Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 4.20.37 PMI thought it was my too-slender frame and prominent facial structure that triggered the relentless “What are you?” and “Where are you from?” questions. No, I’m not Ethiopian or Somalian. I’m Virginian. And I’m “just plain black.”

But apparently it’s an epidemic across college campuses with students probing other students’ lineages because surely we’re something a little more than “just black,” especially if we’re at a top-tier university as Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele writes about in a piece for The Root.

According to Eromosele, approximately 40 percent of Ivy League black students had at least one parent born in a foreign land in 2007. And even recent headlines try to underscore a link between elite education and ethnic blackness. “Tiger Mom” author Amy Chua singled out that Nigerian-Americans have a “cultural edge” at succeeding in America. And Kwasi Enin, the 17-year-old New Yorker  who was just accepted to all eight Ivy League institutes? He’s Ghanaian-American.

Perhaps that explains why so many black students were quick to represent France or the Caribbean although I’d hate to think they were trying to separate themselves from the rest of us regular black folk”. And there I was wishing I was from Harlem or LA or Atlanta instead of boring ol’ Virginia.

But to connect education and success with hyphenated nationalities is just absurd. Not to tout my own horn, but my grades were above-average. Never did it cross my mind that perpetual “A”-students earned higher marks because they could claim a second heritage. In fact, any derivative of “What is she?” never crossed my mind – unless I was craving some exotic cuisine. But if a person looked like me – even within a few shades – she was simply black.

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  • Tonididitonem

    I love african Americans but the hypersensitivity over every little thing simply will not get US ahead and yes I’ve lumped myself in even as a nigerian American woman who isn’t even a first generation American. I moved here at 11. Stop feeling so slighted. I am
    Quick to tell anyone with ears I am nigerian because it’s my culture and I love it. My mixed cousin have nigerian names and last names. It is what it is. Not because I want to separate myself in any way shape or form.

    • Paul Cooley

      It is important that foreign blacks do hold on to their culture, especially knowing what was taken from black Americans..

  • informed one

    Believe me I live in Nigeria ( Ikeja, Lagos State…) nd I am an African American married to an Ibgo Goddess that I love soooo much… so let me give you the real deal about Nigeria.
    I HAVE NOTHING BUT LOVE FOR MY NIGERIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS OR AFRICAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS THAT TREAT AS FAMILY.. NO ISSUES.. BUT THINGS IN NIGERIA ARE JUST NOT RIGHT.
    People say how great Nigeria is… Lie.. Lie.. Lie…
    Please don’t come here to live.. the place is not a happy or nice place…
    1. Police and Government officials are soooo corrupt.
    2.Very bad electricity and services… the roads and driving are horrible
    3. No love or respect for poor Nigerians or Africans…
    4. Place is ripe for ritualism and human sacrifices.. happens all the time.
    5. Most young women who are poor and graduate from universities…
    either have to pay with money or their body…
    6. In Nigeria you either rich or shit.. take your pick
    7, no parks or activities for kids… just study if you can afford too
    8. The white man, Lebanese man, Chinese man and others are Gods.
    9. The people are sooo oppressed..
    10. witchcraft is soo rampt
    What’s sooo great about being educated.. when the Chinese and Europeans are building all your roads.. when you can’t even kill a few terrorist..
    HAVARD MEANS NOTHING.. IVY LEAGUE MEANS NOTHING… WHAT MEANS SOMETHING IS DOING FOR ONE’S PEOPLE… THAT MEANS SOMETHING.. WE ALL RISE OR NO ONE WILL RISE…
    NIGERIA HAS BEEN FREE FROM BRITISH RULE SOME 50 YEARS AND HAS HAD VERY LITTLE PROGRESS.. AND NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT..
    SO IF YOU ARE SO PROUD TO BE A NIGERIAN THAN GO BACK HOME AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND HELP SUPPORT AFRICA.. AND STOP BRAGGING THAT YOUR A NIGERIAN AMERICAN.. NEVER HERE WHITE SAYS SUCH STUPID THINGS.. NO RUSSIAN AMERICAN.. I AM JUST PLAN OLD WHITE MAN HERE TO DOMINATE CAN CONQUERE MINORITIES…