The astonishing journey of a bright, utterly displaced boy, from the short-lived African nation of Biafra, to Jamaica, to the harshest streets of Los Angeles—a fierce and funny memoir that adds fascinating depth to the coming-to-America story
The astonishing journey of a bright, utterly displaced boy from the short-lived African nation of Biafra, to Jamaica, to the harshest streets of Los Angeles—a fierce and funny memoir that adds fascinating depth to the coming-to-America storyThe first time Chude-Sokei realizes that he is “first son of the first son” of a renowned leader of the bygone African nation of Biafra is in Uncle Daddy and Big Auntie’s Seventh-Day Adventist “home” in Jamaica, where he lives with his fellow abandoned children. A visiting African has just fallen to his knees to shake him by the shoulders: “Is this the boy? Is this him?”
Chude-Sokei’s immersion into the politics of race and belonging across the landscape of the African diaspora takes a turn when his traumatized mother, who has her own extraordinary history as the one-time “Jackie O of Biafra,” finally sends for him to come live with her. In Inglewood, Los Angeles, on the eve of gangsta rap and the LA riots, it’s as if he’s fallen to earth. This is a world where anything alien—definitely Chude-Sokei’s secret obsession with science fiction—is a dangerous tag, and where his yearning to become a Black American gets seriously complicated. Ultimately, his pan-African family of honorary aunts, uncles, and cousins becomes a lifesaving secret society, teaching him the redemptive skill and even joy of navigating not just blackness, but blacknesses, in America
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