I never knew much about my Somalian heritage until later in life, I always thought of myself as just African American. My physical features wouldn’t indicate to anyone that I am anything other than a regular African American female with no other cultural ties. “Regular” is a concept that I’ve witnessed a number of people use to describe their heritage, for the most part people are intrigued to hear about some exotic mix of ethnicities. In introductory exchanges with strangers, we widen our eyes at the woman who tells us of her Italian and Guyanese ancestry. A simple nod is given to those who tell us that they’re Black, no known mix of cultures, just Black. Some are in complete awe that no mixture exists, “So you’re telling me you’re just Black?.” The perception of someone only having roots in America baffles others, utterly confused at the thought of someone as “just” being an African American.
I was well aware of my grandmother’s Somali background but I still identified myself as “just” black, as if it was something bland and plain like a white t-shirt. Learning more about Somalia and my family’s journey to America, I shifted away from the regular black girl classification to identifying myself as a Somali woman. African Americans, especially in South Florida where the majority reign from the Caribbean have to take pride in where they come from even if they’re unaware of the specific details. Too often we forget about the continent from which all of humanity originates, we must all take pride in having descended from Africa, the birthplace of humanity. Just as much as one would take pride in belonging to any other land.
sit listening as the wind asks its eternal questions: What will our generation of women pass on to our daughters? What will be our legacy to the daughters of our great-granddaughters? And the earth sings her response: Offer yourself……yourself ~ Judith Duerk