name. Abi Nkrumah
right now. Third year doing a year abroad in Connecticut, USA
“Oh my God, are you British?”, “Wait, is that an accent?!”, “Are you from… England?!” These are the questions that I am plagued with on a day to day basis. Whilst their incredulity could be because they’ve perhaps never met a black British girl before, the fascination with my accent never becomes tiresome. To be honest, it’s a boost to the ego.
I’m currently living and studying in the belly of the beast, Trump’s America or to be more specific – Storrs, Connecticut. It’s okay if you have never heard of it, I hadn’t either, but just imagine a Zoey 101 PCA type campus on the East coast and with a lot more rain.
Studying abroad in America was a daunting prospect at first due to the current political climate; the rise of neo Nazis, sexism and racism in mainstream society did not appear to be the most welcoming place for a proud black girl from London. However, the bonus of a good friend also studying abroad with me, made me, eventually, welcome the opportunity.
I have met Trump supporters, Bernie supporters, Hilary supporters and people who genuinely could not give a shit about politics. It has been a weirdly fascinating and wonderful experience so far and I am luckily surrounded by a group of intelligent, funny and kind individuals.
Nevertheless, whilst the campus is more diverse than I anticipated, I am still one of the two to three peoples of colour in each of my classes. A phenomenon which I experience in Edinburgh as well. I have also experienced my fair share of nonchalant racist comments here, with one person saying to me that “they (all black people) look the same”. Now hold your horses. Whilst this comment may have been surprising to you, it was not to me; I have been the recipient of similar comments in Edinburgh and other parts of the U.K. My point is, being in America sometimes makes you forget that similar issues remain back at home. Being black and being able to assert your blackness can be difficult when you are surrounded by people who do not look like you. Whilst I think I’ve nearly mastered this, it is challenging sometimes to constantly stand out.
Therefore, the only way I find to get through this, is to emphasise my black girlhood. Whether it be through wearing my silk scarf over my head to protect my braids in the face of slightly confused American looks or using my homemade shea butter to shield my skin from this godforsaken east coast weather. Either way, this wonderful, wacky and weird place is continually teaching me to become more assertive, even when the environment may not permit it.