I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.
Working in a multi-national company and that too focused on diversity and inclusion I have attended a lot of talks, workshops, and training around this topic. But diversity and inclusion in India only constitute women and now we have progressed to include the LGBTQ+ community. Though there are tons of other different issues in India, race is not among the most prominent ones.
So, even though I knew that racism is such a big issue in America being a multi-ethnic country, I could not fully understand its gravity. From this book, I learned to have empathy towards people facing such racial discrimination.
What this book is about?
Ifemelu and Obinze are two people, who met in school in Nigeria and fell immediately in love. Growing in love they dreamed about going to the west to live the American dream. Ifemulu heads for America first to pursue her studies, to be joined by Obinze later. But Obinze has declined entry to the US and with his broken American dream, he plunges into a dangerous and undocumented life in London. Ifemulu realizes what it means to be black in America. 15 years later, she decides to come back to her homeland and also to her love, Obinze, but she finds that a lot has been changed since then.
My thoughts on this book
This book was quite an eye-opener for me. It has presented to me the struggles of the black people in such an empathetic way. I never knew that hair is such an issue for Afro people. I always do crib about my frizzy hair. But while going through their struggles I just felt so ashamed of myself.
Even though the book was successful in delivering its message loud and clear, there are few issues I have with the storyline. The narrative of Ifemelu was brilliant but I found Obinze’s narrative was clipped short. I wished to know more about things from Obinze’s point of view. Maybe that’s because I connected more with him as compared to Ifemelu. I somehow couldn’t completely understand many of Ifemelu’s decisions. In Ginika’s word, I also find it a little self-sabotaging.
I really wished the ending of the book would have different. It felt it was too fairytalish. It seems like telling that you are allowed to do all the mistakes in your life, to make reckless decisions, to hurt people but in the end, everything will be alright. This doesn’t happen in real life. If you do mistakes, you often bear consequences all your life. And when a book talking about such an important and serious issue throughout gave this message at the end, it feels quite disappointing.
I do recommend this book. It is a powerful book to educate yourself about the injustices and racial issues present around us. The book is quite lengthy(477 pages) with a very small font, so it will be a long read. So, if you are not comfortable with long books or are a beginner, then this book might not be for you.
Ques: Suggest some books that you have read to know more about black community?