<i>Black is the Journey, Africana the Name</i> is the autobiographical story of a researcher whose ancestry and personal history place her in the cultural and political vastness of the Black Atlantic, where three continents were tied together by the brutal realities of the slave trade and colonialism. This space encompasses the Ivory Coast, her parents’ homeland; France, where she was born and now lives; and the United States, where she lived and studied for a decade. Each of these spaces has its own way of reading the black body and the black experience. Here Maboula Soumahoro offers her own, rooted in her own experience and in dialogue with the intellectual, artistic and political traditions of the Black/African diaspora.
How can we build and reflect on a collective diasporic identity through a personal journey? What are the limits, pains and possibilities of this endeavor when the personal journey is that of oft-erased bodies and stories and when Black populations in Africa, the Americas and Europe identify and misidentify with each other, their sensibilities shaped by the particular locales in which their lives unfold? By weaving together her personal history with that of France and its abiding myth of color-blindness, Maboula Soumahoro highlights the banality and persistence of racism in France today and shows that national identity, far from being uniform and static, is in essence mosaical and in constant flux.
This powerful and beautifully written book will be of great interest to anyone concerned with questions of race and identity today.