Once I left Chicago, there were only two people of African descent on the plane – including myself, it was like first grade all over again when it was just Alicia Newkirk and me. Then, for reasons unbeknownst and in poor choice, they split us up in second grade. That year was the first time in my young eight year life that I was referred to as a nigger – never heard the word and did not know what it was. I do not know if there was any correlation, but I do know since landing in Seoul, I am the only person of African descent currently, as far as I can tell.
There is nothing new about that, not the first time and likely will not be the last. I am not the only person of African descent that was hired at my current school and everyone will be here by Sunday. There are like five other schools in Edu City, however they could be very much lacking in the diversity department. Nevertheless, that is neither the issue, nor the part that bothers me, it is the narrative created by European Americans that fuels my rage. Like the one that labels and classifies humans by “race” or “color” which in itself is a social construct, as well as a means to wield power, encourage divisiveness and perpetuate racism. Thus, I no longer refer to myself as Black – I am not a damn color (which sucks with the whole black girl magic and black boy joy movements, unless I reclaim the word – ugh), so I will not be reduced or defined as such, or African American because I do not feel at home in a place that unapologetically terrorizes my people and people of color, nor do I have to. Thus, other than person of African descent, I have no idea what to reference myself as, other than Kamisha – hence perhaps is the only way we should be identifying and labeling people, by their given or chosen descriptor. Although I do sometimes use colored or Negro just to get a rise out of people and make them uncomfortable. Plus, let me not even get started on that bogus “minority” label nonsense.
Although I have left behind the US for now and its current fucked up state of a union, unfortunately I know I am followed by the narrative that European Americans have created about my people and me around the world in a misguided attempt for world domination or something, I have no clue. There are not only a litany of stereotypes about us, but a history of epic injustices and repercussions that are the foundation for most, if not all of them – know your verifiable history and facts! It is both debilitating and sickening at the same time, especially in light of the reignited hate sweeping across the country and globe caused by ignorance and miseducation. So while there are parts of the stereotypical narrative that may be part of my life and story, they are not the sum of who I am nor indicators of my conclusion. And those are the parts where I have to remind people, there and abroad, do not have me fucked up. I am currently more team Malcolm than Martin and Turner than Parks.
I remind people even though I may have been born to a single mother and I know exactly what government assistance is, I was raised in a two parent home and also know exactly what a 401K and IRA are, because I have them. The privilege of being raised in a multicultural, multiethnic, multi religious, socioeconomically diverse community that enabled me to experience life and learning about others for my formative years of 7 through 18 years old; because after that little girl called me a nigger, we moved expeditiously from where I was to where the minority was the majority – shouts out to Piscataway, New Jersey. The opportunity because through my home, church, and school life I was taught to code switch, I chose a Historically Black College and University, Florida A&M University, over a predominantly white one since I needed to continue learning more about and creating my own narrative. And even though it took me 35 years to obtain my passport, I am making up for lost time traveling as extensively as possible, including solo and relocating out of the country.
All of these things set the stage for the provoked pride and preservation of my culture initiated by the lies and rhetoric of the European immigrants that stole the Americas (and shit tons of other places) from people of color – because if you did not realize that if a place is already inhabited and then someone comes and takes possession (particularly by force), that is known as theft, not discovery nor founding. Thus the unapologetic pride, defense, celebration, and/or preservation of such things as genocide, enslavement, hate, discrimination will no longer be tolerated or excused quietly by me. The past election cycle and current events continue to embolden and invigorate my lack apology on this stance.
For instances, my natural hairstyles have been elevated to express my African hair heritage to new levels beyond simply embracing my natural hair pattern. In the past year, my inspirations have been color, braids, twists and styles that not only express my individuality, but the diversity of exactly all that this good, magical hair possesses. Likewise, all my t-shirts reference people of African descent created by and in support of businesses of people of African descent. I currently search high and low for everything and anything people of color around the world create, from underwear to accessories because I am discovering, we do create and make everything! If I can replace everything I have with products from people of color, that will be quite an accomplishment. Ultimately, this period of time has also piqued my interest in history. The history of people of color as told by them, in truth – their perspectives, their stories – from around the globe is fascinating. I did not learn it during my formal education and it is not being taught now, hence the responsibility falls on me to learn and study the truth that I now believe is more imperative than ever and essential to my personal awakening, as well as setting the course for my future endeavors.
Assimilation and majority my ass. I have no desire whatsoever to embrace, model, or replicate the lifestyles, examples or ideals of Europeans or Europeans Americans – they are not my muse. I am the descendant of an inventive, original, flourishing, magical people who originated on the continent of Africa. Furthermore, as the hope and dream of the (en)slave(d), I also possess the legacy of survivors and all it encompasses to endure kidnapping, the middle passage, slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and 2016 through 2020 – just to name a few. As such, there is much work to be done – more stereotypes to debunk, more facts to be discovered, and more reeducation to be disclosed. Whether here, there, or anywhere, I am committed to this comprehensively and without apology.
Moreover, I am now more than ever committed to setting foot on the continent where I am surrounded by people who look like me.