Reclaiming What's Mine
Every nerve ending in my body aches and trembles with a story to be told.
With every brush-up against another person, place or thing, the discomfort grows more intense, my sense of self more raw. Nothing can tame this shrew inside my mind and the hurt within my heart it seems, except the loosing of those stories which put the pain there in the first place.
Someone, somewhere, must care about my story. There have to be people in this world who can understand what it means to inhabit the crossroads of American identity.
I live in a desegregated country that has never been properly integrated.
Growing up, I dreamed of being a foreign correspondent. I wanted to tell the story of those Haitians, West Africans and African-Americans whose human rights had been violated by the evils of racism and ethnic hatred, both of which had left me renounced by my “white” family as a teenager and a graduate of the U.S. foster care system at age 16. Instead, I ended up an uneducated single mother in the projects, trying my best to find writing jobs wherever and however I could. Still, I pushed on through college, raising my kids and writing a paper on Afrodescendant Quality of Life for the U.N. Human Rights Council, if nothing else proud at least of having never lost my voice, despite hardship. I lived to honor the resilience and perseverance of those who had pushed on before me.
I finally did make it to Haiti, several times. Once I angrily confronted MINUSTAH peacekeepers in Cite Soleil as they brandished M-16s, set up a perimeter with tanks and threw my friends face down in the dirt. Last time, I got raped by a Haitian. “I know, you just came here to help,” he told me.
As usual, alone at the Carrefour.
A few weeks after, I wrote an op-ed entitled “We Are Not Your Weapons, We Are Women.” In response, I received death threats from American and European white supremacists, my Facebook and e-mail accounts were hacked and I was invited to appear on The Today Show, an invitation I ran from. Racism and fear stole my words from me. I stopped writing and nearly speaking to others for over a year.
Today, I stand up to write. To speak. To free my nerves of the trauma that ethnic hatred has inflicted on me.