Deeper Than Black, a first-person documentary short (23:00), offers a visceral and intimate exploration into the questions asked by many second-generation children of immigrant parents in the United States: “Who am I, and where do I belong?” Ghanaian-American filmmaker, Sean Addo, has burdened the pressures of cultural duality since his birth in America.
How do we identify? It is an important human desire to want to identify as, or with, a social group. As a product of the influence of the African American and Ghanaian cultures, Sean Addo finds himself floating between both groups, while not feeling completely accepted by either. This documentary is a personal journey that chronicles Sean’s search for an understanding of his own Ethnic identity, as well as his attempt at gaining total acceptance from either of the two cultural groups.
“I thought we were all simply black but it turns out that it is much deeper than that.” – Sean Addo.
At a young age Sean realized that his circle of friends were mainly African American children, the culture and the color of their skin being a major common uniting factor. This all changed when he was discovered by his African American friends to be of African (Ghanaian) descent. A discovery that led to being singled out and labeled as different. He was no longer seen as Black like they were; he was now “African”. An association that would lead to him being bullied, ridiculed, and publicly humiliated.
However, Sean cannot find refuge amongst his cultural pedigree either. His desire to strengthen his ties to his African roots is marred by the constant battle to prove and validate his Ghanaian heritage. How can Sean prove to other Ghanaians that he is one of them if he cannot understand their language or cook their food? A natural human instinct for social survival and peer conformity causes us to adapt to our surroundings and culturally assimilate surrounding cultures associative mannerisms. How does one hold on to their parent’s foreign culture when that culture is in constant conflict with that of the mainstream American Society?
In pursuit of finding the answer to his quest, Sean stumbles on some of the harsh realities that define the relationship between African immigrants and African Americans. Touching on the sensitive issues of prejudice, cultural bias, and ignorance between both groups, our distant African Ancestors and African Americans also referred to by some as “Blacks”.