African Hyphen American

They say ‘Go back to Africa, if you feel like you don’t fit in’ Yet here I am in Africa . .  I’m confused is everyone my cousin??


African Hyphen American

By Jamara Beard
*My somewhat poetic thoughts about my first trip to Africa*


As the plane went up, the tears fell down

But unlike my Ugly Cry, I didn’t know if I should smile or frown

And since my old friend never leaves long enough to miss,

Say hello to my Identity Crisis


IC, I think I SEE where you began..

With the fact that I really don’t know where..

Yeah I know Africa, but what tribe? What tongue?

This is my first time here and this ignorance isn’t fun


They say ‘Go back to Africa, if you feel like you don’t fit in’

Yet here I am in Africa . .  I’m confused is everyone my cousin??

I don’t have any kin here, yet I blend right in

I’m not the only one confused as I stand here with matching hair and skin

Kids seem to ignore me as they eagerly greet my different and exciting friends

Adults speak to me in Tonga and ask me what tribe I’m from

Unlike the Nigerian among us, subtle shame on me for not knowing where I come from


I tell them all I know is America and oh how I would love to know further back than that

I point out that for most African-Americans the hyphen isn’t really attached

To simplify, some of us just prefer the title Black

‘Cause it’s hard to identify with a land you’ve never seen

With a culture and language you now look at through a westernized screen

With pain you’ve never prioritized to address

But can you blame them?

We live in a country created out of sin it still doesn’t wanna confess


The land of the free, flowing with opportunity

Now all of a sudden I feel my American privilege and it’s bittersweet

As if being sold into slavery is an indirect victory

Because now I can come back and help my people right?

Yet in this moment I don’t feel guilt, shame, or even obligation

I’m just praying that God will reveal my role in His ministry of reconciliation


-A short line segment yet the distance seems great

If it represented the racial tension between the two, no one would debate

whether you’re in Africa or America, the dividing walls are clear

Instead of pulling them apart I pray they would draw near

But wait, didn’t Jesus claim victory in the second book of Ephesians?

Ahh yes, just like He reconciled us to God

Christ was, and is, and will forever be the hyphen.


With God’s Love,

Jamara B. ❤

2 thoughts on “African Hyphen American

  1. thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts during your visit to the Motherland Jamara. I can totally relate from my experience there last year. Hope all is well.

    Liked by 1 person

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