My great grandmother was a farmer
She was a medicine woman
She was brave.
My grandmother never spoke English
She was not literate
She raised her children through a war.
My mother is a broken women
She holds both magic and rage
She never shows love.
I would like to think that I am good with words
But I keep everything inside
I feel empty sometimes.
Let’s set the stage: This takes place after a community discussion about the role that queer and LGBTA folks play in the Black Lives Matter movement. To give a bit more insight it was titled, “Which Black Lives Matter?” Somehow the topic of the Africans and African Americans came up, which is always a multilayered and relatively difficult topic for me to answer, mostly because I’m still developing in my own thoughts/self perception.
Her: So you’re Nigerian, how does that mesh with this black liberation, being African and all?
Me: Idk it’s complicated, my identity that is. My parents are Nigerian and I’m Nigerian, but I was born and raised in the Bay and Sacramento. So there is an identification with all these places.
Her: Where do you call home?
Me: I think the concept of home is a bit nebulous for black folks period. If you’re African American there is this detachment with the concept of home, due to slavery and displacement and that culture echoes and has influenced me. But also, when I think of my own parents as not just Nigerians but as Igbos, there too is this odd relationship with home. My dad lived through the Biafran War and he grew up in Kano, but was forced back down home to Owerri when the war broke out. So he has a displaced traumatic relationship with home, which affects me. So even though I’m from the Bay there is this other place in the back of my head that exists. And when I think about, like really think about it, there is a pain and a sense of detachment associated with that home as well. So yeah, to make a long story short, idk.
Her: Oh, well it seems like still you have a lot to think about and figure out.
Me: Yeah, I guess so.
Regardless of whether or not I was fluid in my response, isn’t the point. I spoke my truth. I told my experience. In all its layers and multiplicity. I didn’t make it easier for someone else to digest or distill it to make it more palatable. My identity does not deserve to be reduced for someone else’s convenience. I spoke, it was honest, and for me that made all the difference.
Until next time…