Because Flawless is Different in America: Flawess Means Smaller, Lesser

When Beyonce released her last album, one of the songs on the album was entitled “Flawless.” This song focuses on the impossible standards for young women. Women are consistently supposed to be sexy, but not too sexy, small, and not too ambitious. This song features a sample of Adichie’s TED talk in which she talks about some of the standards unrealistically set for women.

When a Black Man is Shot by a White Police Officer, He Becomes a “Thug”

In recent times, police brutality has been at an all-time high in the United States. More often than not, the news has broadcasted the death of a black man committed by a white police officer. As a result of these tragedies, there has been a greater divide created between the white and black race. And, while it is evident that racism plays a key role in the death of these deceased black men, it becomes a question as to how Ifemelu, Obinze, Aunty Uju, and Kimberly would view this issue in society had it existed within the novel, Americanah.

Racist Remarks Leave Families and Graduates in Shock

Graduation season is in full sweep. Social media networks are becoming overwhelmed with graduation portraits, announcements, and overall excitement! “2015” is no shy number nowadays! Graduations are without a doubt a time of celebration, a huge accomplishment for students and families. Rising up in one’s education is no small feat, and it deserves nothing less than praise and applaud.
Yet, sadly, for the students of TNT Academy in Lilburn, Georgia their graduation ceremony was invaded by racist remarks. The racist remarks came from their principal, Nancy Gordeuk. Though Gordeuk has now publicly apologized, it’s clear that her comments still hold weight and shock onto the national community. The audience at the graduation ceremony filmed the racist remarks, and the video has gone viral.
You can’t really help but cringe as you watch the video, and it’s quite upsetting to know that even in a setting of academic success, racism and privilege still manage to maintain power.

American Dream: How Can We Achieve the Unachievable?

Throughout many different cultures around the world, The American Dream is a glorified ideal and way of life. While many people both within, and outside of the United States strive for this dream, in actuality, for the vast majority of the population, it presents fictitious and unrealistic expectations. An ideal that grew off of the colonization of other cultures, and a goal of growth and attainment; in reality, The American Dream stemmed from, and created more hurt than healing. This video reveals some of the truths about American history that are often disregarded in pursuit of concealing the oppression that exists in order to create an idealistic picture of what America is and that attaining The American Dream is realistic.

Not only does The American Dream present some impractical expectations for the vast majority of the population, but it also causes many people to face an internal identity conflict once they reach the United States while striving to attain their own American Dream. Throughout Americanah, we see Ifemelu struggle with this identity conflict. Is she black American? African-American? Just American? Nigerian? Where do the components of her presence, like her hairstyle, accent, and clothing fit into these categories? Given these experiences that Ifemelu went through, would she too agree with the three girls from the video that “the greatest lessons in America are the ones that you don’t remember learning”?

Americanah: Strategically Ignoring Our Past

Americanah is an interesting title for a novel, and though the definition of Americanah is briefly covered in the novel, many people are still unsure of what the term means. Adichie often has to re-explain the definition of the word in interviews, and we thought that the meaning of Americanah is central to the novel. In this video, Adichie is explaining what it means to be Americanah, why she named the novel this, and how it feels to leave a home country and come to America, and then return.

Group Activity

  • Break up into four groups
  • Count off, move accordingly!
  • Group One: Discuss Obinze as a character (look specifically at his time in England, his return to Nigeria, his marriage, and his reunion with Ifemelu)
  • Group Two: Aunty Uju as a character (you can look at her marriage, her second union, her transformation from Nigeria to America, etc).
  • Group Three: Kimberly as a character (do we like her? If she sympathetic? How does she handle race relations?)
  • Group Four: Blaine as a character (is he sympathetic? How should we evaluate his stubbornness? Why does his relationship with Ifemelu sour?)