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A Place to Call Home? Exploring African American identity in Ghana

Every time I walk to the Challenging Heights School in Winneba, there is a group of children that shout with excitement to see me. Some of them call me by my name and the others call me oburoni, which is colloquially translated to mean “white person.” It was a reminder that I’m seen as the “other.” I journaled about this experience to begin to process this experience. I am continuously processing what this means for me. Below is an excerpt from my journal, written on July 2nd.

I hear them ask me my name and where I am from. I answer and say that my name is James and I am from America. They respond by saying that I’m oburoni. It is funny how that term lands on me. The children really mean no harm by the term, but I can’t help but feel the disconnect between myself and where I’m from. If you asked me where I’m from, I would say Carson, CA. If you asked me about my race, I would say I’m African-American and Filipino. If you asked how my blackness is viewed in my “home” country, I would say I’m viewed as a n*gga. If you asked me how my “blackness” or lack thereof is viewed in Winneba, I would tell you it is viewed as an oburoni. It seems as if there are multiple places I can call home, but if I am considered an outsider in all of them, do I really have a place to call home?

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