As I’ve been traveling and working abroad, I have realized that my cultural ties to America are rooted in a way that most cannot understand.
Most racial, ethnic and cultural groups have a distinct homeland, language and some aspect of a diaspora. Italians can find Italians in many cities, French can speak French in many lands and the Irish can go to Ireland and trace their roots. As an African-American descent of slaves I do not have this luxury.
I cannot go to a pilgrimage to my homeland, there is no non-English language with which I can communicate and there is no diaspora. The first two are things that I cannot change and can be in some degree assuaged by being American and finding other Americans.
However, my African-Americaness which is rooted in slavery and being an admixture with a distinctive culture which is replicated differently outside of the US creates some problems. Most other blacks outside of the US have a more rooted and direct link to their ancestors. And given such close ties do no share my black American experience. Southern hip-hop, black clubs and the fascination with “donkeys” is very much something that I haven’t found outside of the US.
The conflict I have is that everyone thinks Americans love America because we are too ignorant to appreciate other cultures. This may be true, but the reason I love America and complain about how I miss it because this is where my culture was born and only lives. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to be black in America and feel comfortable. Yet, I fully do in a way that most other groups cannot understand.