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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - ‘Americanah’ author talks about racism in America and her experiences

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie opens up about her work, her experience as a black woman in the American educational system and liberalism in an interview with, David Remnick, Editor of The New Yorker.

In 2013, the Nigerian author published her fourth novel titled ‘ Americanah’ - a story of identity, natural hair, love and race. In a Huffpost live interview, in explaining the uniqueness of the book, she said: ”this is what I like to call my f*ck you novel”.
It’s that sense of writing from a place of freedom and wanting to do what I wanted to do. I think I say that because in comparison to ‘Half of A Yellow Sun’ the book before it, I didn’t have the sense of duty, I didn’t feel constrained by a kind of burden which of course was sort of self made but is still there. The burden of getting it right [in terms of history]. I felt just deeply responsible”, she said in her interview with Remnick.
 

Adichie who published her first novel in 2003 has published four novels so far: ‘Purple Hibiscus’ (2003), ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ (2006), ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ (2009) and ‘Americanah’ (2013).
With Americanah I was free, I wanted to break the rules, I didn’t want to be dutiful. I wanted to write about my take on America and much of it was about race”.
‘Americanah’ follows the story of a young Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who move to the United States to attend university.
 “Much of the writing about race I found to be dishonest. I would read some fiction and I would be like ‘No’, and it seemed to me also quite ideological, that idea that you know the sort of thing that race is just a social construction, all of that,” Adichie said.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie play Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 In 1996, the writer moved to America to go to university. She discovered the ‘blackness’ of America, something she had not considered while she was in Nigeria. This came to her as a surprise.
Racism I found funny, absurd, infuriating”, she said.
She went on to reveal her first experience of racism.
The first time I wrote an essay in my class, my very first essay and at the time I used my initial and my last name and my last name could be anything some people tell me sometimes it could be italian. So the professor came into the class and said who wrote this essay? And he called my name and I raised my hand and he looked surprised and even though it was a very small moment, that’s when I knew what being black meant, it meant that you’re not supposed to write the best essay in class if you are black it meant that black achievement is considered so rare”.
And I was so irritated by that because for me growing up in Nigeria, black achievement is ordinary. And there was a part of me that wanted to say this man - really I was saying it in my head “you’re stupid””.
Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie in a Style Temple bomber jacket  Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie in a Style Temple bomber jacket
(Instagram)

Adichie who shuttles between Nigeria and the States shared another incident where she tried to escape the stereotype of ‘blackness’.
I remember once a black guy referred to me as sister and my first reaction was "No, no, no, I’m not your sister"".
She also talked about embracing this new identity.
I remember in college I was in a class and I was the only black person and I remember somebody saying the black girl, and I thought oh that’s what I am the black girl - that’s thrust on you but I think it kind of that internalizing of that identity you need to do consciously and I did that by reading African American history by trying to understand because I really didn't understand America. I didn’t understand in the my first two weeks why the two black people in one of my classes got offended when somebody said something about watermelons”.
Chimamanda Adichie  Chimamanda Adichie
(Brittle paper)

The author is known for speaking up on issues regarding politics, feminism (gender) and race. During her interview, the New Yorker Editor asks her about not putting up “with liberal can’t and jargon on subjects of feminism or race at all despite politics”.
I almost think that the left is creating it’s own decline, I think the left doesn’t know how to be a tribe in a way the right does. The left is cannibalistic, it eats its own. This isn’t going to sound very kind but people on the left, there’s something to be said of course ideals and I believe very much in that. But I think when one speaks about politics, sometimes there can be a kind of an extremist idea of purity. And it's so easy to fall afoul of the ridiculously high standards set there. And there is often also a kind of self righteousness - I mean you follow the rules and if you don’t, you’r e cut down very quickly”.
She recounted one of the times this happened to her when she made a comment about transwomen.
I don’t remember the question but what I did say was I think transwomen are transwomen and I think there is a difference between transwomen and women who are born female. And apparently in liberal orthodox you are not supposed to say that because in the quest for inclusiveness, the left is willing to discard a certain type of complex truth and I think there’s a quickness to assign ill intent”.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie play Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the new face for Boots No7 Makeup line
(Vogue)

Following her comments, she shared she received emails and flowers from friends because of the backlash.
Initially I didn’t think anyone would take it seriously because I thought surely - I sort of feel the space I occupy in the world is one that is of course for inclusiveness and of course I couldn’t possibly be suggesting that trans women are not part of feminism which apparently is how it had been seen. But I think it was simply that I didn’t use the language I was supposed to use,” Adiche said.
My publishers were inundated with interview requests, people who were like does she want to take her words back now and I just thought - what?  I did public events where there was a woman who stood up and lectured me about how I was killing trans women, how I had no compassion and how I needed to shut up.
"The response is not to debate, the response is to silence and I find that very troubling. I guess I’m just a person who thinks that the answer to that speech is more speech in general”.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - ‘Americanah’ author talks about racism in America and her experiences Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - ‘Americanah’ author talks about racism in America and her experiences Reviewed by OPEYEMI M.A on 5:46:00 pm Rating: 5

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