When Boyah J. Farah arrived in the U.S. as an immigrant from Somalia he had all kinds of fairy tale visions of America and high hopes. It didn’t take long for the Hollywood version of America to become tainted, especially when it came to race. Farah has put his experiences and impression in his new memoir, “America Made Me a Black Man.”
In an interview with NPR, Farah revealed how he returned home after he was brainwashed into thinking America was heaven and to avoid Black Americans.
With his family fleeing civil war in Somalia brewing in 1989, Farah arrived in the U.S. as a teenager.
The Somali Civil War grew out of resistance to the military during the 1980s. The official start date was 1991.
“My mother and younger siblings, and I were living in Mogadishu at the time. And civil war is the worst thing that can happen to mankind, because it’s cousins fighting cousins. Basically, Somali families that ate together, that lived together for centuries were now fighting each other,” he said.
When he came to the States, he expected paradise when he landed in Boston suburb.
“I really thought that God favored America,” he said.
“To go to America was to reach for the stars, and to be an American was like running naked in the rain. You know what I mean? It was just beautiful,” he recalled to NPR.
Once he dug beneath the surface of the manicured lawns in the suburb his family was then residing, he found ugliness and racism.
It wasn’t the America he had heard about or seen in the movies on on television.
“America projects itself all over the world as heaven. So all the refugee kids, they want to reach that heaven. And I was one of them. I couldn’t wait,” Farah shared.
But Black Americans, he said, were not portrayed as people you’d want to befriend.
“Well, Black Americans were projected in a way that’s unfavorable. And therefore, when you come to America, you want to avoid anyone, Black. Because that’s what you ‘knew’ about them: thugs, lazy people, drug dealers, those were the images that were spread to us,” he said.
When America revealed itself to Farah, he was no longer impressed.
“In this culture, there’s a hierarchy, and it’s systematic. It’s not about individuals. It’s a system-driven culture of oppression. This big machine of racism is systematic,” he pointed out.
Boyah J. Farah (Screenshot from Facebook) / Book cover, “America Made Me a Black Man: A Memoir,” Amazon