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Cornelius Gyamfi

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The African in America and the African American? Feud ,Stereotypes of Africa and the lost identity of the African American. Why?

People can still tell that I am an African by the sound of my name and accent even though i have been living in America for close to 10 years. Ever since i came to the states whenever I am around people, they begin to ask questions about Africa. For example, someone asked me “did you walk around naked in Africa?” Another person asked me “did you live in huts at Africa?” and the funny thing is majority of them tend to be African Americans who disclaim their ancestry linking back to Africa. Even majority of my Caucasian friends have a better appreciation of my culture and roots. I want to know why this has come to be?

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  • Gu E

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    Jan 16 2013: Its a shame that you have had to address idiotic questions like the ones you've listed. I am also American, and happen to also be African- more specifically Somali heritage. I too have received stupid questions, but I have always known how to distinguish between those who are ignorant (a result of whatever reason, be it poor education, no socialization with people like me etc.) and hurtful stereotyping (subtle or blatant racism).

    The fact that you had such questions come from Black Americans (non-African immigrants) is most likely a reflection of your geographical location. Unlike you, I got questions like those from people who were largely White or Arab, and Asian. The Black Americans I encountered always demonstrated an interest and some knowledge of the continent - similar too other Whites. I believe it comes down to a combination of social experience + quality of education + an individual interest to learn about peoples, cultures and places other than your own.

    There is essentially a significant difference between what I consider somewhat harmless ignorance and pure lazy stereotyping + racism. No need to be offended by questions. Just laugh and educate them (oh and, yes, you can laugh because lets face it, dumb questions like those are funny).

    Now in response to the comments below regarding "self-segregation" along race or ethnicity, I want to warn everyone that we must be careful in our attempts to assess what such observations mean. Just because some people choose to socialize with people of their race more than others, does NOT immediately suggest a conscious effort to self-segregate. Instead this can also be a reflection of seeking out people with cultural similarities and/or personality traits/interests. Then again, I am not ignoring the very real instances where people do self-segregate due to race, and race alone.
    NEVER generalize. I have very often seen Whites self-segregating when they are the minority abroad.

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