The following slideshow is a collection of excerpts from my interpretation of the books found in the American Library Exhibit by Yinka Shonibare. When I walked into the space, I was overwhelmed. At first, it was with pride. I was in a space of people who had immigrated to America and created change. But this feeling was immediately followed by sadness and exclusion. I had found another space I did not belong in.
I am a TCK or Third Culture Kid. I was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, but I spent the first eight years in my real home, Bundibugyo, Uganda. Before I came back to the States, I was an internally displaced person due to an Ebola outbreak in my village. However, since my citizenship is only American, I do not count as an immigrant. Even though I had similar experiences of having to assimilate and learn a completely new culture, I was placed behind the glass walls again. I soon became angry. Shonibare had created this exhibit for a place of inclusion and to show the mosaic of American identity. However, I was still not accepted.
I felt the same exclusion during the third unit of Humanities. I was the only person who had a personal connection to the Rwandan Genocide. I had been accepted as a Humster but still put on the sidelines for my childhood. I watched as people spoke about how foreign this tragedy was and how it was hard for them to connect to it.
For my nontextual assignment, I decided to make my own place of acceptance if no one else would. I wrapped the book with Ugandan and American fabrics my mother had collected when I was younger. I put photos from my childhood and excerpts of blogs written by my mother. I followed my journey from a village to a city. The point of the project was to humanize myself and show that I am real. Reading about the Rwandan Genocide in an academic setting was impactful because it showed that it mattered. Putting this book in a final portfolio creates its important.
As well, I strove to provide the tools for people to see my humanity. By seeing my story, people learn the legitimacy of my experience. However, I only have excerpts shown and even then, they are hard to read because you do not have the right to my entire life. I am allowing you to see part of it, but to see more you must talk to me. I should not have to bear my whole soul to prove my worth to you.
I hope by adding myself to the library of America I can show people you can make yourself matter. And I hope in the years to come the Humanities has a library diverse enough that no one will be forced to make a book again to feel accepted.