After struggling to get by in England, Obinze is suddenly deported, minutes away from joining in a marriage that would have finally made him a citizen. In America, Ifemelu's relationship with Curt ends and begins her blog, "Raceteenth or Curious Observations by a Non-American Black on the Subject of Blackness in America". She quickly becomes an online sensation and is reunited with Blaine. The two quickly enter into a passionate relationship. But while Ifemelu feels understood and inspired by him, she also feels out of her depth surrounded by his academic friends, which eventually creates tension between the two.
What I Liked
- Beginning of a Blog: I like that we finally get to see what inspired Ifemelu to start her blog. We also get to read a lot more of her entries in this section, all of which I felt were really intelligent and powerful.
- Aunty Uju 2.0: Finally, Aunty Uju is vindicated! I LOVE that she finally became independent and took her son somewhere they could be happy. This is probably one of my favorite parts during this weeks reading. As I've said before, she was one of my favorite characters in the beginning, and it was painful to watch her flounder.
- Dissecting White Privilege: One of the most frustrating things is explaining white privilege to people. They automatically mean that white privilege means they get special things for being white, so you hear the whole "I'm white and poor, where's my white privilege" argument all the time...when that isn't even what it means. As I've always tried to explain, white privilege is when you take two people from the exact same background with the exact same situations, but one is white and one is black, the white one will still have it better because they don't have to add discrimination/racism to their list of "things I have to deal with every day". Adichie captures it really well on page 429 (so well that I wrote "YES YES YES!!!" at the bottom of the page). If you missed her "questionnaire", I really recommend you go back and read it.
- A Black President: My family HATES Obama. Like REALLY hates him. And when he first became President, I didn't really get a chance to celebrate the fact that he was our first black President. I was young, sheltered, and impressionable and basically thought "my parents says he's bad so he must be bad". In recent years I have actually come to like the man, even when I don't agree with his politics. I feel like he tries to do what he feels is right, just like Bush did, and, despite some of my family's opinions, I don't think he's "evil" or even a "bad president". I was even kind of sad when he left office. Seeing how Ifemelu and the other characters responded to Obama's campaign and eventual election let me re-see that entire event, and it had a really strong effect on me. Whether or not you agree with his politics, Obama did a lot of good things for a lot of people, both directly and indirectly. I think these lasting affects are best summed up on page 447, when Dike says "'I can't believe it. My president is black like me,'" (447).
What I Didn't Like
- Wedding Interrupted: The scene when Obinze gets arrested moments before his wedding was really frustrating. Though, as readers, I'm sure that we are all team Obinze/Ifemelu, I also wanted Obinze to be able to have that sense of security that Ifemelu had finally achieved in America. It was sad to see him torn away from that so quickly and treated so inhumanely.
- Ifemelu's Infidelity: Ifemelu cheating on Curt was really strange. I mean, I didn't like Curt at all, but it still felt like a really random thing for Ifemelu to do. It was also a really inconsistent moment, one moment she was super emotional about it and begging for him back and the next it feels like she doesn't care about him at all, and then it just goes back and forth from there. I felt like it was really out of character for her and wish that there would have been a different, more believable ending to their relationship.
- Dike-Growing up Black in America: It's heartbreaking seeing how Dike grows up accepting the subtle racism that he has to deal with day to day. Even now that he is grown up a bit, I think Dike still encompasses that idea of childlike innocence, so seeing him mistreated is tough.
Quote of the Week
"Don't say 'we're tired of talking about race' or 'the only race is the human race'. American Blacks, too, are tired of talking about race. They wish they didn't have to. But shit keeps happening...Try listening, maybe. Hear what is being said. And remember that it's not about you. American Blacks are not telling you that you are to blame. They are just telling you what is," (404-6)
- As we are introduced to more of Ifemelu's blog posts, it's easy to become offended and not want to listen. Was there such a moment for you? Why do you think it is important to listen instead of argue when we hear/read commentary like this? How do you feel about the quote above in relation to this topic?
- In what ways do you think that Dike encompasses the idea of innocence throughout the novel?
- What commentary do you think Adichie is trying to make when she writes about Obinze's eventual arrest and deportation?
- Was there anything else you thought of while reading that wasn't talked about this week? Bring it up in the comments!