Having a couple out of country experiences prior to Ghana, one being in Uganda and the other in Amsterdam, helped me to realize that the identity that I have in the U.S is different than that of being abroad. Let me give a little background info to help shape the view that I’m trying to portray here.
My first abroad experience happened in Amsterdam, where I was seen as simply an American. Not because I was black, or light skin, but just because of the country I resided in. But within this experience, I got the perspective of an American from non-Americans. Which surprised me because I’ve heard that Americans are disliked but I didn’t know why, we were told because Americans act entitled, lazy, and puts their nose into events that have nothing to do with them. By them telling me this it made me evaluate how I act as an American and the persona that I display and to check my privilege whenever I enter a new situation.
My next experience abroad was in Uganda, where I got another reality check about my identity. At home I used to consider myself an African American, but when I told the Ugandans that is what black people considered they were baffled because they said that American Blacks aren’t African. They told me that I was not African American because I lived in America and my parents or intermediate family was not African. This alone kind of took me aback because in America many blacks bond in knowing that we may be mistreated here but we have roots in Africa but to be told that we shouldn’t consider ourselves African Americans was saddening.
So, here we are in Ghana and I’m trying to make sure that my identity as Black American whom checks her privilege at the door, and doesn’t act entitled or lazy while still acting like myself. Taking in all my previous experiences while still making a new one I was told that I could be Ghanaian. Now after being told that people from my country are lazy and I shouldn’t consider myself African American, I was bewildered. One because most Ghanaians are dark skinned but also because my facial features (i thought) were completely different than theirs.
All of my time abroad and evaluating and reevaluating my identity I realized that no matter where you are there will be a different perspective of who you are but as long as you are confident in who you are it won’t matter what everyone else believes. Those other perspectives will just better what you already know about yourself.