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  • I remember one morning when I was in the third grade,

  • my mom sent me to school with a Ghanaian staple dish called "fufu."

  • (Laughter)

  • Fufu is this white ball of starch made of cassava,

  • and it's served with light soup, which is a dark orange color,

  • and contains chicken and/or beef.

  • It's a savory, flavorful dish

  • that my mom thought would keep me warm on a cold day.

  • When I got to lunch and I opened my thermos,

  • releasing these new smells into the air,

  • my friends did not react favorably.

  • (Laughter)

  • "What's that?" one of them asked.

  • "It's fufu," I responded.

  • (Laughter)

  • "Ew, that smells funny. What's a fufu?" they asked.

  • Their reaction made me lose my appetite.

  • I begged my mother to never send me to school with fufu again.

  • I asked her to make me sandwiches or chicken noodle soup

  • or any of the other foods that my friends were eating.

  • And this is one of the first times

  • I began to notice the distinction between what was unique to my family

  • and what was common for everyone else,

  • what was Ghanaian and what was African

  • and what was American.

  • I'm a first-generation American.

  • Both of my parents are immigrants.

  • In fact, my father, Gabriel, came to the US almost 50 years ago.

  • He arrived in New York

  • from a city called Kumasi in a northern region of Ghana,

  • in West Africa.

  • He came for school, earning his bachelor's degree in accounting

  • and eventually became an accountant.

  • My mother, Georgina, joined him years later.

  • She had a love of fashion

  • and worked in a sewing factory in lower Manhattan,

  • until she saved up enough to open her own women's clothing store.

  • I consider myself an American

  • and an African

  • and a Ghanaian.

  • And there's millions of people around the world

  • who are juggling these different classifications.

  • They might be Jamaican-Canadians or Korean-Americans or Nigerian-Brits.

  • But what makes our stories and experiences different

  • is that we were born and raised in a country different than our parents,

  • and this can cause us to be misunderstood

  • when being viewed through a narrow lens.

  • I grew up in New York, which is home to the largest number of immigrants

  • anywhere in the United States.

  • And you would think growing up in a place like New York,

  • it would be easy for a first-generation person to find their place.

  • But all throughout my childhood,

  • there were these moments that formed my understanding

  • of the different worlds I belonged to.

  • When I was in the fifth grade, a student asked me

  • if my family was refugees.

  • I didn't know what that word meant.

  • He explained to me that his parents told him

  • that refugees are people from Africa who come to the US

  • to escape death, starvation and disease.

  • So I asked my parents, and they laughed a bit,

  • not because it was funny but because it was a generalization.

  • And they assured me that they had enough to eat in Ghana

  • and came to the US willingly.

  • (Laughter)

  • These questions became more complex as I got older.

  • Junior high school was the first time

  • I went to school with a large number of black American students,

  • and many of them couldn't understand why I sounded differently than they did

  • or why my parents seemed different than theirs.

  • "Are you even black?" a student asked.

  • I mean, I thought I was black.

  • (Laughter)

  • I thought my skin complexion settled that.

  • (Laughter)

  • I asked my father about it, and he shared his own confusion

  • over the significance of that when he first came to the US.

  • He explained to me that, when he was in Ghana, everyone was black,

  • so he never thought about it.

  • But in the US, it's a thing.

  • (Laughter)

  • But he would say, "But you're African.

  • Remember that."

  • And he would emphasize this,

  • even though many Africans in the continent would only consider me to be

  • just an American.

  • These misconceptions and complex cultural issues

  • are not just the inquiries of children.

  • Adults don't know who immigrants are.

  • If we look at current trends,

  • if I asked you: What's the fastest-growing

  • immigrant demographic in the United States,

  • who would you think it was?

  • Nine out of 10 people tell me it's Latinos,

  • but it's actually African immigrants.

  • How about in academics?

  • What's the most educated immigrant demographic?

  • A lot of people presume it to be Asians, but it's actually African immigrants.

  • Even in matters of policy,

  • did you know that three out of the eight countries

  • in the so-called "travel ban"

  • are African countries?

  • A lot of people assume those targeted Muslims only live in the Middle East,

  • but a lot of those banned people are Africans.

  • So on these issues of education and policy and religion,

  • a lot of things we presume about immigrants are incorrect.

  • Even if we look at something like workplace diversity and inclusion,

  • if I asked you what gender-ethnicity combination

  • is least likely to be promoted to senior managerial positions,

  • who would you think it was?

  • The answer is not Africans this time.

  • (Laughter)

  • And it's not black women or men,

  • and it's not Latin women or men.

  • It's Asian women who are least likely to be promoted.

  • Capturing these stories and issues is part of my work

  • as a digital storyteller

  • that uses tech to make it easier for people to find these stories.

  • This year, I launched an online gallery of portraits and firsthand accounts

  • for a project called Enodi.

  • The goal of Enodi is to highlight first-generation immigrants just like me

  • who carry this kinship for the countries we grew up in,

  • for the countries of origin

  • and for this concept called "blackness."

  • I created this space to be a cyberhome for many of us who are misunderstood

  • in our different home countries.

  • There are millions of Enodis

  • who use hyphens to connect their countries of origin

  • with their various homes in the US

  • or Canada or Britain or Germany.

  • In fact, many people you might know are Enodi.

  • Actors Issa Rae and Idris Elba are Enodi.

  • Colin Powell,

  • former Attorney General Eric Holder,

  • former President of the United States, Barack Obama,

  • are all the children of African or Caribbean immigrants.

  • But how much do you know about us?

  • This complicated navigation

  • is not just the experience of first-generation folks.

  • We're so intertwined

  • in the lives and culture of people in North America and Europe,

  • that you might be surprised how critical we are

  • to your histories and future.

  • So, engage us in conversation;

  • discover who immigrants actually are,

  • and see us apart from characterizations

  • or limited media narratives

  • or even who we might appear to be.

  • We're walking melting pots of culture,

  • and if something in that pot smells new or different to you --

  • (Laughter)

  • don't turn up your nose.

  • Ask us to share.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

I remember one morning when I was in the third grade,

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B1 US TED african laughter asked ghana generation

【TED】Michael Rain: What it's like to be the child of immigrants (What it's like to be the child of immigrants | Michael Rain)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2018/06/12
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