I use to be able to easily say that I identified with being African more than I could to being black in America. But how could I identify with Congo more than America when I only lived in the country just four years? I argued, well because I ate the food, I spoke the language and my ndombolo was on point.
Then there was a period of time where I got criticized by other Africans for, “acting too black and American” and from other Congolese on my “American accent.” So then at that time I would have said that I identified with being Black-American more. Again, I argued, I could cuss like them; sing the black national anthem and crip walk down my middle school hallway.
My home experience was a whirlwind of trying to maintain Congolese customs and trying to assimilate to whatever the American culture was—which changed when I was with other brown people and then again when I was with vanilla people. Either I was Black-American or I was an African immigrant in America. But for some reason I always felt like I couldn’t be both simultaneously. I always felt like I had to choose for some reason—thinking that we were so different that I had to be one or the other. As silly as it seems, I thought I either had to like french fries or fufu; Teddy Pendergrass or Koffi Olomide; Chinese fried rice or jollof rice. It was always a coin toss in my mind and it use to drive me crazy. I was jumping back and forth depending on the crowd because I didn’t want to feel like I was denying one side.