hear my Latino peers make racist remarks in Spanish while they were unaware that I could understand them. One of the most common derogatory Spanish word used was “Mayate.” This word made me feel that being Black would not allow me to be a part of the Latino community. For these very reasons, I spent my adolescent years hiding my Latino culture from everyone except my close family members. I went through my teenage years in denial of my culture and did anything I could to be considered Black in the sense of the African American culture. In February 2002, after a change in the US Immigration system, my father was deported back to the Panama. I felt that this incident defined who I am. My father spent almost thirty years living and working in the United States. This made me realize the importance of my roots. I just kept thinking to myself, “My father is an immigrant so as his son I carry his lineage.” This event alone was the catalyst that began my journey into self-identity. 255

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EMBRACING MY AFRO-LATINO IDENTITY In 2005, I started attending college with a keen interest in Latin America and politics. My concern with identifying as an Afro-Latino left me with many questions. Where was my place in society? Would I ever be accepted by my Latino peers and African American peers? Were there other Afro-Latinos afraid to embrace their culture that I could relate to? Where could I celebrate my culture and identity? I attended the University of Texas at Arlington which included a diverse student body. I took courses on Afro-Latino literature, the African Diaspora, and Immigration. However, my studies did not satisfy my needs to learn about my roots. In December of 2007, I decided to visit my father in the Republic of Panama and reconnect with my roots. After five years without seeing my father, I landed in the Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama. He was waiting at the arrival doors and as soon we saw each other we started crying. Reuniting with my dad was a life-changing moment. It redefined my passion for my identity and my culture. He showed me all around Panama City including the Black and indigenous communities in the city. I noticed that Afro-Latinos in Panama struggled with identity and being proud of their Blackness. I often heard, “No soy Negro. Yo soy Moreno.” This translated to “I am not Black. I am Brown.” However, my father has always been proud of his Black roots and also continuously reminds me to be proud of our Blackness. However, my entire family does not share the same enthusiasm. Christmas Eve of 2007, I had an in-depth conversation with my late grandmother. She was an AfroPanamanian and Colombian descent woman with thick black hair, cinnamon colored skin, and self-determination. Her mother was blond hair and blue-eyed. Her father was a Black working-class man. She would always praise her mother’s physical traits as the archetype of beauty. However, she denounced her physical traits received from her father and described them as ugly and unbearable. This conversation made such a strong impression on me and made me question, “What is the role of Blackness in Latin America and the Latino community?” I searched throughout libraries and learning centers in Panama City and I found very few resources about Panama’s African ancestry and history. This was very disheartening but also eye-opening. Once I left Panama, my vision was clear. I felt that it was my responsibility to help promote a movement for recognition of the Afro-Latino identity.

AFRO-LATINIDAD, PROMOTING BLACKNESS, AND THE BLACK DIASPORA The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of the African Descent as an effort to combat racism, racial

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discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance against African descendants throughout the world. This set the tone for activists and advocates to have an international doctrine supported by the United Nations in which protects human rights distinctively for all African descendants. I remember traveling to New York City for the first Afro-Latino Conference in November of 2011 when I was first informed about the proclamation. The conference was presented by the Afro-Latina Forum and it was a very impactful event that included artists, activists, educators, lawyers, scholars, professors, and people from around the world. The forum’s theme was Strategies for Visibility and Action which held workshops, screenings, exhibits, panels, discussions, and many other activities to participate in. This conference changed my life. I met Afro-Brazilian scholars, Afro-Panamanian activists, Afro-Puerto Rican artists, and many other Afro-Latinos and African Descendants who shared the same goal and vision as I did: to promote Blackness within the Latino community. This event was the collective cultural gathering of Latinos who identified as Black and was the perfect representation of Afro-Latinidad. After that experience, I made the decision to move to New York City and on September 9, 2012, I started residing in New York City. I first lived in North Manhattan in an area called Washington Heights. Commonly known as the Heights, this area is known for its Dominican population which I easily assimilated into. I was so engulfed into the community that people would assume that I was Dominican. I loved it but I noticed that my Dominican peers didn’t always associate themselves with Blackness. I later found out that the Dominican culture did not openly celebrate its Blackness. However, this did not keep me from celebrating and sharing my knowledge with my Dominican peers. I was working in the Empire State Building and living a life I always dreamed of. However, in the summer of 2013, I hit rock bottom. I was fired from my job, my girlfriend broke up with me, and my Panamanian grandmother passed away. I was devastated and depressed but this situation was only the catalyst to something important that was coming. Throughout my depression, I wrote poems to safeguard my happiness and to keep myself busy. That summer I was invited to the 7th Biennial Conference presented by the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora. This pulled me out of my depression and I worked hard to get another job and remain in New York City. The conference was scheduled to take place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in October of 2013. On September 23, 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court retroactively revoked the citizenship of all persons born without at least one Dominican parent since 1929. This was direct blow to the Dominican and the African Diaspora. After studying the history of Haitian and Dominican relations, I realized that this was an attempt to erase Dominican Republic of its Black population. I realized that my Afro-Latino identity was one I would use to promote Blackness throughout the world and especially the African Diaspora.

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This propelled me to collect all my poems and publish them into a book. In October of 2013, I self-published my first book entitled, “Verses from the Diaspora” as a commemoration to the African Diaspora and I released it in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The book is a collection of my original poetry in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. I later premiered the book at the first 1st Annual Afro Latino Festival in Brooklyn. In 2014, I went on a book tour entitled La Afro-Latinidad Tour and performed my poetry in Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, Riker’s Island Juvenile Detention, and Austin, Texas. My Afro-Latino identity was not an overnight process by a lifelong process that helped define the person that I am. My struggles with identity helped me build my character, find my passion, contributed to the recognition and visibility of Afro-Latinos and all African descendants. The General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent to be observed from 2015 until 2024. I am now married with a daughter. Every day I teach my daughter about her Afro-Latino roots, celebrate her Blackness, and educate her so that one day she will continue this journey to document our rich heritage and culture throughout the Black Diaspora.

Chapter 25

Identity as Profession Becoming an African American Panamanian Afro-Latina Curator Ariana A. Curtis

As an anthropologist, I know that identity is shaped by our own ideas and beliefs about who we are as well as others’ perceptions of us. My father is Panamanian. My mother is African American. I am the curator for Latinx1 Studies at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. My identity and profession seem like perfect complements and I feel balanced in my biculturalism. However, one day, completely unprompted, a colleague confessed, “I don’t mean any offense, but you seem more Latina to me than African American.” I did not, and still do not, know how to take that. I consider myself AfroLatina, acknowledging that the term Afro-Latinx represents various transnational relationships of Blackness and Latin American/Caribbean heritage.2 My Afro-Latinidad is African American and Panamanian. I affirm my Latinidad in African American spaces and my Blackness in Latinx spaces. That is why I was offended when a non-Black Latina food writer described me as an “African American scholar.” Not because I am not African American. I am. As a Black woman born and raised in the United States to two Black English-speaking parents, I feel that my African American identity is indelible. I was offended because this woman knows my parents and me. She denied the Blackness of my Latinidad and/or the Latinidad of my Blackness, an insidious error that erases Afro-Latinx identities. “You seem more Latina to me than African American.” That comment stuck with me. Like this chapter, it highlights the parts of me that others, and sometimes myself, have noted as different. When I began working at the Smithsonian in 2013, undergraduates, graduate students, and young professionals (“of color” but mainly Black and/or Latinx) regularly contacted me to ask not about my research, but rather about my personal identity in relation to my profession. 259

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Fellow anthropologist Lee Baker understands the difficulty with which scholars must write about identities, including their own. He advocates viewing identity as a muddled category of practice, as opposed to a clean category of analysis (2004). In this chapter, I journey through my muddled processes of becoming “Afro-Latina.” I describe the changing ways I labeled myself, how others labeled me, and my identity’s influence on my academic pursuits. GROWING UP BLACK Both of my parents are Black. Most standard forms did not allow me to check two boxes, but I always knew that I was both African American/Black Non-Hispanic and Hispanic/Latino, a paradoxical identity in the world of administrative forms in the 1980s and 1990s (and still today, depending on the source). I have never referred to myself as “bicultural.” That is not to say I have not felt bicultural but I cannot remember articulating my identity in those terms. I am careful, albeit not always successful, to not say “Black and Latina.” My Latinidad is Black but my Blackness is not all Latinx. This complexity is important yet difficult to express succinctly in easily comprehensible ways. I am the daughter of an immigrant. That statement has obviously been true for my whole life, but was not something I considered until someone referred to me as “first generation.” The 1.5 generation is more accurate. I grew up in a monolingual English-speaking household in the predominantly White town of East Longmeadow, located in Western Massachusetts just over the Connecticut border.3 In my first semester of college, a textbook in my writing class identified Western Massachusetts as one of the Whitest areas of the country. It may be. However, the characterization lacked nuance. People were not just “White.” They were Greek. Italian. Irish. Portuguese. Many of my classmates were the children or grandchildren of immigrants. Therefore, my own father’s immigrant identity did not seem noteworthy to me in that environment. I am not sure my East Longmeadow classmates even knew my dad is from Panama. We were already some of the only Black people in town. I did not often articulate my family’s diversity within that predominately White space, but it also felt like an open secret. He has a Panamanian flag hanging from his review mirror. We all do. His name is Rolando Arturo. The only other Rolando I knew of was Rolando Blackman, a Black NBA player also from Panama, which led to my endearing yet flawed childhood conclusion that “Rolando” is a Panamanian name. I am from East Longmeadow yet claim the neighboring city, Springfield, MA,4 an area with one of the highest concentrations of Puerto Ricans in the country, as my homeland. Janice and Rolando Curtis prohibited use of the

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N-word and “spic,” a derogatory term for Latinxs, in our household. When you are one of few Black people in a predominately White town in an area with a dense Puerto Rican population, you hear a sickening share of N-word and spic “jokes.” My parents made sure that we, my three older siblings and I, socialized in more racially diverse and affirming spaces than our White small town offered. Until high school, I did not play sports in town. We even borrowed books from libraries in Springfield. My parents are both from large families in New York (Brooklyn and Queens) where, despite the omnipresent context of US racism, multilingualism, and racial and ethnic diversity were the norm. Socializing in Springfield was as much for their well-being as it was for ours. Both of my parents are Black. Yet I always knew that their families were different. My mom lovingly jokes that my penchant for frilly, sparkly, or showy adornment is my “mira mira gene.” We loved the large pots of “Spanish rice”—yellow rice with pigeon peas—that my paternal grandmother prepared during her visits but my favorite home cooked meal is still my mother’s smothered pork chops. Both parents call plantains “plátanos.” I did not realize that was not an English word, like salsa or tortilla, until my peers scoffed at the idea of frying “bananas” during Spanish class. (“I mean . . . . They aren’t really bananas, guys.”) My grandmother and some of my aunts and uncles have accented English that I understood to be accents of people whose first language is Spanish5, but different from the Puerto Rican accents that surrounded me. Although my father does not speak Spanish anymore, he pronounces his siblings’ names in Spanish. I thought my aunt’s name was Elveeda until I learned to read and wondered who the heck is Elvira? Like the mistress of the dark? His effortless pronunciation of Magnolia, Ree-car-do (Ricardo), Al-fray-do (Alfredo), El-vee-da (Elvira), and Eh-deet (Edith) with the short soft rs and ts that comes from flapping your tongue on the front of your palate reminds me that although lost in the pre-ESL, English-only public schools of the 1950s, Spanish was his first language. To be fair, to my New England ears, my mom and her family also have accented English, of the strong New York variety that says “Are-ange” for orange and the stereotypical “caw-fee” for coffee. Nevertheless, there are US accents and there are foreign accents. They are not the same. In the early 2000s there was a t-shirt fad, “everyone loves a ___ girl.” Everyone loves an Italian girl. Everyone loves a Black girl. Everyone loves a Korean girl. My sister bought us shirts that read, “Everyone loves a mixed girl.” My mother hated it. She purchased our Black is Beautiful sweatshirts and Black dolls. We cut images from her Jet, Ebony, and Essence magazines for school projects, individual or group, to ensure a representative Black presence. My mother took me to local Free Nelson Mandela marches, the Million Woman March in Philadelphia, and to Dance AFRIKA! at the Brooklyn

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Academy of Music. She has an African American literature collection that rivals any library. My mother saw that shirt and angrily asked what we were mixed with (because both of my parents are Black.) Living over forty years in Massachusetts, both parents will defiantly call themselves New Yorkers. I think my mother would describe herself as Black or African American interchangeably. My father too would self-identify as Black. I have never heard him differentiate between Latinx and Hispanic but in context, he would describe himself as Panamanian specifically. Despite the Black Americanness of my father and the Pan-Black orientation of my mother, my life experiences are very different from theirs. My self-identification has evolved with my own consciousness as well as external affirmation of my chosen identity labels. Am I “mixed” as my t-shirt controversially proclaimed almost fifteen years ago? I would no longer use that specific terminology since its social currency is in biracialism. I was always aware of my multifaceted cultural identity but rarely discussed the layers of that complexity with others. Or myself. As a 17-year-old high school graduate, I described myself as Black, specifically “half African American and half Panamanian.” I have since abandoned the use of fractions to describe my whole self. When I left for college, I had never used the term “Afro-Latina” as self-description. It is now both a primary identity label of self-identification and used by others to identify me. WHOLLY AFRICAN AMERICAN AND PANAMANIAN Jamaican-born cultural theorist Stuart Hall deftly points out that cultural identity is not timeless, but rather historically situated and changes over time as identities become “historically available” (1990, 398). Identities encompass more than self-identification. They are created and affirmed through personal interactions and other markers of identity (Abu-Lughod 1991). For me, those interactions were international and domestic, and both hostile and loving. I attended Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, for my undergraduate degree. My accent gave me away as a Yankee.6 In Durham, Black people especially would ask where I am from. “And you go to Duke? Good for you,” a congratulatory solidarity rooted in the awareness that Duke’s student body racially integrated in 1963 and accepts single-digit to low doubledigit percentages of Black students annually. I consider myself bicultural, but with greater specificity: I am not a Southerner. My Blackness is rooted in the northeast. Unlike the majority of Latinxs in North Carolina, I am not Mexican. My Latinidad is rooted in Caribbeanness. I absolutely loved my time at Duke, but North Carolina never once felt like or reminded me of home.

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Initially I had a difficult time communicating. When a fellow student asked what I was “finna do,” I stared at him blankly. I literally did not understand the words coming out of his mouth. In my first days at work in the university convenience store, someone asked if we sold cla-NECKS. “Maybe. What is it used for?” “Like when you have a cold.” I shrugged and pointed to the pain relievers. When she left empty-handed I assumed we did not sell cla-NECKS. “Ariana! Yes we sell “cla-NECKS!” my supervisor scolded, waving a pack of tissues. (Oh! Kleeeeeeeeeenex). College provided opportunities to engage intellectually in my own personal identifications. A lone course combined African American and Latinx history, serendipitously taught by Paul Ortiz in his final semester as a graduate student at Duke. I was inspired. I interviewed peers and wrote a 40-page paper about Black and Latino identities at Duke University. I earned an A+. At his February 2018 book talk in Washington, DC, for An African American and Latinx History of the United States, I was too shy to tell Dr. Ortiz that his class, coupled with my Mellon fellowship,7 ignited a career change. I was no longer pre-law. I wanted to pursue a PhD. Even if I reverted to dividing myself into fractions after his course, being half African American and halfPanamanian felt like something extraordinary. The summer of 2000 marked my first significant trip to Latin America, a six-week study abroad program in Havana. For all its social, economic, and political dissimilarity, Cuba felt familiar. The salsa music, beans and rice, pork, rum, lightning fast Spanish with letters dropped at the ends of words, people of all shades of brown, sincere welcome with kisses on the cheek, coffee. María, one of the women that worked in our student residence, even resembled my paternal grandmother, Maye (My-yay), in skin tone, stature, and spunk. The United States is notoriously monolingual, so when asked why I spoke Spanish, I responded, “I learned” or “My father is from Panama.” By invoking my Panamanianness, I sought cultural bonds. I already felt a kinship with other Black people. I am a global participant in the Black Nod. In Cuba, I felt an embryonic Latin American solidarity, like what Puerto Rican duo Calle 13 and Afro-Peruvian singer Susana Baca beautifully wove together through cultural touchstones in their Grammy Award winning song Latinoamérica.8 Although I did not step foot in Panama until 2005, I relished being called “la panameña” during my time in Cuba. In 2000, Cuba was emerging from the Special Period.9 US dollars were legal. The tourism industry was economically critical and there was a concerted effort to keep Cubans (read: Black Cubans) away from tourists (read: White tourists). I was not the only Black female student in my group but I

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think I was the only one harassed regularly. Male Cuban police officers routinely violated my personal space to demand my identification. I later understood this to be systemic intimidating and racist efforts to keep an alleged Black Cuban jinetera (me) away from the American tourists (my classmates). However, in 2000, I was a 19-year-old with intermediate Spanish skills far away from home. For six weeks, I carried a copy of my US passport on my person. More than once, I felt humiliated by the police. Occasionally I was terrified. On the other hand, I was fascinated that my Blackness, which for many in the United States placed me outside of Latinidad, was the exact reason people mistook me for Cuban. I was not naïve; I did not believe in the purported Cuban racial democracy. Nevertheless, because of my bicultural Blackaffirming upbringing, I was still heartbroken by the revelation that my poor treatment was precisely because I was mistaken for a Black Cuban woman. This unsavory duality of embrace and rejection fueled three returns to Cuba: a research month in 2001 for my senior thesis and two semester-long stints in 2005 and 2009 as resident director for American University’s undergraduate study abroad program. In 2005 as I entered a club, the bouncer looked at me, my ID, then back to me and said with sad eyes, “You look Cuban. That is going to be a problem for you.” It was. But by 2005, I had learned to arm myself emotionally and intellectually. Beyond my rigorous graduate coursework, I found spaces of affirmation. For example, in the fall of 2000, I helped charter the Omicron Chapter of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated at Duke University. I chose lifelong membership in a Latina-oriented multiracial and multiethnic sisterhood. I watched with pride when MTV’s True Life: I’m Stepping highlighted Omega Phi Beta as we won the NPHCs’10 Annual Step Correct National Championship, the first Latinx organization to participate and to win. As a sorority established in 1989 in New York, many founders are Caribbean.11 Some founders and many Sisters are Black. That mattered to me. My African Americanness and Panamanianness, either and both, are ordinary in this space. At an undergrad Asian-Latino focus group, someone ignorantly remarked, “I can’t tell who is Latino at Duke because they all look White.” My being a Beta on Duke’s campus suggested my Black Latinidad to others. Black Latina became my identity label of choice as my former Myspace.com name, Blacktina, exemplified. The embrace and rejection I experienced in Cuba ignited deeper academic investigations into Latin American Studies via anthropology, history, literature, and political science. However, the more I immersed myself, the harsher I felt the absence of Blackness. At Duke as well as American University, where I obtained my doctorate, I took courses in African American Studies, exclusively with Black professors. On the other hand, I cannot recall

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a single Afro-Latinx professor or a course on Diaspora or Afro-Latinidad. I used every possible free-topic paper and independent study to research Afro-Latin America, Caribbean history, post-colonial studies, and Panama, where I encountered scholarship about the Panama Canal. When my research led me to the US Panama Canal Zone and the French and English speaking West Indian laborers that built the canal in the early 1900s, the lack of contemporary scholarship on the topics frustrated me. I changed my dissertation focus from Cuba to Panama. Before my independent research, I had never studied labor migrations or immigration to Latin America, especially not Black immigrants. Fulbright-funded my dissertation research about contemporary West Indian identity and Panamanian cultural citizenship, but their application did not allow me to identify as both African American and Latina. I criticized that restriction in my application essay. Panama’s complicated relationship with the United States12 and my complicated relationship with myself made me question how I would self-identify while living there. I did not know how my family, or other Panamanians, would identify me either. Obtaining interviews through snowball sampling meant some of my respondents knew each other. Even they did not agree on how to call me. “Why did you tell me that Ariana was a gringa? She’s not a gringa. She’s Panamanian.” I easily paid the unofficial local rate from Panamanian taxi drivers by passing the are-you-Panamanian-quiz. Whenever asked who is singing the song on the radio, the correct answer is always: Rubén Blades. One hot day, in the quotidian standstill Panama City traffic, my pronunciation betrayed me. I had already passed the Rubén Blades quiz so the confused taxi driver asked gruffly, “Why do you have this accent? What are you half-American?” Yes. I am half American. My first trip to Panama was in 2005 for pre-dissertation research. My cousin Nelly (Enedelsy) arranged for me stay with her parents, Erasmo and Tancha (Constancia), my grandmother’s first cousin, in Panama City. Ecstatic that I was in her homeland, my grandmother Maye called me at the house to say hello. “She’s just like me! Traviesa,” she warned my tia Tancha. When my grandmother passed in 2006, I thought we had lost both our matriarch and our strongest bilingual link to our family in Panama. Not so. My cousin Nelly took the reins. After retiring from UNICEF, she returned to Panama soon before I moved there in 2009. I was fortunate that my family spent so much quality time with me during my dissertation year. They were everything. I occasionally fed my homesickness with Taco Bell at a mall, but otherwise, Panama felt like home. They supported me through tragedy, like when my maternal grandmother’s health rapidly declined and she passed away before I could return to the United States. We also celebrated together: my birthday, Fiestas Patrias, Christmas, New Year, the World Cup, even Thanksgiving. I

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contributed macaroni and cheese to the US holiday not celebrated in Panama but observed by Nelly nonetheless. Despite the fact that I had never met or spoken with most of them before, as Rubén Blades famously sings, familia es familia. We remain in regular contact through Facebook and the family WhatsApp group. I returned to the United States to write my dissertation, feeling unquestionably African American, as usual, but also undeniably Panamanian. In my methodological approach and researcher positionality chapter, I positioned myself as a native anthropologist. Although “native” anthropology is contested, “minimally because she operates as an anthropologist seeking to represent other people, more generally because she inhabits multiple identities that confound an essentialization of native status” (Bunzl 2004, 436), this argument does not negate the perception and treatment of me as a Panamanian native. My being a Spanish speaking Black woman of Panamanian heritage definitively influenced my research and my relationships with my research populations. Many friends, family, and strangers saw me as Panamanian and treated me as such . . . except that one Panamanian that called me Cuban. IDENTITY AS PROFESSION In January 2013, I became the first curator for Latino Studies at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum (ACM). When I called my parents after my first interview, I realized I never mentioned that my mother is African American. Latinidad anchored our entire conversation. Google searches provided me with each interviewers’ email address and, unsolicited, I clarified that both of my parents are Black and though I am Latina my mother is not. This detail was important for my authentic self-representation but I also knew that my academic and personal engagements with African Americanness and Latinidad would benefit ACM, a formerly African American focused museum. I got the job. My Latinx-centered work at the Smithsonian is mostly US based. Nevertheless, the US Embassy in Panama reproduced my ACM exhibition, Bridging the Americas: Community and Belonging from Panama to Washington, DC,13 for the 2016 Panamanian Book Fair. This allowed me to share my work with over 100,000 Panamanians, including colleagues and family. It was a personal and professional highpoint. My personal experiences and dialogical interpretations of Blackness influence how I work. As an Afro-Latina and a curator, I know multiracial representations of community are imperative. I have curated academic and public products centered on Latinidad and Black diversity. My first Smithsonian nerd high was after the Revisiting Our Black Mosaic, a conference I

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organized about Blackness, Latinidad, and immigration in Washington, DC. The (formerly) Chocolate City is Afro-Latinx, Afro-Caribbean, and African as well as African American. My ACM exhibition, Gateways (December 5, 2016–January 7, 2018), explores Latinx population growth in Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, Charlotte, NC, and Raleigh-Durham, NC, growth I experienced during my time at Duke. A Colombian born Charlotte based artist, Nico Amortegui, created an original piece for Gateways that honored nonLatinx people, like his wife, that help build Latinx-inclusive communities.14 Until he proposed this piece, I never realized that my own mother was absent from the narrative. The anchor of my African Americanness, my mother has wholeheartedly supported my excursions to Latin America and explorations of Panamanian identity. It was never either African American or Panamanian. It was always both. I knew I would connect with the DC-based Afro-Latinx oral histories in ACM’s Black Mosaic15 collection, but my attachment to one excerpt in particular surprised me: To be true to yourself means you have to follow your pain . . . . And so that meant for me following my pain, or society’s pains around my Blackness, because there IS pain around being Black! Here! And I followed that pain. . . . And there is pain about being Latina and there is certainly pain about being a woman! And so I followed that pain and that has made it possible for me to be true to myself. I’m not going to be anything than what I am. I am going to enrich what I am! I’m going to enhance what I am! But I’m never going to be anything but a woman, I’m never going to be anything but Black, and I am Latina. And so being true to that identity, and going through the process that it takes to polish that identity, is the greatest thing that I’ve learned.

I would not have chosen the word “pain” on my own, but, if I am honest, my journey was, at times, painful in ways this passage unlocked. I did not admit to myself that being one of few Black students was hard. Some classmates were racist. Guarding my father’s Panamanianness protected me from cruel spic “jokes” hurled at my expense. I feared people would misjudge my changing self-identifications as racial confusion. And for years I avoided confronting the painful Cuban paradox of feeling the fullness of my Latinidad as a Black woman while simultaneously being demeaned for being a Black woman. Frankly, I was scared to show my vulnerabilities or be seen as vulnerable particularly in academic and professional spaces. That compartmentalization, however, is not healthy. Or sustainable. Fortunately, living unexceptionally in Panama with my family, with acceptance, with my brown skin, US accent, and biculturalism healed me in ways I was powerless to appreciate until I first named my pain.

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Representing Blackness within and beyond US borders is foundational to the work of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). We consider “African Americans” to be people of African descent affected by the historical American experience. In 2005, over a decade before the NMAAHC opened to the public,16 the museum accepted the first object into its collection: a boat seat from Esmeraldas, Ecuador donated by Afro-Ecuadorian scholar Juan Garcia Salazar to NMAAHC founding director, Lonnie Bunch. The seat used by his grandmother, Debora Nazareno, is carved with a spider and spider web, a representation of Anansi spider, a popular spirit in West African folklore. Director Bunch said, “So I was sitting in Washington with someone from Ecuador who had just given me an artifact that had strong ties to Africa—a powerful reminder that we were telling not just a national story, but a global one as well (2016).” My hiring did not ignite NMAAHC’s interest in Afro-Latinidad. The leadership’s fierce commitment to Diaspora and Latinidad propelled them to seek a dedicated position. I know that some people ignorantly believe my Latinidad makes me less Black or think that being both Black and Latina means being completely neither. I am not “more Latina than African American.” I am always both. I embrace the nuances of my positionalities on the continuum of African American and Latinx identity. They are critical elements of my academic and professional insights and my public engagements. Because I grew up in an English-speaking household, I never linked my Latinidad with speaking Spanish. Moreover, because both of my parents are Black, I never associated Blackness singularly with African Americanness. These realities that I previously found unremarkable now help drive representations of Blackness and Latinidad at the world’s largest research and museum complex. Becoming my full self took time to process and polish, but my timing was perfect. My professional, academic, and personal proficiencies align every day, irrespective of external ideations. As of January 2017, I am the first curator of Latinx Studies at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where I feel empowered and valued precisely because of my expertise, sensitivities, and biculturalism. NOTES 1. Latinx is a non-binary gender neutral alternative for Latino/a. 2. I consider Afro-Latinx, like Latinx, to be a US-based identity. I differentiate Afro-Latinx from Afro-Latin American, understanding the terms are not mutually exclusive. 3. At the time of the 2010 Census, East Longmeadow was 93 percent White alone, 1 percent Black, 2 percent Asian, and 2 percent Hispanic.

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4. At the time of the 2010 Census Springfield was 51 percent White alone, 39 percent Hispanic, 22 percent Black, 18 percent Some other race alone, and 5 percent Two or more races. 5. My father is the fifth of six children, all born in Panama. The oldest three speak Spanish and English. The youngest three speak English only. 6. Most people guessed I was from New York. When I said “no, Massachusetts” the follow-up question was: “There are Black people there?!” Even though I am not from Boston, I retorted, “Yes. Don’t you know New Edition?!” 7. Founded in 1988, The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program is the centerpiece of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s initiatives to increase diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning. Students apply in their second undergrad year at participating schools and, if awarded, receive research support and mentorship throughout their undergraduate and graduate careers and into the professoriate. 8. Latinoamérica won the 2011 Latin Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. 9. The Special Period in Time of Peace in Cuba was an extended period of economic depression caused by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, upon which Cuba was economically dependent. A time of harsh economic austerity in a non-war period, people lived without basic goods and services. For more on the Special Period, see Hernandez-Reguant, ed. 2009. 10. The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Incorporated includes nine historically Black International Greek Letter Sororities and Fraternities. 11. The largest Latinx populations in New York are Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. 12. From 1903 to1999 the United States controlled the Panama Canal Zone (PCZ), a 50-mile long, 10-mile wide territory that cut through the center of the Panama. Until the 1977 Torrijos-Carter Treaties, US civilians, all branches of the US military, the headquarters of the US Southern Command (South Comm), and the School of the Americas were stationed in the PCZ. The United States evacuated and turned over the PVZ and Panama Canal on December 31, 1999. Further, on December 20, 1989 the United States invaded Panama under Operation Just Cause. 13. Bridging the Americas ran from April 5, 2015 to June 11, 2018 at ACM and August 16–21, 2016 at the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City, Panama. 14. Census data reports the Latinx population increase in Charlotte as over 1100 percent between 1980 and 2000. 15. In 1994, the Anacostia Museum presented Black Mosaic: Community, Race, and Ethnicity among Black Immigrants in Washington, D.C. This multilingual, multicultural research and exhibition project was among the first to examine race, nationality, and ethnicity of Black immigrants in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. 16. The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened on September 24, 2016.

Chapter 26

Between Blackness and Africanness Indexing Puerto Rican Identity Through Discourse in Northern California Krista L. Cortes

In the United States, Latinx is an ethnic category whose members “may be of any race,” but this group has largely been seen as occupying a “brown” racial space, falling in-between White and Black on the racial spectrum (Davila, 2008; US Census Bureau, 2015; Rivera-Rideau, 2015). This understanding of the ethnoracial makeup of Latinxs contradicts the history of the African diaspora in Latin America. It is estimated that 5.7 million enslaved Africans were transported to Spanish and Portuguese occupied America—ten times the number brought north to the United States (Andrews, 2004). By the turn of the twentieth century, the Afro-Latin American population was three times larger than the Afro-North American population (Andrews, 2004). The residual effects of slavery, its racially polarizing and hierarchical qualities, rooted firmly in both Latin America and the United States, although with clear distinction. In Latin America, racial lines are amorphous; without a clear Black/ White binary like in the United States, a complex relationship grew between ethnic origin, physical traits, and economic status (Rodriguez-Silva, 2012). The phenotypic and socially derived definitions of a person foundational to the racial classification system in Latin America falls in stark contrast to the genotypic system used in the United States. Puerto Ricans in the United States are a case in point for understanding the complicated entanglement of racial ideology and identity. Due to the complicated colonial relationship between the island of Puerto Rico and the United States, island-born Puerto Ricans are the only Latinx group with US citizenship at birth. This has set the stage for the large Puerto Rican population on the mainland, 5.2 million, overshadowing the 3.4 million people on the island (Center for Puerto Rican Studies, 2012). The movement of Puerto 271

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Ricans from the island to the mainland and back, plays an important role in how Blackness gets taken up and understood. “La nación en vaivén” or “the nation on the move,” describes the circulatory migration of Puerto Ricans, whose pendular movement has forced them to grapple with Blackness in the multiple racial contexts they occupy (Duany, 2003). This movement has led to the flow of “cultural remittances,” the forms of cultural expression imbued by the ideologies, values, and political causes taken up by the diaspora as they move back and forth; cultural remittances impact the understanding of identity in the places that Puerto Ricans settle (Flores, 2010). This is particularly the case for Blackness as an identity; Blackness is both taken up by Afro-Latinx people as they come into contact with African-American and non-Hispanic Caribbeans and enforced upon them by US society, institutions, and other Latinxs (Flores, 2010). On the island over nineteen terms are in circulation to describe both the physical and economic status of people (Duany, 2003). These two categories are often used in tandem because of the salience of class over race; on the island all people are Puerto Rican, and therefore ethnically and culturally similar. The abundance of terms—blanco, moreno, indio, trigueño, and negro to name a few1—serves as a way of obscuring Blackness, aiding in “blanqueamiento” or Whitening of the population (Rodriguez, 1974; Wade, 2005; Loveman & Muniz, 2007; Rodriguez-Silva, 2012). Even if individuals have not spent a significant amount of time on the island, Puerto Rico’s racial ideology is kept fresh and in play by the continuous outpouring of Puerto Ricans from the island to the continental United States. Thus, the movement of cultural remittances is not one-directional, rather, there is a “counterflow” of racial ideologies that make their way from the island to the mainland, often meeting contentiously (Oboler and Dzidzienyo, 2005). For example, in California, Latinidad has been described as “Mexicentric” and far less-inclusive of Blackness than east coast notions of Latinidad (Hoy 2010, p. 426; Rivera-Rideau, 2017). For many Puerto Ricans, assuming an ‘Afro-’ or Black identity means grappling with questions of authenticity and group belonging (Flores, 2010). Blackness in many cases is seen as being aesthetically undesirable, intellectually disabled, and socioeconomically underprivileged. Yet, as has been documented through the lens of hip-hop and reggaetòn, Puerto Ricans have found spaces where they can engage in new forms of self-expression and self-making that bring Blackness and African diasporic belonging to the fore (Rivera-Rideau, 2015). Seeking out connections that move beyond ethnicity and cultural nationalism to a diasporic belonging that allows for “alternative definitions of Blackness that respond to . . . localized experiences of racial exclusion,” Black-identified Latinxs create the possibility for recognition across difference (RiveraRideau 2015, p. 15).

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This study interrogates the boundaries of identity among Puerto Ricans in reference to their Blackness. Black is a visible characteristic but what about its less visible iterations? What does it mean to be culturally Black? Historically Black? Where does Blackness come from? Throughout the interviews participants oscillated between “Black” or “Blackness” and “African” “Africano” or “Africanness” as identity descriptors. This was a fruitful boundary to explore within the scope of this study. This chapter begins with the ideological underpinnings of African/ness and Black/ness to frame the data. Then, using discourse analysis, selections of interview data are analyzed to understand how self-identified Puerto Ricans living in California make sense of Black/ness and African/ness.

THEORETICAL OVERVIEW: FROM NÉGRITUDE TO BLACKNESS Negritude as an ideology grew from the work of Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Léon-Gontran Damas in the early 1900s. Known as les trois pères, they coined the term “negritude,” derived from the French pejorative nègre, which is similar to the use of the word nigger in English. The inclusion of nègre in Negritude, is a rejection of the derogatory nature of the word, reclaiming it as a positive avowal of Africanness. While, S ­ enghor is known as the main proponent of Negritude, the term was first used by Césaire in his poem Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (1939). In it he writes: a négritude n’est pas une pierre, sa surdité ruée contre la clameur du jour ma négritude n’est pas une taie d’eau morte sur l’oeil mort de la terre ma négritude n’est ni une tour ni une cathédrale my negritude is not a stone, its deafness hurled against the clamor of the day my negritude is not a leukoma of dead liquid over the earth’s dead eye my negritude is neither tower nor cathedral. (pp. 66–69, translation modified)

Césaire points to the acknowledgment and acceptance of being Black, in connection to Africa, as not negative or detracting, but as a natural, positive fact influencing our existence. The project of Negritude is thus, to define the often ambiguous category of “Africanness” and to make connections to precolonial African roots, preserving this history and culture in positive terms (Vaillant, 1990). The explicit connection to land, the African continent, distinguishes Negritude’s ideology from others that have served to uplift Black people. Negritude begins with the individual. That is, it starts with accepting one’s condition of being Black as an all-encompassing cause and effect of the Black

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experience. This ideology aims to debunk the myth of Black inferiority and debilitating stereotypes of people of African descent, while simultaneously creating an African identity that is celebrated and rooted in historical and cultural legacies. Negritude names an African perspective, a way of viewing the world that implies a set of moral values—a Black (African) sensitivity (Snyder 1963, p. 103). As Senghor (1970) described it, “Negritude . . . is neither racialism nor self-negation. Yet it is not just affirmation; it is rooting oneself in oneself, and self-confirmation: confirmation of one’s being. It is nothing more or less than what some English-speaking Africans have called the African personality” (p. 45). For Senghor, one’s inner and outer essence is informed by race. The color of one’s skin is a marker of a historical and cultural African tradition, and it is this tradition that informs how a person is in the world. Frantz Fanon, a student of Césaire, provides a point of departure for us to consider Blackness apart from Africaness. In a recollection of his encounter with a young White child who proclaims, “Look, a Negro!,” Fanon (2008) reflects on his lived experience—“I found that I was an object in the midst of other objects. Sealed into that crushing objecthood” (p. 109). This moment foregrounds the visual—Black as something that can be seen, in a way that Africanness is not. Marriott (2007) expands on this scene from Fanon describing the hailing moment as the disembodiment of the body by “image, language, thought; the word ‘nègre’ acting like some kind of chemical dye converting epidermal surface into imago” (p. 2). The emphasis here is on both the visual and the oral; the Black body is constructed through both the gaze of another and through the speech act. This juncture presents an integral question: what is Blackness? While Black/ness and African/ness are typically synonymous, they also are definitive identity categories. On the one hand African/ness becomes an object that can be used in particular ways to connote place, culture, and history, where as Black/ness, on the other hand, does not have the same grounding. Fleetwood (2011) takes this up: Blackness and Black life become intelligible and valued, as well as consumable and disposable, through racial discourse. Blackness, in this sense, circulates. It is not rooted in a history, person, or thing, although it has many histories and many associations with people and things. Blackness fills in space between matter, between object and subject, between bodies, between looking and being looked upon. It fills in the void and is the void. Through its circulation, Blackness attaches to bodies and narratives coded as such but it always exceeds these attachments. (p. 6)

Black/ness in this sense does different work than African/ness; the later has a malleability that suggests a tangibility, while the former is fluid to the point

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of abstraction—it takes up the spaces that remain, monopolizing the visual in false ways. It is at this juncture that this study enters, teasing at the tensions between Black/ness and Africa/ness. PUERTO RICANS ON THE WEST COAST: RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY This study aims to understand individual Puerto Rican’s subject positioning in relation to both historical legacies and contemporary iterations of Blackness. Focus is placed on how language is employed to discuss Black identity directly and indirectly through talks of hair—“pelo malo” or “bad hair” and “pelo bueno” or “good hair.” The following questions frame this exploration: How do self-identified Puerto Ricans understand the relationship of Puerto Rico to Africa, and subsequently, the relationship of being Puerto Rican to being Black? How do these same individuals then discuss hair as a site of Blackness amongst Puerto Ricans? In what ways does hair symbolically represent Black identity and how does language about hair reveal underlying ideologies about Blackness? To begin to answer these larger questions interviews were conducted with three self-identified Puerto Ricans currently residing in California. This site was chosen because of California’s growing importance in the Puerto Rican diaspora. Northeastern cities such as New York and Philadelphia are well known for their Puerto Rican communities but, current trends have Puerto Ricans flocking to lesser-known havens further West. Most notably, California is home to the eighth largest state-side Puerto Rican population having over 200,000 residents (The Center for Puerto Rican Studies, 2016). The San Francisco Bay area, in particular, holds 14 percent of California’s Puerto Rican population (approximately 30,000 people), that is, 1 in 7 of California’s Puerto Ricans can be found there (US Census Bureau, 2016). These numbers do not account for the unprecedented migration of Puerto Ricans in recent months due to the fiscal and natural disasters that hit the island. The Center for Puerto Rican Studies estimates that California will become home to somewhere between 1,000 and 7,000 additional Puerto Ricans 2019 (Meléndez, Hinojosa, and Roman, 2017). The influx of Puerto Rican people in this current moment points to an increasing importance to understand the experiences of Puerto Ricans in California. The small sample size in this study reflects the life-history method in which the interviews were conducted—open-ended interviews designed to help interview participants better understand the relationship between identity and context over time. The life history method helps researchers uncover “crucial interactive relationship between individuals’ lives, their perceptions and

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experiences, and historical and social contexts and events” using small sample sizes, usually no larger than ten participants (Goodson and Sikes, 2001, p. 2). In a study like this, “objective, etic and nomothetic generalization is not the ultimate aim,” rather the smaller sample size gestures at “shared patterns of experience or interpretation within a group who have some characteristic, attribute or experience in common” without making broad sweeping claims about a particular population (Goodson and Sikes, 2001, pp. 22–23). Participants were interviewed in-person understanding the goals of the project (described above). Each interview lasted 40 to 60 minutes totaling 150 minutes of audio-recorded data. Table 26.1 provides demographic information for each person interviewed. Data analyzed here emphasizes the indexical power of language in discussing matters of race and racial ideology, particularly what is meant through participants’ oscillation between “Black” or “Blackness” and “African” “Africano” or “Africanness” as identity descriptors. The indexicality of language describes how words take up different meanings in different contexts within specific speech communities. Ochs (1992) explains that the study of language has two major assumptions: “(1) language systematically varies across social contexts and (2) such variation is part of the meaning indexed by linguistic structures . . . the meanings so indexed are referred to as social meanings, in contrast to purely referential or logical meanings expressed by linguistic structures” (pp. 337–338). People are socialized to both index and interpret indexical meaning within the speech communities they participate, resulting in an unconscious and highly efficient system of signaling (Ochs, 1992). Individuals position themselves in reference to others, that is, speakers verbally enact certain stances—presentation of a point of view or attitude acknowledged within a community of practice (Ochs, 1993). As a result, the indexical nature of language makes a person, however unwittingly, a participant in the construction of race and racialized identities. Using transcribed interview data, I explore how self-identified Puerto Ricans understand the relationship of Puerto Rico to Africa, and subsequently the relationship of being Puerto Rican to being Black. Interview data were transcribed following the system devised by Gail ­Jefferson and detailed by Atkinson and Heritage (1984). The symbols and conventions are available for reference in Table 26.2. For this study, only selected portions were translated using this system. The included transcriptions were selected for the high density of the terms Black/Blackness/­ African/Africanness. Additionally, because Jefferson’s system was originally designed for conversation analysis some of the features are not used in the transcription here because they do not provide information that is useful within the scope of the project.

Female Male Female

Laura Danny Eve

*All names used are pseudonyms.

Gender

Name* of Participant

28 42 47

Age

Puerto Rican Puerto Rican Puerto Rican & AfricanAmerican

Self-Identified As

Table 26.1  Demographic Information of Study Participants

Puerto Rico New York California

Place of Birth Yes Yes No

Lived in Puerto Rico

California California California

Place of Current Residence

12 20 47

Number of Years in Current Residence

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Table 26.2  Jeffersonian Transcription Notation Symbol

Name

Use

[ text ]

Brackets

=

Equal Sign

(# of seconds)

Timed Pause

(.)

Micropause

. or ↓ ? or ↑ ,

Period or Down Arrow Question Mark or Up Arrow Comma

Indicates the start and end points of overlapping speech. Indicates the break and subsequent continuation of a single interrupted utterance. A number in parentheses indicates the time, in seconds, of a pause in speech. A brief pause, usually less than 0.2 seconds. Indicates falling pitch. Indicates rising pitch.

-

Hyphen

>text
African< and we have 2 European in us- mainly Spain (.4) you could tell people that all day but mainly 3 what they connect that to is the stereotype that its bad that its not good and 4 they’re endorsing what was brought to the island to begin with because (.5) 5 Africans were (.) brought (.) as slaves and (.) put down to a degree and denial 6 (.3) is not just in knowing this (.) we know this its that we don’t have any 7 attachment to this being a good thing (.4) does that make sense? (yea) that its 8 not a negative (.) but its not not a negative because lets praise everything that 9 was put down for so long its a positive because:: (.3) it makes us who we are 10 (.) for no other reason. In line 1 Laura describes the different groups that mixed to become Puerto Ricans—Taino, African, and European Spanish. The ordering of these groups suggests that Taino, the indigenous inhabitants of the island of Puerto Rico, are the most important contributors to Puerto Rican identity, followed by the African contribution. When she says African there is a pause before she utters the word and African is noticeably rushed compared to the words

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immediately preceding and following it. This hesitancy and urgency implies an uneasiness around speaking the word outright. She begins the utterance in line 1 with “a lot of people know we are…” indicating these groups are commonsense and she considers herself part of the category of Puerto Rican through the use of ‘we’. The subsequent pausing then rushing contradicts this earlier matter-of-fact delivery that these things are known and accepted. Laura goes on to say in lines 3–5 that “they connect that to is the stereotype that its bad that its not good and they’re endorsing what was brought to the island to begin with because (.5) Africans were (.) brought (.) as slaves and (.) put down to a degree.” Her use of ‘they,’ as opposed to the earlier ‘we’ is a move to separate herself out of the group who thinks this particular way, an unpopular way of thinking, which motivated her change in pronouns. She describes African ancestry as connected to the history of slavery on the island which has taken on a negative stereotype for people who identify as Puerto Rican. Describing this portion of history as a stereotype, rather than a fact, indexes a way of thinking, a state of mind, that associates African with negativity. She goes on to say in lines 6–10 that the denial of African ancestry is not due to a lack of knowledge—“denial (.3) is not just in knowing this (.) we know this“. Her emphasis on “we know this” is an attempt to recuperate this “denial” and minimize its negative ramifications. She suggests the denial is a result of the negative positioning of Africans and this aspect of Puerto Rican identity should be praised “because: (.3) it makes us who we are (.) for no other reason.” This last part of dialogue does not address the stereotypes that she mentioned earlier, nor does it attribute anything positive to Africa or African people within a historical context beyond the period of slavery. Rather, her justification for considering African heritage as positive is simply because it is a part of us—which implies a lack of choice; we cannot escape our connections to Africa so we should embrace them. This analysis suggests that Laura has not yet found a way of relating to her African identity in a positive way. Her inability to suggest why African lineage is beneficial to Puerto Rican identity implies she understands it as having no valuable impact. Without a counterexample, this response frames African ancestry in a negative way, thus aligning with a negative negritude moment. In describing how he identified, Danny reflected on what it means to be Puerto Rican. His two part response is an example of a positive negritude moment. He began his response: 1 The first thing that comes to my mind is Puerto Rican (.4) But talking about 2 diaspora and being on the island as long as I was I realized what makes Puerto 3 Ricans Puerto Rican and you know it is all of these things (.3) historical

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4 amalgamation like all this stuff you know the history (.) how you feel, about you 5 know holding on to that flag like its the only thing that we have that’s ours you 6 know its in our food and our idioms you know because being Puerto Rican is a 7 very unique thing (.3) there ain’t nobody like us you know (.) so when I identify I 8 identify as a Puerto Rican even though I was born here. Danny indicates how Puerto Rican identity is what he most immediately relates to (line 1). He then describes “what makes Puerto Ricans Puerto Rican” (lines 2–3–), through a list of sorts—“history,” “how you feel,” “holding onto the flag,” “the food,” “idioms” (lines 3–6). While this list consists of many things, the absence of a reference to Blackness or Africa is blatantly obvious. It could be inferred that Danny’s mention of “historical amalgamation like all this stuff you know the history”(lines 3–4), is a reference to Africanness but without direct reference to anything Black or African we cannot be certain. Danny’s Puerto Ricanness is tied to more than just the island, “I identify I identify as a Puerto Rican even though I was born here” (lines 7–8), but to feelings and cultural experiences such as food and language. Thus, Puerto Ricanness exceeds geography or a particular racial legacy, extending to feelings connected to a particular identity category. In line 7, Danny says “being Puerto Rican is a very unique thing (.3) there ain’t nobody like us you know” which reflects a pride in identifying as Puerto Rican and implies a sense of acceptance for all that Puerto Rican is, as he described it, and all that it could be. Danny spends the next two minutes discussing the poem “Y tu abuela donde esta?”, “And your grandmother, where is she?”, a 1940 poem written by Puerto Rican poet Fortunato Vizcarrondo and later popularized by Cuban singer, Luis Carbonell. The question and title of the poem, typically used in a joking matter, describes the intricate and intimate nature of race within Puerto Rican families, where African ancestry, while perhaps not visible within 2nd or 3rd generations, can be confirmed by looking at one’s grandmother. Danny then returns to explain Puerto Ricaness: 1 It doesn’t matter what you call yourself, how you roll, what you call yourself in 2 life if you’re Puerto Rican somewhere in that bloodline or whatever you can’t 3 call yourself a Puerto Rican without um:: without embracing that African 4 element even if it is not part of your blood, it is part of your culture.

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This addition specifically references African in line 3, which was absent in his previous discussion. His use of “bloodline” in line 2 seems a reference to African blood given line 4 when he says “that African element even if it is not part of your blood, it is part of your culture.” Returning to the question of identity, this response indexes the idea that what it means to be Puerto Rican can be learned through shared practices within a family and across the community. In this example there is a clearer appreciation of one’s African heritage. It is seen as influencing Puerto Rican culture in a way that should be celebrated as integral to the making of Puerto Rican identity. For Danny this ‘African personality’ adds value to Puerto Rican identity, thusly qualifying his response as a positive negritude moment. The use of Africa or African in both Laura and Danny’s responses is predicated on what both participants refer to as ‘history’. It appears there is a link between the continent of Africa and the island of Puerto Rico in the past. Neither participant refers to a connection in the present beyond having pride in an aspect of Puerto Rican history that has shaped one’s identity. More poignant, neither participant references Black as a particular racial category comprising what it means to be Puerto Rican. The preference for African as opposed to Black may result from what Laura refers to as ‘stereotypes’ that are ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ in present-day manifestations of Africa for Puerto Ricans. These same participants were asked to discuss their experiences with the phrase ‘pelo malo’ or ‘bad hair’. Again the theme of ‘negritude moments’ emerged. Laura introduced the topic without prompt after approximately two minutes. Her framing of the phrase exemplifies a negative negritude moment. Laura says: 1 Growing up, the pelo bueno, pelo malo (“good hair, bad hair”) stuff (.) I mean just our 2 hair (.3) my hair alone was such a topic (.4) I mean:: and to think that you’ll see that in 3 like in a lot of different groups (3) or its not that they not only don’t want you to mix 4 with other cultures necessarily but to mix with Black is like a big no-no (.) you know:: 5 Puerto Ricans hate on Dominicans because they’re they tend to be a lot darker 6 although they:: they are (.5) Puerto Ricans are so Black its ri::di::culous:::. But 7 see we are a range of colors (.4) you’ve got from Black as night (.) to Irish 8 looking Puerto Ricans. We are such a mix. While Laura begins to speak about “pelo bueno, pelo malo stuff” in line 1 she takes three breaks before switching the conversation outwards toward “a

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lot of different groups” (line 3). Pausing is indicative of being pensive and not knowing what to say. The elongation of “mean” in line 2 suggests she is thinking about what she will say next. She decisively shifts the conversation away from herself—from “my hair alone was such a topic” (lines 2–3) to different groups opposing the mixing of cultures. From this move, it appears the topic of hair is sensitive to her, not to be discussed publicly. This is further confirmed by the shift into a related, but ultimately different conversation about racial mixing. Laura describes that in “a lot of different groups (.3) or its not that they not only don’t want you to mix with other cultures necessarily but to mix with Black is like a big no-no (.)” (line 3–4). Here a connection is being made between anti-Blackness in reference to “pelo malo” amongst Puerto Ricans to anti-Blackness amongst other groups who see racial mixing in general, but more specifically with Black, as a “big no-no.” She goes on to discuss conflict or “hate” between Puerto Ricans and Dominicans due to race contending that “Puerto Ricans’ views of Dominicans are ill-placed considering that Puerto Ricans are so Black its ri::di::culous:::.” (line 6). This is the first time that Laura directly refers to Puerto Ricans as Black. This choice to use Black indexes the visually apparent or phenotypic Black. Following this line she describes how “we are a range of colors (.4) you’ve got from Black as night (.) to Irish looking Puerto Ricans. We are such a mix” (lines 7–8). Here another shift happens in her positioning; she begins with “Puerto Ricans are so Black…,” not directly implicating herself as Black and then goes on to say “we are a range of colors…” positioning herself as part of the group, allowing her to exist within the range of “Irish looking” to “Black as night” without necessarily being Black. Throughout this section of talk Laura’s positioning changes in relation to Blackness. As she negotiates herself in what she is saying we can see a distancing happen; she creates space in which she can exist as Puerto Rican but also not as Black. This again points us to interpret her stance as not openly valuing African ancestry or Blackness. During the interview with Danny he was directly asked to discuss hair. Similar to his previous responses, his stance embodies a positive negritude moment. Describing “pelo malo” Danny says: 1 Pelo malo (“Bad hair”) (.6) loaded (.) having to do with kinky hair and um::: you 2 know and um::::: and at the root of that is your Africanness because kinky hair 3 hay Africano- No hay Indio- no hay Europeo- (“Its African not Indian or European”) 4 its African and so that was just one of those things that kind of::: labeled you and outed

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5 you as having African in you and again a lot of people looked at that as a stain and so 6 yeah and my mom (.3) I love my mom (.) because every time that it came up like 7 somebody said it “Eso es pelo malo. Thats what pelo malo is” and my mom would 8 always say “my hair has never done anything bad to anyone so I don’t know what the 9 hell you’re talking about” right and its like (.) I loved her for that because she 10 had that tendency to flip the script- why is it bad? Because its hard to handle? 11 Because like for what? Why call it bad hair? In comparison to what? Danny returns to memories of his mother in order to discuss hair. This strategy suggests he may not have had the same relationship with hair as his mother did. He begins his response by saying the term itself is “loaded,” intimating it has many connotations that are more negative than positive. He goes on to defiine ‘pelo malo’ saying it is “having to do with kinky hair” which describes the type of hair visually/texturally (line 1). In lines 2–3 he explains how “pelo malo” is rooted in “Africanness” and not the Indio or European ancestry of Puerto Ricans, but a direct result of being connected to Africa. Within these two lines he switches between Africanness, Africano, and African. This structure indexes a difference between Africanness and Africano or African. The implication is that Africanness supersedes being from the continent of Africa—it is embodied. Danny goes on to discuss how hair “labeled you and outed you as having African in you and again a lot of people looked at that as a stain” (lines 4–5). Labeling and outing connote that “having African in you” is not desired to be known; hair prevented one from concealing their African side. He follows this up with an anecdote about his mom and her ability to “flip the script” on ‘pelo malo’. This story implies that in his home ‘pelo malo’ was not described as bad, rather it was accepted. This can lead us to assume other aspects of Africanness were also embraced within his home growing up. Within this discourse there is an absence of Black/ness when describing ‘pelo malo’. This type of hair is attributed to having African blood which might be seen as better than just being Black. For Danny, Africanness is connected to the physical body and the visual through hair, but not through phenotype. This is further confirmed by re-visiting lines 4-5; if hair is “outing” you it suggests that there is no other indicators of Africanness i.e. Black skin. The downplay of race in this description is telling, especially when placed

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in juxtaposition to Danny’s previous talk about Puerto Ricaness. Yet, on the whole, Danny seems embracing and proud of African heritage as it it relates to his Puerto Rican identity, thus exemplifying a positive negritude moment. Circulatory Blackness Focusing on the third participant, Eve, a different perspective on Puerto Rican identity emerges which characterizes circulatory Blackness. Eve describes herself as follows: 1 I identify as (.) kind of (.) all of the above so I identify as Black I identify as 2 Puerto Rican I identify as Afro-Boricua:: Afro-Latina:: um Afro-Caribbeña:: (“Afro3 Caribbean”) Ive got a number of other Caribbean roots on my uh: dads side so:: (.) you 4 know:: (.) I growing up on the west coast and growing up at a time so when I was a kid 5 you could be four things in California or in the Bay Area you could be Black, 6 White, Chinese, or Mexican like there was no Asian identity yet (.) and there 7 was no like Latino identity yet (.) in the 70s that was what you could be 8 ((laughter)) and so Im obviously Black looking so I got identified as being Black 9 or biracial because um the bay area had a lot of biracial families usually with a 10 (hhh)White mother and a Black father so I sort of got pigeon holed into that 11 and my mom kinda looked the part and my dad (.) >was Black°< so we kind of 12 were understood that way and so I grew up uh with an identity of being Black 13 and being biracial and being Puerto Rican was this thing that we couldn’t uh:: 14 we were and we knew that we were but we didn’t have any context for being it 15 understood by anybody ever::: except other sort of other Afro Latinos who 16 would be like ah: yea okay okay but the Mexicans didn’t get it and the White 17 people certainly didn’t get it and the Black people were just like (.) anything

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18 they saw on us that wasn’t African American was considered White so its like if 19 you’re not frying chicken and speaking ebonics its because you’re White or 20 you’ve been around >too many White peopletoo many White peoplereally any place of comfort< the thing I will 7 say about my mom is she had no idea what to do with my hair um (.2) but part 8 of but she also didn’t have a whole lot of drama around it she’s was like “we’ll 9 just cut it up we’ll just cut it off and it’ll be an afro and and and that it will thats 10 very you know that’s adorable.” Eve’s experience with pelo malo, pelo bueno was influenced by her context and the different groups she was around. At first she put herself in relationship to Whiteness, “so relative to White people many of whom I was around, my mom (.) very straight hair, um so I had the sense around White people I had a sense that my hair was kinky and a problem” (lines 2–4). In this line she indicates that she was around many White people including her mother (and her mother’s “very straight hair”) which heavily influenced her perceptions of her own hair. She goes on to say “around African-American people I had the sense that I had good hair but I was making bad choices with it” (lines 4–5). In this line she discusses “good hair” and “bad choices” suggesting that even within the good hair/bad hair dichotomy there are levels of good and bad, all dealing with personal choice. This is further supported by her recollection of her mother saying that an afro is “adorable” (lines 9–10). This troubles the foundation of pelo malo as rooted within

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familial discourse, expanding it to a view that is circulated through relationships both in and outside the home. DISCUSSION The data examined focused on instances when Puerto Ricanness was being negotiated by participants in relationship to their Black identity through their use of terms such as ‘Black’ or ‘Blackness’ and ‘African’ ‘Africano’ or ‘Africanness’. The analysis of these key instances guided the exploration of Puerto Rican identity boundaries through the themes of negritude moments and circulatory Blackness allowing for a clearer understanding of how participants positioned ‘self’ in relation to both Puerto Ricanness and Blackness as they explicitly discussed racial/cultural identity and hair (as a proxy for race). Additionally, in their responses participants honed in on issues of perception (from within and without), context (where one lives and who one comes in contact with), historical processes (slavery, amalgamation, and ancestry), and culture (as it was defined and understood within the dialogue) as it related both to themselves and Puerto Ricans as a group. The ways in which ‘African’ ‘Africano’ or ‘Africanness’ were used established a connection to Africa, the continent, and thus indexed an ideology akin to Negritude. In so doing, participants were able to verbally build a connection between Africa, its history and culture, to Puerto Rico and to Puerto Rican identity. Participants, through their discourse, framed this connection as of value to Puerto Ricanness or not, positive or negative. This variation is indicative of sentiments described elsewhere in Puerto Rican literature, such as the poetry of Willie Perdomo and Mariposa or the testimonial of Piri Thomas, where the cost of being Black and Puerto Rican is brought to bear (Perdomo, 1996; Mariposa, 2001; Thomas, 1974). As responses showed, tensions exist between embracing an uncontested point in history, African people were brought as slaves to the island and mixed with both the indigenous and European inhabitants, and facing the real conditions of being Black in the contemporary United States (Lopez, 2008). Moments in the data also revealed connections between Blackness and Puerto Ricanness that relied on physical characteristics. In these instances Blackness was indexed through bodily signifiers that came to be understood as raced in a particular way in specific contexts. Blackness attached to bodies through the visual and was made ‘real’ through discourse. As Johnson and Vasudevan (2012) note, it takes more than physical traits to describe an individual “unless the physical traits themselves are seen as representative of other, more telling, invisible traits” (p. 70). This became most salient in talk about hair; Afro-Latinxs have attributed a racialized subtext to hair where

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‘pelo malo’ is emblematic of African-origin and framed as undesirable, whereas ‘pelo bueno’, reflecting Indigenous/European heritage, is praised and sought after—even if achieved through painful chemical procedures (Candelario, 2000). Hair in this way becomes a tool that is wielded in order to achieve a desired result, in this case being seen as part of a particular racial or ethnic group. Discourse around hair allowed a different vantage point from which to understand ideologies about Blackness and Africanness as they relate to Puerto Ricanness that may have otherwise been missed. CONCLUSION The transnational nature of Latinx groups, whose migratory patterns link them to home and host nations in distinctive and decisive ways, mitigaties their relationship to and articulation of Blackness (Oboler & Dzidzienyo, 2005; Jimènez Roman & Flores, 2010; Rivera-Rideau, Jones, & Paschel, 2016). It is only through a transnational approach that we can make sense of the experiences of Afro-Latinx people in the US racial context and as such, it is paramount that new research empirically and comparatively consider the role of space and place in the creation of multiple Afro-Puerto Rican identities throughout the continental US (Oboler & Dzidzienyo, 2005; Jimènez Roman & Flores, 2010; Rivera-Rideau et al., 2016). The Puerto Rican diaspora in the SF Bay area provides one unique vantage point from which to consider Puerto Rican identity formation in comparison to Puerto Ricans in other geographic locations. The settlement patterns of Puerto Ricans in Northern California does not mirror traditional patterns of settlement in a centralized community, instead Puerto Ricans have opted to be spread out and separated; this sets the stage for different and creative ways for enacting identity, “Puerto Ricanness,” Blackness and ways of belonging (Hintzen, 2001). By focusing on the interplay of language’s indexical and ideological power we are able to better understand how participants make sense of Puerto Rican identity. Interviewees highlighted the importance of the visual in the classification of people within the Puerto Rican community; yet exploring identity goes beyond just what the eyes see. What is visual becomes constituted in the ways that language and the body work together—or against each other—to create an image accessible through multiple senses. Through racial discourse Blackness gains its materiality and multiplicity. This paper attempted at elucidating these ideas through the analysis of discourse produced by Puerto Ricans about Puerto Ricans. The variety within the responses demonstrated the array of understandings and beliefs that exist among those who consider themselves Puerto Rican. Although this study was limited in the number of people that participated and in the type of data that was collected, it begins to

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shed light on an important topic that needs to be further researched. In future studies related to this subject, there are many fruitful points of departure. Particularly, targeting participants who have spent time living on both the Island as well as on the mainland or in different areas of the United States, could allow for a comparative study of the racial ideologies in each place and its influences on Puerto Rican identity formation. The existence and salience of a racial hierarchy in America is unquestionable: it exists and it matters. While we no longer live under slavery or Jim Crow, Black people still live a second-class existence, even if it is just within the White imaginary. As Puerto Ricans, we experience the world through a periscope, submerged within a sea of ideologies that may be at odds, looking out onto a Black, bi-cultural self that is reflected back to us through the eyes and words of others. While the hegemonic bent of the nation may call for diversity and a celebration of difference, the racial ideology of White over Black persists, immortalized in language. Thus, it is within language that I see possibility if we are to move away from this polarizing dichotomy. NOTE 1. Clara E. Rodriguez explicates on how these terms are defined in her 1974 article “Puerto Ricans: Between Black and White.” In it she writes “Another aspect of racial classification in Puerto Rico is that racial categories are based on color, class, facial features, and texture of hair. This is quite in contrast to the mainly colorbased, White-nonWhite, or White, Black, yellow, red, and brown classifications of the U.S. This makes for a spectrum of racial types in Puerto Rico. There are blancos, the equivalent of Whites in this country; indios are similar to the U.S. conception of East Indians, i.e., dark-skinned and straight-haired; morenos are dark-skinned, with a variety of features, Negroid and Caucasian; negros are the Black, Black men in the U.S. It can also, however, be used, depending on the tone, as a derogation term, like “nigger.” Lastly is the term trigueño, which can be applied to what would be considered brunettes in this country or to Negroes or negros who have a high social status. Despite this term's lack of congruity with physical characteristics, it is still considered a term of racial classification; it just goes both ways” (p. 83).

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Index

“7 Ways Non-Black POC Perpetuate Anti-Blackness in their Communities,” 135 50 Cent, 156 Abner, Louima, 32 Accra, 7, 115–23 Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, 134, 136, 138 affirmative action, 39–43 Afri-hyphenated, 22 African American, 3–20, 23–26, 31, 34, 42, 47–52, 56, 65–68, 80, 84, 99–100, 107, 127–34, 135–43, 152–58, 168, 183, 196–200, 205– 6, 208, 212, 215–22, 225, 238–40, 249, 252, 254, 256, 262–68, 272, 286, 288 African cultural spaces, 111 African immigrant, 6, 14, 23, 32–38, 43, 80–82, 100, 107, 109–11, 113 African migrant crisis, 13 African studies, 51, 208 Africanist, 27, 80, 208–9 Africanness, 27, 80, 117, 244, 273–89; anti-Africanness, 16 Afro-Arabs, 138 Afro-Caribbean, 20, 34, 191, 192, 195– 203, 239, 267

Afro-German, 15 Afro-Indigenous, 238 Afro-Latino/a/x, 20, 135–36, 207, 233, 240, 253, 255–60, 262, 265, 266, 268, 271, 272, 286, 288, 289 Afrodescendiente, 58–60, 234 Afrophobia, 34 Afropolitan/ism, 10, 19, 25–28, 116, 117, 121–23; negritude and, 25–27 Aidoo, Ama Ata, 106 Ajibade, Matthew, 11 American Colonization Society, 62 Americanah, 134 Amharic, 9, 131, 142 An African City, 7 Anderson, Elijah, 131–32 Angelou, Maya, 244 anti-Blackness, 129, 133, 135 Antillean Black Identity, 247–54 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 33 Antwone Fisher, 151–52 Anzaldúa, Gloria E., 154 apartheid, 18, 19, 62, 157, 163–65; post-apartheid, 18, 170, 172 Asociación de Medicina Tradicional (Traditional Medicine Association), 59

309

310

Index

Baganda, 165 Baldwin, James, 64 Ballard, Barbara, 216 Barbados, 192 Bell, Ella Louise, 104 bicultural identity integration (BII), 5, 194, 201 bicultural/ism, 3, 5, 6, 20, 24, 50, 61, 62, 103, 104, 106, 127, 137, 192– 94, 200–203, 207, 212, 219, 222, 221, 224, 228, 252, 259, 260, 262, 264, 267, 268 Black African, 18, 107, 135, 138, 155, 169, 172 Black Alliance for Just Immigration, 11, 135 Black American, 7, 22–24, 31, 33, 34–37, 40–44, 99, 101, 127, 129, 131, 152, 198, 262 Black and transnational, 233 Black Atlantic, 154 Black British, 15, 56 Black Cleveland, 49 Black European, 14 Black foreigner privilege, 34–35 Black nationalism, 47 Black Power Revolution, 224 Black Skin, White Masks, 155 Black South Africans, 169–82 Black Zimbabweans, 184 Blackness, 25–28, 33, 54–57, 80, 106–7, 110, 205, 210, 224, 227, 235, 248, 257, 259, 264; America and the meaning of, 191; anti-Blackness, 14, 127, 135; as an identity, 235; being male and proximal to, 153; challenges to, 243; mistreatment of, 206; nation-building and, 17; non-exclusive nature of, 209; reclaiming, 16; reconstructing the image of, 24; relegation of Haitians and their, 207; South Africa and, 186

Blanquitude, 244 Blyden, Edward, 22 Boston University, 58 Boston, 92, 115 Brown University, 56 Brown v. Board, 38 Brown, Michael, 32 Brown, Rodney, 151 Bulawayo, Noviolet, 71, 74, 77, 78, 80, 83, 84 Butler, Kim, 213 Cabo Verde, 91–93, 96–101 Cabral, Amilcar, 48 Cape Coast, 119 Carmichael, Stokely. See Ture, Kwame Cato Crest Primary School, 155 chagga nation, 27 Chavis, Ben, 244 Chicago, 211–22 Chisolm, Shirley, 239 Christianity, 74, 78 Christopher, Columbus, 213 City Year, 100–101 Civil Rights, 47; Black Power Revolution, 224 Clark, Stephon, 32 Cleveland, Ohio, 47–50 Collins, Harold, 34 Colombia, 233, 239, 242, 244, 245, 267 colonialism, 17; colonization, 251 colorism, 117, 207, 224, 233, 247 coloured, 164 Committee on Equal Employment, 38 communality, 21 Concerned Haitian Americans of Illinois (CHAI), 220 crack cocaine epidemic, 206 Creole, 217, 224 Crioulo, 94 Cuba, 253 Cuffee, Paul, 22 cultural frame switching (CFS), 5

Index

Dar es Salaam, 26, 27, 48, 50, 51 Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 167, 169, 171, 172, 174, 176–82 Derg, 141–42 Detroit, 154 Diallo, Amadou, 32, 35 diaspora, (Black or African) 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 19–29, 48, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 109, 110, 113, 114, 118–119, 135, 151, 152, 158, 184, 186, 187, 208, 212, 213, 215, 216, 218, 219, 220, 222, 233–241, 244, 245, 249–58, 265, 268, 271, 272, 279, 280; Caribbean, 203; Congolese, 158, 177–79, 181, 182; definition of, 212–13; Ethiopian, 142, 143; Haitian, 213, 216, 220–22; Puerto Rican, 275, 289 Diversity Visa Lottery Program, 136 dokon, 103 Dominican Republic, 20, 64, 192, 207, 225, 247, 257, 258; Dominican, 11, 20, 248, 250, 257, 283 Door of No Return, 119, 120 dual identity, 50 DuBois, W.E.B., 5, 155, double-consciousness, 5 duckunoo, 103 DuSable, Jean Baptiste Pointe, 213, 215 Elmina (Castle), 24, 119 England, 4, 65, 120, 158, 162, 163, 261 English as Second Language (ESL), 93, 94, 99, 101, 261 Equatorial Guinea, 53–55, 57–60 Ethiopia, 127, 129, 138, 139, 141–43, 146, 147, 171, 251 Ethiopian Orthodox Church, 142 Ethiopian/s, 8, 9, 19, 127–35, 137–39, 141–43, 145–47 ethnic performance, 33

311

ethnicity, 154 Eurocentricity, 23, 80, 237 Europe(an), 3, 6, 8, 12–16, 18, 24, 32, 35, 48, 56, 57, 61–64, 66, 67, 69, 76, 78, 80, 81, 93, 99, 100, 119, 120, 128, 154, 158, 174, 184–87, 207, 233, 234–38, 240, 248, 279, 283, 284, 288, 289 Fanon, Frantz, 17, 155, 156, 274 Fante, 103, 105, 236, feminism, 218 Filipino, 238 First Nations people (Khoikhoi), 153, 158 first generation, 9, 11, 23, 37, 42, 84, 192, 202, 214, 220, 223–28 flaneuse, 63 foreign born, 9, 15, 23, 24, 35, 192, 197, 198 France, 13–16, 43, 183–85, 187, 238 Freedmen’s Bureau, 67 Ga, 103 Gardner, Eric, 32 Garvey, Marcus, 11, 237 gender, 94, 95, 98, 122, 152, 153, 183, 186, 191–203, 217, 218, 249, 253 Germany, 14, 15, 65, 78, 106 Ghana(ian), 4, 6–8, 10, 18, 24, 34, 52, 83, 103–11, 114, 116–23, 136, 152, 153, 163, 164 Gilroy, Paul, 154 Glissant, Edouard, 234 Gold Coast, 116 Gray, Freddie, 32 greenhorn, 93 Grenfell Action Group (GAG), 13 Grenfell Towers, 13 Grifa, 236 Grutter v. Bollinger, 40 Guinea, 32, 109, 111, 114 Guinier, Lani, 36 Guridy, Frank, 212 Guyana, 192, 229

312

Index

Hailemariam, Mengistu, 141 Haiti(an), 8, 9, 11, 20, 32, 64, 119, 136, 192–209, 211–22, 237, 253, 257 Haitian Revolution, 215 Harlem Renaissance, 16, 25, 56 Hartman, Sadiya, 152–53 Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks, 157 hip-hop, 206 Hispano-Guinean, 53, 54, 58, 59 Hough rebellion, 47 Howard University, 39, 51, 208 hyper-sexualization, 206 Iceland, 61–70 Identity, 3–15, 19– 21, 23–28, 33, 34, 36, 37, 42, 47, 49–55, 59, 71–74, 77, 78, 80–84, 101, 104, 109, 114, 121, 122, 127–31, 133, 134, 136, 137, 138, 144, 145, 147, 151, 152, 154–58, 161, 169, 177–82, 184, 186, 187, 191–93, 195, 196, 198, 200–203, 205–9, 211–14, 217–22, 225, 226, 228, 233, 234–36, 238, 240, 241, 243–46, 248, 249, 251, 252–60, 262, 264, 265, 267, 268, 271–76, 279–82, 285–90 Antillean Black, 20, 248, 251 Blackness as an, 234–35 developing a Black or Black American, 197–98 maintaining an ethnic, 195 Pan Caribbean, 253 racial, 3, 4, 8, 10, 147, 195, 197, 198, 200–202, 208, 227, 228, 234 rejection of Haitian, 217–19 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), 33 (im)migrants, 3–16, 18–20, 23, 24, 31– 43, 79, 80, 82–85, 93–95, 98–101, 103, 107–9, 111, 113, 129, 133, 135–40, 151, 152, 158, 165, 168, 169–81, 184–87, 191–94, 196– 206, 212–14, 218, 219, 223, 224, 226–29, 255, 260, 265;

affirmative action and, 38; African, 6, 14, 23, 32, 34–36, 38, 43, 80, 82, 95, 100, 107, 111, 113; African Americans and, 31–43; Cabo Verdean, 99, 101; Ethiopian, 135, 141; ethnic performance and, 33; Ghanaian, 18, 103, 108; Haitian, 32, 205, 212, 214, 218; Muslim, 33; Nigerian, 84; number of Black, 13–14; Panamanian, 255; second-generation, 3, 5, 11, 37, 38, 42, 137, 224; West Indian/Caribbean, 11, 16, 34, 202 (im)migration, 6–9, 12, 13, 18, 19, 23, 53, 54, 56, 58, 152, 158, 169–71, 181, 191, 192, 195, 198–203, 212–15, 217, 219, 221, 253, 255, 256, 265, 267, 272, 275 to Europe, 12–16 to South Africa, 18, 169–73, 175, 178 Indigenous (people), 129, 139, 140, 234, 235, 238, 240, 244, 248, 256, 278, 288, 289 injera, 142 Ja Rule, 156 Jackson, Michael, 143 Jamaica(n), 10, 11, 34, 61, 63, 136, 192, 196, 198, 200, 205, 207, 239, 251, 262 Jay Z, 144 Jean-Baptiste, Lionel, 221–22 Jeffries, Leanard, 244 John C Smith University, 50 Jones, Claudia, 134 Jones, Del, 244 Katanga, 172, 178 Kelley, Robin D.G., 213

Index

kenkey, 103–5, 107, 108 Kenya, 7, 52, 61, 110, 128 Keunang, Charly Leundeu (aka “Africa”), 11 King, Martin Luther, 239 Koser, Khalid, 220–21 Kwanzaa, 10, 49 kwere-kwere, 165

negra, 55 Negrito, 250 negritud, 55 negritude, 20, 25, 26, 233, 234, 241, 244, 273, 274, 278–85, 288 New England, 92 Nkrumah, Kwame, 51 Nyerere, Julius, 48, 51

L & N Railroad, 47 Learning Race in a U.S. Context (LRUSC), 197 Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation, 212 Lemelle, Sidney, 213 Linnaeus, Carl, 235 lobola, 185 London, 10, 12, 55, 56, 162 Loose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Trade, 152 Los Angeles, 10, 11, 32, 130, 135, 137, 147, 255, 258 Luba, 172

Obama, Barack, 219 Ogbu, John, 36 Okonofua, Benjamin, 34 Oreo, 143 Oromo, 127–131 Oso, Tia, 11 Our Sister Killjoy, 106

Malcolm X, 239 McKay, Claude, 134 McKittrick, Katherine, 68–69 MeCha, 252 Mekdela, 137 Middle Passage, 68, 155, 235 Million Woman March, 51, 261 Min, Zhou, 213–14 Montgomery, Alabama, 24 Moreno, 237, 250 Moros, 237 Morvant/Leventille, 227 Mos Def, 156 Mother Earth, 57 Mulatto, 224, 234, 236 Muslim ban, 138 Mutombo, 250 Mwangi, George, 197 National DuSable Memorial Society (NDMS), 216

313

Pan Africanism, 21, 22, 27, 28, 48, 51, 56, 235 pan africanization, 27 Panama(nian), 20, 251, 255–57, 259–67 Paris, 4, 5, 10, 25, 183, 213 Peace Corps, 247 Plymouth Rock, 238 Portes, Alejandro, 212–14 Praisesong for the Widow, 105 Prieto, 250 privilege, 18, 20, 34–36, 63, 76, 77, 81, 122, 128, 132, 133, 137, 147, 154, 161, 174, 224, 228, 236, 240, 248, 250, 252, 254 Puerto Rico(an), 11, 20, 192, 225, 238, 239, 247–49, 251, 252, 257, 260, 261, 263, 271–90 R & B, 206, 208 R Kelly, 156 racism: 25, 31, 32, 35–37, 40, 43, 53, 80, 99, 107, 120, 130, 132, 134, 136, 138, 140, 152, 155, 186, 198, 200, 227, 233, 235, 238, 240, 252, 256, 261 Raoul, Kwame, 219–20 rap, 206 Rasta(fari), 56, 127, 250

314

Index

Red Scare, 128 Regents of Univ. of California v. Bakke, 39 Reggae, 247, 249–51, 253, 254 Reykjavik, 62–63, 65–66, 67–68 Rumbaut, Rubén, 212 Scandinivian Christians, 128 Schomburg, Arturo, 11 School Daze, 62 Selasi, Taye, 22 Shaka, 250 Shona, 73, 183, 187 Sierra Leone(an), 4, 7, 22, 111, 114 socialism, 51 South Africa(n), 6, 7, 8, 16–20, 34, 48, 62, 74, 75, 111, 149, 151, 153, 155, 157, 161–82, 185–87; black and bicultural in, 16–18; migrating from Uganda to, 163–68; migrating from Zimbabwe to, 183–87; work opportunities in, 75 Spain, 53–60, 207, 237, 244, 245, 279 Sterling, Alton, 32 strategic enculturation, 234 Sudan, 118, 128, 133, 138 Sugar Daddy, 250 Swahili, 26, 27, 48–51, 61, 176–82 Sweden, 61, 65, 78 System of Nature, 235 systematic erasure, 140 Talib Kweli, 156 Tanzania(n), 6, 17, 23, 26, 47–52, 172 Tazara railway, 50 Temporary Protected Status (TPS), 136 The Cosmopolitan Canopy, 131 Things Fall Apart, 78 Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF), 142 Tigrinya, 142 Tometi, Opal, 11

Tomi, Nenelwa, 21 Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, 235 Trinidad and Tobago, 223–28 Trinidadian (Afro), 20, 120, 223–28 Trujillo, Rafael, 247 Trump era, 136 Tshisekedi, Etienne, 172 Ture, Kwame, 11, 237, 243–44 ubuntu, 21–22 Uganda(n), 18, 161–67, 172 ukoo, 27 UN Day, 117–18 United Nations, 117, 118, 171, 257, 258 United States v. Brignoni-Ponce (422 U.S. 873 (1975)), 33 University of California, 131 University of Cape Town, 186 University of East London, 56 University of New Mexico, 56 Wa Kumwanda, Gabriel Kyungu, 172 Wamba, Phillipe, 5-7 Waters, Mary, 10-11 Whitesplaining, 23 Woldemikael, Tekle, 212 women: 62, 65–68, 70, 74, 75, 98, 104, 112, 113, 129, 140, 158, 191, 195, 196, 198, 199, 200, 202; African/Black/Caribbean, 7, 62, 63, 68, 69, 83, 104, 106, 113, 131, 132, 145, 198–201, 216, 218, 224; Haitian, 64, 218; Hispano-Guinean, 53–60 Xhosa, 121, 155, 163, 164, 178, 179 Yiba Nothando, 155 Zenawi, Meles, 142 Zimbabwe(an), 18, 20, 52, 72–75, 78– 84, 163, 171, 172, 183–87, 251 Zulu, 155, 178, 179

About the Contributors

Semien Abay is a first-generation Ethiopian American from San Jose, CA. She graduated from CSU Los Angeles with a BA in Television and Film and a minor in Communications. She spent two and a half years in Addis Ababa working in media. She anchored the radio news, produced and hosted English programs for radio, and reported news stories for television. After returning to the United States, Semien left her job to travel the world. She has been to over twenty countries and five continents. She plans to return to entertainment, with hopes to work on projects that will be a driving force for positive change in the world. Jessica Omilani Alarcón has a master’s in Africana Studies from Cornell University, studied Classical Art and Architecture at the University of Cambridge (UK), and Caribbean Women’s Literature at the University of West Indies—St. Augustine, Trinidad. Ms. Alarcón is a visual and performing artist, poet, scholar, and Founder of Latinegras®. She has over eight scholarly publications, numerous musical releases, and was in the top 7 GRAMMY Showcase Finalists. Her current project is the award-nominated documentary, “LATINEGRAS: The Journey of Self-Love through an AfroLatina Lens” (2018) which is currently on the film festival circuit. For more information visit: www.latinegras.com or www.omilani.com. Afua (Rachel) Ansong is a Ghanaian American writer, dancer, and photographer. Her work interrogates the challenges of the African immigrant in the United States, exploring themes of transition, citizenship, and identity. Her chapbook American Mercy is forthcoming with Finishing Line Press. Her work can be seen or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Frontier, Newfound, and elsewhere. 315

316

About the Contributors

Dr. Loy L. Azalia is a gender and education expert, specializing in education policy, Critical Men, and Masculinities studies, Women and girls empowerment in postconflict and under-resourced societies, within Africa and the Diaspora. Her work extends across various spaces, focusing on engaging groups on topics of migration, immigration, rural development, youth, issues in gender inequality and sociocultural transformation. Yelena Bailey received her doctorate in Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of California, San Diego. She is currently an assistant professor of English & Cultural Studies at Seattle Pacific University. Her research interests include the links between black diasporic cultural production, political ideologies, and social movements, particularly as they involve black women. She also enjoys writing about the links between popular culture, politics, and identity. Eugene M. Bope is a doctoral candidate in International Relations at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. His research analyzes Three Generations of Peacekeeping in the context of the United Nations involvement through Peacekeeping Operations in the Congo wars. He has also been a Field Researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand conducting surveys in the fieldworks in the inner city of Johannesburg, informal settlements, and Department of Home Affairs. He holds a doctorate in Business Management from Aldersgate College, Philippines, a master’s degree in International Relations from University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from University of Lubumbashi. Nana Afua Y. Brantuo holds a bachelor’s degree in African Studies from Howard University and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in the Minority and Urban Education program at UMD. Her academic interests focus on the mobility, migration, and educational experiences and trajectories of African and African descendant peoples. Her work has taken her to various institutions, including Connecticut College, the University of Ghana, Legon, the University of the West Indies, Cavehill and the University of Havana—giving presentations, facilitating workshops, and collaborating with educators, policymakers, and researchers across the globe. Sayuni Brown is a culturally fluid Ugandan villager. She was born and raised in Africa. Continued and completed her education in South Africa. She has been using her voice and words to reach people, from all walks of life, in

About the Contributors

317

different ways. She has contributed to her community via outreach programs organised by NGO’s and government initiatives within South Africa. Msia Kibona Clark is an Associate Professor in the Department of African Studies at Howard University. Her work has focused on popular culture, migration, and gender studies in Africa. Dr. Clark has published on African migration and identity, especially the experiences of African migrants in the United States, and their relationships with others in the African Diaspora. Dr. Clark has also published extensively on hip-hop culture’s intersections with social change, gender, and politics in Africa. Dr. Clark produces the Hip Hop African blog and monthly podcast hosted at hiphopafrican.com. Krista L. Cortes is a doctoral candidate in the Language, Literacy, and Culture Program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Her research takes up the question - what do black-affirming educational spaces look like for Afro-Latinx youth? Considering the politics of place, movement, and the transnational nature of Afro-Latinx communities, particularly within the Puerto Rican diaspora, her proposed dissertation will take up the experiences of Afro-Puerto Rican youth in the US, documenting how blackness as a practice gets taken up an enacted in their everyday lives. Ariana A. Curtis is the first curator of Latinx Studies at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Her areas of responsibility include U.S. (Afro) Latinx, African American & Latinx, Diaspora, and African Americanness in Latin America. Previously, Ariana was the Latinx Studies curator at the Anacostia Community Museum where she curated two bilingual exhibitions: Gateways/Portales, which received honorable mention in the 2017 Smithsonian Excellence in Exhibition Awards, and Bridging the Americas. Ariana holds a doctorate in Anthropology from American University, an MA in Public Anthropology from American University, and a BA from Duke University. Mekdela Ejigu is an Ethiopian-American blogger and writer who identifies as a hyphenated, third culture kid. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Legal Studies and Feminist Studies with Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she began her organizing career. She has organized for women’s rights, immigrant's rights and racial justice. She enjoys reading and creating feminist theory that centers women and non-binary people of color. She is currently living in the U.K. where she studies for a master’s in Social and Public Policy. You can read more of her writing on her blog at http:// mkdla.blogspot.com.

318

About the Contributors

Shelvia English is a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland College Park in the Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy program. She is also the Assistant Director of the University of Maryland Incentive Awards Program. Her research centers around race and ethnicity in higher education concerning Black immigrants, particularly AfroCaribbeans. Shelvia earned her Bachelor of Science in Human Development from Wheelock College and her Master of Education in Higher Education Administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Zoë Gadegbeku is a Ghanaian writer whose work has appeared in Lawino Magazine, Afreada, Brittle Paper, The Fem Lit Mag, Blackbird, Slice Magazine, and Longreads. She was a fellow in the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice during her senior year at Georgetown University, and a participant in the 2017 Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop in Barbados. Gadegbeku recently graduated from the Creative Writing MFA program at Emerson College, where she worked as the Communications Manager for the Elma Lewis Center, in addition to teaching first-year writing for undergraduate students. Sharony Green is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alabama. A native of Miami, Florida, she has ancestral ties to the Deep South and the Bahamas. Her latest book, Remember Me to Miss Louisa: Hidden Black-White Intimacies in Antebellum America (Northern Illinois University Press, 2016), was awarded the Barbara “Penny” Kanner Prize for excellence in archival research by the Western Association of Women Historians (WAWH). gShe traveled to Iceland to push her thinking on racial and spatial politics, which figures into her next book project on the Florida peninsula. Dayne Hutchinson is a native of Miramar, Florida and currently works at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City as the Director of Student Development and Activities. Dr. Hutchinson earned his Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences from Florida State University, and his Master of Arts in Student Affairs and Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Nebraska— Lincoln. Dr. Hutchinson’s research interests center around First-Generation Afro-Caribbean Immigrants, Afro-Caribbean identity development, and Afro- Caribbean experiences within higher education in the United States. Courtney Pierre Joseph is an Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies at Lake Forest College in northern Illinois. She teaches courses on African American history and culture. She is currently working on her manuscript which will examine the history of the Haitian diasporic community in Chicago.

About the Contributors

319

Maurisa Li-A-Ping is a storyteller, educator, and performer raised by a village of Black women in Brooklyn, New York. Maurisa utilizes poetry to promote the success of marginalized students through Communal Poetry Environments. Her commitment to her craft has allowed her to perform at the World-Famous Apollo Theater, United Nations, Poetic License Festival, Barclays Center, NASPA’s Conference, ACPA Convention, The National Conference on Student Leadership, and various other venues. Maurisa’s dedication has led her to receive The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Alumni Microgrant, and publication with Up the Staircase Quarterly, Wusgood Mag, The National Institute for Transformative Equity, and more.​ Ryan Mann-Hamilton is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at CUNY LaGuardia. He received his PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center. His doctoral dissertation focused on the processes, effects and community reactions to state driven economic development and land dispossession in Samaná, Dominican Republic. He is an educator, community organizer, photographer, consultant and writer and has given a variety of workshops and lectures on social and environmental justice, community based activism, the social constructions of race and AfroLatin@ History and Culture in the Americas. He is currently the Director of Public Programs for the Institute for Socio-Ecological Research. Shingi Mavima was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and is an author, scholar, and philanthropist. Shingi is a PhD candidate in the African American and African Studies program at Michigan State University. She has a B.A in International Relations from Grand Valley State University and an M.A. in International Affairs from Penn State University. Shingi has published two poetry anthologies, Homeward Bound (2012) and Mirage of Days Old (2015). His first novel, Pashena, was released in May 2018. Away from the books, Shingi is the cofounder and director of CLUBHOUSE International, a community-based organization that works with schoolchildren in Zimbabwe. Phiwokuhle Mnyandu was born and raised in Umlazi, a township outside Durban, South Africa. He is currently a Joint Lecturer in the Department of African Studies and the Department of Languages and World Affairs at Howard University. He teaches courses on contemporary African issues, regional organizations, as well as all levels of his native Zulu language. His research interests include China-South Africa relations, South African foreign policy, and looking into the role of Zulu in decolonizing African epistemologies. He is a regular commentator in international print and television media on South Africa’s current affairs.

320

About the Contributors

Tolulope “Tolu” F. Odunsi is an England-born, Nigerian-American attorney. Prior to joining the University of Buffalo School of Law's full time faculty as a Lecturer in Law for Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research, Tolu practiced as a civil litigation defense attorney. In 2018, Tolu was elected as President for the Minority Bar Association of Western New York for the 2018 term. She is also the author of, “Breaking the Silence in the Face of Racial Injustice,” which was published in Volume 8, Issue 2 of the Defense Research Institute’s 2017 Diversity Insider. Gabriel Peoples is an assistant professor of Gender Studies whose research is located at the nexus of Performance, Gender, and Africana Studies. Currently, he is completing a manuscript, Goin’ Viral: Uncontrollable Blackness in Popular Culture and Everyday Life, that examines the rewards and risks of “viral performance”—repeated visual and sonic engagements with Blackness in popular culture and everyday life, which are packaged as images, films, and viral videos for mass consumption. His broader interests include Black performance theory, visual culture, Sound Studies, Black masculinity, American Studies and HIV prevention. Anthony Curtis Polanco is from South Central Los Angeles, California. He used music, poetry, arts, and literature to find an escape from gangs, drug dealing, and violence plaguing Los Angeles in the early nineties. He graduated from the University of Texas in Arlington with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and Spanish. In 2013, he independently published his first book, Verses from the Diaspora, which included his original poetry in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. He is currently the managing partner of MMP Productions LLC and an immigration advocate with the non-profit organization Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). Margaret Eva Salifu earned her Ph.D. in English Language and Literature in 2017 from The University of Tulsa, where she is currently completing a post-doctoral fellowship. Her areas of teaching and research interests include literatures of Africa and the African diaspora—her most recent research focusing on twenty-first-century transatlantic literary and cultural representations of women’s shifting economic positioning. Her dissertation, “Spending Power: Black Women’s Economic Positioning and Interlocking Oppressions in African and African-Diasporic Women’s Writing,” deploys African, Caribbean, and African American literary texts to explore sociallyconstructed designations and economic strictures that interlock to limit the choices of women of color. Carolina Nvé Díaz San Francisco is a Hispano-Guinean medical anthropologist and social researcher based in Boston Medical Center and Boston

About the Contributors

321

University, School of Medicine. She has extensive experience working on health related issues among diverse communities, and her current research collaboration focuses on immigration, women and teenagers, cancer and disability. She is also preparing for doctoral level research on health care systems, illness, healing, and medical coverage in Equatorial Guinea. Indhira Serrano is a well-known Colombian actress and activist. She studied the Strasberg Method Acting under Ralf Kinnard in Venezuela. Serrano is best known for her performances in the series Amor Sincero. (2009), El Clon (2010) Flor Salvaje (2011) Tres Milagros (2011), Tiro De Gracia (2014), Celia (2015) and Azúcar (2016). Serrano is the current president of ACTORES SCG, a Colombian Collective Management Organization. Serrano is currently producing and acting in the first Spanish adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun (Una Uva Pasa Bajo el Sol) (2018) with her organization Omenka. For more information visit: www.indhiraserrano.com. Terza Alice Silva Lima-Neves is a proud Cabo Verdean woman, wife, mommy-scholar, educator and advocate for women and girls. Terza holds a PhD in political science from Clark Atlanta University. She is an associate professor of political science at Johnson C. Smith University. Her research interests and published scholarship focus on Cabo Verdean gender studies as well as modern African diaspora politics and homeland development. Among her many roles, Terza is the co-founder of the International Conference on Cabo Verdean Women and founding president of the Cape Verdeans of the Carolinas Association. Cassandra “Dr. Cass” J. St. Vil was born to Haitian parents. She has a PhD in African Studies from Howard University and has dedicated her career to fostering adolescent identity and leadership development with particular attention to the contributions, cultures and histories of Black peoples throughout the world. She has since set on a course in multicultural education, teaching methods to have learners value their heritage using culturally-relevant curricula. Dr. Cass taught at a secondary boarding school in Rwanda and at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Education in South Africa. She is currently planning to open an African-centered high school. Kat J. Stephens is a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in the Higher Education Program in the Department of Educational Policy, Research, and Administration. She also holds a Master of Education in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research centers around race, ethnicity, and gender in higher education as it relates to Afro-Caribbean women, with a focus on Afro-Guyanese women. Kat also has interest in institutions of higher education in the

322

About the Contributors

Caribbean region, and its populations of immigrants as they navigate higher education in a North American context. Keisha V. Thompson is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY. Dr. Thompson holds her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Texas A&M University. A native of Trinidad & Tobago, Dr. Thompson grew up in Brooklyn. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Business Communication at Baruch College, CUNY, and her master’s degree in School Counseling at Hunter College, CUNY. Dr. Thompson’s research is centered around Blackness in the African diaspora. In the classroom, she operates from a socio-political framework addressing issues of culture, health, and social justice as they relate to individuals and institutions. Nenelwa Tomi was born in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, and raised in Western Massachusetts. Nenelwa has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Sociology from Goucher College and a Master’s Degree in International Education with a focus on Decolonizing Development in the African diaspora at The George Washington University. Over the past seven years, she has dedicated her life to ensuring that marginalized students gain access and visibility to and through higher education, working with youth who are the first in their families to attend college or to travel abroad. Tafadzwa Zvobgo grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe. She is currently a PhD candidate in Political Science at the Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAF) research centre of Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, France. She is interested in conflict, electoral violence and conflict resolution in Africa. Her current research focuses on understanding the participation of perpetrators of electoral violence in Zimbabwe. She attained her undergraduate and Master’s degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and lived in Cape Town, South Africa for eight years from 2004 to 2012.