I have now been in the United States for almost an entire year and eight times out of ten when I introduce myself, especially to African Americans, I get this there stupid question; But where are you ORIGINALLY from??! :)))).
First things first, let me say that I often feel extremely uncomfortable when I meet someone for the first time because it seems to be a cultural thing here to ask the most profound/personal questions when you first meet a person like “what is your inspiration in life” or “how much money does your granddad’s cousin’s son in law make a year”. A bit exaggerated but you get a sense of it.
Most times, it would take me a lot of self control not to reply “Do you want the address of the hospital where I was born?” or “Aubervillers, nine-three, you dig?” and I would end up staring back and asking “What do you mean?”, with a friendly smile on my face. Usually they would give me the “you know” look and ask if I was born there to which I would answer “born and raised” and as if we haven’t gotten personal enough yet, they would ask “BUT where does your family originate from??” with a confused frown on their face. Once they got the answer, they would blatantly say “Oh, so you from Africa.” Since when is France an African country? :))))
Do not get me wrong, I am very proud of my origins and my Guinean heritage, however I find it quite deranging that you won’t accept my frenchness, because of my blackness. First of all, most of the people who insist on knowing where are my parents from, as if they worked for the immigration services, cannot even point out Africa on a world map and let’s not even talk about Guinea. So comprehend my confusion on your profound desire of tracing back my family tree.
I am an Afropean, I grew up in the suburbs of Paris and I was raised by Guinean parents, and I know Susu as much as I know French. I went to school there and spent most of my life there, so yes, if you ask me, I am French. At least that’s what’s written on my ID and my passport.
Being Black in France already is like being an invisible citizen so no, I won’t let you erase my Frenchness because it makes you uncomfortable, or because you feel like, after conversing for two minutes, you know me enough to determine what I should identify as. No, I won’t let you tell me what you think is best for me, because I couldn’t care less about your opinion on my desire of pursuing a French diplomatic career.
Yes, there are Black people in France. Yes, I speak French fluently. No, I do not want to sleep with you tonight.