Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Is this normal behaviour?

Earlier, I mentioned there was one other African girl in one of my classes in this post? Well, she's still in my class. Anyway, the instructor, I guess in a bid to show how working within our exact group people affects opinions, asked us to divide ourselves into groups, specifically our gender and race groups. That is white females, black females and the same groups for the males. Which brings me to an interesting observation I've made. There are no latinos in any grad school. The percentage is just very very small when they exist, its negligible. And this for a race that is so abundant in this continent. And I have bothered to verify this observation with friends in at least 5 other post grad institutions. But I digress. Where was I? Oh. The race, gender groups. Since this is one of those no brainer, don't need to spend 3 minutes figuring out a group to join moments, I decided to dash out to the office because I needed to get a parking sticker before the lady left.

By the time I returned, the discussion had started and the points the instructor wanted were well underway. Seeing that I was a little late, I spent the next 5 minutes getting caught up and then scripting the presentation. Then I looked around and something struck me as odd.

me: Where is that girl?
girl 1: You didn't see her?
me: (wondering who she thinks I'm referring to). I mean the other girl from Somali.
girl 1: I know
me: She was here before this exercise, right?
girl 1 &2: yeah, she's still here. (gales of laughter abound).
me: (definitely confused. Also concerned that they may have offended her so she left) What happened to her?
several girls: (amidst gales of laughter) she went with the white girls (they were working outside the classroom)
me: No, I'm talking about the girl (wrapping hands around my head to demonstrate her religious head wrap that she wears)

By this time, everyone else was laughing so hard. Mostly at me. I looked so flabbergasted, they later explained.

It turns out this chic decided she was white and went with the white girls' team.

I wonder how uncomfortable she made that exercise for them.

I inquired of the other black girls in class if anyone had asked her where she was going. They replied no. I wondered if she didn't hear the instructor clearly. Well, this girl understands English with no issues.

Later, after groups had presented, which included the presenting groups sitting in a circle in the middle of class, she offered an explanation. Despite the fact that no one asked for it.

She said she was African and she didn't understand this black or white divides. She was African. When people ask her if she is black or white, she gets confused. She is just African. blah, blah, blah, blah.

I held my peace. I was very offended by this explanation. I hate it when people represent Africans as resounding idiots. And this was one of those moments. I have never wondered if I might perhaps be white. C'mon, it's not rocket science.

My opinion? This girl epitomizes self hate. She despises herself so much plus she has a great ability to entertain denial. Beyond normal capabilities. But she felt dumb and uncomfortable. Otherwise she wouldn't have offered that cheesy explanation she did. I'm still wondering how much you have to hate your skin color to expose yourself to that kind of quiet ridicule she underwent. Not so quiet. Seriously, myself and some girls laughed when she walked to the middle with the white girls. It was more than ridiculous and would have been forgivable only if a) she were blind or b) had never looked into a mirror. I wonder if she ever stopped to think about how damaging to the overall exercise her presence amongst the white girls' was.

That's my opinion. I could be wrong. Tell me people, have you ever wondered what race you belonged to? Is this a normal phenomenon, especially to a person who is not of a mixed race?


egm said...

This post reminded me of the Dave Chappelle skit where he plays a blind black guy that is head of the KKK at his town. When he discovers he is actually black, he divorces his wife for marrying a black man.

I don't know about your classmate, but I think it is weird what she did.

acolyte said...

Latinos are well known for not being academically oriented.Sad but true.
As for your class mate, where to start.I think I kind of touched on the white priviledge thing on my blog and how it makes black people discriminate against each other but not against white people.
She in many ways epitomises the sad state of Africans who think that they must become very white in their habits so as to be accepted.
I think those white girls must have had a long hard laugh at her as did the black girls, I guess she's doubly screwed now!

bomseh said...

mine is not a race isuue.it's tribe.i have always wondered what tribe i belong to.my mom is half kikuyu half kamba, dad is half luhya half turkana.my height and gap(natural) in the lower teeth makes me look like a kalenjin and my name sounds maasai.whenever i tell people my name(in kenya) they start guessing what tribe i might be and it drives me crazy.
i speak in kyuk and lunje among other languages including zulu.i don't have any accent.but all in all, definitely i'm an african of black origin.that,i am sure.

makanga said...

I insist that I'm chinese, despite the nappy hair and sooty complexion.

acolyte said...

No matter what people say, I am human!

tanyanedmcw said...

Hey girl

love your blog.

This cracked me up to D....but let me play devil's advocate. Race issues are very complicated in the horn of Africa. Deep inside a lot of Ethiopians, Somalis, Sudanese (northerners) and Egyptians do not want to identify with their black roots. They would rather remain in the mystique of the "arabasque". Afterall a lot of them are indeed people of mixed race. Perhaps the Somali girl also wanted to prove a point; that even though she is 'african', well, she's not really 'african' LOL.

Όstalgia said...

sometimes, you hang around people you perceive acceptable in the hope that some of it rubs off... to help out on the crisis in confidence...

Mimmz said...

@egm: lol on that chappelle. I saw it too and it was too funny.

@aco:I'd be surprised if the white girls' didn't laugh at her. I'll tell you that we the miros laughed and laughed ...

@bomseh: you're truly just kenyan. but you are still black. Just in case you were wondering about that :)

@Makanga: more power to you. china man.

@adhis-toto. Thanks and welcome. As far as this non-black Somali girl is concerned, she can hang with the whites all she wants but the KKK will still lynch her. haha.

@Ostalgia:Ostalgia only God and prayers-many at that, can rescue anyone this deep into the crisis of lack of confidence. I personally think she has too much confidence, should lose some of it and instead move it into self worth.

kenyananalyst said...

Thanks for visiting with me. And thanks too for reading.

Anonymous said...

i'm a somali.. n i went to school in Tanzania, i was always considered by my classmates as one of the "arabs"...I was never brought up to think of myself as one, but of a somali, and an african...so part of me kinda understands her confusion, but in that situation i'd be sitting with the black group

Somali_Gentleman said...

U guys are racist1! I am 100% Somali and I dont consider myself Black nor White but Arab. These silly black and white games are deceiving and we Somalis are too smart to fall for that nonsense. To make that clear, I am Somali aka proud ARAB. I wonder the so called "black" people would start respecting and accepting others as they define themselves. Why would it surprise you if the Somali girl didn't associate herself to you guys? is that a crime/illegal? according to what? your personal views? you are such a person with low self-esteem and arrogant/ignorant. I think it's on time you start respecting the diversity of mankind and accept as they define themselves and not how you personally define them. You "black" people have race issues which I suspect is related to your slavery background. Sort your problems out before you start attempting to create problems that doesn't exist.

Anonymous said...

@ Somali_Gentleman as a Somali myself i am truly appaled that you would consider yourself as Arab.. you declare that you are too smart to fall for that nonsense right? Well to me and i can say to many others that might have read this post you seem to be the delusional one. be proud of who you are and that is an African and a Somali and neither of those two words contain Arab.. just because you are muslim doesnt mean you are arab so stop fitting yourself in ethnicities that you are not part of. And what really flabbergasted me was the fact you said " you black people" i am assuming you are black yourself if i am not wrong, so to define them as "Others" is so hmm whats the word?? low esteem/arrogant/ignorant whatever words you justt tried to hurl at these people. People like you just confuse others about us Somali's ...
and for the person who wrote this post.. i understand how confusing this might be to you as a black girl seeing another black girl trying to wiggle herself in a white category and trying to exlain it away. But to be fair I understand somehow were the girl is coming from, to come from a community where we never have been defined on our skin colour it can be confusing for those having to choose what group you beong to as you dont want to classify yourself in any group as you dont see the point of it, perhaps for her it was the easiest way to choose what she thought was right in her head and to choose the majority..
anyways dont give the girl a hard time if she happens to make such mistake again ask her instead what she is thinking when she does these things.. :)

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Anonymous said...

Rubbish classic some black hate againest somalis.Pity you

Anonymous said...

Somali people are not white nor black. And from the point of the majority of Somali people, white and black people are both strangers to us and hence it wouldnt have made differrence if the Somali girl went with the white or black group because regardless both groups are strangers to Somali people. So my advice to you is learn to respect diversity of human races.