Black Catholic wishes people would stop assuming he’s Nigerian

BOSTON, MA—Local African-American Catholic Akil Demara expressed frustration that fellow Catholics keep assuming he’s Nigerian. 

Demara told The Daily Inquisition things came to a head last week, when he decided to visit St. Mary of the Assumption church in Brookline. Parishioner Sue Loretta came over to welcome him and asked him, “what part of Nigeria are you from?”

“People were trying to be welcoming, I know, but it still makes me upset,” he told us. “Just because I’m Black and Catholic doesn’t mean I’m from Nigeria.” 

People of color have long been a minority in northeastern Catholic communities, historically excluded from many of Catholic schools or parishes. But as the Catholic population declines in these areas, African Catholics are filling American vacancies at the altar and in the pews.

Demara explained to Loretta that there are plenty of Black Catholics who are not from Nigeria. 

“We come from all over,” he calmly told her. “And its rude to presume you know I’m from Nigeria just because I’m Black and Catholic.”  

Further conversation revealed Demara is actually from Benin, a small African country next to Nigeria. 

“There’s a big difference!” he said. 

Originally published Jul 10, 2022