GhanaMerican

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Ghana-Merican. The experience of being a Ghanaian born while living in America.

I know I can’t be the only one who has felt like she cannot always relate with the Ghanian side (or whatever country you’re from) OR the American side. Being stuck in between two different cultures is extremely difficult.

I remember being a young girl, fresh in to the United States and trying so hard to fit in. I wanted to talk differently, wear my hair differently, and whatever else would make me less conspicuous. I used to tell my parents to not speak my home language (Twi – pronounced: chwee) to me in public due to the embarrassment I felt of being from a different country (something I wholeheartedly regret to this day). I remember also denying that I was ever born in a different country and would tell people that only my parents were born in Ghana and I was born in American.

Not to mention how socially awkward things were for me. When I was younger all I had were American friends, primarily because the schools I went to weren’t very diverse and those were the only people I came in contact with. I always attempted to avoid the few Africans that I ever came in contact with simply because I didn’t want to be associated with them (Sad, I know..). So I would distance myself from anything that was congruent to where I was from.

That is, until I started attending a church, many years later, that was predominantly Ghanaians and were pretty cool, to say the least. I wanted to hang around them but shortly realized that I couldn’t even relate to them either. These were Ghanaians who were proud of where they came from. Embraced their culture and had no regrets of their upbringing (It was amazing to see, I’ll admit). I, unfortunately at that time, was the complete opposite. But suddenly, I realized that I wanted that…that sense of pride of where I came from….that understanding of how beautiful my culture is. And I’m sure had I known how different my culture and country would be perceived a few years after that moment, I would have been more inclined to accept it more. I wanted to re-learn my native language so that I could better communicate with my Ghanaian peers. I wanted more African clothing so that I could fit in more. Can you imagine how confused I must’ve been at that time.

Needles to say, I found myself in the middle of two cultures and almost felt rejected by both. I couldn’t hang around the Ghanaian community because they had their own way and style of communicating with each other and it truly sucked! It took me me years just to feel comfortable being around a group of Ghananians (such a crazy thing to say out loud).

Although this was not always the situation, I can now say that I love my culture and have embraced it the best way I know how.

One word of advice I would want to give foreign parents would be to assure that your child gets to see the brighter side of your culture while growing up and to also have them around a diverse group of individuals (particularly from your country) so that they do not ever feel left out or feel the need to try and fit in when they were born to stand out!

-The GhanaMerican

The Blacker the Berry…

Top 5 Cringe Worthy Comments About Dark Skinned

Oh the joy of being dark skinned…
And when I say dark skinned, I’m not referring to the light skinned people with a tan. Nor am I referring to American Indians. I am speaking of actual dark skinned, dark-brown skinned (as one of my former students would call it), people who probably should not take a picture without a flash in the night time.

In today’s world being dark skinned is not so bad; actually it’s great!….on social media. There are numerous of groups via social media that will make you feel so good about your skin tone. And now, there’s a new term that makes this used-to-be flaw a great asset: Melanin! The rise of social media has been a great addition to our self-esteem and it gave most of us the confidence to post pictures without having to lighten it or use a filter. Posting pictures in our true black beauty almost always solicits comments such as “Yaaaas melanin”, “Melanin poppin” and of course those little cute heart eyes emoji’s. But lets be real, the appreciation of the darker skin tone usually starts an ends with social media.

When you are dark like me, chances are you have experienced some colorism at some point in your life. Or maybe you have heard some phrases that may have not sat well with you. Although I appreciate my dark skin tone today, there have always been certain phrases that still makes me secretly cringe every time I hear it. So here my top five cringe worthy comments about my own skin to

5. You’re pretty….for a dark skinned girl.

Wheeww Chile. Now I’m not going to lie, when I was younger (middle to high school), I used to think this was actually a compliment. Because in my mind, I was made to believe that dark skinned people were unattractive so to hear that I was “pretty for a dark skinned girl” sounded like a win to me. But in reality it is just a backwards compliment, and insulting to be frank.

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4. “I have a *insert family member or friend* who is almost as dark as you”

Ok, honestly. Why do I have to be compared to someone who is only almost as dark as me? That means he/she is not even my complexion which makes the above statement null and void.

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3. “What do you need sunscreen for…? You can’t get any darker”

Yes, I may produce more melanin but guess what, I CAN STILL GET SUN BURNED! And skin cancer does not discriminate .

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2. “You shouldn’t marry a dark skinned man because your babies will be too black”
Well first of all…. who said I had an issue with my babies being dark skinned? and second of all, why do you have a concern with what my babies will look like?

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  1. “Oh you’re dark skinned. Let’s take a look at these darker lipstick colors because they go well with your skin.”
    Ummm…. I have rocked bright colors as confidently as I have rocked the darker colors. It’s all about how you wear each shade. But most importantly, I can wear whatever colors I want to wear!
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Did I miss any? Comment down below with some of the comments about dark skinned that you are tired of hearing. Let’s chat!

-The Ghanamerican

Welcome/Akwaaba

“African booty scratcher!”, “She’s too black”, “Do you speak African??”, and of course the hundreds of insulting, yet creative, jungle jokes were just a few things I would hear while growing up as a Ghanamerican. The kids had no mercy when it came to teasing people who were “different” at my school and I always wondered how they were able to configure these preposterous thoughts of where I came from. It is fairly difficult to believe that my people were not always accepted just less than 10 years ago! Particularly because I can now turn on the radio and hear some of my cultures music playing, I can log onto Instagram and see a plethora of people wearing my cultures attire, and, just recently, I witnessed multiple people spend their Christmas holiday in my country. My how times have changed…

I will admit, growing up as a Ghanamerican was not always easy (Hell! It has never been easy, even today). While all the teasing (well….most of the teasing LOL) has ceased, I find that the current battle is tradition vs. current personal beliefs. My parents are older West African and Pentecostal believers who are very traditional. And I am…….well, let’s just say I’m not very traditional. We have different beliefs….different ways of thinking….different mindsets….different everything!!…(OK I promise I’m not always hostile LOL) and sometimes we can butt heads on certain topics. And if you are young child expressing your different point of views, then you are considered “being disrespectful” so it’s best to either not say anything or to just agree with your parents; and this still applies even in my early 30’s. Yes, girl!

So in case you have never heard of the term before, I know you are probably wondering, “What is a Ghanamerican?” A “Ghanamerican” is simply someone who was born in Ghana (or of Ghanaian descent), West Africa but raised in America. So for those who are of a similar background, you have probably nodded your head maybe once or twice while reading this. And for that reason, you should stick around and share some laughter and possible frustrations with me. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, I invite you to take a closer look at my culture from my point of view while growing up in good ol ‘Merica ;-).

-The Ghanamerican.