Founded in Miami, Florida, in 1935 or 1936 by Hunter Campbell and bootlegger Johnny Pierce, the all-black baseball team, the Ethiopian Clowns, were among the most widely celebrated and last examples of this name sake.
Ethiopian celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson to open two restaurants at New York’s JFK International Airport’s Delta Airlines terminal by 2014 – one focusing on classic American cuisine and the other on international street foods.
Frustration. Embarrassed. Sad. Angry. Dumb. You feel all of these and more when you lack one thing: the ability to speak in your ethnic language.
Being a first-generation born Ethiopian living in the US, I learned English. I am able to understand when my parents or others speak to me in Amharic - most of the time - but when prompted to reply, I shy away and my tongue automatically shuts down.
Like most, I started off speaking Amharic, but the transition occurred when I was ready to enter school - around the age of four. It’s funny because I look at videos when I was younger and it actually sounds like I just arrived to America - accent and all lol.
After that, however, my parents spoke to me in English. Now in my mid-20s, I have tried picking up the language again, even teaching myself how to read and write in y'amarigna fidel (Ethiopian alphabet). I’ve come a long way and I’m proud of that, but as most will tell you, it’s not necessary to know the written language outside of Ethiopia. The most important thing is to know how to speak, and that is something I continue to struggle with.
I primarily blame my parents, but I also must take some responsibility in not showing interest earlier. But it’s hard when the country you live in speaks another language. The hardest thing for me is seeing those not of Ethiopian abesha speaking the language more fluently than me (i.e. white people, Indians, etc).
After visiting Ethiopia twice, I am determined to learn Amharic as best as I can. After all, the bulk of my relatives live there and most do not speak English. Even though we are from different countries, we should still be able to connect as family.
The biggest challenge, however is not my inability to speak the language fluently, rather, it is getting over a bruised ego that will allow me to fully absorb the language in its entirety.