Dear Family and Friends,
When I went on a cruise a few years ago with my family my niece Sophia asked everyone, “Where you schrome?”
Last year someone asked me where my family is from. I said Georgia and Michigan. That answer wasn’t acceptable and somehow we ended talking about the consequences of slavery on the black identity.
Now, when people asked me where I’m from I have to decide if I say the town I group up in or the city I’m currently living in.
Tayei Selasi gives a beautiful TedTalk (found here) called Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, Ask Me Where I’m Local. I can not do her soliloquy justice, so you will have to listen to it first hand. In her speech, she challenges the audience to think of themselves in context to a place in three ways: What are your rituals? What are your relationships? What are your restrictions?
What are your rituals?: Home. School. Home. School. Clinic. Home. School. Yep, that’s pretty much it for the most part. Then I had to think a little bit more about my habits. I do go to the same church every week and talk to the same people every week. And every week I think to myself “This is the week I’m going to get to know one new person”… but I don’t. I go get a burrito at the same place after church and head to my cousin’s Jessica’s house every week. I usually get my eyebrows threaded in the Mission by the same lady. I used to take the 33 bus at the same time M-F and would tell the bus driver all of the details about my neurotic landlord. I’ve been going to the same girl’s house to get my hair done for almost 4 years. I only shop at Sprouts, Trader Joes, or Berkeley Bowl for my groceries. In some ways my life is like a Cheer’s theme song, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, And they’re always glad you came; You want to be where you can see,Our troubles are all the same; You want to be where everybody knows your name.”
What are your relationships?: My relationship is with you. My relationships are very ritualistic, and they usually involve food. I always go to the Habit with Lola when I go back to my hometown. I always see the same people at the dog park. I only eat at my top favorite food places with people I really enjoy being around (i.e. if you and I have eaten with me at the Habit, El Torrito, Sally’s, or Yamo together then you are special to me). I always eat at Safeway deli when my parents come to visit. Christmas and Thanksgiving is at Aunty Nay-Nay’s, Aunty Gladys’, or Jamiela’s. I go hiking often and it nusually involves forcing a friend to come with me. I study with Nikki. O.k., actually I don’t really study with her with her. We just both occupy the library so much that it’s like we are studying with each other. I watch and analyze How to Get Away with Murder every week with Faith. Every so often I make an effort to reach out to someone I haven’t heard from or wish that my relationship was stronger (if you are reading this it might be you).
What are your restrictions?: This is a tough one. I never take for granted that having a passport issued from the United States allows me access to a lot of places that bar other people. (Anyone want to take a trip to Cuba!?!). I also know that having a badge and being associated with a major university also allows me access to a lot of places.Social capitol only gets you so far in this world though. I’m pretty sure if I was notably richer I would have access and privileges beyond my wildest dreams, but that might have its own price to pay.
As always, this is just something on my mind this month. All my old post and pictures can be found here: https://fearwaslastseason.wordpress.com/. So I have to ask: What are you rituals? What are your relationships? What are your restrictions?