"Blackness and being 'African' took on a dimension of its own when I moved to the US for college"


In answer to the Day 2 Question “How ____ Are You?”

Black - according to who?

I’m not Black. I’m Indian. But I spent my first 12 years (twice as long as I’ve lived in India) around a LOT of warm, gregarious, humble, humorous, courageous, resilient, and downright wonderful black people in the best country on the African continent: Burkina Faso. When I returned to Burkina 15 years later to work on an HIV prevention project, I was elated to be back home, but also befuddled and amused when people on the street called out to me, “Eh! Toi-la — la blanche!”, which is French for “Hey you! White woman!” It took a while for me to realize that *I* was the “white woman”. What part of my black-haired brownness was white?! But this was just one of my many, many intriguing exposures to the profound complexities of culture, belonging, being “other”, identity and skin color, wrapped in many layers of assumptions and perceptions, that vary from one country to the next. Blackness and being “African” took on a dimension of its own when I moved to the US for college, as I slowly learnt (and am still learning) a whole new, highly nuanced paradigm of what it means to be a black American. As an Indian-born, west Africa-raised, long-time US-resident, these varied notions of Black identity and perceptions, both among Blacks and among non-Blacks, even among some of my closest friends and former boyfriends who are African American or Caribbean American, have never ceased to intrigue me, to humble me, to inspire me, and most of all, to make me feel somehow at home, even though I’m not Black and I really haven’t a clue! Baratunde - I can’t wait to read this book!