I stand here as an African, American woman: five feet, five inches tall, brown sun kissed skin, rocking my TWA, the product of my third big chop in life. With each unrehearsed big chop, comes more product, custards, curling puddings and ways to alter the appearance of the coif that society taught me not to love, as deemed “unprofessional” and “unkempt.” My God. My, God. The Unlearning.
I stand here as an educated woman with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and a post graduate Degree in Human Service Counseling. Yet and still, with every notch I put on America’s belt, the eyes of each corporate head honcho widens in shock and awe when I formulate sentences “far too smart for Negros.”
My God, My God. The Unlearning.
I stand here as a product of a loving Igbo father, who is, and has always shown the Biblical definition of love my entire life. He is not proud. He is not self-seeking. He is not easily angered and honors others. I wonder why the river that runs through him so effortlessly often fails to water the seeds of the seemingly polished apples on our family tree? I giggle nervously at the trauma bonds that scientists have labeled as genealogy. I giggle because black people are taught to laugh through pain. My God. My, God. The Unlearning.
I stand here as a Christian woman with big faith. Sometimes I am taken aback by how God pulls the string to my parachute just in time, all the time. I leap without looking. Those who are careful and held together by fear offer their advice wrapped in worry and wolves fur. Many of them on stages or in pews. All of them with a platform because of media. I wonder what would happen if they truly let go and believed that His promises are true. My God. My, God. The Unlearning.
I stand here on land. Foreign land. I make the best of it. WE make the best of it. We apply for loans in the name of ownership. We work to obtain the acers they swore would be ours. We debate with one another because there can only be one. When that “one” makes it up the stairs we applaud no matter the context of the content. You look like me and I look like you so therefore that makes us a “We.” My God. My, God. The Unlearning.
Art by Kehinde Wiley