Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Though I'm African and I'm American, I'm not African American

Here's Mukoma Wa Ngugi's clear-eyed op-ed on Africans in America that appeared in The Guardian 2 weeks ago. It's sort of a primer to one of the issues my new memoir will cover - Africans in America used as a buffer between African Americans and Anglo Americans. (You may remember that I introduce myself in the PBS film, My Journey Home, with the provocative statement, "Though I'm African and I'm American, I'm not African American.")
Africans who live in America do not share the history of struggle for civil rights, and indeed, even today, do not experience racism in the same way – the 'African foreigner privilege', Mukoma W Ngugi calls it. Photograph: Corbis
I love his term, "African foreigner privilege." I remember a Nigerian boyfriend, who generally was pretty boorish, telling me in a rare moment of insight that, "If you let them, white Americans will keep telling you that you're special. And if you're a naive African, you'll keep believing them."

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