Posts Tagged ‘nationhood’

I’ll put my name in this post because it will make more sense.This is Renita.

So I was born in Cleverly, MD and I have lived in Maryland for 21 years I lived in Oklahoma for one year and I am 22 years old. However when I open my mouth and begin to speak something strange comes out – an accent. I have no idea why or how I sound the way I do. My mother who was born in Nigeria doesn’t have the accent and neither do my cousins who I spent a significant amount of with have one. So I have no idea where my voice comes from. Interestingly enough when in America and in other parts of the world (I have traveled a bunch) whenever I speak people accept that I am from Nigerian as opposed to when I say I am from America.

Usually the conversation goes something like this

“where are you from”

me – “Maryland”

“no I mean where are you really from”

me – “my family is from Nigeria”

“oh so where you born there”

me – “nope I was born here”

“oh so you lived there”

me – “nope I have lived here all my life

This conversation has happened many a time. It is very hard for me to explain to people that I am American and they never truly seem convinced. So more often then not I say I am Nigerian it is a lot easier then the long conversation. Or if I really want to make the person that I am talking to upset I say “I was born in America but I am from Nigeria”. My thing is that everyone has an accent to anyone else. There is no unified way that Americans talk. There are different southern accents, there are new England accents, new york accents so on and so forth. So why the obsession which trying to pin point where a ‘body’ is from based on how they sound. I mean if I wanted I could make my self sound American which probably means Caucasian (which by the way a lot of people that come from Nigeria and move here do). But sorry I am not going to make it easy. This is the way I speak.


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