Proud To Be An African

My cousin once told me that she was not African, she was American. I wanted to cry, laugh, and slap her, all at the same time. We were having a conversation about our parents, and she brought up the topic of how our African parents always say that we are not Americans, so we should stop “trying” to be like them. She then went on to say that she was American because she was born in the U.S and that makes her an American citizen. I stopped her right there because this was the part where I wanted to cry, laugh, and slap her. I opened my mouth and told her this: “You are not American. Technically you may be American, but you are not. Just because you have a little piece of paper that claims that you are an American citizen does not make you a true American. Your culture and traditions are not American, but African. Your parents are telling you the truth. Please, don’t tell me that ‘I am American because I am an American citizen’ bull crap. Do not forget your origins, where you truly come from, and where your ancestors and family members come from. Do not forget that.”

Now I am not going to lie to you and say that I wasn’t in her shoes, when I actually thought that I was not African, but I was American. The reason being is that when I was younger, being African was like a disease. No one in my middle school liked Africans, so I always had to hide behind a hideous mask and tell people that I was American. To this day, I regret that experience and telling people that I was American when I truly wasn’t. I mean, to this day, to many people, being African is like a disease. These are the types of people who believe that there are no cities, mansions, and cars in the countries of Africa, only villages and huts. Sometimes I wonder where do these people learn to be so ignorant and narrow minded. So many stereotypes about Africans that just aren’t true. My eyes finally opened when one of my African friends told me to be a proud African. Now, when people ask me where I am from, with confidence, I would say, “Senegal.” My confidence grows each time I tell someone that I am African.

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