Sow, Maty

Sow, Maty. Interview: Bronx African American History Project, Fordham University

Abstract

Born on August 19, 1986 in the Senegalese city of Thies, Maty Sow’s father lived abroad in America while she, her mother, and her younger brother lived with their maternal grandparents in Theis. While her father worked several odd jobs to send money back to his family, he also earned a degree that allowed him to procure a position teaching high school math at Taft High School in the Bronx.

When Maty was eight, her parents moved the rest of their immediate family to the Bronx, not having told Maty they were going to do so prior to arriving in America. Having attended a private Catholic school in her native Senegal, Maty found it very tough adjusting to life in the New York City public school system, primarily because she did not speak a word of English upon her arrival in the States.

After attending P.S. 9 in her first year in this country, Sow’s family moved to Parkchester and P.S. 106 for the following school year, a welcome relief for her mother. Mrs. Sow was originally very fearful of the family’s new neighborhood on Thiebaud Ave, but felt much more comfortable in the family’s private home in Parkchester. Although she relaxed somewhat, Sow describes her mother, and her father as well, as being very strict and protective of their children.

Sow describes in great detail the strict nature of her African immigrant parents. For one, she says they never allowed her to have friends over to the house or stray very far away from their watchful eyes. As far as dating is concerned, Sow says that her parents will probably become aware of her dating on the day that she tells them she’s engaged.

Sow tells of a childhood in which Wolof, a native Senegalese language, served as the only language that her parents allowed her to speak at home. Sow’s father, now a middle school administrator, feared that allowing his family to speak English would cause them to lose some of their roots in Senegal, as he had seen happen with families moving to France who spoke only French at home.

Sow later went on to attend Lehman High School, where she took part in the honors program, and Fordham University, where she was at the time this interview was conducted in 2009.