You showed me men and women who looked like me in high positions; the sounds of your waves comforted me when I didn't think I could see the finish line; your greenest hills, brown paths, and chocolate-covered people showed me that life exists far beyond my own understanding;
I, for the very first time, saw the possibility of being able to call myself African and believe it. It allowed me to step into a world where being black could mean focusing more on being African than American, or at the very least, to the same degree. Being African was something I could claim as a tangible identity and not an obligatory or obscure label. Being an African-American no longer had to be an anchor to a coiled history bottled within my genes, but a direction I can choose to follow.
I cannot say I did not understand both sides of this argument, so I will simply say this: hold on to the tradition if it does not have roots in some form of violence, misogyny or any other form of bigotry. I come from a very prideful people which is why it is hard for us to admit that we are not perfect and our traditions are not perfect.
So, as I sit here in my dorm room on this Ivy League campus, I am aware that my identity is perceived as a threat. I am aware that I will be judged by the color of my skin and labeled as dangerous due to common historical fallacies. But there’s one thing I always remember to alleviate this feeling of unease – my blackness has equipped me with the tools necessary to surpass this corrupt societal system and to see the light that lies beyond it all. And for this reason, I can hold my head high without a doubt in my mind.
At some point in my life, I experienced a…shift. There was an undercurrent. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it. There was a shift in my behavior and ideology that was so slight, so gradual that it was able to fly under my radar. I found myself feeling a lot more self-conscious in certain situations. I felt more insecure around certain groups of people. It felt like a loss of control.