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Themes in Americanah
Transcript of Themes in Americanah
By: Franzi and Stephan
Racism and Identity
Nigeria - Home
Page 506: "The speedboat was gliding on foaming water, past beaches of ivory sand, and trees a bursting, wellfed green. Ifemelu was laughing. She caught herself in mid-laughter, and looked at her present, an orange life jacket strapped around her, a ship in graying distance, her friends in their sunglasses, on their way to Priye´s friend´s beach house, where they would grill meat and race barefoot. She thought: "I´m really home. I´m home.""
Page 553: "And so began her days full of chliché: she felt fully alive, her heart beat faster when he arrived at her door, she viewed each morning like the unwrapping of a gift."
Ifemelu, Obinze and other sub-characters are exposed to racism throughout the book
Hispanic means the frequent companions of American blacks in poverty rankings, Hispanic means a slight step above American blacks in the American race ladder, Hispanic means the chocolate-skinned woman from Peru, Hispanic means the indigenous people of Mexico. Hispanic means the biracial-looking folks from the Dominican Republic. Hispanic means the paler folks from Puerto Rico. Hispanic also means the blond, blue-eyed guy from Argentina. All you need to be is Spanish-speaking but not from Spain and voila, you're a race called Hispanic.
The categorization and labeling
of spanish speaking citizens
Well, white folks don't get treated like shit in upper-class African-American communities and white folks don't get denied bank loans or mortgages precisely because they are white and black juries don't give white criminals worse sentences than black criminals for the same crime and black police officers don't stop white folk for driving while white and black companies don't choose not to hire somebody because they're name sounds white and black teachers don't tell white kids that they're not smart enough to be doctors and black politicians don't try some tricks to reduce the voting power of white folks through gerrymandering and advertising agencies don't say they can't use white models to advertise glamorous products because they are not considered "aspirational" by the "mainstream"
-All of these are everyday
examples of common
Many American blacks proudly say they have some 'Indian". Which means Thank God We Are Not Full-Blooded Negreos.
Full blooded blacks are discrimin
And so Emenike did. He told the story of the taxi that he had hailed one night, on Upper Street; from afar the cab light was on but as the cab approached him, the light went off, and he assumed the driver was not on duty. After the cab passed him by, he looked back idly and saw that the cab light was back on and that, a little way up the street, it stopped for two white women.
Why would a taxi turn down a paying customer?
some aspects stay
others come and go or change
Childhood in Nigeria
knows her place in her world
knows this world
confident because of this
at school: popular and friends
critical against herself
not afraid of telling the truth and stands up for what she thinks is right
takes action: leaves Nigeria
"You must refrain from your natural proclivity towards provocation, Ifemelu. (...) at school you are known for insubordination."
"(...) you know her problem is that she doesn´t always know when to keep her mouth shut."
Changes in America
Adapt to America
Learning about Racism
not afraid, stands up and takes action
stronger than in Nigeria
lets hair grow naturally
keeps part of her Nigerian identity and accepts it
Finding a job
doesn´t give up self-pride
Page 190: "She walked to the train, feeling heavy and slow, her mind choked with mud, and, seated by the window, she began to cry. She felt like a small ball, adrift and alone. The world was a big, big place and she was so tiny, so insignificant, rattling around emptily."
learns that whites have privileges
fight against it
Page 250: "She felt, in the midst of her gratitude, a small resentment: that Curt could, with a few calls, rearrange the world, have things slide into the spaces that he wanted them to."
Identity with Kurt:
proud of it
Page 241: "With Kurt, she became, in her mind, a woman free of knots and cares, a woman running in the rain with the taste of sun-warmed strawberries in her mouth. (...) She was lighter and leaner; she was Curt´s Girlfriend (...)."
Page 246: "The couch was soft. Her skin was glowing. At school, she took extra credits and raised her GPA. Outside the tall living room windows, the Inner Harbour spread out below, water gleaming and lights twinkling. A sense of contentment overwhelmed her. That was what Curt had given her, this gift of contentment, of ease. How quickly she had become used to this life, her passport filled with visa-stamps, the solicitousness of flight attendants in first-class cabins, the feathery bed linen in the hotels they stayed in and the little things she hoarded: jars of preserves from the breakfast tray, little vials of conditiner, woven slippers, even face towels if they were especially soft. She had slipped out of her old skin."
Stops faking accent
Fake American Identity
Blaine: not really happy
Page 8: " (...) it was simply that layer after layer of discontent had settled in her, and formed a mass that now propelled her."
Nigeria: takes Action!
not how she remembered it
out of place
not sure what role to play
People expect Americanah -> No
Blog: still wants to express opinion
Self-centered: only one
Never regreted a decision
Even though a lot of things changed in her life and she had struggles finding out who she was and what she wanted to be, a lot, but not all aspects of her identity stayed the same as she stayed true to herself.
What is her Identity?