In July 1961, five months after Patrice Lumumba’s assassination, 14-year-old Brenda F. Berrian’s consciousness was raised by her family’s move to the turbulent Republic of the Congo. Race, Identity, and Privilege from the US to the Congo traces Berrian’s experiences of subsequently traveling the United States, Canada, France, and three other African countries against the backdrop of emerging African independence and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Detailing the complexities she faced in her global identity as a Black woman, Berrian explores how the love and support of her parents and her developing racial, feminist, and political consciousness--strengthened by her embrace of literature and music of the African diaspora--prepared her to deal with adversity, stereotypes, and grief along the way.
See more info about the book here: www.brendafberrian.com
Brenda F. Berrian is professor emerita of Africana studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
Chapter 1: Expatriates in Léo
Chapter 2: At the Roadblock
Chapter 3: Les Coiffures
Chapter 4: The Proposal
Chapter 5: The Robbery
Chapter 6: Familial Connections
Chapter 7: A Southerner at the Door
Chapter 8: The Return Home
Chapter 9: History and Négritude in the Flesh
Chapter 10: Canadian Fixation
Chapter 11: A Bump in the Road
Chapter 12: Crossing the Ocean à Paris
Chapter 13: The Street Sweepers
Chapter 14: I Am Not My Hair
Chapter 15: A Future Decision
Chapter 16: In Search of Sister-Brotherhood
Chapter 17: Gender Politics
Chapter 18: Residues of Apartheid
Chapter 19: Going to Fort Hare
Chapter 20: Redemption and the TRC
Chapter 21: Ubuntu in Alice
Chapter 22: Teraanga in Senegal
Chapter 23: Childhood Sweethearts and Colorism
Chapter 24: A Tribute to Ma Berrian
Chapter 25: From Whence I Came
This diaspora-encompassing memoir by a distinguished scholar in literature and culture shows how the strong family of her youth guided her into years of travel, encounter, and leadership in building the formidable network of Black scholars. Beautifully written, its nuanced tales of hairstyles, gender, family, and identity are profoundly entertaining.
Brenda F. Berrian takes us on the many journeys that shaped her development. She begins with capturing her interactions as a young person in a new culture with her family in the Congo in 1961. Returning to the states, she negotiates the Civil Rights movement. Future journeys include European, African nations, and the Caribbean as she forges a career in racially different spaces. In her writing she shares reactions as a teen, but revisits experiences as she gains knowledge. Sometimes an insider, but often an outsider, she witnesses systemic racism around the globe and the depth of humanity as people care for each other.
Berrian presents a richly textured and thought-provoking perspective of race and identity and how it continues to be evolved through her many journeys across the African continent. Through her sweeping synthesis of her South African travels, which focus on her personal experiences of racial discrimination, her Fort Hare journey, her exposure to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, her understanding of the Spirit of Ubuntu and the challenges presented, she provides a clear grasp of political and social history. While this allows for astonishing conclusions, it adds an impressive and exciting dimension to scholarship on apartheid and race with illuminating assumptions.
Part autobiography, part chronicle, Brenda Berrian’s Race, Identity, and Privilege from the US to the Congo is the compelling story of a life lived across three continents and shaped by the tumultuous decades of protest against Jim Crow, mobilizations for civil rights and equality, and the equally turbulent struggles of Africa's decolonizing project. Berrian narrates her growing, nuanced sense of identity as a Black woman—daughter, sister, friend, student, scholar, teacher. It is a story of strength and resilience, wisdom and pain, humor and love.