African American Studies
Interviewee: Karen Brifu
Interviewer: Mark Naison, Jane Kani Edward, Brendan Hayford
Summarized by Eddie Mikus
Karen Brifu is a Fordham University graduate of Ghanaian descent who currently works for the Federal Reserve Bank. Her life story sheds light on the experiences and values faced by the Ghanaian immigrant community.
Brifu was born to two Ghanaian parents in the Bronx. As a child, her family often spoke Twi at home to ensure that their children maintained ties to the Ghanaian culture. Additionally, the family also made Ghanaian foods like a cream-of-wheat known as farina and played Ghanaian music while at home. Although there were several Ghanaian families in the Brifu’s neighborhood, they were in regular contact with families from many different ethnic groups. She also attended a large number of outdoor parties held by Ghanaian families. Brifu says that she viewed her neighborhood growing up as a safe place where everyone knew each other.
One aspect of Brifu’s life that was emphasized in her household growing up was education. She says that her father was very strict in terms of finishing schoolwork. Additionally, Brifu’s father was also influential in the decision to send her to Emma Willard, as it was the only school he would consider for his daughter. Brifu also said that her parents expected her to receive grades in the nineties or above, something that she feels indicates a desire amongst the Ghanaian community for children to receive better jobs than their parents. Brifu herself has even taken up a job at the Federal Reserve Bank, where she interned after her sophomore year of college.
Brifu, Karen. January 31, 2009. Interview with the Bronx African American History Project. BAAHP Digital Archive at Fordham.
Click below to download supplemental content.Brifu, Karen.mp3 (97461 kB)