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  • Writer's pictureJeneisha Harris

“Africa.. the Mother that I do not know”

I want to go home.

I want to be with my Mother.

We were separated before I was born, and now that I am older I want to find her.

Can someone, anyone, help me?

I am lost. And I don’t know where to go.

I could hop on a plane for the next flight to Africa.. but what country would I go to specifically?

There are not any direct flights to “Africa” so what country do I choose?

I need help finding out because I do not know where to go, all I know is that I need to find my Mother, soon.

You see.. I am an American.. even though I do not want to be.

I would like to identify with my Mother, Africa, but I do not know her.

When she speaks, I do not understand her.

And when she dances, I unfamiliarly stand in awe.

I can not truly, freely or comfortably be American, because my ancestors were forced here.

And I can not thoroughly identify with my African roots because I don’t know where in Africa I belong.

The American flag triggers me, too.

My people were stripped from everything they knew and it is too painful to see the American flag blossom with the blood of my ancestors… so I can only visualize it in black and white.

They died in so much pain, unknowingly passing on this Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome that I am suffering from now.

What an egregious tragedy.

I pray for their souls, everyday.

They were so resilient and brave… maybe that’s where I get my strong spirit from. I like to believe that it was engraved into my soul, when I was in my mother’s womb.

I feel like a child who was kidnapped… one who is supposed to be in one place… but ends up in another.

Kidnapped into oppression and forced into a country that I should not even know in this way.

I miss my Mother! I know that I don’t know her, but I miss her. And I need her, to show me who I really am.

I should not be in America right now.

I should only be in America for vacation or to study abroad.

Not to reside as a result of being brought here.

I should be somewhere in Africa right now.

Living a life full of culture that is mine.

Black Americans have created customs and culture to feel a bit more comfortable in this country, but the oppressors have even tried to take that away from us, too.

So yes. I am angry. I have a culture that I know nothing about, a language that I can not speak and family that I do not know because it was stolen from me.. it was stolen from us all.

So yes! I am angry. And frustrated. And confused… Because I should be somewhere in Africa right now.

And I would have been somewhere in Africa right now… if it were not for slavery.

I do not know where I would be, live or the conditions of those things… but at least I would be home.

At least I would have my culture, language, identity, and my name.

And speaking of names, I cringe when I see mine.

Harris is of European decent, English more specially.

And I am obviously not, English.

Sometimes I wonder about the family, who owned mine..

I wonder if they know I exist.

I wonder if they know what their ancestors did to mine.

And I wonder if they know that we share the same last name even though we should not.

I thought about placing an X in replace of my last name, like Malcolm did.

The X for the unknown because my identity is truly that… unknown.

Sometimes I cry, knowing that I may have a bit of European blood in my body from slave masters raping my ancestors.

What did they, we, do to deserve this?

I am trying so hard to forgive, but it is incredibly difficult.

I remember traveling in Israel in 2017… we visited the Holocaust museum and one of the Jewish students said “If anything ever happened in America, I could always come back here, and I am so grateful for that”

And I immediately cried.

Because I could not say the same.

If anything were to ever occur here in this country, and I had to leave… where would I go?

Everyone has a place to call home. But me.

Chinese people can go back to China.

Indian people can go back to India.. but where does an “African American” girl, go?

And for the life of me… spare me with that term.

Africa is a continent.

And because I do not know where in Africa I am from, I would like to be referred to as “Black”

Because once again, Africa… is a continent. And referring to me as an “African American” only slaps me in the face with the fact that I do not know where my ancestors where stolen from.

There are 54 countries in Africa.

And I do not know where to begin.

Ghana? Nigeria?

Where do I belong?

What tribe are my ancestors?

What language do they speak?

These are questions that only my Mother, Africa, has the answers to.

I do not belong in America.

There is so much trauma and pain here that is lingering, especially in the South.

I can feel the ancestors calling me to the Motherland.

That is where I belong..

Me and my Mother do not have have any memories or pictures together, but I hope that will change, soon.

I am missing out on a culture that my DNA recognizes, but one that I do not.

How can one be foreign to something that is also so closely within them?

A part of me is missing and I can not rest until I find it.

These are the thoughts of many Black Americans… we are torn, confused and yearning for the biggest part of us.

The journey of finding my roots and ancestry is painful but exciting.

It is painful because I can not fathom how a group of people can strip another group of people from everything that they know.

Painful to relive over and over what my ancestors endured.

But I am excited… excited to finally put the pieces of my puzzle, together, and for once live in truth.

Africa has never seen me.

When she speaks in her native tongue, I weep, because I do not know how to reply.

I have never seen her, but she knows that I exist…

She knows that she has many children that are lost and misplaced all over the world, Motherless, but one day… we will all return back to her.

Although, she may not be on my birth certificate, I know that she birthed me.

I feel her in my bones, she is reflected in activism… and when I look into any mirror, my skin let’s me know that we are related.

There is no denying this. Africa is my Mother.

It is evident that I am hers, and much more evident that she is mine.

I may not know her. But she surely knows me, by name.

The day that we meet will be the day that I can finally take my American shoes off, let my African hair down and smile as the ancestors welcome me into a land that I have never known. Because that day, oh that day…

I will finally, be home.

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