“I don’t even look like her at all,” Ifemelu had said when Aunty Uju gave her the card. “All of us look alike to white people,” Aunty Uju said.

This conversation appears in Chapter 11, when Aunty Uju gives Ifemelu Ngozi Okonkwo’s documents so that Ifemelu can start applying for jobs. Although it’s obvious to Ifemelu that she looks nothing like Ngozi, white Americans often see Black people as only their skin color and not their individuality. Although Aunty Uju is specifically mentioning this type of racism, in the larger context of the book this quotation can also refer to how white Americans see African immigrants and Black Americans as being from the same culture.

Look at him, just because he looks different, when he does what other little boys do, it becomes aggression.

In Chapter 16, Aunty Uju relates this conversation she had with the principal of Dike’s school after Dike gets in trouble for being aggressive. Because Warrington is a predominantly white area, Dike is the only Black boy in his class. His teachers read aggression into typical mischievous behaviors that white students don’t get in trouble for. Unfortunately, Aunty Uju is unable to have a productive conversation with the principal about the racism affecting Dike because her bringing up race at all makes the principal extremely uncomfortable.

And admit it—you say “I’m not black” only because you know black is at the bottom of America’s race ladder. And you want none of that. Don’t deny now.

This quotation from Chapter 21 comes from one of Ifemelu’s blog posts. Here she addresses how Black immigrants to America do not like to be associated with Black Americans, and their own racism inherent in that. When these immigrants deny their Blackness, they are not correcting a misconception that Black Americans and Non-American Black people have the same culture, but rather trying to separate themselves from the stigmas and stereotypes of Blackness in the US.

When you are black in America and you fall in love with a white person, race doesn’t matter when you’re alone together because it’s just you and your love. But the minute you step outside, race matters.

This quotation comes from one of Ifemelu’s blog posts in Chapter 31, where she argues that race inherently plays a role in interracial relationships. This post appears in the book not long after Ifemelu’s breakup with Curt, and it reveals one of the subtler ways race affects their breakup. Curt is hyper-aware that he is dating a Black woman, as evidenced by how he tells others Ifemelu did not initially want to date a white man. Because racism is embedded into the fabric of the US, merely being in public makes their difference in race something in need of explanation.

She was not sufficiently furious because she was African, not African American.

This quotation appears in Chapter 38, when Blaine is upset with Ifemelu’s decision not to attend the protest for Mr. White. As Ifemelu observes, the issue here is that Blaine continually expects Ifemelu to have the same emotional attachment to the struggle of Black Americans. However, Ifemelu is not a Black American, and while she can observe and understand those feelings, they are not hers. Even though most Americans would consider them the same race, this conflation of their backgrounds causes conflict between them.