For all I am
For all I’m feeling
I will be true and
I will seek
Gave away my pain
And all the chains
‘Cause I’m no slave
For I am King
For all I am
My ancestors tell me so
My blood it tells me so
My being it tells me so

“I Am King,” Ray Hodge

While I was on a work trip to Providence, Rhode Island last year, my Lyft driver was a very friendly black, immigrant man. At one point on the ride from the train station to my hotel, he started talking in earnest about the beauty of black people across the globe and our immense strength. He marveled at the legacy each of us is born into, the courage and strength of thousands of lives who envisioned better for us and each generation. How we were taken far away from our homelands, across seas, toiling in the sun day after day, and yet here we are. He paused and shared a small smile with me before stating that he did not believe that any other group of people on earth could have endured what our people have for centuries and still find ways to survive and thrive. I agree.

Last week was hard. I couldn’t find a single area of my life that I thought was smooth sailing. My spirits were low, and I felt drained of energy and inspiration. It’s during weeks that those that I ground myself in what I know to be true:

That there is nothing I cannot do through the creating powers of God.

That I am not bound to this earth.

That I am more than I can produce in a day, a week, a month, a lifetime.

That I do not have to cling to my pain.

That I am the descendant of magnificent kings and queens who may have lost their land, but never their purpose.

That I am the daughter of two visionaries, who crossed an ocean to build the type of home that goes with me wherever I am.

That I am loved.

And love.

And continue.


Living My Own Narratives

What does it mean for something to be mine and not yours? what “right” do I have to a space, a land, a boundary? Maybe I’m the “good” immigrant to them. The Ivy degree, no criminal record, “good addition” to this country checkboxes. I think about the first time someone told me that I should distinguish myself from American-born blacks. “You’re not like them,” they said. They were attempting to sell me what they thought of as a dream –no, a nightmare. An acceptance based on placing my foot on the throats of another; an unholy union with whiteness.

But I look into the mirror, and I see brown skin and eyes that are haunted by ancestors crying from unmarked graves and the bottoms of the oceans both east and west.

Is it love if they only love you if you present in particular ways? If your story is one they can exploit to vilify another? We cross oceans in search of a different story, and find ourselves forced into another we did not author. I became an “immigrant story” –which gets your family featured in the local paper under the title “The American Dream.” Sometimes though you dream of things and wake to find that they are empty of any promises that keep you whole. That’s when you realize the sacrifices it takes to pen your own story. To be you, not a trope, not a one size fits all existence.

Not the “good immigrant.”

But a person. A person who crossed an ocean in search of the room to build a different story.