Mind the Gap

The man on the train next me, excited about my hair, pulled out his phone to show me photos of his daughters.

I, excited to have enough Spanish in my arsenal to understand, listened as he told me they were part Senegalese.

What are you? He asked.

Not uncommon here as people heavily identify with Nationality In this part of the world, but something that continues to be uncomfortable for me given my lack of information on my roots.

I tell him I am African-American knowing he will think I’ve misunderstood and that he will be eventually disappointed when he realizes I haven’t.

He is.

Yes. But where are you from?

Me: Estados Unidos

He thinks for a moment.

Tu Madre e Padre?

Me: Estados Unidos

But your grandmother and grandfather?

Me:

😔 Estados Unidos?

Originally?

Yes. Well no, but yes. <I’m not giving a speech about slavery and the African Diaspora today>

Finally he says… so just Afro-Americana?

Yes.

Pensive, I tug at the heritage on my head and quickly put my headphones back on. I don’t want to talk anymore

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