A Walk Down Memory Lane
The Key Consulting Firm is about providing thoughtful, individualized, and culturally-informed service with the understanding that culture is both foundational and embedded in all aspects of development. I think the best way to begin is to tell you about my background. I am a first-generation American born child of African immigrants. While my parents were both from Togo, I was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA – Philly. At a young age, I first noticed educational disparities between communities. For example, there were stark differences between schools in Haverford and King of Prussia and the schools available to me in Philly. While I noticed those differences, I could not understand why they existed. My understanding of those differences did not come until much later in life because I was spending time learning how to straddle multiple unique worlds – different culture.
Socialization is such an interesting part of how children develop. I laugh when I say that I learned how to code-switch (i.e., how to effectively apply the rules of a specific culture and effortlessly glide back and forth between differing cultures) at age 2, before I even knew what code-switching existed. Probably more like age 5 or 6, I just know that can’t remember a time when code-switching wasn’t a part of who I am. Code-switching has been invaluable to me, but it came with its early struggles. The culture of my school differed from the culture I knew at home. At school, we drank milk with full meals. No one thought it was strange. However, at home with my African mother, I remember her firmly stating, “We don’t drink milk with dinner!” We also didn’t use our left hands at the dinner table, a rule that was ingrained in my mother from a time when the left hand – the dirty hand, was only to be used for toileting. I was simultaneously learning the rules of being a Black American, while also learning the rules of being African – Togolese.