Tuesday, December 15, 2020

"Real people" in Philadephia and Lagos: A figure in Ibram X. Kendi and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In "How To Be an Anti-Racist", Ibram X. Kendi writes that in 2005, when he went to graduate school, he moved to Hunting Park – one "of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia." He then "considered poor Blacks to be the truest and most authentic representatives of Black people." This same association of poverty with "real people" appears in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "The Thing around Your Neck": the twenty-something white boyfriend of Akunna, the Nigerian immigrant who is the story's narrator, wants "to visit Lagos, to see how real people [live], like in the shantytowns." As Akunna later says, her boyfriend must not be a "real American" himself, since he isn't poor. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 15 December)

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