Fitting into the Conversation: Race, Feminism, and African Women in the Diaspora   

The increasing focus on globalism makes it more important now than ever to scrutinize the intersections of all women’s experiences with racial inequality. Race is centered in black feminism while African feminism addresses issues unique to African women. African women in the diaspora have the privilege of mobility that allows transnational movement. While this privilege does not suggest greater agency, it does mean that African women in the diaspora experience racial categorization differently than African-American women. Recent attempts to include the experiences of diasporic African women in African feminist scholarship must also consider the nuances of how African-American women, continental African women, and African women in the diaspora understand gendered and racial categorizations. Although color often creates the assumption that African and African-American women have similar experiences, racial consciousness is not the same for African immigrant women as it is for African American women. Exploring the experiences of some characters in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah provides insight that will ground some of these ideas in reality.

Tolulope Adeusi, she/her, Graduate Student, Liberal Studies, East Tennessee State University

4 thoughts on “Fitting into the Conversation: Race, Feminism, and African Women in the Diaspora   ”

  1. Thank you for sharing your research! The connections between systems/institutions, racial and gendered categorizations, and Americanah were very interesting and informative.

  2. Thank you for your presentation! It was very enlightening to hear about the unique experiences of African immigrant women in the United States! One question I have is how often ethnicity plays a role in navigating the United States compared to navigating African countries such as Nigeria. Would you say that there are contexts where you still need to think about it or is it largely absent from navigating the United States?

  3. Thank you for your response, Linnea. This research is very personal to me, and I hope that I have shared important information.

  4. Thank you for this question, Martino Mangano! I would say in the context of navigating the U.S. social environment, ethnicity plays an important role for Nigerian immigrants. In my research so far, I have found that the ethnic division in the U.S. creates an environment where Nigerian immigrants often need to remain connected with others in their ethnic group. In this sense, ethnicity in the American context is somewhat different from the Nigerian context because it is often backed by racial overtones that separate White Americans from persons of color.

    So, for example, in the U.S., Nigerians tend to navigate their environment by relying on their overall Nigerian identity, rather than tribal identity while in Nigeria, people often identify by tribe first. Depending on the context, ethnicity plays a significant role in navigating the U.S. for African immigrants. African immigrants are often racially categorized as black and ethnically African, and this factor separates them from other ethnicities. In that case, both racial and ethnic identities may create challenges when adjusting to the U.S. environment which would, of course, lead them to connect with others from the same ethnic background. In Nigeria, ethnic (or tribal) identity is more central to people’s identity and plays an important role in social and political dynamics. There are cases where ethnic tensions have led to conflicts between different groups.

    I would say then that the history of either the U.S. or Nigeria when it comes to how it separates and treats others based on differences in identity will determine how immigrant individuals navigate the environment.

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