Recent Posts

Friday, February 15, 2013

Open Letter

I have brilliant, open-minded friends. I am so lucky to have such inquisitive, passionate, woman as girlfriends. I am blessed. My dear friend Nana penned an letter to our close circle and I wanted to share it with you all, with her permission of course. It's a discussion that we have frequently in our private conversations but I am sure it's a discussion that is being had more and more with our young-African counterparts. Let's keep talking.

Every African child either an immigrant themselves or a child of an  immigrant remembers the college application process. For some of us that entailed our parents telling us where to apply and consequently what to major in. If it wasn't a science or a major that promised a lucrative career we were discouraged or in more harsher homes banned from partaking in in them. 

From a young age, I showed brilliance in every area of my school work, therefore my African parents purposed in their minds that I must be a medical doctor. This was met without much protest from me, as I was an exceptional science and mathematics student, and did express an interest in medicine. Deeper than the conversation about what you could major in, was the conversation surrounding what you could NOT major in. The list is vast and pretty much includes anything in the arts, in my house what topped the list of "no no's" was Africana/ African/ African American Studies.

Now this morning I ask why? Why was the thought of a degree in a history of my people met with so much disapproval? And to be frank it wasn't my parents who disapproved, indeed my parents were (are) only interested in having a doctor for a daughter, but it was older cousins who had influence on me who disapproved with fervor. Needless to say, one of such cousins majored in sociology, but refused in fact was disgusted at the idea of a degree in learning about her own people. 

I have been trying to answer this question in my head this morning and the only conclusion I can come to is that Africans or many Africans still do not see our experiences, and our stories, and really ourselves  as important, as worthy of existing beyond what a European majority has created. 

Last night I had the distinguished pleasure of experiencing Ntozake Shange once more in my life. As a tribute, some students at Barnard performed her work and in one poem she speaks of being ashamed of her big long natural hair as a child. She closed that piece of work by admitting that she was ashamed of herself because she had let other people's bigotry affect how she saw herself. 

I feel like I have been living this big massive lie, that was manufactured and bred into me without choice. Like I have been existing, but not really existing, living as a ghost of my self almost. A shell without a real identity. How much of what I think I know of myself is really me, really based on the experiences of my fore- fathers and how much of it is based on the experiences that have come out of trying to assimilate or become more like what "they" say I need to be.  

Don't laugh, but...Who I'm I? Not the "Who I'm I?" in that I am lost kind of help me find my way kinda way. But, who I'm I in relation to this continuum of great African voices and forces that are gone and are yet to come? 

So...I have se out on a journey, a journey of kick some ass, and learn about yourself dammit! In a few weeks I will be traveling to Ghana to celebrate my Granny's 90th. I plan on doing some talking to begin some type of ethnographic project. Now, I am not an anthropologist and this would take me years decades even, but I feel a responsibility to those who are coming after me to produce narratives for them. Not for Oprah or so the world would take notice, but for the ones yet to come. 

I am telling you all, because you are my partners in ridiculousness and undertakings such as this, and would love your insights, thoughts,suggestions and encouragement. If there are any resources you can point me to let me know. 

I love you all with the love of the Lord.


Nana Konamah 


Amma Mama said...

I always enjoyed my African American Studies courses. I had taken an African American Literature course and I loved it. I decided I wanted to major in African American Studies and I told my oldest brother. He laughed so hard and told me I would not find a job. My mom was also against me majoring in it.

Ama Kyei said...

I think most African parents will be against it. I, like you, love my African Studies courses and found a way to keep it within my coursework during undergrad. I even teach African American texts in my classroom:) But it's sad to realize that our people don't really see our history as something worthwhile in studying and making a career out of. Did you end up majoring in AFAM?

Amma Mama said...

Nope I didn't :-/
But I know it's never too late, maybe for my Master's :-)

Post a Comment