Embracing My Black Identity

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I’m African — a first generation Eritrean immigrant. But my parents tell me, I’m not black

My parents moved to the U.S. from Eritrea two years before I was born. Even though I have the same dark skin as my black peers, my parents bristle when I call myself black. No, they say, you’re Eritrean.

They argue that, unlike many of my black friends, I have the privilege of knowing exactly where I come from. My home life is steeped in Eritrean culture–the holidays, the language, and the culinary practices.

My mom doesn’t understand why I’d take on the baggage and the negative stereotypes that come along with being black in America. Especially in this political environment, with endless news stories about protests and police brutality.

But as I’m growing older–I’m embracing my blackness. To me, it’s part of accepting my reality. My skin has melanin. I am from Africa. I’m literally African American. When I walk down the street, people don’t see my cultural history. They see my blackness.

And rather than deny that, I’m carving a place for myself as a proud black woman.

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