The blindspot: Owning my African privilege in a racialized America
Before I moved to America, I was just Ehui Nyatepe-Coo. Honestly, different qualifiers went before me on account of my folks’ expert and informal organizations, the school I joined in and incidentally by my scholastic accomplishments. I don’t recall consistently being alluded to by ethnic gathering however, which is a typical identifier in Ghana. Maybe on the grounds that I was bi-ethnic, however almost certain in light of the fact that my age, is commonly more open minded, reformist, and significantly less tribalistic than our ancestors.
I showed up in America in the Summer of 2005 and unexpectedly none of my past characters made a difference. Nobody knew my folks or existed in their circles of impact. Nobody could even articulate my name from the start endeavor, so I turned into an individual of color. Much the same as that, my essential wellspring of ID was decreased to the shade of my skin.
It took me some time to see I had become an individual of color. I know this sounds absurd with regards to America where shading isn’t simply shallow yet pervades the country’s set of experiences and tenaciously impurities its heart. In America where the idea of shading was savagely forced four centuries back and still scratches the injuries of recollections that can’t be overlooked, would I be able to see that I was dark, didn’t I feel continually othered? Indeed, not from the outset and in this lies the benefit of being a dark African in the diaspora.
I experienced childhood in a nation and a general public where the populace wasn’t just dominant part dark however every one of the individuals who held places of intensity were dark. There was no lack of proficient male and female good examples for me to imitate. My folks never needed to stress over my sibling, and I being presented to dark educators, dark specialists, dark government officials, or dark cops. There was never a period during my youth where greatness was a shading coded goodness. I was brought up in a family with two exceptionally taught guardians who were both present and remained wedded and keeping in mind that this wasn’t everybody’s reality it was the way most of my companions and classmates in working class Ghana lived. The texture of our affectionate interior family and carefree outer network was something I positively underestimated and never observed through the viewpoint of shading.
Envision my shock as a youthful understudy in America when the regular ordinary parts of my life were gotten with dazzling adulation.
Why you are so well-spoken? When did you learn English? Gosh, your folks must be so pleased! Africans that come here for school are so very much raised and insightful. These were twofold edged belittling commendations; I at long last developed to perceive. Americans thought I was an African unicorn and were totally dazzled by any great they found in me since I was after all from Africa where ‘no good thing’ was known to rise up out of. Praises tokenized my reality, and in a roundabout way suggested that Africans in the diaspora were an alternate sort of dark – a superior sort of dark.
The issue with this profoundly disparaging honor – being a superior sort of dark – is that it fans the flares of existing enemy of African American slants in diasporan Africans and widens the partition inside the African American population. We have buckled down, African workers regularly think, we’ve battled the chances from less open door in Africa and moved to America frequently at incredible expense to our lives and families. A considerable lot of us African outsiders, having come to America for superior instruction speak to the absolute best foreigner gatherings and most taught individuals in America.
Since we have scaled the disappointments and nerves of migration, have made sure about begrudged occupations in America’s best partnerships, and are actually experiencing the American dream in white-picket-fenced rural homes, there is the despicable compulsion to misjudge the effect of foundational prejudice inside African American people group in America. For what reason can’t our African American siblings and sisters simply improve we may ponder? As my earthy colored skin develops following 15 years of living in America, it is presently horrendously evident to me how confused such misguided judgments are and how blinded I have been by my own African benefit.
As Dr. Ruler clarified, “It’s OK to advise a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, yet it is an unfeeling quip to state to a bootless man that he should lift himself by his own bootstraps.” How correctional it is to accept the falsehood that African Americans simply need to invest somewhat more energy to better their parcel when numerous Africans (barring Southern Africans) have no understanding of being naturally introduced to and consigned to an underestimated recognize characterized by skin shading in your own nation of origin.
I am not completely sure when I encountered the difficult arousing to the steady loss of my African benefit in America. It may have been that damaging traffic stop my better half and I encountered as love birds in Virginia during the strained consequence of Trayvon Martin’s homicide in 2012. We were noxiously followed on our route home from chapel and wrongly halted by a cop. Loaded up with equitable indignation, my significant other tested the cop into a warmed contention which yet for the finesse of God could have guided me into early widowhood. Or on the other hand it may have been the point at which my then four-year-old girl examined me in tears concerning whether her trivial fight with a white kid at the exercise center could be on the grounds that she was ‘earthy colored’.
Gradually, I’ve understood that to numerous Americans, there is no subtlety nor is there decent variety among non-white individuals. Individual Africans in the diaspora, we are in no way different sort of dark – we should join together, develop our networks abroad and back in the country and oppose bigotry along with our African American siblings and sisters. I realize that like me, you have figured out how to code switch and upspeak. You’ve figured out how to keep a balanced and show no feeling at work, gab with your white neighbors in the most non-compromising way imaginable, have and go to playdates, heat breads, cakes, and pies, serve on the PTA. You’ve done all the things to accommodate your round peg into this square gap! Envision the benefit of not doing this for ages?
Before I came to America, I was basically Ehui Nyatepe-Coo. Today as Ehui Osei-Mensah, the spouse of an individual of color whose whole character, is diminished to his skin shading and white America’s disastrous pipedreams of his obvious Machiavellian aims, I see things a ton more clear. I live in an America where I could be shot in my rest, or my significant other, kneed winded. We live in a local where our little girls and I should be the props that relax my better half’s picture as an individual of color during his strolls and runs.
We live in a nation where regardless of our resumes of lofty degrees and work understanding, we both have confronted smothering disappointments and microaggressions expertly by excellence of the murkiness of our tint. We should acknowledge as a major aspect of our part as guardians to purposefully ingrain a decent variety of dark portrayal in our kids’ toys, and instructive assets to compensate for the deficiency in that department in their world.
In Summer 2005 when I moved to America, I previously found that I was only a person of color. It is Summer 2020 in America and I am persuaded that before whatever else that I am or have achieved, I am initial an individual of color. A similar sort of dark as Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshad Brooks, George Floyd.