Americanah

The Power of The White Ideal 12th Grade

In Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, navigating the American establishment as an African immigrant is a constant struggle for Ifemelu and others like her. Ifemelu soon starts to experience that the power in America is held not by the few, but by the collective mass of white Americans, who by virtue of being seen as the norm get to dictate the dominant culture. The mechanism in which white Americans power is exercised is not through dramatic moments but through everyday interactions. White America exacts crippling pressure on Africans to conform to a European standard of beauty as well as a disregard for understanding individual immigrants stories-- instead applying a generalized idea of the African immigrant as a whole to everyone. Ifemelu and others face an immense pressure in their everyday lives to conform to the message of a non-ethnic, white outwards presentation. Many immigrants give in and change themselves to be acceptable to the white standard, but Ifemelu goes through multiple personal battles to not sterilize herself-- keeping essential features of her as a person intact.

One way in which the non-ethnic, white ideal is enforced is through the inadvertent policing of foreign, in particular African, accents by...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1003 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7824 literature essays, 2195 sample college application essays, 333 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in