"Sudan's Chance for Peace." ..
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By far the best known of the Sudanese American population are those known to Westerners as the "Lost Boys" (a name they themselves dislike as it infantilizes them), children who were separated from their families in the 1980s and walked for months across Africa to reach refugee camps. Most of the children were boys because they were away from home tending the family's cattle when their villages were attacked. Girls are traditionally kept at home, doing domestic work, so the majority of the girls were either killed or kidnapped by the attackers and few escaped. Of the approximately 3,800 refugees who were resettled in the United States in the early 2000s, only 89 were girls.
Culture Shock Sudanese refugees coming to America - YouTube
Sudanese boys are traditionally sent off in peer groups after initiation into manhood, either to tend cattle or go to nearby towns and cities to attend school or find other work. Banding together to survive the trek across the country to find safety in refugee camps was, therefore, a familiar response to unfamiliar circumstances. Sudanese culture also stresses the importance of cooperation and communal sharing, values which contributed greatly to the refugees' ability to survive the dangerous journey.
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One of the difficulties Sudanese Americans face in the United States is how to integrate themselves into what is still a racially divided society. Southern Sudanese have very dark skin, much darker than many African Americans' skin tone, automatically relegating them to second-class status in American society. Recognizing this, most Sudanese Americans choose to emphasize their African identity in an attempt to stay outside the limited boundaries of being black in America. Since many hope to return to the Sudan at some point, they are not interested in assimilating fully into American society anyway, so they retain their sense of being African rather than American. It remains to be seen how this dynamic will play out in the long run for those Sudanese Americans who decide to stay in the United States.