More American than African: The blog Castiza Notebooks has a charmingly-written post about Washington, D.C., pre-teen Eiesus Mehary, an American-born son of Ethiopian immigrants who, like many children of immigrants, is establishing an identity different from that of their parents.
I disagree with the post’s assertion that “Yesi” and children of black immigrants like him are “defining the latest articulation of the black American experience.” Families like the Meharys have always been a part of the black American experience. They simply get lost in the mainstream’s narrow definition of what it means to be black.
Yesi has had a solid group of Ethiopian-American friends that he’s had since 1st grade who are also bicultural and can share his experiences with.
As to how they all became friends, Yesi says that “We just knew,” that the others were Ethiopian. As to why exactly that was important, Yesi didn’t have an answer.
As middle school starts, Eiesus says that the group has become less close, but he attributes it to the new class schedule of junior high, and not to anything personal or cultural.
Eiesus’ fluid, pre-teen bi-cultural identity is not something that his older brother Thomas, or “Tommy”, for short, thinks will last long, though.
Tommy is a tall, striking man in his first year at Montgomery College, and has his hair grown out into a large, free-flowing Afro. Tommy, who has lived in Maryland since he was 5, remembers that growing up, ethnicity and nationality didn’t matter, but they “got to be more important around high school.” He takes care to cultivate his younger brothers’ development, and picks the best work of his favorite socially conscious hip-hop artists, such as Common, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, and Kanye West to pass onto Yesi – that is, only if the lyrics are clean.
As children of African immigrants who very recently migrated, youth like Eiesus and Tommy are defining the latest articulation of the black American experience. When asked how much it matters to him if people refer to him as Ethiopian, black, African-African, or Ethiopian-American, Eiesus responds with a pensive “I don’t know.” He pauses. “It doesn’t really matter” he concludes. Read more…
TV looks at multiracial families: MSNBC is exploring the experiences of multiracial families in America. Hat tip to Kimchi Mamas where Carol wrote:
I’m so glad this is being discussed more and more in mainstream media. I don’t constantly ponder what it means to be a Korean-American, a woman, a mom, in an inter-racial marriage and raising a multi-racial family. I don’t see myself as doing anything extraordinary, my marriage and family are not a political platform. We’re just a family. But I know I get to say that because I am a beneficiary of the work that had been done by brave activists before us. I am grateful that I don’t have to fight today to justify my marriage or have to endure my child being called an abomination (at least not to my face), with no recourse or rights.
Check out the MSNBC segments.
Image courtesy of Bella Gaia on Flickr.