So this isn’t based on facts and figures and may be a little disjointed, but bear with me.
First off, I am African, Kenyan more specifically with a dash of European thrown in. I am black. This has colored my experiences quite a bit and how I am viewed and treated by people here. I think one of the reasons people react to me as they do is the remnants of colonialism; because my skin tone is lighter I have more money, I’m better educated, I’m uppity, and some people think slutty. I’ve compared experiences with other bi/multiracial people and it’s pretty much the same for them; We are more likely to get robbed, get better service at restaurants and hounded by the opposite sex than out darker skinned counterparts.
Then there’s the issue of us not being really African. I took an African Philosophy way back when, and I remember them telling Anna (not her real name) that she wasn’t an African, she didn’t understand etc. Now Anna is from Morocco and looks like a light-skinned Arab, but she was born and raised in Africa. Apparently places like Morocco aren’t considered African. Also in this class, people seated near me took it upon themselves to point out I wasn’t African either. This left me with one question:
What does it mean to be African?
Is the size, number, shape, and distribution of melanosomes, as well as the chemical nature of their melanin content in your skin, what determines whether or not you are African? Can a Caucasian woman born and raised in Africa say she is African? Or would we refer to her as an American-African? Does she have a right to the title ‘African’ at all?
Is our genetic origin a key factor? Is there a certain percent that is required for on to be considered African?
Are there countries on this continent that are genuinely considered ‘Not African’?
Is my the culture I grew up in what makes me African?
How would this affect black people born and raised outside of Africa?
That last question brings me to Raven Symone’s interview with Oprah:
She, like a lot of black people living in America, Europe etc cannot actually trace their line back to Africa, so why do they choose the term African-American? Does your ancestry play a large role in determining whether you are African?
You know what, at the end of the day, what you think matters, what you choose for yourself. People will pin labels on you, criticize you when you don’t accept them, treat you a certain way because of your skin color, there will be negative and positive connotations in names given, and some will strive to belittle you, blame you for the errors of your ancestors or outright refuse to interact with you….but if you are comfortable in your own skin, then most of that will roll off.
I am a Kikuyu
I am a Kenyan
I am African
I am black
I am a woman
I am me.
Deal with it!