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The Motherland

2 October 2022


Some time ago, I had a unique opportunity to visit several countries within "the motherland". I got to see so many different monkey's, hyena, water buffalo, deer, birds, bugs, go fishing, the list goes on. The continent was breath takingly gorgeous. Breath taking. During my down time, one of my favorite things to do was get plugged into the local community. I enjoyed playing soccer, arts and crafts, braiding hair, and doing nails with the local village kids.


Helping others has been a deep passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I gained so much joy from spending time with the kids, that I wanted to be able to pay it forward. With the help of friends, I decided to organize a clothing drive to provide the kids with new shoes and clothing. The clothes came in, they were distributed to the children, and I saw the event as a success.


One of the village elders told me that going forward, any gifts for the children would need to be distributed to the elders and they would distribute to the children as they saw necessary. I initially felt offended by this. All I and my friends were trying to do was help. Some of the kids who didn’t have shoes, why would the Elders stand in the way of that? One of the Elders told me that he doesn't want for the children to always expect to be given something whenever they see an American. He asked me if my parents raised me that way; to always expect a person to give me something the moment I lay my eyes on them? His words were said to me in such a gentle tone, but it created a deep discomfort in me that really made me think of who was I REALLY helping?


Months later I saw the actions of what my peers and I on the trip had done be written into award packages. One package stated, "provided children with proper clothing." I read it again and said to myself, PROPER? The children had clothes. They just weren't wearing AMERICAN clothing. Not all of them wore shoes, but that didn't seem to stop them from getting around or beating us in a game of soccer. Where did this attitude of "my way is best" rather than desiring to "learn and respect what is different," come from?


As a kid, whenever I would read stories about slavery, Jim crow, the civil rights movement, or felt excluded or devalued in the places I grew up in, I would remind myself that this was not my true home. This was not where my family came from. My family came from "the motherland". However, as comforting as that once was, after going there and living there for a season the opposite became true to me.

While I shared a similar black skin as the locals, I did not speak their language. I did not know their food or anything about their culture. I did not know their history. One of the kids in an orphanage I visited told me how he wants to go to the States to become a doctor. He also told me how my President was Donald Trump. I thought to myself, "I don't even know if his country has a President let alone who that President may be. And despite him being an orphan, he is well aware of facts about my country."



For the first time in my life, I felt more American than Black. And I questioned, what does that even mean? Homeless is the best word I can use to describe it. Fighting and working myself to death to catch up to my peers, be seen and respected in my American home, but realizing how disconnected and unaware I am of my African heritage.


The more and more I unpack within myself, the more I understand the phrase, "we are not that far removed from slavery." As painful as this therapy has been, uncovering the truth in myself is the only way I know how to truly Free myself.



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