“You my “backward” culture and upbringing and couldn’t

“You don’t look African enough!”I froze and turned to look at her as her cold and demeaning words sliced through the air. She stared and laughed innocently as if it was a huge joke that I wasn’t aware of. In an attempt to conceal my shock, I awkwardly chuckled, confused on how to react to such an off-putting comment. Throughout the day, her words had plagued my thoughts and I began to feel ashamed of my identity; it became a baggage which I felt the need to hide. When I got home, I began to reflect on comments made by others around me, many that I chose to brush off. Comments that stated that I was either too light-skinned to considered African, didn’t sound African or didn’t act like African. This made me wonder if they unconsciously digested the idea of a  “primitive” Africa shown on public television and created a stereotype for all Africans. One that stated that every African is malnourished, uneducated and has no connection to the outside world. The idea of an African who was never hungry, spoke English as a first language and grew up on American television was quite absurd to her due on the set stereotype she had. I couldn’t blame her ignorance, because it is  appalling stereotype many Americans believe to be true when the word, African or Africa  is referred to. This set me up as an outcast of society because I couldn’t belong to a certain group. Despite my skin tone, I couldn’t be seen as black due to my “backward” culture and upbringing and couldn’t be fully accepted by my African community because of my over westernized lifestyle. I was constantly stuck between two worlds and felt that I needed to portray myself in a certain way in order to refute any ideas that would support the given stereotype. By doing this, i slowly began to lose myself and my personality in order to fit in. Her insignificant comment made me feel embarrassed and uncomfortable with my culture and who i was.  As the years passed, I learned that people’s idea of me  doesn’t have to define who i really am.I surrounded myself with positive people and  realised that i didn’t need to fit into someone concept of an African in order to be African and it helped me accept my culture and take pride in it.  While looking back on this situation, I’m quite happy that it happened because I taught me a lot on who I want to become and embracing myself and others for who they are. By accepting ourselves, we are able to understand each other and what makes us unique and interesting.