I am an International African


I haven't told anyone this, but I will share it today. In the 90s while I was in college, my brother and I were financially struggling. Our phone and light bills were kind of hard to keep up with. We picked eating over paying the phone bill. No matter how much we worked, it seems that we could never keep up with it all. A lot of our college friends were going through the same and we band together through the hardships, but there were times you kind of stew in the reality of the struggle. I do remember one night, sitting in our apartment and just feeling like absolute nothing.  I sat in front of the TV watching God knows what and a commercial came on. It was one of those commercials where you see a poor African suffering and starving.  Let me pause and say, most of Africa is not filled with people starving and dying.  This is a horrblie narrtive creatied by white Westerners.  Though the narrative is false, I know the suffering that I was seeing was still real and that child was suffering more than I was. I made a promise that when my finances became stable I would donate to this fund. 

It was 1998 or 1999 that I was able to fulfill this promise. Why did I need to do this? It was a reminder that there is always someone suffering more than myself and that there is always room to give and help. It was a way for me to connect with my own roots and strengthen them. It was a connection to the Motherland and my soul needed that connection. It was a way to make another promise; to go to the mother land and maybe even meet the families that I support and have changed my life.  Until this day, I still give to children in Ghana and I will until my dying days. 

Tonight I went to an event to hear a woman who, at one time, was part of the Black Panther party and she now lives in Tanzania. with her husband whoe was exiled from the United States.  She was beautifully dressed in the bright colors, beautiful jewlery from head to toe, but it was her spirit that shined so bright. I felt her connection with her root and for the two hours I was in her presence, I felt the Motherland through her. It was amazing. Talking about her compound and life in Africa woke me up from a very miniscule place that my mind had been living in.  My world is changing. I am moving back to Detroit, leaving a job and "stablity" and I am getting caught up in the choas instead of being calm in it. We all are human and I was having a human moment and freaking out. with so much "going on" Tonight though, hearing the stories about her life, hearing how drumming connects us to ourselves and ourn ancestors for support made be again realize, that the world is bigger than emails, jobs, money. It is bigger than me. 

She read this poem that she called International African and it hit me. I am categorizes as a minority so much. I am a woman, I am black and so on and so on. But, from a world view, I am not a minority. I am part of a large marjority throughout this world. I am international and I am human. There are no limits or smallness about me or anyone else. I had been thinking of my problems and my life in a small way. Her drums and voice woke me up. I am African, I am international, I am limitless. 

These Shoes: Brooklyn


In 2011, I got kicked out of my loft in midtown Detroit. Not just me, but every person that lived in that building had to go. There were zoning issues, and the basement was not within code. For a while I think the sewer was backed up and the smell was filling the halls. My loft was beautiful but it was owned by a slumlord. After we all had to leave our homes, I felt so displaced. I had no where to go but back to family.  I wasn't ready for that, so I took the rent that I would have used to pay for my loft and took my first solo trip to Brooklyn.  

These are the shoes I wore as I walked the streets of Brooklyn. I stayed in Bed-Stuy an economically-mixed neighborhood that at one time was predominately black. I loved the way it felt. It was filled with mom and pop stores and restaurants. People were in the streets walking and talking. I wasn't alone but I also felt like myself more than ever before you know. There was a groove and energy in the pavement and these shoes caught it and took me through Brooklyn to Manhattan to Harlem. 

We find one of my favorite locations, Fort Green. From the feel it seemed to be a gentrified location, but I found some lovely things. BAM, and Moshood for starts. I found a great place to sit, right in front of the Target across from the Barclay Center and in this spot I saw much more. I saw how the old and new of Fulton collide. On the left of me and behind me I see the new and diverse and consumerism and as I look to the right I see what I could only assume was old Brooklyn. Old Fort Green. So many people waiting on the bus to leave this place of merging worlds to go to their separate places. There is a beauty to it. I loved watching it more than a movie. 

These shoes were with me when I got lost in Harlem and I decided that I will take any subway to get out of the hot heat of the concrete and the lack of shade.  These shoes got me to Bay Ridge to see a friend of a friend. It was so different from the rest of Brooklyn I walked through. It had a Midwest feel and made me homesick for the first time on the trip. 

I wore these shoes on the plane. It was a way of bringing Brooklyn with me and connecting it with my hometown once I landed. I promised myself to visit Brooklyn every year. I kept that promise until life sent me back to Houston.  



These Shoes: Houston


These are my Chucks; my Converse. They are in bad shape because I really wear and use the hell out of them. I purchased them in January 2014.  I moved back to Houston after three years of being away.  All of my boxes of clothes and most of my other belongings that I sent a week before my move were lost in transit.  I was really distrubed by this. Who wouldn't be. The only thing I had left was a pair of Mary Janes, black booties and maybe five outfits.  I needed some shoes that were comfortable. My car had not made it to Houston yet, so a friend took me to Target. 

This was the last pair of Converse and they were on sale. I tried them on and got right in line to pay for them. They were very comfortable. These shoes were the purchase they made me realize that everything I lost could be replaced. I was safe, I had a roof over my head and I had friends who cared enough for me to take me to Target. 

Thankfully my clothes were found a week later, but these shoes became a symbol of two weeks of transition from Michigan to Texas that didn't go that smoothly. These became my go to shoes, like Linus and his blanket. I wore them on my walks in the park and to work. They were my "take out the grabage at night" slip ons. After work, when no one else was around and I had to work late, I would change out of the Mary Janes into these. 

These shoes saw a lot. They took me to different parts of Houston and made me feel at home. Each spec of dirt, each hole and rip embodies the last two years of my life in Houston. It has been wonderful. In a few days, I am moving back to Michigan. I am excited to move back home, but sad to leave my other home. I will always come back to Houston yearly, but while I am away, I can always look at my Chucks and remember.