Color Struck: Black and Volunteering In Africa

by Adisa Vera Beatty

Three years ago, when I first volunteered in Africa, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea about the country I was going to, what volunteering abroad would demand of me, and least of all, how being a Black woman raised in America would color my life in Africa.

Even though I have always been lurred by the idea of stepping away from the familiarity everything you know, I felt this experience would be no small feat.

When I arrived in Ethiopia just two weeks into their New Year (which is in September), everywhere we went there was still evidence of recent revelry; Happy New Year banners and streamers hanging in the city. In the capital, Addis Ababa, it was difficult to get a sense of the country because it was such a cosmopolitan mix of people, luxury hotels and expansive grocery stores, but then there would also be a woman in rags holding one hand out for money or food, while the other hand held a baby. While I was there, I never adjusted to seeing the women and children begging. And I never adjusted to the lookism I was subjected to.

The university I was assigned to was in a city about 75 minutes outside of the capital, and I remained a spectacle for the nine months I was there. I should state that I have never been mistaken for anything but Black. Even before I locked my hair, I have always had full lips, a broad nose, high cheek bones and dark skin. All of which made me so completely unprepared for people stopping dead in their tracks in the street, the marketplace, or basically anywhere I was, and starring with mouths open, pointing and yelling at me or to whoever they might be saying, “Nigeria!” “Hamaica (Jamaica),” “Mali,” “Burkina Faso,” and so on.

I couldn’t understand why I was such an attraction when right in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia there were people who looked just like me. Furthermore, my Filipino, East Indian and European co-workers never even got so much as a glance in the streets. All of the attention made me wonder….do Black folks not volunteer in Africa? Because if they did, I wondered what looked so alien about me–a Black woman–in Africa?

I decided to temper myself; I would endure the immediate silences that fell when I entered the faculty lunchroom on campus, the people who would follow me in the streets awe struck, murmuring about me in Amharic. The one word I was always sure to hear and understand would be the country they’d picked as my native land.

But why wasn’t my roommate, who was lighter than me, ever the subject of such attention? Sure, people came up to her as well, but it was usually to ask about the tall “Nigerian” woman they had seen her with (i.e.; me). Or when they were too puzzled by my appearance, as this man in the market place was one day, they would simply shout, “You Africa!” Why were Africans calling me Africa in Africa, like my Blackness was unusual or we were in the middle of Iceland?

After months of having to steel myself from the stares, pointing and yelling just to do everyday tasks in town, I had grown intolerant. For the record, I stopped having conversations years ago about who was of African descent and people who “identify as of African descent.” Furthermore, I had been ridiculed since grade school about my darker complexion, so I learned early on that color–a thing I had no control over–could be held against me. But I was also nurtured on the goodness of Blackness, so there’s no dinner conversation, brief exchange or vigorous debate that can dismantle who or what I am. Nevertheless, there I was in Africa being called everything under the sun and  forced to ruminate on identity! But not my identity which I can sum that up easily with the eloquent words of Gwendolyn Brooks, “I am a Black,” as well as the on-point lyrics of dead prez, “I’m an African.” But what had me simmering was why it was so clear that I was an “African” that it had to be shouted in the streets. But for the other Black women in my group who were of a lighter complexion, they were merely accepted, and welcomed as one of Ethiopia’s own.

  • AustralianGirl

    I havent been to Ethiopia, however perhaps by your physical description, you have strong West African heritage…. whereas the Ethiopians I come across her in Melbourne tend to have quite a different look to West Africans…. narrower nose, finer features, medium-lighter skin.

    Perhaps they dont get many Africans with your particular features/heritage there?

    Other than that I dont know… just hazarding a guess

  • AustralianGirl

    …also it may simply be that they think you are beautiful and exotic (an irony since you’re in Africa, but you know what I mean)

  • http://afuturemd.com Mel

    A lot of Black Americans do not *look* African. So people point you out in a crowd and ask you if you’re Nigerian or Jamaican. I am Liberian, and people say Liberians look American so I always get a lot of noise from other Africans about that. But people in America say I look African. I don’t really care.

    I am not sure about White, Asian, or Hispanic (I have never seen that but I am going to add them to the group) volunteers being point out in any part of Africa. They do get a lot of stares and are targeted, the same as Black Americans in Africa. Plus, if you look really out of place somewhere (regardless of your looks) you may attract attention.

  • Ms. Chi

    It’s not ironic to appear exotic in Africa. From what the author said, people in Ethiopia were mistaking her for Nigerian. Nigeria is on the opposite side of the African continent and Nigerians look very different from Ethiopians. Thus, if there is not a lot of travel between Nigeria and Ethiopia, it is possible for Ethiopians to consider her look as exotic (or just something they’re not used to seeing)

  • Clnmike

    I understand there reaction, if everyone looks like their mixed with white or middle eastern blood and you don’t than yeah you would stand out. Why would that be a problem?

  • Kenyanness

    Dear Author

    I understand the spirit of your piece and I respect the validity of your experience. However there are so many implicit assumptions in the article that almost invalidate the your conclusion (not your experience by any means). If you go into “Africa” and expect to find a homogenous mass of people “who look like you” how can you then be surprised when you emerge as a spectacle? Africa is a diverse continent made up of millions of people who look different, just like indigenous people in Latin America look different, or there is no one “Asian” look. Your experience was in Ethiopia not in “Africa”, and it is a disservice to yourself and to the other people in the continent not to be specific with your observations. Ethiopians have a different ethnic heritage from Somalians or Sudanese or Egyptians or Kenyans next door – you would have had a completely different experience in each of those (I’ve beent to most of those countries – as a volunteer – so I know). Taking offence to people pointing out the limitations of your assumptions is a tad self-absorbed, no?

    Also, black people volunteer in Africa – there are millions of indigenous Africans running free schools, church programmes, after school programmes, Sunday schools, taking care of sick relatives, taking in orphaned family members, looking after grandparents etc. I think what you probably mean to ask is whether more African-Americans need to volunteer in “Africa”.

    Signed

    Frustrated African.

  • whilome

    What you said!

    Signed,

    Bemused Negress

  • http://www.internationalblack.wordpress.com Trina Roach

    A more accurate title for this article may have been “American and volunteering in Africa”.

    As someone who left the States after high school in the mid 70′s, and who has gone through an entire gamut of frustrations, epiphanies and re-orientations since then, I think the friction you experienced had more to do with stepping outside the familiar American worldview (of which the black American worldview is simply a subset) and inhabiting a space where that particular worldview is no longer valid currency.

    From personal experience I can say that one of the most enlightening challenges of navigating life outside the American worldview has been coming to understand my/our place within the bigger context of things and dispelling judgment (“We’re right, so they must be wrong!”) long enough to understand how their particular history and development led them to their specific worldview.

    One of the most valuable things travel brings is the opportunity to better understand what truths, semi-truths and untruths make up our own sense of identity.

  • FinegIRL

    Africa is not a country. You did not go to VOLUNTEER in Africa, you went to Ethiopia which is in Africa….PLEASE. So, next time you write because I ASSUME you are intelligent: You write, Ethiopia, Africa. You do not hear anyone say I went to school in North America or South America…you say you went to school in the US or Canada or Mexico or Brazil. I am just calling you out on the IGNORANCE THAT HAS PLAGUED THE AMERICAN SOCIETY, specifically US.

    And just because Ethiopians thought of you that way does not necessarily connote that AFRICANS think that way. YOU HAVE GENERALIZED ALL DIFFERENT CULTURES (nearing 5000 cultures) INTO A MONOLITH…SOMETHING BLACK AMERICAN WOMEN HAVE BEEN FIGHTING TO ELIMINATE….NOT ALL AFRICANS THINK ALIKE. SOME AFRICANS PREFER DARK-SKINNED WOMEN TO LIGHT-SKINNED WOMEN…BUT OF COURSE WE LIKE TO FOCUS ON THE ‘BAD’ INSTEAD OF THE ‘GOOD’…

    EThIOPIANS are a mix of Africans and Arab so of course they will definitely see you differently. Even the Nigeria you speak of, there are SHUWA-ARABS that are also a mix of black and Arab…so

  • LemonNLime

    Thanks for sharing your story. “Furthermore, my Filipino, East Indian and European co-workers never even got so much as a glance in the streets.” I would assume that much like in many place in Africa, Ethiopia dealt with colonization which is why white people weren’t such an anomaly. Also like in many other countries in Africa, there are a lot of Asian immigrants. Once you think about it, it’s not surprising they were confused by you.

    Traveling has made me evaluate my identity too. In the US, I identity as an black American but outside I am just an American.

  • 9ja

    My main issue with this article is that there seems to be a lot of assumption on the part of the author. That’s great that you feel strongly reassured of the pride you have in your blackness, which many of us – including myself – feel. However, did it not occur to you to ever ask one of the Ethiopian, or other, staff in the organization you were volunteering with where these reactions may have come from? That might’ve given your confusion a rest and saved you from writing an article based on your own speculations about others, which is funny because your discomfort in this article stems from other peoples confusion about you.

    My father lived and worked in Ethiopia for some time – Addis, to be specific – and whenever I’d visit him, I rarely got called the names you experienced, even though I am a black Nigerian from the Southern region. We even visited other parts of Southern Ethiopia and I never received the same reaction you did.

    Lastly, although you claim that the you were near the Omo Valley area where there were people that ‘looked like you’, one mustn’t forget that simply because you share the similar trait of having dark skin, it does not mean you look alike. Masai people do not look like Zulus, who do not look like Igbos, who do not look like the Wolof. What I am trying to say is that perhaps these people that called you these names can recognized someone who is from the Omo area based on facial features and other factors. Don’t forget that the fact that you were with non-black individuals at times may have played a role in them categorizing you as something other than Ethiopian. And yes, I suppose not many black foreigners may not volunteer in that part of the world.

  • jetblack

    O.M.G. What she said +1,000,000,000,000,000,000

  • http://poundnpavements.wordpress.com MW

    I wrote a really long, frustrated response to the author’s piece and then decided to delete it. I’m puzzled, and a bit offended by a few things she’s said–as a woman who has visited the continent as both a volunteer and then a tourist, as a non-native of the United States, as a Black woman–but then I read a few of the other comments.

    I think the piece is mis-titled as another commenter suggested; perhaps she should narrow and speak as an American, unfamiliar with particulars of volunteerism abroad? Perhaps she should speak as someone from her individual way of life? I think the biggest misstep of this piece is that she’s broadened too far and thus, in an effort to reconcile an experience, misidentified and incorrectly categorized myriad of people and projected a lot of false thinking.

    I remember when a dear friend of mine from Ghana came on holiday to the United States and commented on the congestion of the big cities. He was bemused to find how people in the United States lived and then concluded that aid should be kept in the United States because the people were by far the most ignorant he had met and standards of living were less than he would personally accept for himself. Now this is extreme but I think many Americans (and I generalize here as well) particularly Black Americans have a false sense of Blacks in other countries and wish to classify us based on skewed perceptions. In my experience, the most racism, prejudice and downright ignorance I encountered in this country has come from people who ‘look’ like me.

    All of that said, I’m happy the author got outside of herself, albeit if she felt uncomfortable. Further, it’s good that she has not let an uncomfortable experience discontinue her foreign travels or volunteerism.

  • Mimi

    As many have already stated, this piece is specific to Ethiopia and it’s best not to generalize it as Africa. I can’t express enough about how massive and diverse the continent is.

    To add some perspective: I am of Ethiopian descent, but if I were to hop a flight to Ethiopia tomorrow I would get the same pointing, staring and commentary that you experienced. Believe it or not, I would probably get more.

    My parents are Ethiopian, yet I was born and raised in North America. So why would I get singled out even though I have all the same features? This is a conversation of “the other”. It’s a question of identity that is deeply rooted into Ethiopian culture. Ethiopians visiting from the diaspora are subjected to the exact same attention. And although I can attest that it’s uncomfortable and frustrating, I’d be cautious in generalizing it as “African”. I’m not expecting you to be aware of all of this, which is why I’m adding my voice to this. It’s a whole lot deeper than that.

  • Evonn

    I don’t even know where to start with this. There are just too many easy targets for criticism in what the author wrote.

    I think I’ll go have another cup of coffee instead, and think about my next trip to Ethiopia, where I go every two years for volunteer work…

  • grandgryph

    yeah, these “i really wanted to but i just didn’t fit in in the motherland” kind of stories generally are a device to make afro-americans feel more american, and do so at the expense of the romantic pan-africanist ideas floated about in the 80s and 90s that i guess still give them identity nightmares.

    the assumptions are kind of silly. if she went to an `indian’ reserve and got funny looks would she be miffed? some hick town in the south? what about a community of snotty black folks? and that `educated’ people still refer to africa as a uniform country and not a continent with a rich and complicated history is in this day and age simply unacceptable.

    your expectations should be shaped by actual research rather than the assumption that `black’ people will not discriminate against each other. black people in america are color-struck isn’t that something you have in common with some `africans’? colourism is now part of black culture. that being said, i know of dark-skinned people who spent months in ethiopia and didn’t have your experience at all.

    thanks to mw and kenyanness for your posts. very insightful and articulate.

  • LuciFreedom

    I share many of the concerns that others have pointed out-the author was in Ethiopia and it is time for members of the African Diaspora and Western Black people need to stop referring to the continent as if it is a country. There are thousands of socio-cultural, linguistic and ethnic groups in Africa and as such they look different and interact differently.

    And a note or bit of advice to author next time you visit a foreign country as a tourist or a volunteer if you are confused or uncomfortable with persons’ reaction to you, simply ask why and explain who you are and where you are from. That is a fair and reasonable solution to the problem.

  • Chrissy

    She did go volunteer in Africa. If Ethiopia is in Africa then she did go to Africa.

    “Africa is not a country. You did not go to VOLUNTEER in Africa, you went to Ethiopia which is in Africa….PLEASE”

    Ummm……you dont see the contradiction there?

    That’s like if I say Im going to the United States and I talk about my time in California. Isnt California in the United States? So I did go to the US….

    I really am confused by people taking this article to heart. Is it that serious? Where did the author generalize ALL Africans. When will it be ok to talk about an experience you had without everybody getting upset?

  • feri

    The only thing I could think of when reading this article…

    “I wonder if all the volunteers that go the Africa from America are really this ignorant.”

    I think the author did more in this piece to elucidate the ignorance of American volunteers who want to save (aka take facebook pictures with) “little African babies” than anything else.

  • Culturally Aware

    Thanks for your insight Mimi.

    Since you are of Ethiopian descent, you may be able to answer my questions. When the author wrote, people called her “African”, is it maybe because Ethiopians don’t really consider themselves to be aligned with West Africans, like Nigerians, Liberians etc. I also heard some Ethiopians don’t consider themselves to be black because its associated with West Africans? I’ve heard that some Ethiopians, Eritreans etc. seperate themselves from West Africans, why is that?

    I understand that Africa is a huge continent and I do not expect all of the diverse people and cultures to just consider themselves one.

  • KeeKee

    I think more black people here in the USA should take trips to Africa instead of running to the caribbeans or hawaii or europe for vactions. Visit the mother land d*mmit. Then that way Ehtiopians, Nigerians, Egyptians, South Africans, Congoleans, Moroccans etc point you out saying your this your that.

    Frankly tho, those people have been colonialized just like everywhere else…and it could be that they dont want any dark skin blacks there. I don’t know. I’m assuming. GWS (Global White Supremacy) has messed up people of color all for corners of the world you so bad you just dont know what to expect when you go to different coutries and continents.

  • D-Chubb

    Thanks Mimi for offering some much needed insight, instead going on about how stupid Black Americans are.

  • http://www.one3snapshot.com ceecee

    “Even before I locked my hair, I have always had full lips, a broad nose, high cheek bones and dark skin”

    Maybe it was your hair that made people stare at you so much.

  • African Mami

    @ Kenyanness,

    Thank you for your eloquence! You wrote everything I would have said but in a more crazier way!

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    Honestly. I rolled my eyes when I first read her piece. I think the author took her emotional baggage with her to Africa. There are dark skin people in Ethiopia and light skin people in Nigeria. The attention was most likely not about skin tone but about features (not commonly seen in Ethiopia) or a hairstyle (strong associated with Jamaica). She reminds me of an African-American I knew, she worked with a US agency in another east African country and complained bitterly when the locals spoke to her in their native tongue. Sigh.

    I will really like someone to tell me why attention is automatically negative. I love to walk into a room and be stared at. I start walking like I am the new Queen of England.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    Chrissy: Wrong analogy.

    Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in Africa

    California in United States in North America

    It would be beyond DUMB to generalize from California to all of the US, and further to all of North America. That is what FinegIRL is trying to highlight in her comment.

  • DeePDX

    You write with intelligence and grace and definitely from a point of view that is unique. It is also very enlightening of the misconception many people have about the continent of Africa, however I will come to this author’s defense.

    She was not speaking as a product of an homogeneous mindset, or what some people may mistake as entitlement. I believe this author was confused by the level of fascination that her appearance garnered outside of the fact she was not the only different person amongst her volunteer group. I have experience this same reaction, not in Africa but in different environments where I am the cultural minority. It can be really jarring for anyone to be made a spectacle of. It makes you question your worth and can invalidate the experience you are attempting to have when wanting to be in a diverse place.

    I am truly sorry for the frustration you feel reading this author’s words, but if you could try to understand where she is coming from because she was also very frustrated. In my experience the fact that I am an American trumped the reasons for me being in a diverse cultural setting/meeting. When doing the best thing for the betterment of people, the last thing you want is to be a target or marked as “other”, “not like us”, “different” because this can feel very scary.

    Just my two cents. I appreciate your words and wisdom in this situation and hopefully articles like this help in the discussion of African diaspora.

  • Bigcoat

    I find it strange that, that would happen in Ethiopia being I have friend from Uganda living their and they’ve never experianced that problem. I’ve lived in Africa and managed an Ethiopian restaurant and they tend to connect themselves more with Arabs and from what I’ve experianced they don’t get many Black Americans in Africa. Also I’ve gotten allot of stairs and questions too. Most thought I was from Congo or Rwanda. The Ethiopians thought I was one of them. In most part I could have been from anywear in the Continent.

  • Me27

    Thank you Kenyanness!

  • Simone

    I would love to volunteer in Africa………maybe I’m scared that I would love it and want to stay.

  • nappyandhappy

    Ethopia was never colonized, the portugese tried a number of times but Ethopia was always able to push them back. More over most euopean countries could not justify colonizing Ethopia, becasue they werent “savages”, (ethopia has a strong Christian almost orthodox core ) they already had the white mans God many years before Constianople decided to make Rome Christian. They were occupied during world war 2 by Italy for 4 years but again they were never colonized.

  • Nix

    Ethiopa = Country
    Africa = Continent

    California = State
    United States of America = Country
    North America (which includes Canada) = Continent

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pyre-Ladon/100001261966369 Pyre Ladon

    Cleary you have never heard the youtube video from the ethiopian female who defiled and ridiculed black women over asian men not wanting them. She had the online community on in an outrage pretty much.
    Here is the deal. Ancient Abbysnia(Ethiopia) migrated into Arabia about 6000 to 8000 BC. They established a kingdom and were called Sabeans. The Somalis also built the Axumite kingdom. Both existed for a long time. But like all kingdoms they were eventually overan by white Arabs. They were raped (ethnic cleansed) and eventually migrated back to Africa as a mixed people who saw themselves as different from Africans. The racist terminolgy “BASARIA” which means animal or monkey is used towards Africans even though there is little economic or architecual difference between the two.

  • DeePDX

    Mimi, thank you so much for pointing this out!

    Though I’m sure it was not the author’s intention to single out the Ethiopian people, others on this site have pointed a finger of judgment at her and what she has written. The fact that her appearance brought about so much strong reaction is something to delve deeper into, you are correct.

  • Culturally Aware

    Thanks for sharing Pyre Ladon! I wished the article would have highlighted the issues discussed in the youtube video you suggested.

  • Annoyed African

    Sorry but this article is exceptionally ignorant. Africa is a large continet with a huge variety of people some of whom don’t look like you. As such you may be an a point of interest in a country where the majority of people are quite different from you in the same way that I as a Kenyan would be in say Japan or Argentina.

    If Ethiopians treated you badly or in a discriminatory fashion because you are dark skinned (something that has been known to happen since some Ethiopians do not consider themselves African) then there is an article to write. But the fact that you expected to show up to a country and fit in just because its African and after all you are of African descent is ridiculous.

  • Chrissy

    I never said Africa was a country. And yes I do know the difference between a continent, country, and state.

    The point is Ethiopia is in Africa. We can all agree?
    The author was talking about her time in Ethiopia which is in Africa…Yes?

    I mean she did specify what part of Ethiopia she was talking about. Like California being in the US….IT IS in the United States. So I would be correct in saying I went to the U.S. I mean California isnt in Canada or Mexico. Even if I said I went to North America and talked about my time in San Francisco, California…I mean I would hope most people knew California was in the United States.

    And I still dont see where the author talked about ALL Africans. She was talking about HER experience.

    SN: Ive also heard a lot of Ethiopians dont consider themselves to be black or African. I have been on some forums where I have seen some Ethiopians and Somalis talk badly about black/African people….

  • CJ Jones

    Ms. Beatty, did you every ask anyone who pointed you out WHY they felt the need to do so?

  • Brodie

    I laughed. I got this mental picture of random people coming up to her, pointing, and saying “Nigeria!” and her looking behind her like “WTH?!”.

  • taylor

    This is sad not in that they thought you were Nigerian but color signifies nationality. Not only that, I have learned from my many travels across the world that the Black people in America are the free-est of them all. It is so hard for us to grasp that since we have so far to go but with all our in-fighting, we still have a general consensus of our collective Blackness. Many people on the continent and in several Latin American countries DO NOT. In my experience, North Africa has been the worst-primarily Egyptians who think all people with deep skin are Sudanese. Also, in Latin American countries there is such a deep denial of Blackness and African ancestry even in places like the Dominican Republic where for many Black Americans is a shock. Some of these people appear to be so obviously Black. But they don’t have a shared history or sense of “preponderance of ancestry” so to speak. Many of them identify as white because it is higher on the hierarchy.

  • ga

    I am a Nigerian American. Even with my features nigierans in nigeria can tell that i am not from around there. Its like when a tourist comes to your town, no matter their skin color you know they are not from around there. Skin color has nothing to do with belongingness. The fact that the author saw that people didnt react much to her lighter skinned peers just means they are accostumed to seeing visitors who are NOT black. It is being black and a visitor that is unique. I hope this experience opened the authors’ eyes a bit.

  • taylor

    Or maybe that Liberians still want to be Americans?

    I am not trying to be funny or mean in any way. The fact remains that Black Americans tend to appear in various color ranges more comparable to say, the Dominican Republic than to say Sierra Leone. That is just the historical reality of admixture in the United States. Features (slender noise, curly hair) signify beauty for all of us white washed people of color who have been effected by Eurocentrism and colonialism.

    At the end of the day, I was disappointed when I went to West Africa with this romanticized view that I would find home. And what I found was people with relaxers and weaves and black lip liners and bleaching their damn skin. I said in an earlier post and I will say it again:

    African Americans are the free-est people of African descent in the world. And I believe that in my travels that we have such a strong-er since of our history and pride for our people than even those sitting on the continent in all 53 countries and territories. When I travel abroad people always can tell I am American, even the ignorant ones. By the way I dress, move, and act. When I was in West Africa urban areas I was one of the only women with kinky hair! In Africa! They knew I was from the US. I spoke perfect English and they thought my clothes (Rachel Roy) were amazing. And I’ve been on ever continent except Australia.They will insult me by saying I am something else but they ultimately know that I may be Black (considered inferior) but I am American (Superior).

    It’s a sad way but I know that the more they see us, the more it will become normal. Just like in Carribbean (which seems like the only place middle class Black people go).

  • http://poundnpavements.wordpress.com MW

    Here I am, doing my coursework when I get a notification.

    1. I didn’t get the memo that Americans were superior to the rest of us

    2. I’m Caribbean. No offense, but Americans aren’t exotic in the Caribbean. . . IN THE LEAST

  • taylor

    Please spare us the biracial argument. Welcome to the African Diaspora. And African Americans are as equally mixed as other groups in the world. Furthermore, not all Americans are dumb. And not all Americans think that Africa it is one of the most diverse regions in the world. We get that. Why would you think she does NOT look Ethiopian or East African? Ignorance on their behalf. I live in DC and people mistake me ever single day for being Ethiopian. ETHIOPIANS! They speak to me in Amharic everyday, all day, several times a day. When I was in Ethiopia, they thought I was Ethiopian! Nope, just regular ole Black American, no side of Arab. There was a sizeable percentage of slaves bought to the Americas who were of East African descent and the admixture in many AfAm may make them appear of other nationalities. But at the end of the day, don’t call me anything but what I am because you are too ignorant not to know the difference or have the wherewithall to ask.

    Quit with the dumb American act.

    Don’t do it. Don’t even try.

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    @ MW: I thought i was the only one reading her comment and going ‘wtf’

    @taylor: you don’t sound well travelled at all; your comment just yeah – no words. smh

  • nomadicexistence

    Geography and culture has more to do with the authors experience then her actual complexion. Generalizing this experience to “Africa” only further degrades this continent and further repeats the already negative portrait of Africa. Be specific and acknowledge that what goes on in Ethiopia is different in another region of Africa. Visit Ghana or any western African country and your experience will be different. African Americans hate being automatically grouped with each other (generalized, stereotypes, etc) yet we ourselves do the same thing (labeling an experience as “Africa” rather then Ethiopia or East Africa is unfair also).

  • sli

    Chrissy: “I really am confused by people taking this article to heart. Is it that serious? Where did the author generalize ALL Africans. When will it be ok to talk about an experience you had without everybody getting upset?”

    @Chrissy
    I agree. I thought I missed something, so I read the article again. I was trying to figure out why people were acting extra about this woman’s experience. She was in no way generalizing all Africans. I don’t get how they came to that conclusion.

    Taylor: “Quit with the dumb American act.”

    @Taylor
    Word! I don’t know what’s up with these Africans and their superiority attitudes toward (Black) Americans. They need to check that nonsense.

  • sli

    Lol, I know right. That’s just strange. Even if the author did look different from them, it’s just rude to point and stare in that manner.

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    “Lastly, although you claim that the you were near the Omo Valley area where there were people that ‘looked like you’, one mustn’t forget that simply because you share the similar trait of having dark skin, it does not mean you look alike. Masai people do not look like Zulus, who do not look like Igbos, who do not look like the Wolof. What I am trying to say is that perhaps these people that called you these names can recognized someone who is from the Omo area based on facial features and other factors”

    @DeepDX, the above from 9ja should quell your curiosity. very logical explanation:)
    @ Dchubb: Nobody called black americans stupid. This isn’t about ‘black americans’, it is about the author’s article so no need to personalize:)

  • sli

    * I mean SOME Africans have superiority attitudes toward Black Americans.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Hey Grandgryph

    Not related to this discussion, just wanted to thank you for the brilliant commentary you gave on the New Negro thread.

    Really appreciated it and took away some excellent rebuttal points for dealing with “bootstraps” nigro bigotry.

    Great stuff

  • BluTopaz

    If an African (from any country) walked around a U.S city and Black Americans walked up to them repeatedly and shouted “YOU AFRICAN!”, and whispered behind the African person’s back–the general consensus with Africans who are offended by this article would be that all Black Americans are dumb asses who need to travel more.

    But in reality the shoe was on the other foot, and you want to believe the author is self absored and ignorant for being frustrated? Would you want people whispering about you wherever you go, yelling at you whichever nationality they want to name you? Especially when your non-dark skinned colleagues don’t attract the same unwanted attention? Would you get pissed if people told you to ‘get over yourself’?

    Give me a freaking break. There are ugly Americans as foreigners love to point out, and there are stupid people in your own countries who also need to educated themselves. Deal with that, and whatever preconceived notions YOU may have about Americans.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    @grandgryph

    Not sure what my opinion on this one is because I kinda understand the authors feelings of dejection at her suspicion that she was not fully accepted among Africans despite being of undeniable African Ascent.

    I mean, it is unrealistic or setting oneself up for a fall, to visit (Black) Africa with the expectation that you will be accepted in any Black African nation in the Motherland?

    Where can a Diasporan African go and be unconditionally welcomed and accepted as a brother/sister?

    We Diasporan Africans need that sense of connection to a land mass populated by a black majority, else we are indeed forlorn.

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    “Furthermore, not all Americans are dumb. And not all Americans think that Africa it is one of the most diverse regions in the world. We get that” ____________________________________________________________________

    I see that you’re the one who brought the ‘dumb american’ thing into play. Quit deflecting, the main point is that it was a bit myopic for the author to expect that all africans look the same. Regardless of skin colour, the features vary greatly and yes, many tribes or regions are able to pick out their own based on those features. Hence the author’s indignation at being identified as non-ethiopian is mildly irritating. Also since she was with other foreigners who weren’t singled out like her, it should have occurred to her that perhaps, there was something else about her that drew such fascination. Why does everything have to be about skin colour? Issues.

    “Why would you think she does NOT look Ethiopian or East African?”
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Umm because the author herself said she’s pretty dark-skinned?

    “When I was in Ethiopia, they thought I was Ethiopian! Nope, just regular ole Black American, no side of Arab. There was a sizeable percentage of slaves bought to the Americas who were of East African descent and the admixture in many AfAm may make them appear of other nationalities. But at the end of the day, don’t call me anything but what I am because you are too ignorant not to know the difference or have the wherewithall to ask”
    ____________________________________________________________________

    First of all, no such thing as ‘regular ole black american’ Your features are from somewhere and certainly not somewhere called ‘black america’ You said it yourself: a sizeable % of slaves were of East African descent. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you’re originally from that side of the continent? Doesn’t sound ignorant to me for them to think you’re ethiopian…maybe presumptuous, but not ignorant :)

    All in all, you should take a chill pill because it doesn’t seem like you’re as knowledgeable as you deem yourself to be. We can all learn a new thing or two every now and then. For example, I’m african and I’m going to have research this whole ‘Ethiopian features = black + arab features’ thing because it’s new info to me so….

  • African Mami

    @ Simone,

    Go for it! Pssstt…..the Mandigo warrior brothers are foiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

  • Quell

    @sli: I’ve been noticing as well lately that some Africans and Caribbean blacks believe they’re superior to black Americans, and I don’t get it especially when it’s coming from blacks in the Caribbean when we damn near share the same history, the only real difference is our ancestors were dropped off in separate locations, therefore we have different customs.

    I must admit that I don’t get why the author was so surprised to be singled out In Ethiopia, I’m wondering if it was even as serious has she stated. If you are a foreigner in any country you’re going to be singled out eventually. Also if the the title is going to be “Black and Volunteering in Africa” perhaps she should’ve she visited more countries in Africa to see what her experience would be, and how the natives would treat her before she generalized a whole continent based on one country.

    I’d just like for black people all over the world to stop generalizing and stereotyping each other, we already have enough people to do that for us.

  • lalalalala

    thank you.

  • Quell

    Totally agree.

  • Moi

    “the Black people in America are the free-est of them all”

    Thats extremely hard to believe.

    I think its safe to say that the Black people that have been the least effected by slavery/colonialsm are the freest of them all. And those people are likely on the continent of Africa..not here.

  • BluTopaz

    “But the fact that you expected to show up to a country and fit in just because its African and after all you are of African descent is ridiculous”

    Maybe you can answer, since you went through the trouble of creating a special screenname.

    Why are the offended African commenters on this thread so butthurt about this author’s experience? Humor me: If I go to almost any Black region in the world (nevermind how Ethiopians see themselves, the rest of the world calls them Black), I’m going to expect to fit in for the most part-what’s ridiculous about that? Apparently she was “a point of interest” to these people as you say, to the point where they damn near treated her like someone in a zoo while they had nothing to say to her colleagues who REALLY looked nothing like the locals. So why 1) did they single her out for humiliation and 2) are you giving them a pass for being uneducated? She is even familiar with the ethnic groups in the country, but the crowds collectively shit themselves when they see a dark skinned Black American but that’s apparently acceptable, cuz it’s the American who has insulted you.

    seriously, does it have something to do with her being an American in a position to volunteer to help? Someone upthread made a snark about the po little African babies, and I did not get that condescending vibe from the piece at all and believe me, being Black in White America i know a patronizing tone when i hear it. Or maybe you think she was somehow insulted for being considered African.

    Trying to act like folks don’t know Africa is a continent just because of the title, ancient history lessons about East Africa–and not one word about the regional, biased behavior shown to this woman who made a decision to broaden her horizons. Some of ya’ll here have major chips on your shoulders, and it has nothing to do with Adisa’s experience.

  • francais

    “Geography and culture has more to do with the authors experience then her actual complexion. Generalizing this experience to “Africa” only further degrades this continent and further repeats the already negative portrait of Africa. Be specific and acknowledge that what goes on in Ethiopia is different in another region of Africa. Visit Ghana or any western African country and your experience will be different. African Americans hate being automatically grouped with each other (generalized, stereotypes, etc) yet we ourselves do the same thing (labeling an experience as “Africa” rather then Ethiopia or East Africa is unfair also).”
    -nomadicexistence

    I respect your opinion, but I disagree with it.

    How does the fact that the author is sharing the reality of her experience “degrade” the continent?

    What is negative about her telling her truth? No it’s not representative of the entire continent – and I didn’t get the sense that she suggested that. She was clear that Ethiopians were perceiving her as different.

    This an insightful story that sheds light on the ways race, ethnicity, and nationality is viewed in Africa and among people of African descent.

    I have a similar story as a dark-skinned first generation Black American volunteering in the West African country my mother was born in.

    Children would shout at me (and other foreign volunteers/aid workers who were mostly white) regularly “white woman” or even just “Black American.”

    It was cute the first few times, but having grown up in the Southeastern United States in a middle sized city where people rarely shouted at each other in public unless something unusual occured, it struck me mainly as rude and inappropriate.

    I also don’t understand why anyone would take issue with the truth that she pointed out regarding the treatment of dark-skinned Africans in Egypt, where colorism is thriving (ask a black person whose lived in Egypt) and Sudanese refugees are marginalized.

    I would agree that in some sense Black Americans are “the free-est of them all” when compared to our counterparts in the diaspora (please note that I said diaspora). Many minorities of African descent are unfortunately still fighting for the political and civil liberties that we gained in the 20th century. I also think the “advancements” for lack of a better word that Black Americans have made in Black consciousness has outpaced that of some of our counterparts in the diaspora.

  • Jess

    A lot of people think that since Ethiopia was the only African nation to not be colonized, they escaped the colorist issues of the West. But not so. People have to remember that many a non-Black Peace Corps worker and international volunteer has gone to Ethiopia over the years and helped to spread racit points of views and colorism in East Africa. And yes, I did say Peace Corpas worker – for people who know anything about the Peace Corps, Black Peace Corpas workers and non-whites in the countries they served in have reported frequently how PC workers would tell them “horrible” stories about Black Americans (and surpsiingly even Native Americans), and emphasize that they, as in Ethiopians and other Africans, were better than us (Black Americans). They weren’t just teaching Englis overseas, y’all.

    Also, Ethiopia, just like India, has color issues of its own, and a keen sense of nationalism. They believe that of all Africans, Ethiopians are the most superior (which I don’t have a problem with), but it is a nationalism that is tinged with colorism (which I do have a problem with).

    I traveled in parts of India, and had many people Blacker than me point out my color – never my hair, by the way – just my color.

    But even with that, Black people should still travel and see the world. And also don’t be self-righteous. I mean let’s be honest — how many Black Americans have called Africans “booty scratcher”, or dissed them because of their darker skins, different features, foreign-ness, and hairdo’s? Many of us have. So when we travel we get the same treatmentin their lands. A tit for a tat, so keep on traveling and don’t worry about it. People all over the world are special, including BLack Americans, and it seems as if everybody tries to distance themselves from “real Africans”, which is stupid.

  • Jess

    Pardon my typos! This should say:

    A lot of people think that since Ethiopia was the only African nation to not be colonized, they escaped the colorist issues of the West. But not so. People have to remember that many a non-Black Peace Corps worker and international volunteer has gone to Ethiopia over the years and helped to spread racist points of views, and colorism in East Africa. And yes, I did say Peace Corps workers – for people who know anything about the Peace Corps, Black Peace Corps workers, and non-whites in the countries they served in, have reported frequently how PC workers would tell them “horrible” stories about Black Americans (and surprisingly even disparaging comments about Native Americans), and emphasize that they, as in Ethiopians and other Africans, were better than us (Black Americans).

    They weren’t just teaching English overseas, y’all.

    Also, Ethiopia, just like India, has color issues of its own, and a keen sense of nationalism. They believe that of all Africans, Ethiopians are the most superior (which I don’t have a problem with), but it is a nationalism that is tinged with colorism (which I do have a problem with).

    I traveled in parts of India, and had many people Blacker than me point out my color – never my hair, by the way – just my color.

    But even with that, Black people should still travel and see the world.

    And also don’t be self-righteous. I mean let’s be honest — how many Black Americans have called Africans “booty scratcher”, or dissed them because of their darker skins, different features, foreign-ness, and hairdo’s? Many of us have (I didn’t, BTW, I have never been that ignorant or stupid). So when we travel we get the same treatment in their lands. A tit for a tat, so keep on traveling and don’t worry about it. People all over the world are special, including BLack Americans, and it seems as if everybody tries to distance themselves from “real Africans”, which is stupid.

  • Jess

    i agree with that too

  • http://www.internationalblack.wordpress.com Trina Roach

    I see many people have referred to Ethiopia not being colonized, but no one has thought to mention its occupation by the Italians (1936 – 1941) or the Italian guerrilla war that took place (1942 – 1943) .

  • francais

    @ Adisa – I was just wondering, did you ever begin to feel at home in Ethiopia before coming back to the US?

  • Chrissy

    100% Agree @BluTopaz

  • Brodie

    Moi, its not that simple. Freedom isn’t based on your history as much as on your ability to have your interests represented by your government officials, your safety when voicing opposition or demonstrating, access to the free market, and emigrate.

  • Culturally Aware

    @ taylor – I agree that black people in the U.S. are the most free out of all the black people in this world. In regards to color of the skin, that is not really an issue or concern of mine, so I don’t relate to you in that way, but I understand your point. You have to understand that black people in other parts of the world do not share our American history…yes we all originated from Africa…but we were dropped off in various parts of the world..but we don’t share the same culture. Culture is the reason why we don’t share the same view on racial identity. We cannot force our American views regarding racial identity on the other black people in the diaspora.

    Also….from my perspective, black people in the U.S. are most free because of the opportunities we have in this country to advance ….we have it soooo good that we don’t even realize it because focus on issues that really don’t require so much of our energy…(i.e. – skin color, racial mixing, texture of the hair)…that is so trivial..we have come so far. We should thank God everyday for being American and living in this great country, in spite of the all circumstances.

  • sli

    Quell: “I’d just like for black people all over the world to stop generalizing and stereotyping each other, we already have enough people to do that for us.”

    @Quell
    You are absolutely on point with this.

  • GFL

    Can we not generalize and say Ethiopians don’t consider themselves African/Black? I am Ethiopian and KNOW that I am African. There’s no denying that. It’s more accurate to say that SOME Ethiopians feel superior and don’t want to be labeled Africans. This is ignorance and a complexity some have with themselves. The issue of light skin vs. dark skin, short vs. long hair, etc., Eurocentric ideas of beauty exists in Ethiopia and I’m sure in many other African countries as much as it does here in America. But there are plenty more, especially the younger generation who live inside and outside the country, (like myself) who feel a sense of pride and unity in identifying as African. I’m not sure which part of Ethiopia the author volunteered in but all Ethiopians do not look the same. Sure, we might have unique features that identify us but depending on what region of the country you go to, you will find something different. There are a myriad of different groups in Southern Ethiopia, around the Omo Valley where the author volunteered who have darker skin tones, varying hair textures, etc. than someone who lives in the northern part of the country. Basically, all Ethiopians are not the same. There are over 80 different ethnic groups in the country and hundreds of languages. Let’s not generalize and misrepresent the people of the country.

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    If an African (from any country) walked around a U.S city and Black Americans walked up to them repeatedly and shouted “YOU AFRICAN!”, and whispered behind the African person’s back–the general consensus with Africans who are offended by this article would be that all Black Americans are dumb asses who need to travel more.
    ____________________________________________________________________

    Actually, your example is flawed because your tone automatically suggests that the phrase ‘you african’ is said in a discriminatory manner – compared to the author’s article which suggests those nationalities were being thrown out due to curiosity.

    You should try to be a bit more aware of the fact that the whole world doesn’t have the same exact order/culture as you do here. Now that’s the point of travelling – to experience other cultures and different ways of doing things. To think what counts as ‘rude’ or ‘pleasant’ here automatically translates into the same thing in other cultures or to judge your experiences by those same yardsticks – now, that’s ignorant. While I wouldn’t call that person ‘dumb’, I’d definitely suggest that they travel more in order to develop some tolerance. Practice makes perfect. Also keeping an open mind while they’re at it, helps a lot; After all being educated and closed-minded is some sort of oxymoron

    While I’m at it, i should point out that the article never alluded to the fact that she was maltreated…so all this melodrama about the fact that people were (openly) curious about her nationality sounds like she was desperately trying to fabricate a story where none existed.

  • GFL

    Just to add, I suspect that the author was automatically assumed to be from Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, etc. because the people are not accustomed to meeting African American volunteers in the country. The volunteers they’re familiar with are young and excited white volunteers in the Peace Corps or other foreign organizations. Unfortunately, the image of Black Americans Ethiopians living in the country have is a misrepresentation based on what they see on their television sets (music videos, athletes, other stereotypical images that in no way represent the entire group). For this reason, they probably assume that Blacks in America are at the very bottom of the ladder in the U.S. and surely cannot afford to or have the desire to volunteer their time abroad. Although Ethiopia was never colonized, the idea of “the white savior” is very much a reality in the country.

  • Beautiful Mic

    From readin online discussion boards, two in particular catering to Habesha people, I have come to understand that certain physical traits are less favored, gawked at, among Ethiopians and Eritreans. One of them is skin color. I know, Ethiopians run the gamut in complexions, but I’ve witness intra-group ridicule in person – a male habesha insults a female for having for having a dark complexion, thus referring to her as ugly. Mind you, the rest of her features fall in line with that of others from her ethnic group – who are the dominant group in the part of Africa.

    The other are ethnic features. They do distinguish a Horn of Africa look from a sub-Saharan African look. I’ve read horn of Africans on these two discussion boards throwing insults and shade regarding West African (Nigerians, Ghanians, etc…)

    And via my college experience in dealing with Horn of Africans, they don’t offer the same type of inquisition or ridicule towards American blacks, or any black person, who has an in between, or mixed look. And, I agree, that they don’t offer this to black with light skin complexions.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    ‘If an African (from any country) walked around a U.S city and Black Americans walked up to them repeatedly and shouted “YOU AFRICAN!”’

    *cough*

    They do. They are also cold and distant if you say you are African or speak with an accent, but I recognize some of them have issues that have nothing to do with me and everything to do with their self-worth so I shrug my shoulders and keep it moving.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    BluTopaz to answer your question, I will take a guess that it was her hair that garnered her all that attention, but her skin color issues (OMG can black Americans let this go!!!!!) that made her feel it was about her color.

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    Adisa: The one thing that stood out to me about your article is that you experienced some sort of culture shock and that’s perfectly normal. It irritated you that people could be vocal and unashamed about their curiosity – I get that. When I first got here, I thought it was rude that people would invite someone out and then expect them to pay for their own meal/drinks, but I acclimated and now I don’t consider it rude or weird – I just take it as part of the American culture.

    You should do the same – and next time, try to relate with the people in order to find out exactly why they’re fascinated with you. Imo your automatic assumption that the natives acted that way simply because you’re dark skinned points to other identity/acceptance issues that you should take care of before even venturing out of the States again. Enjoy your future travels:)

  • Beautiful Mic

    Also, from what I gather, even though the West has long classified all indigenous people of the African continent as Africans, even in modern Africa, not all indigenous people of the continent have yet to gravitate towards this identity. They identify as their ethnic group or nationality (if they’re indigenously cultured), first, perhaps, only. Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie describes her own personal experience in become conscious of African identity, verses just being Nigerian, and her gravitation towards identifying as African in a presentation available on youtube (Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story; yt id = D9Ihs241zeg).

    Also, if you consider people who live in very ethnocentric regions where lots of, relatively, unmixed ethnic groups live within a certain distance, they are able to make distinction among the faces as to who is of their ethnic group and who isn’t. While, you and I, westerners, might not pick up on the minute differences and perceive ourselves as looking like them – they can. One’s mannerisms also give this way.

    There are some indigenous African people (well, as well as Pan-Africans) who believe that the true Africans are sub-Saharan people – I’m inclined to believe that many North and East Horn Africans feel this way. I’ve, personally, come across a few North African born Arab ‘descended’ people who do not see themselves as Africans.

    From what I understand, historically, Horn of Africans, specifically Habesha people, have viewed themselves as separate from sub-Saharan people. Historically, western Anthropologists even considered Horn of Africans (Habesha) a different race. I guess, one could factor the concept of ethnocentrism into the reasons for this assumed difference between the two. But Habesha people, again, the dominant bloodline of Ethiopia, inherited by individuals born into other ethnic/cultural groups as well, descend from Asiatic people. Consider a place like Harar, Ethiopia where there are considerable East Indian genetic and cultural ties.

    IMO, despite there being a very diverse range of indigenous ethnic groups in Ethiopia, many of whom favor West Africans, Brooks’ experience, in my opinion, was influenced by traditional Habesha perceptions because ‘they’ are the dominant culture in the most international/commercial parts of the country.

    Of all the regions of Africa, Ethiopians had been among the most successful cultural groups in retaining their identities separate from the imposed ‘African identity inclusiveness’ propelled by the West.

  • Jolie

    I think the issue here ( and with most black Americans, at least from what i’ve noticed) is that they go to Africa with a mentality that they will be welcomed and treated as one of the people since they are ‘home’, and due to the fact that they happen to share the same skin colour. But it is not so. While most Africans( and i say most bcz African is a melting pot of different ethnicities and races- Black, White, Indian etc who all consider themselves African) may share the same skin colour as American blacks, most simply prefer to identify themselves by their nationalities and that is something they have a profound sense of pride in.

    So i would understand why they were staring and calling out different nationalities to the author, because they could tell she was not one of the locals.The author simply misinterpreted it. Another thing, note that Africa is a continent, with hundreds maybe thousands of different ethnic groups- West Africans typically look different from East Africans who look different from Southern Africans, and one can usually tell by just looking at a person which region they are from, not to mention in those sub-regions the people look different from one another….so its not just about being black and expecting the ‘collective blackness’ experienced in America due to the simple fact of having the same skin colour.

    I guess this is why i kind of understand why people from the islands( Jamaica, Dominican Republic) want to be defined by their nationalities and cultures and not by their colour, but i guess to some people that equals self-hate and denying their blackness.

    Even Europeans always refer to themselves according to their countries of origin i.e German, Italian, Irish even though we all know they are white….yet somehow no one ever finds fault in that……

    Hell we had Europeans fighting one another back in the day( even still today) despite belonging to the same race…some Africans are like that too, skin colour is just that…colour….to them if you are not one of them you are then just another ‘stranger’

  • Moi

    Based on @taylor’s original statement, I’m defining “free” as embracing of ones own and our collective Blackness… not economic and political freedom.

    She said: “..We still have a general consensus of our collective Blackness. MANY PEOPLE ON THE CONTINENT and in several Latin American countries DO NOT. ”

    Apparently “the continent” just equals North Africa..? She generalizes the state of Egypt to an entire continent of actual Black people and deems American Blacks as most “free”…?

    Shes pretty much saying that the Black people who are still located in the place where all Black people on earth originated from have less of a sense of their “Blackness” than those in the U.S.!?!? That Kenyans, Nigerians, Ghanaians etc., all the Black African ethnic groups from the Zulu to the Yoruba…even the remote Massai have less of a sense of our global collective Blackness than African Americans?!?!? I truly wonder how many Black Africans shes ever had a conversation with.

    And if Black Americans have such a sense of collective Blackness why do so many distance themselves from all that is African…? Lost souls indeed.

  • SAA

    FINALLY A VOICE OF REASON!!! Africa is not a country, its a continent full of many countries/ nationalities, ethnicities, languages and cultures! Just because we have the same skin color doesn’t mean we’re the same. My mother and dad are both from Nigeria, same skin color BUT he is Yoruba, she is Igbo. Two difference ethnicities, cultures and languages but same country.

  • Jade

    Also, beware of getting information about a people from “internet forum” discussions. It has been shown that many people “pretend” to be someone they are not on many websites.

  • Jade

    Also, most people from that region that I have personally met have called themselves Black Africans.

  • Culturally Aware

    Exactly!

  • Beautiful Mic

    Yes, once living abroad, people seem to readily adopt the identity of being Black African. However, less assimilated Africans, living/cultured on the continent and, perhaps, isolated from Western culture/ideals (if any are left) I see as being less likely to do so. I guess this doesn’t apply as much to the younger generations as it does to older people.

  • MissMoj

    @Moi as a black american I do believe we have come a long, long way. We have been able to study ourselves and really challenge the social constructs that persuade society to view our blackness as inferior. Many of our brothers and sisters on the continent of Africa are still on the verge of challenging these constructs. Even though they have remained in Africa, they were still colonized by europeans and therefore have been quite affected by many of the same issues that we, the black american have been burdened with. We all have issues that need to be sorted out.

  • http://www.breakthecursenow.com Andi Williams

    I swear it felt like I wrote this. I have recently moved to the Middle East for a job. I do like it here. In fact I feel safer here than in the states. I have not had to deal with the constant racism I faced in America from whites, but yes I get the stares too. I am dark, my hair natural, full lips, eyes wide, nose wide. My family is from the islands so I do have classic beautiful African features. I am American born and raised. The Indians and Africans get treated like crap out here. People look at me “a certain kind of way” until i open my mouth and they hear my American accent. Then their face relaxes and they look happy. SMH. It’s so sad but the reality of life. The whole world associates blackness and all things African as being the most terrible thing in the world. It behooves me more to be American out of America than it does. It’s really inescapable…this prejudice. But I must say I rather be here than in America.

  • L

    I don’t understand why African Americans think they fit in East Africa, specifically the Horn of Africa.
    Most African Americans look West African and I’ve met many African Americans who believe they look Ethiopian when really they don’t, even with the light skin and somewhat narrow nose, you still do not look Ethiopian.
    Horn of Africans have a completely different skull shape to African Americans, their skull shape is caucasian.
    They are 100% black however they are different, they say life started in Ethiopia after all.
    It seems to me many African Americans are ignorant – How can you say Africa is a country? I’m sure the author of this post would feel more welcome in West Africa where people look more like her.

  • L

    And African Americans have ancestors from West Africa where slaves were taken and brought to America so it makes sense that most African Americans look West African.
    No East Africans were taken as slaves to America (as one poster said earlier) that is incorrect.

  • Bella

    @ Taylor. How can you say African Americans are the “free-est” when we have the biggest sense of divide than any other “brown group. We divide ourselves according to skin color, who we choose to date, social status, education, class, etc. Furthermore, to say African Americans take so much pride in the culture and history as if other African countries do not is foolish. Have you forgotten that part of African American culture, a large part, is derived from African countries. I am a Nigerian American, and I experience first hand the pride we (Nigerians) take in our culture. And my friends from other African countries are the same.

    You went to African expecting some “Im home” enlightenment moment, and got disappointed when you were a minority in rocking natural hair? I believe that’s poppy cock. You probably went to the tourist, commercialized area and saw a small piece of a larger country. Africans (regardless of country) are fascinated by American culture and lifestyle…but don’t get it twisted it is not because they are ashamed or unhappy with their own. Just as Americans are fascinated with the way other countries do things, it is the same for America.

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    “No East Africans were taken as slaves to America (as one poster said earlier) that is incorrect”

    I find it hard to believe that no east africans were taken as slaves.*off to do some research

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    “..but I recognize some of them have issues that have nothing to do with me and everything to do with their self-worth so I shrug my shoulders and keep it moving.”

    Yup, that’s why I didn’t even address that.

  • grandgryph

    @ socially maladjusted.

    thanks. i got to deal with those types all the time. i’ve observed them in their natural habitat and know all their weakness, lol.

    Not sure what my opinion on this one is because I kinda understand the authors feelings of dejection at her suspicion that she was not fully accepted among Africans despite being of undeniable African Ascent.

    i hear what you are saying, but the same thing happens almost every where there are black people – even those who live in the same country. black people are good at finding and living in the divisions. also, the same way you fight for “american” recognition you should be prepared to fight for “nigerian” “ghanaian” “ethopian” or what have you. well that is, if you see value in those identities. just ’cause some racially insecure – or ignorant – african declares you ‘unafrican’ doesn’t me they are right. part of the hostility sometimes is shame. they haven’t come to terms with what a mega-fail the slave trade was, and seeing a walking talking remnant of that fail screaming “brother” is enough to freak a lot of them out. they’d rather just deny you. which is all the more reason to make them see you, imo.

    aside from the shame, there is always tensions between the diaspora and motherland: aussies and english, indo-caribbean and indian, etc. that being said, i know `new world blacks’ who visit different parts of africa and are embraced as cousins – if not brothers and sisters. it happens, everywhere on the continent. i’ve heard great stories from people who travelled to ethopia, ghana, south africa, tanzania…nigeria not so much…lol. and there are already some serious `diasporic’ connections in place particularly through hip-hop music and dancehall reggae. huge in most of africa.

    anyways, guess it depends on where you go, who you go with and who you meet. those `connection’ stories rarely get run, what dominates the conversation is differences and dashed romance. here’s to more balance.

  • Annoyed African

    @Blue Topaz

    “If I go to almost any Black region in the world (nevermind how Ethiopians see themselves, the rest of the world calls them Black), I’m going to expect to fit in for the most part-what’s ridiculous about that?”

    Everything. That’s my point. If this argument held then Carribeans or Africans should fit into majority black communities in America for the most part. They don’t. And that’s fine.

    I’ve been stared at, had people play the which country are you from game with me in Botswana, Ethiopia, Somalia,Salvador in Brazil, Haiti all places that are majority black. I have a very different phenotype than black people in those countries. Black people are too varied. A black person can be very exotic even to black people. I was as big a point of interest in Salvador as I was in Croatia.This expectation that you will fit in just because you are black and they are too is strange. Getting pissed off at them because they find you different is condescending especially when you haven’t confirmed that they are doing it out of malice.

    Again if she was actively treated badly because she’s dark skinned (which I repeat has been known to happen in Ethiopia) then there’s an issue.

  • Quell

    You say many African Americans are ignorant, but the fact that you are even making that generalization makes you ignorant. Where in the article did she state that Africa was a country? Judge people as individuals, not as a group, because you sound ignorant, uneducated, and immature.

  • Lulu

    The whole “racial type of skulls” has been debuked. I cannot believe people continue to use racist psuedoscience of the past. They are NOT Caucasian since they did not originate from the Caucus mountains!

  • Lulu

    Beautiful Mic, you can say that about every region of the world. Race is in fact made up, but people will unite, including Africans, within this framework to proyect their interest and livelihood.

    And Ethiopia has been instrumental in encouraging African self determination. Why do you think the AU is BASED and headquartered in Addis Ababa?

  • Quell

    @Lulu: I noticed that “Caucasian skull shape” ignorance as well, and it’s unbelievable that someone would still believe that junk.

  • SATOTW

    “I understand their reaction”.

    Gee, what a surprise. I bet you do.

    “Why would this be a problem?”

    He’s “Confused” as to why a dark-skinned Black woman is hurt over being treated like a sideshow freak attraction by a group that includes many women who are LIGHTER THAN HER AND WITH EUROPEAN FACIAL FEATURES.

    Gee what a suprise. Your ilk sure sticks to the script, and then when people notice and take issue with it, you cry your eyes out and play the victim.

    Typical, just typical. No wonder sistas have so many problems.

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    Geez…so now you’re mad at him because he has a more enlightened reaction to the scenario described by the author?

    You, like the author, are tackling this from a purely emotional perspective and that undermines your ability to be rational. There are so many other logical explanations for their fascination with her – why assume that it was about her skin complexion?

  • honeyxzillah

    i’m glad i read this … it was kind of a “duh” moment for me. just because we’re black and visiting a black country doesn’t mean we will automatically blend in nor will we be treated the same… like i think i knew that but forgot. anyway, thanks for the reminder. once again, it shows how varied we are, that sharing the same skin doesn’t make us the same. we’re individuals. :-)

  • SATOTW

    “Geez…so now you’re mad at him because he has a more enlightened reaction to the scenario described by the author?”

    I’m mad at him because I’m damn sick and tired of Black men like him minimizing any pain/hurt that a dark-skinned sista feels and I am not going to apologize for it. I also disagree that his reaction is more “Elightened” than the author’s.

    “You, like the author, are tackling this from a purely emotional perspective and that undermines your ability to be rational”.

    RUBBISH. I am tackling this from the perspective of someone who is damn sick and tired of seeing my beautiful dark-skinned sisters insulted, marginalized, ignored, mocked, and otherwise abused by people who should know better/people in general. And I am also sick and tired of these Black men jumping up to be the first to abuse them in this way.

    “There are so many other logical explanations for their fascination with her ”

    RUBBISH. It was the typical anti-darkskinned Black female colorist bs that Black society is full of, in Africa or out of it, period.

    – “why assume that it was about her skin complexion?”

    Because I have a damn brain in my head (As does the author). Because I have been seeing it all my life (As has the author who also had to experience it too all her life no doubt, unlike me since I am not female).Because we reconize this tired coloracist anti-darkskinned Black female garbage for what it is, period. THAT’S why.

  • LemoneNLime

    Thanks for the clarification! I knew the Italians were their at one point, I just thought it was as a colonial presence rather than a war time one.

  • Lulu

    THANK YOU!!!

    Let me just say that I come from a part of Africa that appreciates dark skin! Dark skin is absolutely favored!

  • LemoneNLime

    Right! I have never understood this idea by black American that visiting an African country would be like being “home” and you would be accepted as one of their own. As much as some black people don’t want to admit it, you are an American not African and honestly you will probably have more in common (culturally) with white Americans than Africans.

  • Jinx Moneypenny

    Why in God’s name would you expect that because you’re Black you’ll blend in with people from a country you’ve never visited before? I’m Canadian, of Caribbean descent, and as many times as I’ve been to Jamaica not once have I ever thought to myself that I’m NOT going to stand out.

    There is always something about you that is different, even if they don’t hear you speak. And that’s okay.

    But it’s a lesson learned, and sometimes we have to go through the discomfort to finally get ‘it’.

  • Whatever

    The author seems to be just as ignorant as the people’s perception of her. The title of this article is “Color Struck: Black and Volunteering In Africa.” Why not use Ethiopia instead of Africa? Africa is a continent made up of many countries, cultures and languages. Why would she assume that the entire continent is familiar with the every single culture that exists there. I understand her complaints however, it’s only natural to assume she didn’t do her research.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    @Grandgryph
    Wise as always, thanks for the enlightening reply. I didn’t want to dismiss the authors feelings because they do stem from her experience. Her interpretation of that experience may have been faulty but it did leave her with sour memories of her first (I think) experience on the Continent that i don’t think would be alleviated by us rushing to condemn her as a pith helmeted Yanky abroad.
    LOL!
    What you’ve said has certainly given me some perspective on this particular tale, I hope it’s done the same for her.

  • taylor

    Moi.

    1. My mother is African American and my father is Cuban American (afro-cuban). And I am 100% black (not biological, but by culture). Let’s just state that for the record. I don’t need to TALK to anyone-I live it.

    2. I am a well traveled woman because I work for a federal agency that allows my duty location to be in several countries including but not limited to Nigeria, the Gambia, Cameroon, Niger, South Africa, Brazil, St. Lucia, Belize, Colombia, Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Panama, Costa Rica, Japan, Turkey-to name a few.

    3. I am formally educated in African studies and I speak Amharic, French, and Spanish where I have traveled to many countries in the African Disapora. It is my honest opinion (and we all have one) that the people of African descent in the United States of America, with all our flaws are the most free in the African Diaspora. We have a collective (even with our flaws and disparities and many miles to go) sense of moving forward as a unit. This may be in part to racial politics in that we have an influential Congressional Black Caucus that doesn’t exist in many countries where Black people are minorities. This may be in part because we had a civil rights movement where many countries where Blacks are a minority-like Cuba, did not have a violent nor nonviolent struggle in the U.S. We have several forms and influence and laws to create change where many others in the Diaspora do not. We are a powerful people and we have the power to change the outlook of many people in the African Diaspora. We live in a powerful nation and we are amongst its citizens. That does not necessarily equate to freedom but when you travel around the world, you will realize how powerful freedom is.

    4. Many people (MANY) of African descent outside of the continent do not consider themselves Black. They don’t have a collective Black identity. Many people who ‘look’ Black to many Americans, consider themselves mulattos or morenos or anything BUT Black like in the Dominican Republic. That is a psychological effect of slavery.

    5. Africa as a CONTINENT is underdeveloped. Europe underdeveloped America (there is a book about it, google it). I could go country by country with the deep seated colorism, tribalism, and the like with African nations. I have great things to say about many of the countries but in MY OPNION I believe that African Americans have a better grasp and pride in being Black. Period.

    6. I never said Egypt was a state, but if you have ever been to Egypt then you would know that they do not consider themselves African but Arab. Many of them shout epithets at darker skinned people. Even those of dark skin from Indian. Whether they have an admixture that includes Arab or not, if they had an African American cultural framework then they would consider themselves proudly Black.

  • taylor

    Africa is a continent-everyone knows that. Africans are proud of their NATIONALITIES. They’ve only been nations since the 1920s-1960s with the scramble for Africa. Are you kidding? The Democratic Republic of Congo was called Zaire like two decades ago? Are you really serious. There are WARS, modern day WARS, fought over the names of countries even to this day. Not all Liberians want to be called Liberians. That’s not the same for every country but borders in Africa change so much it’s crazy.

    I’m all for defending why people on the African continent are struggling with coming to terms with people in the African Diaspora but REALLY? National pride? Since when…..

  • taylor

    This post is just ignorant all around.

  • taylor

    Good for you Bella and all your Nigerian “friends.”

    Yes, traveling to West Africa and seeing all the bleaching creams, the billboards advertising LYE relaxers, the women with scarred skin, the synthetic cheap weaves, the offense when you speak Yoruba to them and they respond to you in English, the Westernized religion, the obsession with American things.

    Yes, it was underwhelming in the most overwhelming way.

    It was like walking into 1982 America.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Sykes/1065177536 Ashley Sykes

    everybody in africa isnt black though…. morocco? egypt? idk also its kinda a pet peeve of mine too when people say ” im going to africa” and then generalize the hell out of the CONTINENT. thats just like saying” im going to america. it snows all the time and is full of blonde haired blue eyed big breasted women”. they only described what the midwest? everybody in the different countries of africa dont all have big lips,big booty, kinky hair, dark skin. its being a typical ignorant american to go over there and expect that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Sykes/1065177536 Ashley Sykes

    you are soooo on point with this comment. how many times have we heard black americans say that they’re going to “the motherland” to be with “their people”? to learn ” their heritage”

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    Taylor, now I know you are lying. Anyone that knows any Yoruba person will tell you they love their language. Some of the snottiest Yoruba people live in London and they do not get offended when their language is spoken to them.

    I am willing to bet the percentage of black African women from all countries on the continent with natural hair is greater than the percentage of black American women with natural hair. I am also willing to bet the colorism issues faced in the US is more perverse (longer sentences, lower prospects of marriages, disparities in employment and education) than that ever seen in most African countries.

    You are a bitter, ignorant person. Work on your issues and don’t be jealous of other people’s confidence.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2
  • BluTopaz

    You’re implying that Adisa’s point is she expected to blend in with the Ethiopians because of the all Africans are the same stereotype. That’s not what she said, and many of you are getting overexcited ticking off all the different phenotypes in Africa. I’m guessing when she said ‘blend in’, she meant fade into the crowd and not be made into a spectacle-not to be regarded as Ethiopian.

    Sure Blacks can be exotic to other Blacks, i had to tear my eyes away from some of the gorgeous Black Brazilians i have seen. Do i go up to them and shout, whisper and snicker? Nope, cuz i’m not a dumb peasant. And i would say the same if an Ethiopian received the same ill treatment from clueless Black Americans.

    And if many Ethiopians are as color struck as noted here, that should be the focus of the anger–not the author’s discomfort. It’s totally f– up that a Black woman of any nationality & skin tone can’t walk through any predominantly Black region without being made to feel like a bizarre creature.

  • L

    East Africans were not colonized by the British or taken to America as slaves.

  • L

    I think the question is: Why are African Americans offended when you tell them they do not look East African but instead West African?
    Many African Americans take offense to that and it really confuses me.
    Doesn’t it make sense that you look more West African than East African since your ancestors were taken from West Africa to America as slaves?
    African Americans spend more time tracing their Irish ancestors than they do their West African even though they look more West African and have higher % of West African black blood.
    The only color struck persons here are you and you will not even acknowledge it because you deny it, even to yourselves but the rest of us can see it.

  • Quell

    Ok, you’re really reaching with this one. I believe you’re exaggerating the amount of African Americans you came across who desire so much to be East African. Out of all the African Americans I know who are tracing their ancestry, they’re more interested in finding out about their African ancestry and where on the continent their ancestors came from as opposed to tracing their European ancestry.To say that African Americans are the only color struck ones when you have Africans on the continent bleaching their skin is ridiculous, it just seems as though you have a bone to pick with African Americans.

  • JaeBee

    “African Americans spend more time tracing their Irish ancestors than they do their West African even though they look more West African and have higher % of West African black blood.”

    Speaking of generalizations of another culture…

    Cause Beyonce looks just like someone who comes from Djimon Honsou’s side of the African continent…
    (and you can clearly see the difference in physical features between someone like Dijimon, a West African, and someone like Alek Wek, an East African)

  • Demi

    These responses, for the most part, reek of harsh judgement & subjugation that our author experienced abroad all over again. It sounds like the responses (dismissiveness, outrage, defense, derailment (the article is mis-titled…huh?), etc.) I would expect from a white American person. I deeply appreciate @SATOTW ‘s passionate explanation of how she interpreted the author’s viewpoint, though I know with utmost certainty that most of these responders will never acknowledge our plight & the unwanted baggage we are forced to carry from global society. I hope that the author & others like her will continue to share their deepest and sometimes heart-wrenching experiences from their very own lives with us. I see you, sister. I respect you and acknowledge your pain & disappointment. Having no where to feel fully welcomed (we all know our pained history) and no place where we are truly at home is one of the ugliest realities we face as brown/black-hued women. Instead of criticizing & blaming you (!!!) I’ll listen/read and learn instead. Thank you.

  • Demi

    “It sounds like the responses (dismissiveness, outrage, defense, derailment (the article is mis-titled…huh?), etc.) I would expect from a white American person.”

    Let me expound on that one. I am referring to predictable and cruelly effective tactics used by white Americans, especially, in relation to racism-related discussions. I find the correlation to be quite ironic indeed.

  • Ain’t I an African

    I’m Kenyan and I’ve had this happen to me in Somalia where some kids would say “African.” I think that people from the Horn of Africa people don’t quite consider themselves Africans. In Ethiopia, people thought I was African American, in my own country people think I’m Congolese, Nigerian, Jamaican etc Only in South Africa do people assume I’m South African :) The truth is that on a continent of about 800 million people, there are so many regional and ethnic variations, that you will always find yourself the “other.” It’s a fantasy to think that any black person would blend in anywhere in Africa. But it is rude, particularly from some cultures to point her out the way they did. In Kenya I’ve seen this happen to white people and Asians, particularly by kids, and cringed inwardly.

  • http://yahoo namia

    Hey, am East African (Uganda). point of information Ethiopians do not regard them selves as African….i do not understand why..and am not trying to figure it out..but there. They will go so much as to refer to other Africans as monkeys.. Funny they have that out look considering they look like Somali’s and Eritreans

  • Lulu

    Please, stop lying. I have NEVER heard of African Americans do this. In fact, they are always complimenting Senegalese, Malian, and other West African women. Yall need to stop acting as if other people dont and cant find beaity and mystique in African women from ALL regions of Africa.

    Also, why is Southetn Africa always left out in this?

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    JaBee, Alek Wek is from Sudan (now South Sudan). Sudan has historically been considered part of North Africa not East Africa. I am not sure where South Sudan will be placed.

    As to your sarcastic line: yes, I can tell the difference between Djimon Hounsou and Alex Wek. We are all not as ignorant as you are.

    L is obviously a troll and has made many false comments so far, but yours is not any less ignorant.

  • Jade

    You have to understand that categories such as a “Black race” was man-made, constructed. “White and Asian” races the same. It was born out of post-1400 racial hierarchies that were formed by European when they encountered peoples of he New World and other regions of the globe. They need to justify enslaving and treat other people like shit, so they placed ALL of humanity in racial categories that fit their idea of superiority.

    Africa is the longest inhabited continent in the world. The identities of “Africans” on the continent formed thousands and thousands of years ago. Skin color was irrelevant since many of us had the same skin color. There was no conception of “blackness.” ALSO, there was no conception of “whiteness” in Europe either, and no conception of an all-inclusive “Asian” identity until relatively recently. “Latino” is also a uniquely American term.

    These are all made up. Many Africans hold strong their primordial identities. But I also know, that many are aligning themselves with a “Black identity” because they know this will lead to the unity many Africans so desperately need to confront global threat to their resources and their livelihood.

    Also, do not forget about the slave rebellion in Haiti. Many Haitians have a good idea of a collective Black identity.

  • Jade

    But they were taken as slaves to certain parts of the Middle East.

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    ‘Having no where to feel fully welcomed (we all know our pained history) and no place where we are truly at home is one of the ugliest realities we face as brown/black-hued women’

    That sentence is one of the most ridiculous I have ever read. What? brown/black-hued women have no where they are truly at home?

    Or are you specifically referencing black American women (even that is ridiculous), but slightly less than saying a black-hued Ghanian woman (for example) has nowhere she is truly at home.

  • grandgryph

    um..but you’re just as adept as using though racist tactics too. and are playing on `black girl pain’ (having NO where to feel truly welcomed? huh?) for some strange reason. some how i don’t think those two things are unrelated. your post are performances calibrated to show black people everywhere as sick and hopelessly hypocritical, and do so without bother to offer a “solution” or talk about what exactly better looks like. why is that still acceptable?

    some how you’ve managed to miss that there are plenty of black people of all complexions who go to different parts of africa and have `positive’ experiences. and doesn’t that at all affect your claim that there is ‘nowhere to feel truly accepted’? not even a little? no? and, i don’t know if people are dismissing the authors’ experience (i.e., claiming that it didn’t in fact happen to her) as much as they put it in context and sharing there own experiences of the place. but of course you can’t see it that way because it doesn’t support your pre-determined conclusion.

    so, what would be an acceptable reaction to you? screaming and crying about how `immature all africans are’ or that calling africans immature is redundant’ like you basically did in another forum?

    i think few would dispute that those people who mistreated her, or made a spectacle of her were on some bullshite, but it seemed the story had implications bigger than that and likely that’s what people are responding to. and, aside from the ridiculous portrayals of africa that many afro-american either support or turn a blind eye to in the mainstream media, the story of being “rejected in the motherland” or going there only to find that “golly i really don’t fit in, my place is in america” is old. the author herself could have put her unfortunate experiences in a bigger context instead of returning to the ‘dashed romance’ trope.

    yeah you have a little cyber fit about how tired you are about black women being portrayed this way or that. but what work have you really done to understand the psychological dynamics that recreate those oppressions or do you just highlight it (selectively), pronounce that you are tired of it and `move on’ ironically in a way that recreates those very dynamics?

  • grandgryph

    @socially maladjusted

    thank you sir. you are a scholar and a gentleman.

    i don’t wish to dismiss her experience, but i’m thinking that by now it should be one tempered the many experiences of others, both `positive’ and `negative’. many, many black people have written about their experiences in africa, i’m thinking she could’ve been more prepared. i mean if i was to go to another north american city or go to the u.k. i’d want to know ahead of time what the black people are like. i would just assume that because we were black, and had some diaspora connections that none of them would be on some serious dumbness. the romantic view of africa is part of the misrepresentation of it (an overcompensation for the racist depictions of africa that new world blacks have been a party to for decades). it seemed that the author’s disappointment was exacerbated by a romantic view she held. that being said, she in no way deserved to be treated as she was.

  • grandgryph

    wow. and the ethiopians are so fast to go on about how they were never colonised or what have you. very interesting.

  • Culturally Aware

    @ Demi – “Having no where to feel fully welcomed (we all know our pained history) and no place where we are truly at home is one of the ugliest realities we face as brown/black-hued women.”

    – This statement is really something that I have noticed to be an exclusive African American feeling. I may be wrong, but correct me if necessary.

    As a first generation Black American, based on what I have observed from black people in the diaspora outside of the United States…this is not a common feeling. A black person from Jamaica, feels like Jamaica is home…from Brazil..feels like Brazil is home…from Honduras…feels like Honduras is home…etc. All the black ppl mentioned in the referenced countries originated from the continent of Africa hundreds of years ago just like African Americans, but don’t feel like Jamaica, Brazil, etc is not their home.

    Based on what I learned about American history in school, history has damaged the African American mind and I understand where your feeling of having no home comes from. My suggestion to you is to try your best and break this psychological war with your mind…and accept that America is your home, in spite of the injustice black ppl still face. The USA is your home…claim it!

  • grandgryph

    i don’t think she said she wanted to claim africa as home, but to not feel discriminated against for being black by other black-skinned people. that’s not a ridiculous request or anyway related to her not wanting to be an `american’…what ever exactly that means.

    that being said, people can have multiple ‘homes’ a person can feel at home in new york as they do in kingston jamaica as they do in paris france. we don’t know that she didn’t claim america or that one day she might feel at home in ethiopia or elsewhere? why do we limit people’s identities this way?

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    “You have to understand that categories such as a “Black race” was man-made, constructed. “White and Asian” races the same.”

    Thank you.

    everyone ought to check out this TED talk by Thandie Newton or my blog where i broke it down.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/thandie_newton_embracing_otherness_embracing_myself.html

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    “You, like the author, are tackling this from a purely emotional perspective and that undermines your ability to be rational”

    Again, that’s my response to your tirade. Too hormonal(i know you’re male) that I won’t even bother debunking any of your points.

    Ultimately, people will feel how they choose to feel – that isn’t necessarily dependent on how people treat you. Nobody can make you feel ‘insulted, marginalized, ignored, mocked’ unless you already have other deep-seated issues. I’m a dark skinned woman and I’ve never felt any of the above – ever in my life – even when people make faces at me/stupid comments about my accent. C’est la vie.

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    “that most of these responders will never acknowledge our plight & the unwanted baggage we are forced to carry from global society”

    …you’re forced to carry unwanted baggage? I’m glad you recognize that some of the author’s feelings stem from her own baggage; instead of demonizing a group of people simply because they pointed and yelled out nationalities(yeah, we know that’s rude by american standards), she should have asked people’s opinions about why they think she was treated that way. Instead she automatically assumed that it was because of her dark skin. Now she has some people incensed about the alleged discrimination when it could have been a mere matter of curiosity.

    I agree with you though that the author’s discomfort should be acknowledged and – as someone who doesn’t like excessive attention myself – I empathize with her on that front.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hareema-Akinak/100000531851239 Hareema Akinak

    Interesting dialogue. I do think a lot of black Americans tend to see Africa in extremes- either from an romanticized or demonized POV, so I think paying an actual visit will shatter those notions.

    I’d love to visit some of the coastal nations myself (ie- South Africa, Seychelles, etc). Hopefully one day.

  • Demi

    @grandgryph & @TheBestAnonEver, Part2, @culturallyaware, @48:

    Case and point.

    I do not find it a productive placement use my time to explain why your ‘replies’ lack substance and basic human compassion on this thread. It my post is neither rare nor is it reduced to a specific sector of the brown/black-skinned community. Clearly, I am not speaking to any of you, rather speaking about you and your kin.

    Shut the phuck up, LISTEN AND RESPECT the author’s point of view and everyone else’s, including mine. I did not indicate that you should understand nor did I expect anything beyond basic courtesy. Clearly, that is asking too much, so thank you for proving my point.

    I stand by each & every word I have written. This is our reality, fortunately for you…not yours.

  • grandgryph

    what kind of narrow-minded nonsense is this, really.

    take your own advice respect what i wrote. in SEVERAL other posts i empathized with the author and her experience of feeling excluded or made a spectacle of. so as much as you might feel morally superior for whatever victim-privilege reason, you need to check your facts.

    grown people see beyond their own experiences to appreciate a greater truth. i, for one didn’t deny the woman’s experience, but noted that there are many others beyond that single story that many african-americans tell over and over. that’s called context.

    the possibility for other experiences – positive ones – is just as important as you’re airing your wounds in public and wanting everyone one to see things exactly your way or shut the phuck up as you so eloquently put it.

    grow up.

  • Demi

    @grandgryph

    Let’s just leave it at this, shall we? You are willingly unable to exercise empathy nor compassion; I am knocking my bloody head against the wall here. So here’s what…I see exactly where you & others like you stand on this author’s plight and take much issue with your incompetence regarding your humanity as it relates to the author’s experiences. How surprising that the players remain the same? Not at all. Fine.
    I have read some of your responses in particular to some other postings and was somewhat pleased by your ability to voice a response beyond the humdrum of the peanut gallery, per se. I do not appreciate now, nor will I ever, the debasement of someone’s raw pain & suffering as they see it, however, especially when it speaks to my own truths.

    That. Is. All.

  • Out of Africa

    “Cause Beyonce looks just like someone who comes from Djimon Honsou’s side of the African continent…”

    Wow, you really are ignorant and since when does Beyonce represent the majority of African Americans? Plus, Beyonce does not look East African, she looks like she has West African heritage with creole mixed in there.
    She looks exactly like what she is.

  • Out of Africa

    Complete and utter bullshit and I am Ethiopian, we do NOT say that! We ARE black and have no issues saying that.
    Never have I heard any East African call anyone “monkeys”, sounds like you are trying to cast us in a bad light with your made up story.

  • grandgryph

    don’t try to switch tactics and tone on me. i’m not some likkle heediot bwoy that you can confuse just so.

    i’ve not debased anyone’s pain or suffering. and SEVERAL TIMES i empathised with the authors experience.

    what do you want me to do demi, open a vein? cry tears of blood?!

    hey, it sucks – those people how did that are mean fools. but shite happens. other stuff – good stuff happens too. did i some where say that because she was immature because she was an afro-american woman. no. so don’t take that tone with me dearee. you’ve already shown your azz around these parts.

    so let’s keep it moving. thanks.

    that. is. all.

    lol.

  • JaeBee

    “As to your sarcastic line: yes, I can tell the difference between Djimon Hounsou and Alex Wek. We are all not as ignorant as you are. L is obviously a troll and has made many false comments so far, but yours is not any less ignorant.”

    East African, North African–Potato, Po-tah-to…NOT THE POINT!

    For someone who likes to throw around the word “ignorant” you sure don’t understand satire. Calm down and take your Xanax! You’re over-reacting. Is it truly that offensive to you that the average person probably would not be able to tell that Djimon and Alek come from two different countries on the opposite sides of the continent? It is NOT that serious!

    Oh, and while you’re so busy trying to school “ignorant” people on geography you may want to school yourself on the proper spelling of ALEK’s name.

  • JaeBee

    “Wow, you really are ignorant and since when does Beyonce represent the majority of African Americans?”

    Never said she did, but if anything Beyonce represents what MOST African Americans are–a mixture of a variety of races.

    “Beyonce does not look East African, she looks like she has West African heritage with creole mixed in there.
    She looks exactly like what she is.”

    Neither YOU nor I know from where Beyonce’s African ancestors originated. All you can do is hypothesize, but that doesn’t make you correct. YOU may think she looks like she has West African heritage, other people may think differently. I personally don’t think she looks either East or West African.

  • SATOTW

    Demi, I hear you sista, and what you said about Black/Brown women NOT having a place to be welcome is 100% true. There is a lot of anti-Black female (Dark-skinned Black female in particular) hatred in the Black community in Africa as well as the Caribbean and African America, and no amount of denial of that fact from “Men” like Grands who want to be pampered by Black women like a little girl instead of being the one to do the pampering, and who expect Black women to make the first move and persue men will change that.

    Just please know my dear sista that you do have some allies out here who will be a captive audience for you and the sista who told us her story and the sympathy/understanding you deserve.

    48, if you’re a dark-skinned Black woman, then I’m the Easter bunny.

  • Chrissy

    what part of the middle east?

  • grandgryph

    i’m not a coward. but the only time denial would be an option for me is if i somehow found out that you and are blood relatives. you disgust me.

    and don’t be mad because women FIGHT to pamper me, SATOTW – if that is your real name. they can’t help it. a man of my calibre never gets to god at the ‘chase them’ pamper them game. gyal ah rush mi…straight.

    ahem.

    aloow me to translate.

    if a woman has sense she finds her way to where it is good. i’m better than good. i’m great. so needless to say they fight there way here.

    stop hating. and go get on your horse and buy some pack of women a round of drinks in the vein hope that they might like you. when they’re done spending off your money and making dance like a puppet they’ll be chilling with a guy like me. or me. and you’ll be somewhere mr. chivalry, polishing your lance.

    you’re the bottom of the food chain, bro. move from around me.

    oh yeah.

    and keep up that i’m manly and sensitive and care about suffering dark-skin girls. watch that ‘sister i’m sorry’ tape to sharpen up. but everyone sees through you.

  • AnnoyedNigerian

    I just wish African-Americans would just stay out of the African continent. I used to think there was hope of bridging the gap between descendants of various African nations and African Americans but now I know that was a pipe dream… SMH

  • African Mami

    @ namia,

    PLEASE QUIT WITH THE EXAGGERATIONS about Ethiopians!

  • African Mami

    @ L,

    Let’s keep it 100, shall we.

    East Africans were COLONIZED! To get more technical on the subject matter, EAST Africa specifically references to three countries, namely: KENYA, UGANDA & TANZANIA.

    Kenya was colonized by the British
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Kenya (a very accurate account of the colonization of Kenya, despite link being a wikipedia source)

    Tanzania was colonized by the Germans, after which Britain took over
    http://hj2009per1tanzania.weebly.com/colonization.html

    Uganda was colonized by the British
    http://www.enteruganda.com/about/history.php

    The EAC (East African Community) comprises of the aforementioned countries plus Rwanda and Burundi who were also COLONIZED.

    EASTERN Africa is an all inclusive term for the following countries: KENYA, UGANDA, TANZANIA, RWANDA, BURUNDI, ETHIOPIA, ERITRIA, SOMALIA, SUDAN (specifically southern Sudan).

    Guess what: They were all COLONIZED, including Ethiopia….by the ITALIANS! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Ethiopia)

    East Africans were also taken in as slaves!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_slave_trade

    http://www.africanholocaust.net/ah_about.htm

  • grandgryph

    @ out of africa

    there is definitely colourism and race identity stuff with east africans. you even have jet black sudanese people calling themselves “arab”. it is just about creating an identity that distances oneself from stigma. i’ve heard and seen ethiopian ambivalence about identifying with “west african” types. it is a border that some of them police vigorously.

    @ annoyednigerian

    wait. annoyed nigerian. i know you…hmm….

    *** seaches email ***

    i sent you five large months ago! where’s my million dollars?! is this “stay out of africa” mess some ploy to keep me from collecting my gwap. it is isn’t it. this isn’t over..a.n.

    look. i come across you africa border guards all the time. and ima break it down for you like this: just ’cause (y)our great-great great grand parent didn’t have the balls to stand up european muskets or think that trading their cousins for glass shiny beads-io would come back to bite dem in de nyanch, doesn’t mean afro-americans – no matter how ignorant they might be some times – have no right to the africa. they have every right to it that you do. and maybe more.

    if fela never went to the states (trying to be james brown), and if tony allen – an afro-american – didn’t architect the afro-beat rhythm pattern half you nigerians would have no reason to exist. never mind the 47 million jay-z impersonators you have running around the lagos streets. so shut up, and go learn about yourself before talking foolishness. and actually i’m more likely to take my cues from nkrumah – who actually invited african-americans to come settle in africa and set land aside for them and haile selassie who did a similar thing, before you. they’re both dead, but still many times brighter than you.

    and you know what, next time i’m in nigeria, i’m coming to YOUR house, and eating all YOUR food. and i’m leaving with my mil. you freaking teef teef

    -io.

  • Quell

    @AnnoyedNigerian: If you you feel African Americans should stay off the continent of Africa, then you should stay away from the continent of North America. SMH at you for sounding so closed minded.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tamani-Green/60708357 Tamani Green

    I can only speak to my own experiences in Africa and I wasn’t in East Africa – I went to South Africa & Lesotho.

    The people there, both black and white were friendly and I actually was able to fade into the background a little bit as opposed to my traveling companions, who were all considerably lighter than myself. In Lesotho it was actually very gratifying to know that it wasn’t so much my blackness as my “Americanness” that garnered attention. No one pointed and stared at me, or tried to guess my nationality. Again, ymmv.

    Where I have gotten the most stares/commentary on my looks (from other black people) are generally from West Africans and mostly because they invariably say the same thing: You look like my mum/sister/cousin, etc. And fair enough, when in Cape Town, I said the same thing to a Cameroonian woman I’d met – she looked like a younger, thinner version of my aunt.

    Where I have met the rudest commentary on myself (physically) is when I travel to Asia, specifically, China. Most Chinese people have never left their country and having watched *countless* hours of Chinese television, they rarely see people of other races, unless they are Caucasian. Their conception is that all Americans are white people. I have been asked if I am African because, to them, black people only come from Africa. And this is a nation that has hosted world events.

    Also, to the charge that Ethiopia was never colonized. During the “Scramble for Africa” no. But really? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_East_Africa
    I had a roommate who was born to Eritrean parents get characterized as half-white because she is so fair. She also spoke fluent Italian because her parents were able to emigrate there before her birth.

  • sli

    @AnnoyedNigerian~WTH? Who are you to suggest that African-Americans stay out of Africa? Have you lost your freakin’ mind? Yeah, I think you have. On September 10, 2011 at 11:23 am, you LOST YOUR FREAKIN’ MIND. Ridiculous.

    @grandgryph-LOL!

  • grandgryph

    ah yes excellence. there you are.

    i forgot about the little italian adventure in ethiopia. that despite having a friend who like yours spoke fluent italian, and looked italian, but was from ethiopia.

    also, i remember hearing about thousand of italians being promised land in ethiopia, but then for what ever reason not getting it, and so going to the u.s. that’s an interesting history. odd that we’ve never seen it put to film.

    thanks for the post. great points.

  • African Mami

    @ L,

    Where do you get your information from?! East Africa was colonized by all sorts of European territories! Italy, Britain, Germany you name it!

    They were also taken as slaves in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, but the majority in that part of the country were taken to other parts of the New World, like Brazil, Portugal blah blah!

  • Jess

    wow, that’s funny because the ethiopians i new considered themselves the most African of all Africans. And they considered themselves the best African – always. Ethiopians do have color issues, just like Black Americans, butin a different way, but I’ve never heard them deny being African. They justthink of themselves as superior Africans. So basically, Ethiopians are the French of Africa.

  • Jess

    I’ve never met any Black American who wants to be East African (or most any other African either). But most Black Americans first heard about Swahili as a great language from Africa, and it happens to be an eastern language. But I promise you, Black Americans do not want to be East Africans, of any type. Now, as for Jamaican Rastafari’s, that’s another story. They worship to Hallie Selasie and Ethiopia for religious purposes. Thye want to be East African, but we don’t. We like us well enough.

  • grandgryph

    “So basically, Ethiopians are the French of Africa.”

    bwa hahahh ha ha

  • Jess

    @L: “Doesn’t it make sense that you look more West African than East African since your ancestors were taken from West Africa to America as slaves?”

    Ahh, the racist an culturally confining garbage that Black Americans are only from West Africa, and thus we should confine ourselves and our knowledge to one region only. Well, dumb dummy, the African Slave trade to the West went cross-continent and reached West, deep into the East, North, and South for humans to be brought over as slaves to the Americas, in general. Not only that, the African slave trade actually started in Europe, as the former rulers of Spain, the Moors, were sold off out of revenge for their conquering of the Iberian Peninsula.

    Black Americans are now mixed with Africans from North to South, East and West, and those former conquerors in Europe. And we are heavily mixed with Native American, and yes, to some degree white people due to our history in America. And the Blacks of Latin America the same, except their “white” is Spanish or Portuguese, and their Native Americans are of the southern variety.

    Blacks of the Americas can stake family descent from Nigeria to Nairobi, Lesotho to Libya, Marrakech to Mauritania, Senegal to Sudan. This is just a fact, because we are now mixed with all groups of Africans, as we were force to mix ethnicities during the slave trade, and also made families with the people Native to the Americas already here.

    Why does that bother you so much that we not claim one part of Africa? Does it bother you about Brazilians, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Haitians, Arubans – all who have almost the same history as Black Americans regarding the slave trade and our origins?

    Black Americans are not West African, we’re not East Africans, we’re not North or South Africans. We’re a conglomeration of ALL Africans, plus Native Indian, and we should NOT deny our histories in Africa or the Americas to make somebody who wants us to claim West Africa only for their own insecurity, or try to be East or West Africans.

    However many of us always have tried to trace our roots back to African civilizations (and anywhere else since most of us had that knowledge taken away from us during slavery), and if East Africa or Egypt comes up before West Africa, well, so be it. And that’s not a problem. Egypt, East and West Africa are all still Africa – different cultures, but Africa.

  • grandgryph

    @ jess some interesting/debatable points

    “Not only that, the African slave trade actually started in Europe, as the former rulers of Spain, the Moors, were sold off out of revenge for their conquering of the Iberian Peninsula.”

    reference pls

  • rcl

    African Americans are NOT heavily mixed with Native American blood. Many African Americans claim to have native blood – very few do and those who do, have a very VERY SMALL percentage. Native Americans and African slaves were not the brady bunch living in shangri-la. African Americans have MORE european ancestry than they do Native American ancestors. That is all. However, there are still many african Americans who have no european ancestors and are fully African, but definitely made up of different african ethnicities, just like White Americans are a mix of various european ethnicities. I have noticed that it is very common to see light skinned – europeanized featured African Americans marry with others who look like them. South American and Carribean black communities have more mixture in them overall compared to African Americans.

  • Michelle

    I am late on this..but why are people so angry with this young woman for posting her perceptions? I think that it is OBVIOUS that there is an issue with inferiority within blacks almost everywhere. Why would anyone get angry at a woman who simply states she was made to feel uncomfortable about her appearance? It is OBVIOUS that the people were being rude to her..not curious! I think if people were clearly stating the obvious..which is she has a look that is most common in West Africa(dark brown skin, wider nose,very kinky hair)..then this would not be an issue. It is the NEGATIVE reaction that she received and the fact that people went out of their way to make her feel uncomfortable. It is no secret that SOME Ethios feel her appearance is inferior..and Ethios are not the only people who act this way..I’ve seen it here in the US also..the issue is global. I hope that oneday we will all be reasonably accepting of other’s phenotypes..curiousity..pointing out the obvious is one thing..but being NEGATIVE..is another thing.

  • Demi

    @grandgryph

    Please let it go. We disagree. You are living in hostile oblivion & there is no more to say to you from my end.

    But as per your kind, I know you must have the last word, so have at it.

    THAT, sweetheart, IS. ALL.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/naturalisme/253146531391686 char

    @Taylor, i feel sorry for you. You’re one of those Americans who feel the world was made for them. Actually when blacks in other parts of the world see African Americans it’s not a look of ‘oh I wish my clothes could be like hers or I could speak properly.”

    I don’t know if you expect every black person to live in a shack and ride a donkey but technology has reached to the masses. Still we hold on to our cultures and that is what makes a people a people. I’m Caribbean and I’ve met many black americans who run on and on about wanting to hear the locals talk and eat their food but when you put em in the thick they start dissin people about speaking bad English and not having Mc Donalds.

    On top of that there is nothing exciting about being African American. I did not know you guys were superior to the rest of us who aren’t so ‘blessed’ to be born there. It goes both ways. Just as you see people breaking their legs to give us us free Amistad style you have JUST AS MANY people paying crazy fees to be stella and get their groove back.

  • david

    sucks being black no matter where you go,so why should africa be any different.. wake up and stop fooling yourself when reality and experience tells you different.

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    “@ annoyednigerian

    wait. annoyed nigerian. i know you…hmm….

    *** seaches email ***

    i sent you five large months ago! where’s my million dollars?! is this “stay out of africa” mess some ploy to keep me from collecting my gwap. it is isn’t it. this isn’t over..a.n…”

    Grandgryph: You should be ashamed of yourself. I ignored your other subtly ignorant and insulting comments but this – this is borderline retarded. What kind of adult goes around yapping bull-ish like this? I mean I know low-life(s) use the internet as a front, but this is just sorry. smh.

    To think you had the effrontery to try to correct Demi’s flawed pov and here you are, making an even bigger spectacle of yourself. Do I agree with annoyednigerian’s comment? absolutely not! but what is this? A competition for the biggest buffoon? Well, you sir, have emerged the undisputed winner. Enjoy the title : )

    @Annoyed nigerian:

  • grandgryph

    “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

    i often am, but not for anything i’ve posted here.

    i mean, i wasn’t going around calling people `animals’ or `collectively mentally’ ill. i was making fun of nigerians for being fraud artists. i do this with my naija friends and they threaten to wipe my back account. then buy me a beer. why don’t you want me to get free beer, 48?

    let’s be real, they are expert fraudsters. among the best in the world. everyone knows not to trust a nigerian, but they still get you. that’s an accomplishment – nothing for anyone to really be ashamed of. the world is run by crooks. i’m not going to be more mad with the black ones.

    “I ignored your other subtly ignorant and insulting comments but this – this is borderline retarded. What kind of adult goes around yapping bull-ish like this? I mean I know low-life(s) use the internet as a front, but this is just sorry. smh.”

    subtly ignorant? now i’m ashamed. i’ve been outright rude and offensive at times. were you raised in a barn? think my tone is normal – or subtle? wtf. what’s a brother have to do….but i’ll tell you this 48, next to nothing i’ve done here is out of ignorance. i know you’ll stay tuned.

    “To think you had the effrontery to try to correct Demi’s flawed pov and here you are, making an even bigger spectacle of yourself. ”

    that’s exactly the point. it’s my little game. what kind of ignorance gets kid glove treatment, what gets a pass and what gets stomped on. this is how i get my kicks.

    “Do I agree with annoyednigerian’s comment? absolutely not! but what is this? A competition for the biggest buffoon? Well, you sir, have emerged the undisputed winner. Enjoy the title : )”

    success! now i’m the smartest and dumbest in this thread. no one tell me nothing! complete dominance, lol.

    i’m just showing my repertoire. some one insinuated that i was a stogy wanna-be intellectual, a rabid black nationalist, and something else that i can’t presently remember. i’m happy to add `champion buffoon’. it matters not. i’m just mastering the 360 degrees. it’s all in the game.

    good day to ya!

  • http://48forpanache.blogspot.com 48

    “48, if you’re a dark-skinned Black woman, then I’m the Easter bunny”

    Hi there, easter bunny: ) That picture was taken under bright, glaring, sunlight so do not be deceived, I am a dark chocolate bunny.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marva-Smith/1286583396 Marva Smith

    I must go back a re-read this because as I read, I believed the natives to be in awe of her not ridiculing her. I thought they were praising her beauty. I understand the frustration. I can not stay in NY for more than a week because I am asked by nearly everyone if I am Latin. I am not. I am a regular Black American woman. I was told by my friend who is Afro-Latin that it was familiarity they they seek, not to be harmful.

    I was recently told by some Ethiopian students that they received some ridicule from Black Americans at their school. Ignorance crosses social and ethnic classes and groups often.

    Going back to read now.

  • Juma

    Ethiopia is a very complex country when it comes to race. The people who made you uncomfortable were probably Amharic who do not see themselves as African. But Ethiopia is not representative of Africa. No single country is. Come over to Kenya and you will feel right at home.

  • Jene

    Agreed!
    I was to born to a Ghanaian father and an African-American mother, when I first visited Ghana, I was about 13 years old and fell in love immediately once I got there, but I too experienced being stared at. I was young so my feelings weren’t as affected as the writer. I really was not offended when people would mention things like I didn’t “look” Ghanaian. because in my heart I was. and noone could tell me I wasn’t.

    I still get comments even now as a 23 year old from Africans who say I don’t look African at all. And I get comments from AA’s that say I don’t look american lol
    But those comments roll off my back easily because I understand that
    “One of the most valuable things travel brings is the opportunity to better understand what truths, semi-truths and untruths make up our own sense of identity.” as stated my you Trina Roach.

    My semi truth was that even though I may be American and Ghanian, the creation of my identity is up to me and no one else.

  • grandgryph

    last word

  • Simone

    To the author, thank you for being brave and sharing your experiences.

  • Jene

    It can be very disappointing if one romanticizes that when you travel to Africa you will be embraced by everyone with open arms. This is just not true. Ignorance exists everywhere! I learned this first hand when I traveled to Ghana for the first time when I was young, even though my father is Ghanaian, to many Africans I don’t look it, and I was stared at and I don’t speak Twi (the most spoken language there besides English). I’ve gotten used to it now but it can be confusing esp if your creating your identity and soul searching. Its takes patience, confidence and real understanding.

    I think the writer was not as prepared as she could have been mentally for what her experience would be like and honestly its a shame, because her experience could have been very different. I hope this doesn’t stop her from traveling back to Africa again. And not all of Africa is the same, there are some african countries that embrace foreigners (Ghana, S. Africa and many more).

  • Beautiful Mic

    Lulu,

    The AU (African Union) is backed by the United Nations which is none other than a front for European and American Empirical domination of the world. It’s working.

    Read the comments here. But aside from the comments, it’s known that Horn of Africans, like Somalians and Habesha ( the Habesha bloodline is spread through nearly all of the ethnic groups of Eritrea and Ethiopia), outside of Western identity and assimilation and historically, do not consider themselves African. Historically they do not. So, for the AU to have their headquarters in Addis Ababa means nothing to me, unless Haile Selassie were running the country and this took place. I don’t think Selassie would have allowed it. They had to rid the country of the political idealist like Selassie in order to gain their foothold that would even allow them to do such a thing.

  • Beautiful Mic

    As far as East Africans not being colonized, all were except, maybe, Ethiopia. However, there is considerable Italian influence in Ethiopia. Also, once Selassie was taken out of power, and the Royal family removed from being able to reign, the West has pretty much had a lot of influence in Ethiopia.

    The political conditions surrounding 1980s famine was induced by ‘The West’. There have been a lot of European interests embedded in Ethiopia, Eritrea. The fact that there are populations of Habesha in places like Germany, the U.S. should give you a clue. If a people are politically expunged or forced to flee a country, the foreign interests who want some type of foothold in their native land have usually able to make deals with these people in order to infiltrate.

  • Beautiful Mic

    I don’t agree. The Whites in America have no respect, regard, for the miscegenation they induced in this country, specifically when it comes to deeply rooted African-Americans, or dark skinned people. The tendency for society, in general, as well as other blacks, of denying black people (and themselves) from claiming, exploring or even considering this ancestry is product of how Whites have applied the One Drop Rule to define who is black and who isn’t. They’ve disregarded this long existing mixed ancestry, and only regard it in people who are within a certain phenotype range. They don’t acknowledge this among the dark, brown and/or kinky haired among us because they still want people to buy into the concept, stronghold, of race – racial classification invent by whites.

    It’s something powerful that we continue to fuel every day.

  • chitchat

    “Nobody can make you feel ‘insulted, marginalized, ignored, mocked’ unless you already have other deep-seated issues. ”

    @48, I’ll just go ahead and say that’s pretty absurd to suggest that a person cannot perceive an insult unless they have deep-seeded issues. Maybe you’re less sensitive than satotw but the statement quoted above makes you sound absolutely oblivious to your surroundings.

  • JoyceAfrican

    I agree 100% with the author, and I am a Kenyan woman.

    Honestly, people can be very rude and insensitive with people who don’t look like them. I have seen Chinese guys and white guys being followed around in the market by curious people. They don’t think about how this behavior makes the person feel.

    And yes, Ethiopians – and I am just saying this as an honest observation – tend to be VERY xenophobic particularly towards other blacks who are of a darker skin tone.

    I am not saying the people who follow her around and whisper are malicious, but they are definitely rude and insensitive.

  • Rlp

    The people was just curious thats all the author is just being sensitive you obviously look West African since duh most African Americans are of West african descent.She has her own issues with skin color she needs to deal with. They probably couldn’t believe black americans look like you since all they see are light skin blacks on TV.

  • Rlp

    We as African Americans are a very diverse group so some of us look like we never let Africa others look more mixed iike a Beyonce.Embrace your blackness no one can tell you your not an African even Ethiopians called you and African lol.

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