Following a screening of the first episode of The Diaspora Dialogues, a limited edition series on The Africa Channel, Queen Sugar stars Dawn-Lyen Gardner and Kofi Siriboe opened up about their experience with cultural identity in a discussion led by Diaspora Dialogues creator/EP and host Koshie Mills.
Siriboe, an American-born Ghanaian, talked about his early days of being raised within two cultures. “You have the instinct to hide yourself before you even know what you’re hiding. There’s a divide created.” Further describing his experience, the actor, who plays Bordelon brother Ralph Angel, expounded “It’s like there’s a part of me that’s not normal but then I go home and it’s normal. There’s a curiosity to how am I?”
He added, “I felt like I had to be what I saw and I realized now that what I see is a bunch of people who are wanting to be what they just don’t know. It’s just a lack of information.”
Raised by a black father and a Chinese mother, Gardner rejected the idea of having to pick sides. “It always bugs me when it’s put to me like you’re half Chinese and you’re half Black. No, I’m 100% Chinese and I’m 100% black. People feel more conformable with boxes and clear identities.”
The actress who plays Charley Bordelon on QS pointed to a broader issue. “The reality of this country is it’s a fracture, it’s a contradiction for everybody, black, white, everybody. I really believed deeply that we are all trying to heel this fracture. Part of that fracture is beating out of you your cultural identity. Beating out of you the specificity of your root,” she opined. “When you cut off a root, the tree is gone. It can blow away. In terms of language and dilution of culture, I think that the culture in this country of not facing the fraction is a part of that.”
The Diaspora Dialogues is a talk show that aims to connect and correct the cultural divide between Africans in Africa and Africans descendants in the diaspora. Featured guest on the series includes Grammy-award winning musical artist, Estelle (American Boy), High School Musical alum Monique Coleman, actor Chris Attoh, Being Mary Jane’s Chiké Okonkwo, and more.
Check out the trailer below.