The Question of Cultural Identity In America

Photo Credit: Nigerian Nostalgia Project

On of the major purposes of this blog is to provide a place for people of all cultural backgrounds to share experiences, good or bad , with others and to use this platform to give you a voice and to find common ground with others. In the future, we will have different contributors writing 2-3 posts a week and will open up the floor to hear from you guys! For now its going to be  members of our small three person team. First blog is asking about your experience being first generation (that is a child born to parents of another home country that immigrate to the home country their child is born in) and what are some of the differences you experiences that stick out for you on a daily or weekly basis. For the ones whose parents are not immigrants, what do you typically do to learn about another persons cultural background? Ask around, read books, non-acknowledgement? I know personally, growing up, I felt like I had to fit into several boxes in order to be acknowledged and accepted but I never felt like I belonged all of them. I grew up in a Nigerian household but I never really knew all the customs and didn't agree with some of the conventional wisdom. I knew I was black but culturally, Nigerian attitudes, beliefs, and customs were different than what I knew of black America so I never really understood certain things within the black community and spent a lot of time asking around. I went to mostly white schools and although many of my friends were white, I never really felt any strong sense of belonging into that world of America. So the question always stalled at "who am I and where do I belong?" Nigerians could empathize with but never quite understand the legacy of Jim Crow and all the cultural weight that came from it and its impact on Black America, and Black America shared a common heritage with me but words within a language like gelé and od'aro, or knowing the importance of bowing down to your elders were foreign concepts so it was always confusing growing up knowing which "side" to choose. It wasn't until much later, when I was older, that I understood that a choice didn't have to be made. That I could just be. That I could exist at a level of intersectionality that didn't require me to label myself as one particular thing or identify with one particular culture but with multiple. Most of the characters in the web drama that will air in the summer, experience this tug of war; they see themselves as one way but the world works overtime to define their cultural identity and experience. How have you dealt with your identity?