“If Morocco is in Africa, why are the people not Black?” “If you are African, why do you not look like other Africans?” As an Ethiopian-American, these are questions that are not new to me, but also questions that have forced me to learn African history. At first glance, these questions might be viewed as ignorant, but from a deeper perspective, these are common and expected questions in a world where dominant Western media associates Africa with one race: Black. This is a misconception that is far from the truth. To begin with, race is a man-made social construct. In the realm of science, there is no biological entity that identifies a person with a race. Race exists, but only as a construct that society has grown accustomed to over millennia. In addition, Africa consists of hundreds of languages, ethnicities, and cultural variations, making it impossible to group the African population in any one category. My trip to Morocco proved this. Besides Ethiopia, Morocco is the only other African country I have visited. I always knew Africa was diverse, but for the first time in my life, I was truly able to appreciate Africa’s diversity in its complete glory. Walking the streets of Rabat were the Arabs and Berbers whose ancestors created the beautiful infrastructure I was admiring just the other day in Spain. I felt the presence of Adb Al-Rahman of the Umayyad Dynasty, son of an Arab prince and Berber mother, who built modern-day Cordoba. In the mosques, I saw beautiful Nigerian and Yemeni people worshipping alongside their Senegalese and Arab friends. When I arrived at my host-family’s home, awaiting me was my Jewish Moroccan host mother who spoke to me in French. Naturally, the preconceived notions my classmates had of Africa were deconstructing right in front of their eyes. In such an immense and diverse continent are immensely diverse countries and for this, Africa will always be dear to me and I will always hold Morocco close to my heart.
Long Island University
LIU Global Program