Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog

We have been so long gone from Africa.

We sometimes fail to recognize

that the new arrivals are also us.


The major difference is

they just came here

on the late-night plane touchdown

rather than early in the morning

on the sufferation boats

that shipped us here,

so long ago.


We seem so different.


We sometimes hardly recognize each other,

although, psychologically,

we face much of the same challenges.

We are a heart broken in two

–a twoness that is

really historically one.


Although we were birthed

by the same distant mother,

we are not twins nor the same age.

Not really siblings

but much more than mere cousins.


Putting our parts together

often hurts terribly.

Is almost unbearable.


Warsan articulates our alienation.

Her memories and recollections,

hopes and dreams.

What happens when reality feels

too awful to be so true.

(Go here to Read her story.)

Moving somewhere else is difficult duty.


Being super-intelligent

and knowing you are not slow,

regardless of how those strangers

around you judge you.


Especially when the strangers

so often look just like you.

So much so,

you could be mistaken for kin.


No immediate relation,

but yet, all

of the same heritage.


We are all

the people

from somewhere else.


Eventually, you may get comfortable.

Come to regard this strange land

as your own.

The conundrum of being

not just a stranger but an emigre.


I have come, and am willing

to strive to make this a home,

even though, deep down I know,

not only that I am not from here,

worse yet, I realize

that becoming accepted here

will too often demand

foregoing significant pieces

of where I am originally from.

Warsan Shire at 'Reclaiming the Feminine Voice'

Ask Black Americans,

we know all the trauma

of forgetting

even as we serve

as models of assimilation. 


The here-and-now doors

in our heads

are actually gates

of no return

–they swing only one way,

regardless of how much

some of us push to go back.


Our tragedy is truly tragic.

Once here, en masse,

only a few of us will ever

be able to return

to a too distant home.


So distant. 

We worship

the god of transformation,


ashes on the altar of forgetting


even as we remember

fragments of a severed self

that vainly strives

to somehow reconstitute

all our various selves whole.


Is it a betrayal

that becoming new

means sacrificing old? 


We think that she

is nothing like us,

except in the midnight hour

when we don’t want to be

where ever we are;


except in the morning

when we get up

and momentarily wish

we didn’t have to strive

for acceptance

where ever we are;


except when we thank

whatever gods there be

that we

are no longer threatened by death

in our birth location

where ever we are


knowing our living is only

because they do not

have not,

can not

kill all of us

in this place, this space

where we are now situated.


Not all of us.

But unfortunately some of us.

Too many of us.


An assassin can sneak up on us,

occasionally because

they act like

the person we see

in our morning mirror

as we ready ourselves

to survive another day.

Imagine the disaster

of being here,

try as you might

to make this place a home.


The deepest disaster

be the devastating reality

that you just might succeed

in becoming

something else

other than

what your mother birthed.


Fully an emotionally

settled stranger,

permanently encased

in the time and trauma

of an amnesia,

required of you

as the price of existence

in this,

your new home town.