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Saturday, May 20, 2017

From Detroit to Liberia: Why I Left America to Find Home

“I am moving back to Liberia.” The words shocked me to say out loud. But after 26 years in the United States, the timing seemed right.

I had just turned 30. My successful sports management public relations business was at a turning point and I’d proved myself. But there arose a yearning I couldn’t suppress: a desire to return to Liberia, my homeland.

My mother and I fled Liberia in 1990 after a violent civil war erupted that engulfed the country for more than a decade and killed 600,000 people. Growing up as a first generation Americo-Liberian presented many challenges. My mother was on edge at every turn because she landed in a strange place, causing her at times to be extremely over protective.

I remember in grade school wanting to assimilate so badly because I had a trace of a Liberian accent that I was desperately trying to get rid of. I was teased often, repeatedly being called an “African Booty Scratcher,” a crude epithet whose meaning I still haven’t figured out. Still, it left me feeling ashamed of being who I was, ashamed that my family was from this strange land, this “dark Continent.”

Most of the teasing came from children who looked just like me. Those whose didn’t tease me were no less fascinated, completely intrigued by this “alien” who spoke strangely. So I assimilated because I had to. I became fully American – whatever that means – and because of where I was raised, other African Americans viewed me as a “black white suburban girl.”

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you missed the article on that Ebola thing?

Anonymous said...

If there's any place in America that's made for moving away from, Detroit's among the top picks.

Anonymous said...

Even though it's not well publicized, Liberia has remained a refuge for Black American expatriates. There's opportunity there, and in the whole of the African continent, for those who have motivation counter to the perennial multi-generational bread line, where the only thing that's rewarded is the ability to procreate in large numbers.