Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

7418437766_dd9ca660eb_z

“Again I say this, I found out I was black at the tender age of 10.
I rejected the label at first
Not because I didn’t like or want to feel one with the “black or African Americans”,
but because I was never taught to identify myself with a color.
At that age, I was aware that white symbolizes light while black symbolizes evil.
I refused to see whites as the good people
while degrading myself to such low standards
just because of my “melanin situation”
What does that even mean?
“Black or African American”
Does that mean I can be African American without being black?
Someone please explain to me because I am dying to know
At the age of 10, I was forced to choose between being black
and being just a young child who just wanted to go to school
and not have to repeat myself every time I opened my mouth
because my accent was different.
So I gave up my accent by the time I was 12.
I stopped claiming Africa as well.
I stopped accepting my heritage and started embracing what I thought was my reality
I was tired of explaining myself.
I was tired of having to fight for a place that was just an ocean away.
Although, It didn’t feel like an ocean away.
It felt like a galaxy away.
I felt like I was in another world.
One of the only reminders of who I really was was my family.
They’re Africans
I mean
How could they not?
They couldn’t give up who they were because it was all they knew.
They couldn’t even give up the accent even if they really wanted to.
The only other time I would have to claim my heritage
was when the teacher would make an attempt to pronounce my last name.
Memories..
Boy was that always tragic.
At a certain age in high school,
I stopped caring.
I stopped claiming what I thought was my reality and
Started looking back at who I was as a young African girl
I missed her
I missed the girl
who fought anyone who made her feel less than herself.
Except this time, I didn’t fight
I had already learned that the best reaction I could give was to sit back, relax and watch the antagonist beat his or herself up waiting for me to act on silly little teenage rage.
Yeah, that’s what I call it.
Sitting back and relaxing was not the best idea to have when you are supposed to flip off
Holding in rage was not a great idea either because little by little it broke me.
I was all smiles on the outside but on the inside, there was fire.
I placed this fire in my backpack
But when I got home I did not do a thing with it
Lemme tell you that repressing anger is not that effective because it damages your mind.
I mean
By the time I let high school, I was broken
Not because I felt like my culture was not perceived as the “ish”
But because of what I did with those feelings.
I guess what I am trying to say is that
I check “other” not because I believe I am better than the “black/African American”s,
but because I feel the pressure to deny who I am every time I check that box “black/African American”
I check “other” because I just want to be seen for who I really am
Not an African American, not a black woman, not even an African woman, just someone, who is still trying to figure out who God needs her to be,
rather than who everyone else says she should be.
I check “other” because I refuse to label myself as a color.
As if I am nobody without it.”

 

*********

Image by Les Haines via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - SongonugaVictoria Songonuga is a undergraduate student at the University of Baltimore. She was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and she moved to the United States at the age of 10. At the moment, Victoria is pursuing a Bachelors degree in Human Services Administration and hopefully will be pursuing her masters in Psychology in a couple of years. In the meantime, she modelsblogs, and writes poetry during her spare time.

 

Tags: , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Bernardine Evaristo: Your Guide to All Eight Books by the Booker Prize Winner

bernardine evaristo by jennie scott - graph

While better known in the African literary scene as the founder of the massively influential Brunel International African Poetry Prize, […]

TJ Benson’s Forthcoming Novel, The Madhouse, Follows a Troubled Family Across Four Decades

tj benson - graph

The Nigerian writer TJ Benson has a new novel set to be published by Masobe Books in 2020. A new […]

The Guardian UK Criticized for Headline Calling Bernardine Evaristo’s Booker Prize-winning Novel Obscure

bernardine evaristo - girl, woman, other - somethingbookish

Right after Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood were announced joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, the UK’s […]

Bernardine Evaristo’s Joint Win of the Booker Prize, with Margaret Atwood, Makes Her the First Black Woman & Second Nigerian to Receive the Honour

bernardine evaristo by jennie scott - graph

The Nigerian-British novelist Bernardine Evaristo has been awarded the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, for her novel Girl, Woman, Other, […]

The Queen of Dahomey: Episode Three | The Witches of Auchi Series | Anthony Azekwoh

5F1614B1-66B7-4191-94D8-30BD62A651A9

There was an old woman with a ragged scar on her cheek who lived alone on the outskirts of Dahomey. […]

Befeqadu Hailu, Ethiopian Writer-Activist & Co-founder of Zone 9 Blog, Named 2019 International Writer of Courage

Befeqadu Hailu with Lemn Sissay at PEN Pinter Prize ceremony Photo credit to George Torode

Befeqadu Hailu, the Ethiopian writer, activist, and co-founder of the Amharic-language human rights platform Zone 9 Blogging Collective, has been […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.