Culture, Gender & Identity, Life

26 too-real things every Ethiopian can definitely relate to

You've watched so many bad African movies where they all make the same "acting" face.

1. Too Ethiopian for Americans, too American for Ethiopians.

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Me trying to understand how I’m “too Ethiopian/American” for either side.

For some reason, some people believe that ethnicity and nationality are the same. When I want to represent Ethiopia, it’s “Well aren’t you American?” and when I call myself American it’s, “I thought you were Ethiopian.”

2. “You’re not black. You’re Ethiopian!”

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I believe this gif pretty much sums it up.

I’ve been told that I’m “not black enough” and that I’m “not like other black people” by black people, other people of color, and white people. Also, African families are taught negative views of black families. The same vice versa for how black families view African families which causes a disconnection between the two.

I have had people tell me that I have to choose “black” or “Ethiopian” (some were so nice enough to choose for me) because being both is apparently impossible.

3. Understanding a language other than English…that isn’t taught in school.

Not many people can claim that!

Amharic, Oromo, Tigrigna, etc! Whichever one your family speaks, it’s only you, your family, and your friends from the same background. A moment like trying to muffle your laugh after hearing your aunt make fun of the cashier is a nice reminder that you have something that many can’t claim.

4. “Small” and “party” can never be found in the same sentence.

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Why settle for less?

Your daughter graduated? Your cousin is getting married? Your uncle is going to be a dad? Haha, get ready to party and celebrate! I mean, we do hold the best parties!

5. “How do you say your name?”

So you can say Arnold Schwarzenegger, but not my name? Bye.

If you didn’t see my name at the top of this listicle, scroll up real quick.

*Waits for you to scroll up and come back*

Yup. I have dealt with mispronunciations of my name since birth. If our name isn’t something from the Bible like “Hallelujah” or “Bethlehem” or “Daniel” then we have to come prepared for the worst.  

6. That feeling of seeing an Ethiopian who’s famous.

My brain: “HeeeEEEEEEEYYY”

Lola Monroe, Marcus Samuelsson, The Weeknd, Rekik Neway (aka @DopeEthiopian on twitter), and YouTubers like Nathan Zed (The ThirdPew) and Liya (LoveFromLiyax). Obviously, that isn’t the whole list, but you get the point.

Come from the same country? We’re going to claim you!

7. You follow @HabeshaComedies and @BunaTime.

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You’re lying if you say you aren’t.

*Stops writing to see that my friend tagged me in one of their posts, tags my sister, sister comes into the room to tell me that her friend already tagged her*

Oh hello again. Yeah, I think I’ve proved my point.

8. Injera doesn’t stop for any holiday.

Injera is amazing so I can’t get angry about having it almost every holiday.

What’s right next to the turkey on Thanksgiving? Injera, doro wet, tibsi, kitfo, all of them on the left side of the table making those mashed potatoes look even blander than when you first saw them. Never have I ever celebrated a holiday with the whole family without injera involved!

9. “You Middle Eastern or something? Indian? Or are you mixed?”

This has happened to me so many times that I just let my face do the talking.

I mean…I don’t know how much more I have to break it down for you. All I can say is that it happens and it’s annoying.

10. “Do you speak African? Ethiopian?”

Like I said I have left it to my face to do the talking.


11. “Is that a weave?”

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No. No. No.

12. #EastOnFleek


Being a part of this hashtag is amazing as #BlackOutDay and #BlackGirlMagic for me! All of us East Africans are gorgeous and we aren’t going to let each other forget that. And it’s all thanks to the incredible @mxdkays.

13. A lot of your cousins aren’t actually your cousin.

Pretty much how it feels like haha!

We come from big families, yet a lot of those relatives aren’t technically your relatives. However, since you didn’t find out until later you just let it slide―also you’re too lazy to go through every single person!

14. You’re Ethiopian, too? Instant connection!


This happens everywhere. School. Church. Grocery store. It even happened once to me and my mom in an elevator.  

15. Gursha!

The Simpsons and Arthur are the only shows I've seen animated injera.
The Simpsons and Arthur are the only shows I’ve seen animated injera.

You can’t say no because that’s disrespectful.

16. The push to date and marry other Ethiopians.

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How my family’s going to be like when “it’s time” to have a husband? Pointing out every guy they approve.

Weird how it’ll switch from “Haha date? Not going to happen!” to “Are you dating anyone yet?” in a couple of years. It’s not that your parents won’t let you date outside your ethnicity since you do live in the United States (or any other country in the world). However, they lowkey really want you to find your Ethiopian prince/princess.

And, admit it, you lowkey wouldn’t mind if that were to happen either.

17. Don’t back away from the check! Offer to pay and if they offer too, fight for it!

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Haha peep the referee stepping to the side! That’s literally how the waiter is like!

Okay, so it’s not that serious, but it feels like it! How many times has an innocent waiter stood there, waiting for the winner to pay for the meal?

18. Mom’s cooking? Close every door and open every window.

Sometimes your mom doesn’t even warn you ahead of time!

It’s either that or smell like doro wet the next day at school.

19. Starts at 2:30? Arrives at 5.

*Tries to think of a good excuse but fails*

I swear I have to lie to my family on when things start just so we can be on time. Although, I’m pretty guilty of this, too.

20. Says goodbye at 7:00 PM. Leaves at 12:01 AM.

So close to the door, yet so far away from the “leaving” part.

You never leave your aunt’s house the second your parents first get up. It’s goodbye, but something funny happens and they sit back down. You see them rise again, but then they sit back down for coffee. This repeats multiple times and it’s worse when your cousins aren’t there to help pass time

21. You are never safe from a whooping.

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And then they’ll act like nothing happened minutes later . . . .

Man, they made you want to call Child Protective Services! Anything right in front of them, they’d use it! Belts, thick wooden spoons, shoes, and their bare hands. Those whoopings made you want to pack up your bags and run away from home! But you were too scared that your parents would find you and would give you a worse beating.

Why do they always say, “You’re crying? Oh, I’ll give you something to cry about!” I need an answer, y’all.

22. Hearing those exaggerated/fake stories.

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Ugh, another one?

The adult always starts out with “When I was your age . . . .” and end with “I wasn’t like you.”

23. Eskista at every party!

My friend asked once, “Are they twerking their shoulders?”

*Mom turns up “Abebayehosh” and calls out to me* “Lalissie! Come over here and show us your eskista!”

24. “Kitfo or Shiro?”

Haha this gets asked too much!

Not even going to answer this.

25. “Teddy Afro or The Weeknd?”

Yeah, about choosing . . .


26. Having pride for Ethiopian culture.

Go ahead and express the love you have for Ethiopian culture!

At the end of the day, you can’t live without all of this (but the whoopings can go). Bless up, world.