A few days late, but Happy Independence Day to my sweet land and people. July 26th made us 173 years strong. Although we aren’t where we’re supposed to be, I thank God that we aren’t where we used to be. No time for a history lesson here, but please google Liberia’s history and learn how we got here!
Liberian Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays. Why? Because I am LIBERIAN. But plot twist: I’m also GHANAIAN and AMERICAN.
So, in addition to being a daughter of the King, Jesus Christ, let me tell you who I am:
I am LIBERIAN. 🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷
My parents were both born and raised in Liberia. They came to America and had me. My mother is from the Bassa and Congo tribe, which is a whole flex. Although I wasn’t born in Liberia, Liberia was born within me. Outside of my home was America, but within the walls, it was our own Liberia. We spoke in our Liberian colloquial. We ate all le Liberian foods including Jollof rice, Cassava Leaves, Palm Butter, Fufu and Soup (da one pa everyyy day bc my mom la bassa woman), check rice and gravy, kala, rice bread, and much more.
I am LIBERIAN.
The punishment we had were straight from the country land: pump tire and pinpoint were my owna people’s favorite. The music we listened to and the way we danced showed that we were from Liberia. Did we listen to other music from neighboring countries? Of course! But I am still Liberian.
I was once identified as a Liberian because of my body shape and my backside. I felt VERY uncomfortable in the moment because it was a grown man who said that to my cousin and I (we were only 15!). Despite that, somewhere deep down, I took pride in the fact that our bodies are shaped like the Sweet Land of Liberty.
So yes, I am LIBERIAN.
All I knew growing up was everything related to Liberia. I take pride in that. That was until I got to college. It was then I fully realized that my father’s family is from Ghana. I said fully because although I heard about his history growing up, I never pursued it.
So here goes: I am GHANAIAN. 🇬🇭🇬🇭🇬🇭
Although my dad was born and raised in Liberia, his father, and maternal grandparents came from Ghana and settled in Liberia. His blood is from Ghana. According to African tradition, your ethnicity is based on your father’s blood line. While I hated that at first, I began to embrace it and make the Ghanaian culture apart of me. In college, there were no Liberians to bond and build with, so I bonded with a host of people including Ghanaians and others from the West Coast. Through my connections, I gained another friend who I now call sister. I learned Twi (native language of Ghana) as my language requirement. I majored in African studies. I visited Ghana in 2012. While I absolutely wished that I could’ve gone to Liberia for my first international trip, it wasn’t the case. So what do you do when you’re placed with the opportunity of a lifetime to explore healthcare and sustainable development in your father’s country? You take the opportunity! When talking to a chief in Ghana, you best believe that I told him that I am Liberian AND Ghanaian.
Lastly, I am AMERICAN. 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
Born and raised in the city of Trenton, New Jersey, I know what it means to be American. Scratch that, I’m still figuring that out. Nonetheless, I am blessed and privileged to do many things, pursue my education, and live my life because I am American.
I’ve gone through life identifying as an African-American so I don’t know how to be one without the other. Yet, I understand the messiness of my identities. When i’m with Americans, they see me as an African. When I’m with Africans, they see me as an American. . Sometimes, I say I’m Liberian. Other times, I say I am Liberian-Ghanaian. Frankly, it depends on who I am talking to. Isn’t that one of the goals of conversations, to find something you have in common?
You may wonder: Why do I identify with a country so “distant” in my family line? Or why do I identify with a country if I wasn’t born there? Those are questions I’ve asked myself in the past too and I realized those are the exact reasons I chose to identify with my past in order to live in the present and move forward into my future.
I may not be the ideal Liberian or Ghanaian or even American, BUT I am in the diaspora and I love who I am. So one more time for the people in the back, if you ask me who I am:
I am African (Liberian or Liberian-Ghanaian) American.
Still confused? That’s okay, I am who I am and I can’t change that. I’m still discovering more of myself so join me on the journey if you will!
Disclaimer: Liberia will ALWAYS be number one in my heart. 🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷🇱🇷
(Jue: Among many things, essentially refers to a beautiful, determined, strong woman)