Transcriber: Julia Tanenbaum
I’m 21 years old. I’m originally from the Gambia from Misthra, a small village near Brikama. My first day in America was March 24th 2003. A week before my birthday, my sixth birthday, we landed in the New Jersey Airport. I can’t remember a lot of details, but I didn’t think we were staying forever. I assumed we came to visit my Dad and in a few days we’d go back home to see my Grandma.
Then we flew to Oregon to see my Dad, and my Dad always tells me, when I woke up the next day I came into the living room, and my uncles and a bunch of family friends were there to like see us, and I said “Where’s the chakery?” which is a type of food you can only get in Gambia. For some reason that was super funny and I think that was just like another reminder that I was in a whole different place.
I think I do consider myself like a Black American basically at this point. I have a better sense of my own American identity. Going back home showed me how Americanized I was, especially because I felt like I was so African in America and I really held onto that identity until I went back to Gambia. People would tell me, “Where are you from? Where are you from?” I would tell them “I’m from Misthra. I’m from Gambia” And they would be like “No, where are you really from?” And it’s like, my birth certificate has all that information.
* The contributor of this story has asked that their name be withheld.