There is an old African saying that goes: a man asks an old African man who he is and he responds, “I am we.” It speaks to the oneness of the African people. It speaks of unity, solidarity, love and togetherness. Of responsibility, nobility and pride.
This last week I have been feeling extremely homesick to the point of utter desolation. I am isolated in a small, homogeneous white, conservative town. I miss my hometown. My family. I miss the familiarity of their faces, their voices, the aromas and scents and EWTN in the background as my grandmother speaks loudly in Patois to a great-uncle or great-aunt. I miss the grunge, the wealth and the stories written on the faces of the strangers that pass by. I miss the diversity, I miss seeing Ghanaians, Pakistanis, Azerbaijanis, Turks, Venezuelans, Russians, Koreans, friendly Japanese girls and my Black people.
I am wondering if I should move back to the city. There is so much going on there politically, socially and academically. And, there’s vegan cheesecake. I feel like I’m in a cave, interacting with the world only through social media. How can my son learn about multiculturalism and diversity if he’s stuck in an all white town with all white peers?
It’s a trade off. Our life here materialistically is good. We have a big townhouse with a great deck and yard, we live near the beautiful lake and it’s safe and peaceful. However, when I moved my Black consciousness had not yet been developed. I thought living amongst White people was the epitome of success. Now, I’d give my left toe to highttail it back to the crumbling, but vibrant Parkdale community in Toronto full of crackheads, hipsters and a mix of African, Tibetan and Indian immigrants in the buildings surrounding bourgeois, wealthy white families. That’s my community. And that community cohesion, despite the roaches, bedbugs and ferocious raccoons, is more important than living comfortably in exclusion.
I am we. We is the struggle of the people. As Huey. P. Newton said, “All power to the people”. That doesn’t mean run off and forget the people when things are going good for you. Having my own washing and drying machine is nice. The conversations at the laundromat? Priceless.