” After nearly 22 years in the United States, I’ve come to attach this question with some mild form of anxiety.
No matter my answer, it never seems to be enough for the person interrogating me about my nationality.
If I respond with “New Jersey” they refuse and say, “No, where are you REALLY from.” If I say “I’m Ghanaian,” they say, “Oh when did you move to the U.
S.,” which of course, I then have to respond by saying, “No, I was born in New Hampshire and spent my formative years in New Jersey.” In order to avoid confusion, I’ve settled on the response, “I grew up in New Jersey, but both my parents are from Ghana,” and that usually seems to do the trick.
My Ghanaian heritage is a large part of my identity and representing that is important to me. I longed to travel the world, expand my global perspective, and of course eat…everything.
I had heard horror stories of racist encounters from friends who spent time in Europe and was nervous to leave my support system of other Black women I had met at Mount Holyoke.Nevertheless, I cast my fears aside and left for the UK with an open mind.Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I made in my college career.My worries regarding traveling abroad as a woman of color fell to the wayside as I entered Brighton, England.For the first time in my life, I felt that my identity was not on display and not at the forefront of every conversation and experience I had.I was able to learn so much about myself all while asking, “who am I if I’m not a Black woman? I walked through department stores without feeling the glares of storeowners following my every move.