Ahmet Ali Çelikten saw the way they looked at him. His black skin and his bold, thick features set him apart from the other Turkish WWI pilots-in-training. But he didn’t care.
He trained harder than them, getting the highest marks – he had to! His ancestors’ past haunted him.
His grandmother was among the last enslaved Africans brought to Turkey during the Ottoman slave trade.
Afro-Turks developed their communities and assimilated, but they were still second-class citizens. Descendants of enslaved Africans couldn’t claim Turkish citizenship until 1923! But it gets worse.
50,000-60,000 Africans were imported each year into Turkey, suffering silently, subsumed, their existence never acknowledged. Çelikten struggled for everything he had next to lighter-skinned, full-blooded Turks to reclaim and honor that legacy.
His people were no longer invisible. Çelikten always shared his descendance from a proud people reclaiming their lost legacy.
Always challenge discriminatory practices that try to rob you of your identity.