How does one define national identity?
We live in a pivotal time where conversations regularly include topics pertaining to race, empowerment, leadership and gender struggles. This has led to us putting forward a question that has been on our minds a lot: Can white people identify as African?
If you are born in a country, then surely your default national identity is that of your birthplace. Especially if you were raised in the country.
This is a question that burns passionately in both of our hearts. We were both born in South Africa, and we both carry British passports due to our various ancestry. This has led to questions regarding our national identity. Does having a British passport disregard our identification as South African? And does being white disallow us from identifying as African?
Why do we identify as African?
Simply put – being African is all that we know. Although we completely acknowledge the different cultures within in our country, we don’t make my decisions on friendships or other community-based choices based on race, particularly in South Africa with our rich cultural diaspora.
As white people who identify as African, we do not claim that white privilege doesn’t exist. Nor do we claim to understand the struggles that the majority below the breadline experience. In the same breath, we do not argue that our culture directly mirrors every person on the street.
But we do believe that we are African, purely because our heart bleeds for the nation. Every decision that we make is framed by our experience growing up in South African culture. That experience is a beautiful blend of African heritage and European influence.
The fact that we do have such a wonderful mixture of races and cultures in South Africa only further demonstrates the possibilities of the nation.
Our conclusion is that being African doesn’t know racial boundaries – it’s a shared heritage. We would love to hear your thoughts on the discussion!