On Internalised Racism

People always claim that everyone is a tad bit racist. I wonder how many experience internal racism?

A few weeks ago, I got into a semi argument with a professor and I realized that I may have racist attitudes towards people of my own race.

The argument started when the professor claimed that the French language will soon become an African language as there are more people who speak French on the African continent than France itself.

While we discussed the postcolonial repercussions of such analysis, I said, I would prefer if French remained a European language rather than have Africa claim it as one of its own.

The conversation then moved into a peculiar direction, when the professor claimed, that African francophones will take over Paris in the not so distant future and I replied by saying that if that ever happens I will avoid Paris.

The professor said why would I say such things since I am of African origins and that makes me kind of makes me racist if not xenophobic.

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Identity Crisis or Crisis of Identity?

“Where are you from?”
“I’m from the United States, Boston to be exact”
“No I mean where are you from, from”
“Boston”
“Okay where are your parents from?”
“They are from Ghana”
“So you are from Ghana then”
“Yes I am but I live/grew up in Boston”
“So why do you not say you are from Ghana”
“I don’t know”

The aforementioned conversation snippet is usually how conversations start with some African people I meet. I recently got into a contentious debate with a Cameroonian guy about the intersectionality of my gay and Ghanaian identity. He asserted that I can’t be a gay African/Ghanaian since its an oxymoron. He said I had to choose one. As in, If I wanted to be gay, I had to stick with my “African American/western” identity and live openly.

I have always had an existential identity crisis growing up. I didn’t know where I belonged sometimes. I was either too “white” too fit in with the “blacks” (I was mostly referred to as an oreo throughout high school),or I was too bourgeoisie to understand the plight/struggles of “African-Americans”. And my favourite was that I was too “westernised” to call myself Ghanaian or African. Include the gay bit and it complicates everything.

As I have mentioned several times on this blog, I wasn’t bothered with my racial identity when I was growing up. Heck I used to select “other” or change my “race” on every standardised test I took. For all my university applications, I didn’t check my race section (I still get a lot of criticism for that as most people claim that it would have enabled me to get loads of scholarship since I’m considered a minority). While I didn’t care about racial politics, I cared about my Ghanaian heritage and Pan-Africanism. I got offended when ignorant remarks were made about Africa or when people called Africa a country. I remember when I came back to the US after spending a few years in Ghana , I was asked by a couple of guys if I slept in a hut and chased lions for fun. I was soo mad that I just gave them deathly stares. Yet I still identify with my “Americaness” when I am outside the US. Every time some asks me where I’m from I say Boston, U.S. instead of Accra, Ghana. Why is that?
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