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Taiye Selasi Writes About How She Finally Felt Able to Answer the Question: Where Are You From?

Ghana Must GoTaiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go, has written a short memoir for The Guardian describing her experience of coming to terms with the family history that left her feeling disconnected from her African heritage.

Selasi describes how, when asked where she was from, she had her rehearsed response ready: “I’m not sure where I’m from! I was born in London. My father’s from Ghana but lives in Saudi Arabia. My mother’s Nigerian but lives in Ghana. I grew up in Boston.” However, when this answer led to a man at a wedding making an assumption about her family that deeply upset her, she was pushed to deal with the personal history of her family that was preventing her from feeling connected to her Ghanaian roots:

The crisis began – as crises are wont to do – at my best friend’s wedding. Jamaica wasn’t the obvious choice for what Jess likes to call “the whitest wedding on Earth”. But there we sat smiling at the Rose Hall Ritz-Carlton, the hotel’s all-brown staff smiling too. The salad had been served, the bread rolls broken and buttered, and now the reception began properly with polite conversation: how do you know the happy couple, where have you flown in from? I’d been placed between Clara, fair fellow alumna of Milton Academy and Yale University, and Percy, the third and presumably final husband of Jess’s grandmum. With graceful concision, Clara told our tablemates where she came from: Brookline, prep school, Harvard Law School. Percy turned to me.

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