I Am African

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Looking out over the Bight of Benin

By Hilda

I watched white women with smooth creamy skin, big blue eyes, and shiny blonde hair feed and shelter African families and orphans on my grandmothers TV. I watched that same grandmother bleach her skin with soaps and lotions that made her skin as light as the morning star. People called her “Ante Bronee.” That means white woman. I listened to folk tales about Kwaku Anasi, a greedy selfish African spider who caused nothing but trouble.

Coming to the U.S I thought the person who’s skin-resembled mine would understand how hard it was because I assumed same skin equaled same background. I saw these same people on my television at home, just like Kwaku Anasi, causing trouble and more white women, with sorry eyes, reporting the bad that these African-American’s did. These same African Americans called me names and laughed at my skin tone. They laughed at me for being African, for being me.

I aspired to be white, to have the beautiful skin and to be seen as an angel because after all, there were no dark colors in heaven. From fourth to seventh grade I denied being African. I denied my mother because of her thick African accent. I denied my family for their darker skin tones. All except my older brother, letting kids believe he was my father, and I was his daughter. I thought maybe his light skinned complexion would cause kids to believe that maybe, just maybe not all Africans were dark and ugly.  In the summer before my 8th-grade year, I met a boy who had the lightest complexion I had ever seen. He let me know I didn’t have to lie to him about who I was and I appreciated that. When I told him where I was from and who I was he accepted it and told me how much he actually wanted to visit Africa. With him I learned to accept my identity and learned to low-key love myself.

Entering 8th grade I was much more confident about who I was. Even though there were a lot of people who still laughed at me for being African it did not bother me as much. But now it does not bother me at all. Every time people ask me where I am from I tell them I was born in Kumasi, Ghana West Africa. At the end of the day every black person is African.


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