I have had this argument with two former friends, and it always leaves me with a headache. One was a co-worker who traveled the world. She’d been all over Asia and Europe and I’m almost positive South America. I came to the grand assumption that eventually she’d go to Africa, and she scowled immediately. It threw me off. She complained about having to get shots and how nothing there appealed to her — meanwhile she’d just complained about how irritated she was by people gawking at her heavyset frame and tall height and looking at her like a “giant” while she was in China. Dark brown skin like me, my guess is she may have not been gawked at during her entire visit if she chose the Motherland.

Then there was another co-worker who did the same frowning up and talked about how he doesn’t want to go anywhere “where flies are all in my eyes and it’s dirty.” I was in my early 20s with this guy and particularly pissed that he yelled this out in front of a white co-worker we were with. That conversation did not go over well.

But the lady was 40. And I just kept thinking, “My gawd, we’ve got to do better.” I never understood nor humored the stereotypes, primarily because I was one of those kids who had penpals. I had 50 as a kid — one was a “black” woman from London, another a man from Ghana and a host of others all over the United States. Some would come and go, but I think that helped me as a kid. Actually talking to people from other areas helped me learn about their homes before Good Ole Ignorance and mainstream TV could brainwash me.

With that said, your Wale example is news to me. That “culture” line flew right over my head. Good read.

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Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

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