Advanced Essay #2


The goal of my essay is to determine who belongs and what makes someone a native. Something that I am proud of is how I describe the photograph in the beginning of my essay. I would like the readers to notice the analysis I used to prove my points. I tried to connect all the sources we in class to my topic.

Who Belongs?

In a photograph from a refugee camp at the Islahiye Camp in the southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep, the ground is covered in dust, dirt, and rocks. The sky is filled with clouds hanging over the bunched up mountains in the background. There were about 15 white tents lined up along the sides of the dirt. About 7 on one side and 8 on the other. In the middle of all this are about 30 people, more than half are kids. It seems most of the kids aren’t happy and are looking for something to do.

When people think about immigration the main focus is about immigrants not belonging. But the main reason why they think they don’t belong is because they moved from another place but the reality is that people choose what they want the criteria of an immigrant to be based on the situation. In the book We Need New Names the kids are going around trying to find something fun to do. It reminds me of that part because the environment they were in wasn’t the cleanest and didn’t have the best living conditions. The difference is that those kids in that book weren’t immigrants. Their environment was in that condition because of crime, war, and other world problems. In the picture the immigrants were put in an environment with similar conditions because that’s how immigrants are treated since they aren’t natives.

This raises the question of who belongs and what makes someone a native? A widespread belief is that decisions about “who belongs” are often based on appearance. I actually believe this to a certain extent though. I believe this is true because usually the people being targeted in the United States are people that don’t identify as white or black. Such as Latino/Mexican, Chinese/Asian, Middle Eastern, and many more. I’ve rarely seen people with the fairer skin color be questioned on rather they belong in the United States or not compared to other races. One reason I disagree with that is because one way they determine “who belongs” is if that person was born in that country. If they were then that person is automatically considered a citizen of that country. Another way they determine “who belongs” is by checking if a non-native born person has their citizen papers because if they don’t have them than they believe that person should be allowed to live in that country.

According to We Need New Names one of the main characters Darline, moved from Africa to the United States specifically Detroit, Michigan. When she got there she pronounced it as Destroyedmichygen. She met this girl named Kristal and they weren’t really friends. Kristal was teaching them how to put on makeup and she felt superior to them because of that. Darline did not feel the same way. She thought to herself “Kristal thinks that since she taught us to wear makeup and has a weave, she is better than Marina and myself, but the truth is she can’t even write a sentence correctly in English to show that she is indeed American.” I chose this quote because this shows one of the “qualifications” of a native. Since Kristal could barely write in English (the native language of the U.S) Darline is a little skeptical about Kristal actually being American.

According to another book Exit West one of the main characters Nadia was describing her neighborhood. There were many people moving in and out throughout her time there. As she was describing that she said “We are all migrants through time.” What I got from that quote was that everybody is a migrant to another place. For instance when you are from a certain place you are considered a native but when you travel to somewhere different you are now considered a migrant or an immigrant and the same goes vice versa. Another example of this was in an article called A Return to Nigeria. The boy was describing his childhood when he said “Coming of age in foreign classrooms, my sister and I slowly shed our native skins.” He is saying that he is losing his native culture because where he is at now it is considered foreign which forces him to adjust to fit in with natives. Another thing is when someone doesn’t belong they are forced to adapt to the culture around them and sacrifice very important things from their home. When Darline moved from her hometown of Africa to the United States, she had to leave her friends (which were like family to her), her mom, and all the fun things she did there. When she got to the United States it was very unfamiliar to her. She thought the way they danced, ate, and talked was weird. Immediately after she got there she started looking for things that she would see back home. She couldn’t find anything. Her cousin that she didn’t even really know she was related to told her “This is America, yo, you won’t see none of that African shit up in this motherfucker.” This shows that Darline has to adapt to the culture of the United States because what she is used to is nowhere to be found. Since the culture there is not the same as Africa’s culture she has no choice but to learn to adapt to it. In Exit West Saeed and Nadia had to leave Saeed’s father behind along with their jobs and their homes. That was hard because they had to adapt to an unfamiliar place with other each other. In the beginning of the journey they weren’t even that close but as the journey went on their bond got stronger.

In conclusion there are a lot of different factors that go into determining who belongs and what makes someone a native. For example someone isn’t considered a native simply because they weren’t born in that place. Many people believe that theory. So in that case everybody is considered an immigrant when they go somewhere else.

Sources 16 Children – 16 Photos: Click the Black Background and Switch on Their Reality Peter J - Exit West by Mohsin Hamid We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo A Return To Nigeria by Enuma Okoro