Pre-Reading Thoughts

1. What is race exactly?

Race is a group of people placed by their color/what you are made of. The modern definition of race has to do with where you put yourself in. An example of that being a black person who wants to be Asian, so she claims to be Asian even though he/she is not.
2. What role does race play in my life?

Race has to do a lot with my life, and it obviously has to do with everyone because everyone belongs to a certain race group. When a person is anything other than white, they are immediately seen as someone different. When we describe white people, we describe them by their features other than the color of their skin, whereas with for example, a brown person, we describe them with the color of their skin initially. It is mainly because of the where we live. In America, the majority of population is White, and to narrow it down further, Iowa has more White people than any other race statistically. My race has everything to do with me: how people see me, how I am characterized, how I am put into statistics, how I am expected to do in life, etc.
3. What role does race play in my world?

It has a lot to do my world. It is 2016 and our world is trying to make a change. We are working on acceptance and to love each other despite differences. It also has to play the negative part: racism. It plays a part of stereotypes created to generalize certain races. It is socially acquired by the environment you are surrounded in. If a parent of a child is racist, the child follows parent and learns the behavior by mimicking it.
4. What does it mean to be white in America?

Looking at this question and trying to answer it was difficult for me considering I am not white, therefore I have no understanding/knowledge of what it is like to be white in America. I asked two white friends about this expecting their answers to go along the lines of discomfort about how to answer this type of question to a brown person. Surprisingly, they answered this very honestly and without hesitation. My first friend had said, “It feels really nice, actually. I do not have to worry about minimal things such as ‘Would this man hire me if I was not colored?’ because I am not colored! I have the luxury of being in a place where people have similar lifestyles to mine.” My second friend had said, “Actually, come to think of it, I do have advantages against colored people, I had never really thought about it before you asked me this question. Sometimes I wonder if colored people are intimidated by us by thinking we are somehow superior because the majority of Americans are White.
5. What does it mean to be a person of color in America?

I can answer this question on my own, thankfully. Growing up in a White country didn’t seem hard at first because you don’t really think about experiences you have encountered concerning race until you have really thought about it. When I was in 6th grade, I remember I had prominent arm hair because it’s black (different from the blonde or brown hair growing on a white person’s skin). I was standing by my locker, and my good (white) friend of five years told me to shave my arms. I never understood why she asked me to do it, it was not like my body hair had put her to shame or something like that. At the time, I didn’t think much about it at the time. I simply said, “Okay,” went home and shaved my arms like I was told. Writing this story seems so odd to me now. I’m confused as to why I submissively said, “Okay,” and did whatever she said to do. To be a colored person in America is to sit on a bus filled with white students and have someone call you a terrorist as you try to have a conversation with someone, to endure the ignorance of some white people as they ask you if the henna on your hands means your married, or even the time that people who have insulted you before appropriate your culture to make a new fashion statement.

6. Find a current event involving race and respond to it and its presentation in the media.

Something that just happened today involving Ted Cruz suggesting law enforcement around Muslim living areas. To say I’m aggravated would be an understatement. According to the media, Cruz is getting criticized for it which makes things a little better. It’s somewhat comforting to know that people still have humanity in themselves. I’m not happy with this suggestion to say the least because I think (hope) I have misinterpreted it. I’m not sure whether he’s talking about patrol in America or in Islamic countries? I hope neither, I am a Muslim and to be under the limelight gets annoying especially when most of us have done nothing wrong. Religion isn’t terrorism, individuals are.

Cultural Significance of the Braid

Starting Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was interesting because the majority of the first chapter was centered around the hair she wanted. I did not understand why Ifemulu was so obsessed with braids, why she wanted that hairstyle so bad. After thinking many times to myself that it is just a part of the story– nothing more, it kept agitating my mind throughout my day (I did not know I cared that much). So, I decided to look up a possible significance of braids in African culture. With that came many results of historical importance of braids. I was honestly surprised considering the fact that I used to think that braids were simply a hairstyle/fashion statement. But, now I am rethinking everything I have read so far. I think that the point of braids in this story is far more complex than a new fad. Her new hairstyle is a symbol for her culture/race. It is also saying a lot that her Nigerian family does not want her to get those braids, it could be compared to how she struggles in America as an African American woman: how the majority of people she encounters (and eventually writes about) either insult her race/culture to her face or imply something racist. The braids she gets are a symbol representing that she is embracing her race/culture, and despite the conflicts she is being faced against with her father or fellow Americans around her. I also think that this symbol plays into the characterization of Ifemulu. She is a strong, independent woman who is confident in herself enough to go against the norms to embrace the culture that is constantly being put to shame. The picture I have attached to this post is a good visual of the type of braids I imagine Ifemulu getting. top-quality-braiding