Monday, August 29, 2011

Respects to the Dead, Tears for Libya.

When the Libyan revolution began in February I remember thinking to myself, "Whoa, these folks are brave." The fear of Colonel Gaddafi, I realized, had trickled down to me, despite the fact that I had openly spoken against the man on national radio (of course, behind the safety doors of the United States). I have followed the events with keen interest, at one point feeling hopeless when the rebels appeared to be losing ground. My emotions traveled with the curious journalist in me, eager to see, feel and hear everything. There have been moments when I wished I was in Libya, covering some of the events and recording people's stories. I've resorted to watching various web videos of the conflict, but at no point have I cried...until this morning.

The Beep published a story on Friday that just ripped my heart. You can read it and watch the video here. I pay my respects to the dead by shortening my words in this piece. I'll leave my rants for a later article. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Love Letter to my iPhone

To preface, you know that I'm no techie but I thought I should share this with you.

You know, when I was with Blackberry 8520 I thought that was it. His features and browsing capabilities/interface made it very convenient for my lifestyle. I swore BB was the one, and the furthest I was going to go with gadgets because I've never been one to hop from one gadget to another.

But then BB started displaying his true character: My thumbs constantly hurt from typing since I received large volumes of email, I wondered how long I could take such an abuse; the screen was too small and the storage space wasn't enough. It was just a terrible relationship. 

But with you, though I know you're imperfect, I feel as though I have made the right choice, you have just what I need: big screen for a better browsing experience, touch screen that doesn't hurt my more abuse! Not to forget the huge storage capacity and features that enable me to browse my very own closet on my phone!! Ahhh the thrill of that! BB couldn't give me this amount of pleasure. Sad. 

You know, I love that in the middle of the night when my fingers itch to type I can just reach over my bed and grab you...ahem...I still enjoy scribbling on paper first, that's something I'll never grow out of, but you already know that, love. 

So baby, I cherish this relationship we have. I'll remain faithful to you but if you start acting up, I won't waste time getting rid of you. Until then, let's enjoy each other :-). 

Monday, August 1, 2011

African or American? I Know.

Last night I had a conversation with someone - a childhood friend it took me weeks to remember - that made me want to write this short piece about identity.

In one of our conversations I mentioned that I was part American, which didn't seem to sit very well with him as though I were denouncing my Ghanaian heritage. His response was, "Just because you've lived somewhere for some time doesn't mean you're no longer Ghanaian. Linda, you are a Ghanaian ok. You were born in Ghana and lived here for quite some time." Ha! Of course, his response didn't sit very well with me either because anyone who really knows me can attest to the fact that I WEAR my Ghanaian heritage as though it were my lifeline and I flaunt my African-ness because I AM proud! I tried to explain to him that by saying I was part American had nothing to do with identifying one's self by way of birth or legal right, though those are valid, but instead based on values, perspectives and way of life. Obviously he didn't get it at all and still somehow believed that I was denying my Ghanaian heritage just because I had lived in America for the amount of time I did, how sad.

Sad because of the narrow-mindedness I have witnessed in some Africans, myself included sometimes. For years, I never identified myself as American when I lived in the United States. I was always the Ghanaian or African. I even created a special slot for myself on last year's (2010) census forms: For the part that asked about "race" I added "African" to the categories (since we're always included in the African American slot) and checked the new addition. I always made it a point to state that I was African, although I must add that I had assimilated very well into the American culture: my work ethics, the way I related to people, my choices in food, the activities I enjoyed and preferred to do, my speech/accent, my views on social and even political issues, the list goes on.

The interesting thing about this is, it wasn't until I relocated to Ghana that I realized how much of an American I was, although I could've fought anyone who "accused" (note I placed "accused" in quotes) me of such a thing four months ago, as though being American or claiming to be American were a filthy thing.

Which brings me back to an area I diverted from earlier. There seems to be this notion held by some Africans, or perhaps I should say some immigrants, that a person can only be one thing, in my case Ghanaian because I was born in Ghana and any strong identification with another culture is some sort of "sin" or abomination. Heck no! It will be a tragedy for me to deny that parts of what make me "Linda" or "Abena" is American. I grew into the woman I am today in America and this woman was formed by life events shaped by the American experience. Important decisions I've made in my life as a result of these experiences were influenced by Ghanaian and American values, not just one.

So yes, I refuse to deny that I'm part American just to get "my people" off my case.  I'm not embarrassed to say that I embrace parts of the American culture that I have grown to identify with. I didn't migrate to America when I was a full grown adult at age 25 or 30. I was a teenager whose identity hadn't fully been formed yet and definitely had room to grow. Am I happy that were the case? Heck yeah! Because I believe that I possess a very rich perspective by being able to merge my Ghanaian and American values.

So how will I feel anytime I hear the American national anthem? My heart will continue to swell and tears will cloud my eyes in the same way they do when I hear the Ghanaian national anthem. And I'm very proud of that.