In Transcendent Kingdom, Gifty describes how internalized racism has affected her life and sense of self from her earliest years:
I didn’t grow up with a language for, a way to explain, to parse out, my self-loathing. I grew up only with my part, my little throbbing stone of self-hate that I carried around with me to church, to school, to all those places in my life that worked, it seemed to me then, to affirm the idea that I was irreparably, fatally, wrong.
In kindergarten, Gifty tells one of the other children that she is a princess from Ghana, only to receive the response that Black people cannot be princesses. The racism she faces throughout the rest of her school career, is for the most part, less overt, but all the more insidious for that. Part of the reason that she has no language with which to explain her self-loathing is that racism is an unspoken menace, which is tacitly expressed through assumptions and low expectations.
This internalized racism seems to have affected Gifty's choice of study and career. Instead of trying to combat the unexpressed opinions which she now assumes are all around her, she goes into a field where opinion is irrelevant and everything can be expressed in cold, hard facts. Gifty's narrative voice is, for the most part, appropriate to a scientist, dispassionate, curious, and precise. It is also, at least in part, a way of avoiding talking too intimately about herself. However, the fact that she remembers incidents such as the one in kindergarten, and the detail with which she recalls them, show how deeply embedded they are in her psyche.