Askia Acquah Hanson lives just outside Boston, Massachusetts. He hails from Saltpond, Central Region on his dad’s side and from Detroit, Michigan on his mum’s. He is a Muslim, a husband and a father-of-two, who is committed to instilling Black pride in his young daughters.
He is also dedicated to supporting the promotion of Black unity, particularly between Africans in the Motherland and the USA. He talks about how he would use his skills in sociology and security knowledge to bolster Ghana's development.
“...without Africans, Black Americans wouldn’t exist, and without the sacrifice of Black Americans, Africans couldn’t come to America to live a better life...”
If you weren’t born in Ghana, what’s your connection to the country?
I was born in Ohio so my main connection comes through my pops, who is Fante and from Saltpond in Ghana’s Central Region.
My other connections are the ones I keep through my family back home. It is also through what I wear, through my names, and in my effort to plant the seed of Ghana wherever I find myself. My connection to Ghana is a patriotic one.
What’s your main job/ side hustle?
I have many jobs. I am an independent sociologist, which means I work for myself and not a corporation or institution. I study race, ethnicity, culture, poverty, and urban development.
I am a volunteer copywriter for Global United Diaspora – a collaborative platform of multi-national professionals focussed on achieving sustainable development across Africa.
I have also written a few articles for Face2Face Africa. One that I am very proud of is a mix of sociology, security and opinion and explores Ghana-USA relations. Read more here.
In addition, I have been doing graphic design on an off for over 20 years from my first creation - a Ghana T-shirt in Columbus, Ohio to creating a family crest in Boston. I have spent my life making designs that reflect me as a Ghanaian-American Muslim. I now run an online brand called RedTrotroShop by Askia Hanson, which features some of my designs.
But what really pays the bills is my security job at insurance company Liberty Mutual.
Which of those skills do you think would be useful in Ghana and why?
I would use my sociology skills to find constructive ways to help make Ghana a better functioning society. I would achieve this by looking at the role culture and ethnicity play in urban development and poverty.
Ghana needs better weapons systems, and equipment that isn’t second hand or imported. We need to be a Wakanda of sorts - building and creating our own weapons, weapons systems, and surveillance protocols that rival that of Israel. I would use my security industry knowledge to help Ghana to access evolving surveillance techniques.
What has been your best and most challenging experiences while living in the USA?
The best and most challenging thing is helping to raise two beautiful Black girls in a racist America (yeah, I said racist).
As an African dad, I struggle to ensure that they know and love who they are as Ghanaians and young talented little Africans.
Whether it’s the books that I buy, to the Ghana flag I hang in their room, I try to make sure they understand that they have a true home that loves them, and represents them.
I am forever competing with the white Disney and Netflix images that equate beauty standards to whiteness and that being ugly is the standard of blackness.
Teaching them about white supremacy and black resistance is a full-time job in which my wife and I can’t let up on. Nonetheless, I also teach them about US Black history and the joy there is in being Black in America.
What places in your areas would you recommend to tourists and why?
Inner-city Boston neighbourhoods such as Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and the city of Worcester are ethnically diverse. There is a lot of good food there, such as Trinidadian joint Ali’s Roti and a Jamaican spot called Flames. There are events such as the Caribbean Carnival and Puerto Rican festivals that people can attend.
There are also non-profit organisations, such as the Afrimericanone Culture Initiative and the New England Black Stars, that people can get involved in. Nigerian-Black American civil engineer Marlon Solomon established Afrimericanone to build cultural bridges in the African diaspora through education, technology and travel.
And I co-founded New England Black Stars. The organisation consists of eight young Ghanaian professionals, and seeks to promote Ghanaian identity, and foster networks among other diaspora groups.
What – if anything - would inspire you to live in Ghana?
My patriotism. I can’t see myself living in America for too much longer but I won’t completely abandon the States. I would just like to create some distance between me and it for a while. When I went home to Ghana during the 2016 elections, I really felt at peace. I had a peace of mind as a Black man and as an African. I didn’t have to worry about being Muslim, and I learned who I truly was as a Ghanaian. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
To my fellow Ghanaians and Africans who come to America: get know Black Americans as a people. Don’t just copy their culture. Truly get to know them and dispel some of the myths and straight lies that have been told about Black Americans.
Ghanaians and Africans must unify with Black Americans, and understand that America generally sees us as the same. But they make us look down on each other - they divide and conquer us. But without Africans, Black Americans wouldn’t exist. And without the sacrifice of Black Americans, Africans couldn’t come to America to improve their lives.
We may be different, but we are all from the same family. Distant relatives.
*All images sourced from Askia Hanson*
To find out more about Askia, you can follow their Instagram handle: @askiahanson
and you can support his business RedTrotroShop here. Click here to read about more stories from Ghanaians abroad. And if you are a Ghanaian living in the diaspora or know someone who is, fill in our mini questionnaire and you could be featured in our next post.