Photo courtesy of The Collective Black People Movement
Richard Montgomery High School

Immigration & racial identity

I walk through my dining room and it’s always the same. Ikea curtains. Cameroonian flags. Crystal chandeliers. African drums.

Only in my house could all these things be in the same space so naturally. I don’t even think about it half the time, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re the American-born daughter of two African immigrants.

Both of my parents were born and raised in 1960s Cameroon. They went to Catholic school for their primary and secondary education, got admitted to University of Maryland-College Park, and became naturalized citizens.

Now, my parents live in a nice house in a peaceful suburb with two of their children out of the house and independent. My parents’ journey represents the quintessential fulfillment of the American dream.

One thing my parents instilled in me was pride in my heritage. I remember yelling proudly “I’m a Cameroonian American!” as an eight-year-old. However, I never understood the significance of those words until high school.

Whenever I was filling out scholarship applications and testing information, I would come across “African-American or Black” as one of the options under “Race”.  I began asking myself this: “What is the difference between the two?”

And then it hit me; most Americans of African descent do not and cannot know where their ancestors came from. The African diaspora caused by slavery meant that many Africans lost their cultures. This realization gave me a newfound appreciation for my family’s culture.