Tuesday, November 6, 2012
My mother just called and told me her electricity and heat finally back on in her Jersey City, New Jersey apartment. I have to be honest: I was definitely thinking about canceling this trip to Africa because I was not comfortable leaving my mother in this state. But when I spoke with her earlier this morning, she told me to go, gave me her blessing, would not hear of my canceling the trip because of her. That is truly a mother’s love.
My mother has never been on an airplane, never left America, never even been off the East Coast (my family roots are in the Low Country of South Carolina), so through all my travels, she experiences these trips with me. I laugh to myself when I hear my mother say things like, “We not no Africans, we don’t know nothing about no Africa, we Americans.” Because in her own way she is saying the American South, New Jersey, America, is all we know since our ancestors were captured, kidnapped, and stolen from Africa (to work for free throughout what we call the Americas).
So for people like my mother, our lives began here.
But, as has been said many times, a tree without its roots cannot stand. So goes it for us who are of African descent, in America, in Canada, in the Caribbean, in Latin America, in Europe, in Asia, wherever we are on the planet. I am very clear that I am an African, and say that often. Doubly clear that I am an African American, which means, as Amiri Baraka stated so powerful in his landmark book Blues People, those of us born here in the United States maintain many of the traits and cultural nuances of Africa, but are, in fact, a completely different group, too.
But when I hear the South Carolina Geechee dialect of my mother and many relatives from the Low Country, or think of the many beliefs or superstitions and sayings passed from generation to generation, or watch how we praise God in our churches and are seemingly possessed by holy spirits, it is abundantly clear that Africa is all up in us, even if we’ve been conditioned to believe that it is not.
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