Ifemelu applies for jobs with no success and blames herself. She has little money for groceries and cannot pay for school. When she receives junk mail, she actually feels happy because her name on the address makes her feel seen.
After Cristina Tomas, the receptionist at the registrar’s office, speaks to Ifemelu as if she doesn’t know English, Ifemelu practices an American accent. Obinze suggests she read American books. Ifemelu reads James Baldwin, whose work teaches her about what she calls “America’s tribalisms”: race, ideology, and religion. She adopts American speech patterns and habits.
When discussing the film Roots in class, a Kenyan student, Wambui, asks why the n-word was censored and argues that censoring it erases history. The black American students in the class disagree. One black student expresses her anger at Wambui by mentioning that Africans sold the ancestors of black Americans into slavery. Wambui invites Ifemelu to a meeting of the African Students Association (ASA). At the ASA meeting, students mock the questions Americans ask them, while also mocking Africa themselves. They distinguish between American African students, who either immigrate to America young or have immigrant parents, and African American students, who are black Americans.
Aunty Uju moves to Massachusetts to marry Bartholomew. Ifemelu is shocked.
Ifemelu interviews with a tennis coach to be his personal assistant. He tells her that there are two positions, one for an office role and one for a relaxation role, and that the office position has been filled. Uncomfortable, Ifemelu asks if she can think about it.
Ginika’s colleague Kimberly needs a babysitter. She would even pay Ifemelu under the table so she wouldn’t have to use a fake name. Ifemelu interviews with Kimberly and Kimberly’s sister, Laura. Kimberly compliments Ifemelu’s name, adding that foreign cultures have wonderful names. Ifemelu realizes that Kimberly believes only people of color have cultures. The house is decorated with art from minority cultures. Kimberly shows Ifemelu a photograph of the family visiting India, commenting how happy even the poorest people were. Kimberly’s husband, Don, returns home early. Ifemelu notices that Kimberly becomes docile around him. Ifemelu doesn’t get the job.