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10 Ignorant Questions You Should NEVER Ask An African Person

Please do your research before you ask us any of these questions.

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Whenever I introduce myself to people I am always asked where I am from because of my accent and unique name and after replying that I am from Africa. Like clockwork, I am always bombarded with the usual questions about my country. Sometimes these questions are genuine, which I love to answer and sometimes the questions are so ridiculous the only thing I want to do is to just roll my eyes and ignore them. There is something called the Internet now, which could be used to research about other countries, so there is really no excuse as to why such ignorant questions are asked. However, in order not to sound like an idiot the next time you talk to an African, here are some questions that would help you think NOT to ask.

1. “Do you have any shorter way of saying your name?”

I know foreign names can be a hand full sometimes to pronounce but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to at least get it right. Trying to get an African person's name right would in fact, actually make the person more appreciative of your effort.

2. “Do you guys live in huts and jungles?” 

The gif is my exact reaction to this question. Sadly, we don't. We do not live in trees and with animals like Tarzan and Jane. We live in buildings like every normal human being in the world.

3. “What to do you guys wear?”

I never really expected to be asked this kind of question, but alas, here we are. We do not walk around naked, we wear normal t-shirts and jeans like everyone else. We only wear our traditional outfits when we have important occasions or if we are in the mood to wear them.

4. “Do you know Beyoncé?”

This is kind of an insult to Queen Bey because it means she is not as worldwide famous as she expects. I do not only know Beyoncé, I know Rihanna and every other American famous person you can think of.

5. “How come you speak English so well?”

English is one of the vernaculars spoken in most African countries. It is the number one spoken language after a country's indigenous language, which is why most Africans are fluent in it.

6. “Do you guys have electricity?”

I was really surprised to be asked this question because we are in the 21st century, and there has been so many innovative technology making waves all around the world. But I suppose there are some ignorant people who do not know what's happening in countries outside of theirs. We not only have electricity, but we also have the internet and every kind of social amenity that every other country in the world enjoys.

7. “Do you know how to hunt?”

I find this question hilarious because i think it is quite flattering for people to think that I am brave enough to kill an animal, but unfortunately, Africans do not go out to hunt for meat whenever we are hungry. I am actually anti-animal brutality so I can't stand to see any animal get hurt.

8. “Can you speak African?”

First of all, Africa is a continent with over 50 countries in it. These countries have their own indigenous languages which they speak, so no, there is nothing like African as a language itself.

9. “Do you have any wild pets?”

I know the media portrays Africa as a beautiful continent with an awesome landscape filled with an abundance of wild animals but sadly, we do not keep these animals in our backyards or even keep them as pets.

10. “Is America really different from home?"

No, it is not. Everything available here in America we have back home. In fact, it is kinda like my home away from home.

I know some movies and the news portray Africa as a continent filled with a bunch of black Tarzans and Janes of the earth living in trees and dying in poverty, but it really isn't like that. We have evolved a lot as a continent so please and please, try to ask more smart questions about the countries in it.

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Flash Fiction On Odyssey: If I Was White

Written by a woman of color in a predominately white university.
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If I was white, when I went to parties, boys would’ve talked to me as well, not just to the white girls at my side. They wouldn’t see through me like I was invisible, and I would’ve actually been a girl to them, an option, a choice. If I was white I wouldn’t be the last choice, I might have even been the first choice every once in a while. If I was white people would’ve wanted to be my friend. Why would you be friends with a middle-eastern girl if you could be friends with a white girl?

If I was white I wouldn’t cry myself to sleep at night knowing that yet another best friend tossed me to the side because she found a better, whiter girl to replace me. If I was white maybe people would’ve smiled at me like they did the white girl next to me. If I was white, I wouldn’t sit alone. If I was white, I wouldn’t know that always, no matter what, I would always be everyone’s last choice.

If I was white, when I was six years old, Kiarra wouldn’t have told me that she didn’t like me simply because I had darker skin. If I was white, I wouldn’t have the thick middle-eastern body hair that boys would laugh at, smirk at, and I wouldn’t have been called a “wolf”, “hairy-mammoth”, or worst of all, receive the constant remark of “its hard to believe she is even a girl, with that kind of hair”. If I was white I wouldn’t have spent eight years of pain and tears getting rid of that hair. If I was white I wouldn’t have worn long sleeves at twelve years old in the hottest weather in the world, simply because I was too embarrassed to have my arm hairs showing, along with my dark skin that was scorned.

If I was white, the years of bullying and abuse wouldn’t have caused me at 16 to develop body dysmorphic disorder, which makes me to this day at 20 years old terrified to even leave my room in the morning. I wouldn’t hate myself, and secretly, in the depths of my heart, wish my parents chose to never have had me.

But strangely, absurdly, and somehow beautifully so, I like the soul that I am. I like the heart that I have, the compassion that I have, the creativity, the passion, and the kindness that I have. I like my unwavering loyalty and my bravery.

If I was white, would I still be me? I would be someone else, someone with a different life. I would still be good, and kind, but I wouldn’t be me.

My appearance is a part of who I am. Part of the whole package of Tara. I can’t have the soul without the body.

So, what do you choose to do, Tara and the few who kindly chose to read this piece?Do you choose to love yourself, for all of what you are, or do you choose to hate what you cannot control for eternity?

I’m still deciding that myself. But I find that each night I go to sleep, I hate my appearance a little bit less and respect my soul a little bit more than the last.

Because if I was white, I wouldn’t be me.

Though sometimes I truly hate to admit it, to myself most of all, I truly like myself just the way I am.

Cover Image Credit: Everypixel

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Dear Beautiful Black Girl, Never Forget Your Worth

An ode to all the beautiful black girls.

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We live in a society where societal standards greatly define the way we view ourselves. Although in 2019 these standards are not clear cut, some things are not easy to change. Not to play the race card, but this is true for women of color, especially black girls.

As much as I'd like to address this to all women, I want to hit on something that I'm more familiar with: being a black girl. Black females have a whole package to deal with when it comes to beauty standards. The past suppression and oppression our ancestors went through years ago can still be felt in our views of beauty. It is rare to see young black girls be taught that their afros and nappy hair are beautiful. Instead, we are put under flat irons and dangerous chemicals that change our hair texture as soon as our hair becomes too "complicated" to deal with. The girls with darker skin are not praised, but rather lowered in comparison to their peers with fairer skin. A lot of the conditioning happens at a young age — at the age of 8, already you can feel like you're in the wrong skin.

As we grow up, there are more expectations that come here and there, a lot of very stereotypical and diminishing. "You're a black girl, you should know how to dance," "black girls don't have flat butts," "black girls know how to cook," "you must have an attitude since you're black" — I'm sure you get the idea. Let me say this: "black girls," as they all like to say, are not manufactured with presets. Stop looking for the same things in all of us. Black girls come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and talents. I understand that a lot of these come from cultural backgrounds, but you cannot bash a black girl because she does not fit the "ideal" description.

And there is more.

The guys that say, "I don't do black girls, they too ratchet/they got an attitude" — excuse me? Have you been with/spoken to all the black girls on this planet? Is this a category that you throw all ill-mouthed girls? Why such prejudice, especially coming from black men? Or they will chant that they interact with girls that are light-skinned, that is their conditioned self-speaking. The fact that these men have dark-skinned sisters and mothers and yet don't want to associate with girls that look the same confuses me. And who even asked you? There are 100 other ethnicities and races in the world, and we are the one you decide to spit on? Did we do something to you?

Black girls already have society looking at them sideways. First, for being a woman, and second, for being black, and black males add to this by rejecting and disrespecting us.

But we still we rise above it all.

Black girls of our generation are starting to realize the power that we hold, especially as we work hand in hand. Women like Oprah Winfrey, Lupita Nyong'o, Chinua Achebe, Michelle Obama — the list is too long — are changing the narrative of the "black girl" the world knows. The angry black woman has been replaced with the beautiful, educated, and successful melanin-filled woman.

Girls, embrace your hair, body, and skin tone, and don't let boys or society dictate what is acceptable or beautiful. The black girl magic is real, and it's coming at them strong.

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