Taiye Selasi: On the future of Black Identity (English)

During this evening we will explore the different layers of black identity in relation to the concept of ‘home’ with Taiye Selasi in the context of Black Achievement Month. Selasi writes about young Africans who live and work in cities all over the world, who aren’t bound to one particular geographical place but feel at home in multiple places. In this programme identity, heritage and multilocality are central concepts. 

Where are you from? It seems to be a simple question, but Selasi has practiced her answer a lot. I was born in London. My father is from Ghana but lives in Saudi Arabia. My mother is Nigerian but lives in Ghana. I grew up in Boston. For a long time, this phrase was her way of indicating her place in the world. But eventually, this made her uncomfortable.

In 2005, her essay Bye-Bye Babar, about this particular subject, struck a chord with young Africans. In this essay, Selasi writes about the new generation emigrant Afropolitans and their multiple layers of ‘home’. The place where their parents are from, where they go for vacation, where they went to school, where they were born or raised, where they went to study. But is a long list of places also the answer that feels right?

According to Selasi the answer to the question where you are from is not a factual one, it is in the feeling that is related to certain places. Places where you are recognized by the local shopkeepers, places that are connected to family, friends or work. Selasi has adjusted her answer. When she is asked the question, her answer is: I am a local of New York, Rome and Accra.

The moderator of this evening is Aldith Hunkar. Hunkar is a former newsanchor for the National Dutch News. She was born in Paramaribo and traveled with her family to Malaysia, Brazil and Tunesia. She now lives in the Netherlands and Jamaica. The theme of home is something she can relate to and her presence will lift up the conversation with our guests.

Where are you from? It seems to be a simple question, but Selasi has practiced her answer a lot.