“You’re not black, you’re Somali” – Raise your hands if you’re Somali and you’ve heard this sentence before? Keep them raised if you still don’t know how to react to this because it doesn’t make sense to you.
I wish this was a blog post with answers about this weird conundrum, but I’m 26 and this still confuses. I remember the first time someone said this to me and my only response was “well what am I then?”. People tend to be split into specific races (and within them theres more), but for the most part you’re Black, White or Asian, and yes this is reductionist but in these three I never really know where people who say this horrible sentence think Somalis fit.
I know there’s loads of people who think Somalia is in Asia, and it’s not. We reside in the horn of Africa, so as Africans wouldn’t we be considered black? Well not to many people out there because they see us as an ‘other’ as a whole which is just even more confusing. I feel like everyones conception of blackness might be a big part of this issue, as many identify blackness as people who are ethnically from the West of Africa with very specific features that most Somalis don’t have. We look different, our culture is different, our food is different and thats because Africa is a huge continent and across it everyone is unique.
Maybe it’s because of media and music – both tend to ignore every black person who doesn’t fit a specific mold of blackness. However, it’s 2019, we have an internet connection – open up your eyes and take into account that within every race there’s so many different cultures and beliefs. Look as Asian identity, there’s so many different countries and cultures you can’t just use the term Asian to define something as that just wouldn’t make sense – Black is the exact same. We’re not all West African or Jamaican, and we don’t all look the same.
Open your eyes, widen your scope and stop telling us we’re not Black – it’s getting ridiculous.