My “Americanization”

NdeyKumbaDembaI define my Americanization as a process of assimilation and absorption, unconsciously and subconsciously.

So, I have recently taken time to actually notice the effects of America on me.

I was raised by very strict parents. My sisters and I weren’t given the freedom to go out a lot. Asking my dad’s permission to attend a friend’s birthday is like balancing an egg on a spoon while running. I chose my words very carefully and I rehearse my lines before going to ask for his permission (and this is just a birthday party I’m talking about).

My trick was to remind him of who that friend was and who her parents were. The parent part was the most important. If he knew her parents, there was a greater chance that I’d go. If he was in a good mood too, well, I would watch out for the signs, and then I’d probably go too.

Normal routine for me was home, school, school, home. Perhaps it’s the reason I don’t like going out much, even though I have the liberty to do so now whenever I want. My dress code, however, has not remained the same.

Now I wear shorts in broad daylight and go out with them on, too (You probably think it’s normal, but for me, it’s a major change).

If my mum saw me, she would have a heart attack. Back home, I wore jeans with long shirts. Anything short was a no-no for me.

My mother’s measurement is: shorts should be below the knees. If a girl wears shorts in broad daylight, people will stare at her like she’s crazy and what follows are a series of questions: Is she not from a home? Have her parents not seen her? Is she okay? I wear my shorts comfortably in America because no one is watching and no one cares. That has to be my first Americanization.

My second Americanization is the content I watch on television. Normally back home, if you are watching a movie and a kissing scene comes on, everyone is uncomfortable.

Two options: fast forward or look away. Even the national television plays filtered soap operas where “inappropriate” content is edited. Today, I find myself watching shows like “Dating Naked” and I’ll keep watching. Or “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta,” where a particular girl makes out with a boy today and a girl tomorrow. I don’t know quite how to process that, in my mind, I’m like, “well …”

My third Americanization is my increase in vocabulary. It helps to speak English on a daily basis. And my new-found love for phrases like: “No kidding,” “Wait, what?” “I don’t get it,” “Hell no.”

Apparently, I’m not the only one in love with common American phrases. My roommates are from Gambia and they too have favorites. Haddy used to love “you betcha” and would use it every opportunity she had. She has graduated from that to: “Are you kidding me right now?”

Binta has remained a constant. Her phrase is; “This is nice,” and she has stuck to it.

From my experience, and ones I share with my roommates, I know we have all been Americanized in some way, maybe for the good or for the worse.

My concern is not so much about being Americanized, but to what degree?

I guess time would tell. “Wait, what?”

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