Colorism and the Divide Between Africans and African Americans 

By Lizette Nsilu, 12th grade

The divide between Africans and African Americans is a topic we don’t hear being talked about a lot, but it takes a big toll on Black peoples’ mental health. Here is a Congolese student’s perspective. 

My name is Lizette Landu Nsilu and I am a 17 year old Congolese young lady from Carson, CA. I am currently a senior at King/Drew Medical Magnet High School.  Growing up African, especially Congolese, in America has not been easy. I’ve been discriminated against, objectified, stereotyped, and victimized by peoples’ colorist prejudices.  Anything you can name, I’ve experienced. And, while it’s one thing to experience this treatment from a non-person of color, it hurts much more when it’s coming from people who look like you.

I’d say it all started when I got to elementary school. I knew I was different from the other students but I didn’t necessarily understand how. Not until I was made fun of for my name on a daily basis, asked why I was so “black” and “dark”, and called an “African booty scratcher” as well as other numerous insults. This made me hate myself, my name, and my culture. I dreaded going to school everyday, and I didn’t tell anyone what I was experiencing because I felt alone. Things got worse when I got to middle school. My body started to be objectified inside and outside of school. I’d be counted out of activities due to me being African. One time when I was at the mall someone even yelled “Sharkesha don’t!” to me.

It took a long time for me to love everything about myself and my culture. I grew from the freshman who hated when people found out I was African, to the confident senior who talks about her culture until she can’t anymore. But not only do I stand up for African culture, I stand up for Black culture as a whole because it’s a beautiful thing when we all come together. This is why I’ve joined WLP – to help bridge the divide between Africans and African Americans and inspire others to bridge it as well.


Lizette Nsilu is a WLP member/secretary and a young Congolese American who aspires to be a successful entrepreneur. She plans on attending LA Harbor college for her prerequisites and furthering her education at Cal State Dominguez Hills to obtain her bachelor’s degree in business administration.