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. ❤