port of harlem magazine
Ebenezer AME Church - Ghana 2020 trip
Creating Families Across Cultural Lines

March 26 – April 08, 2020
Shandra and Michael Banutu-Gomez

In November 2020, Port Of Harlem will celebrate 25 years of publication. As we count down to our birthday, we will republish some of our most popular articles from our print issues. Thanks for subscribing and inviting others to join you in supporting our inclusive, diverse, pan-African publication - - now completely online. We originally published this article in the Nov 2004 - Jan 2005 print issue.
Shandra grew up in America’s heartland, Chicago, Illinois. Over the years, she has traveled across Africa, Europe, and North America. No one had to convince her that dating a man born outside her neighborhood was okay. ”I’ve dated Black people from all other the world,” she says.

While in The Gambia, a small, intimate country on the homeland’s west coast, she met a family who had a son studying in the United States. When Shandra returned to America, she met their son, Michael. They eventually married.

Like in any relationship, her marriage has issues and circumstances. Her marriage situation allowed her to bond quickly with other American-born women who have also married Continental Africans, Tina Riley-Fatty and Taliah. They have since formed a support group, a sistership, Africans of the Diaspora United in Marriage to Africans (ADUMA).

In telephone interviews, Shandra and Michael Banutu-Gomex along with Tina Riley-Fatty of Philadelphia talked about the cultural-based issues that separate them from their soul mates. We also talked to Washington, D.C. area residents, American-born Arlene Adedeji, who recently separated from her Nigerian-born husband, and Egyptian-born Mohamed Khattab and his American-born wife, Venetta.

When entering the marriage, Shandra says that she was prepared to take on the responsibilities of managing the lives of herself, husband, and future children, not an extended family. American society, she says, teaches us to live with our nuclear family and “perhaps your mother or father when they are older and can’t take care of themselves.” “American socialization is centered around the individual, whereas in Africa, we are socialized to believe in we,” says Michael.

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