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It was unfortunate to be the receiving end of their damaging predisposed notions, but telling of a larger cultural and social structure.Upon reflecting on my experience, it’s interesting to think about what my body represented in various European countries so close to each other.In Switzerland, Black people are almost like mythical creatures, like a unicorn or leprechaun, where you only ever read about them or maybe saw one in a music video, but never in real life. Spanish people are familiar with Black women, they may even see them often, but often times, the only ones they ever see are sex workers.When the only experiences Spanish men have to reference when they see me, is a prostitute of a similar complexion they immediately come to hypersexualize and fetishize my body.My Ghanaian heritage is a large part of my identity and representing that is important to me. I longed to travel the world, expand my global perspective, and of course eat…everything.
Studying abroad and being stripped of my identity forced me out of my comfort zone. ” After nearly 22 years in the United States, I’ve come to attach this question with some mild form of anxiety.No matter my answer, it never seems to be enough for the person interrogating me about my nationality.If I respond with “New Jersey” they refuse and say, “No, where are you REALLY from.” If I say “I’m Ghanaian,” they say, “Oh when did you move to the U.
S.,” which of course, I then have to respond by saying, “No, I was born in New Hampshire and spent my formative years in New Jersey.” In order to avoid confusion, I’ve settled on the response, “I grew up in New Jersey, but both my parents are from Ghana,” and that usually seems to do the trick.As a Black woman I was apprehensive when it came to studying abroad.I had heard horror stories of racist encounters from friends who spent time in Europe and was nervous to leave my support system of other Black women I had met at Mount Holyoke.In England I felt that I was able to build what it mean to be a Black woman.