Photo by Amelia Fearn
When you ask me where I come from I will tell you I come from the stars. In which ancestors wished upon on plains beneath, and they all wished for me - for a miracle, for magic, for a sun that can turn into the moon rather than make room for it.
When you ask me where I come from- originally - I will tell you that last lifetime I was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s favourite paintbrush. The one before, the hum of migrating birds, and the one prior to that, the branch of a tree fighting the wind for its reason to stay.
I won’t know what you will want me to say, but I won’t say it. I won’t give you a pin pointed place for your colonising fingers to press my spine to. I won’t let you find me.
Nor will I let you define me by my close relationships with brick and stairwells that shake like fish bones in boiling water. I oughta slap the fuck out of you for even asking, but I won’t be angry incase that gives you another location to base my identity on.
I will not pass you my passport upon entrance to your house, or denounce my history just to make victory dance in beauty standards that never made room for me at its table.
I will not read you an African fable for you to feel part of, or pick apart my Father’s mother tongue just to break it down for you.
I will not tell you how we got here or how far it is to go home.
I will not provide you with these stories, these stories that are not yours to own. Just like the gold around your neck, the ivory on your great grandmother’s wedding ring. Just like the jazz your father sings in his office, just like the soul music you sway to.
Just like my soul. Just like my soul. Just like my soul.
I, too, am not yours to own.
Neither my narrative, my background, the complexities of my skin, nor the length of my name that you reduce to a giggle and an accent because everything we are is a joke until your lips wish to take one toke on this green; the colour of greed because you want everything.
When you ask me where I come from, I will respond in every language that finds refuge in the African continent and I pray your lazy tongue can at least say hello in every one. It is the least you owe.
I will force language down your throat like these settlements did, I will force you to speak like us so you know how it feels to have your freedom of speech ripped from your voice box. Till you are a voiceless clock ticking down the seconds till you can go back.
When you ask me where I come from, instead I will tell you how it feels to be a tourist in every place you have ever been. How interracial relationships give me nightmares some nights. That white boys in clubs saying nigger feels like gun shots through my body, and I can’t even fight it any more.
That some days I cry because I hate white people so much that even my mother sounds like a whip-crack and my back been scarred by even those who love me.
Trust me, when you ask me where I come from, I will tell you the truth and you will, so full of guilt and heavy with judgement, in half of one second may feel but a fraction of the weight of this question.
So where do you come from?
Everything you own is built on my misfortune, you are the cancer in my cells. So tell me why should I give you an answer, just another one of my stories you get to tell.