Monday, October 4, 2010

America has never felt natural

Deep down, I'm a city girl, not a country girl, a southern girl, or a rural girl.  The city has always been what I've known and its where I find my ordinance of living.  I was born in Washington, DC aka Chocolate City.  I am first generation born, since my parents were part of the migration from the South.  My father from Alabama and my mother from North Carolina, a pretty interesting mix of southern upbringing.  Both have strong memories of growing up in a segregated existence, but also an existence that consisted of strong knitted communities and family that were not so deeply separated by time and distance.  But all of that changed once the the 1960s hit, and really the migration from the South had pretty much pivoted by this point because it had been going on since the 1860s. 

People trying to find a better way of life, and for black people that often meant migrating from the most oppressive and depressive areas of our existence, which typically was the south.  Though many remained, I am the product of those who left.  My grand mother was the start of this migration as she moved to Washington DC in her thirties to find a better life that what was in Roanoke Rapids.  Even leaving her children behind to stay with her mother (my great grandmother & father), while she got herself situated in DC.  Eventually my mother came up to DC where she graduated from Rooselvelt High School, and eventually she married my father who had moved up from Alabama, because his mother had left the south and moved to DC also. 

In the scheme of things I am the daughter of migrationist, who wanted a better life. As I grew in the various suburbs of Washington DC, I grew into the fabric of this area, though DC is considered metropolitan for its diverse population and ease of transportation across the city via its metro and subways, and government hierarchy, there has always been a strong identity of Black thought and consciousness here.  A wider expansion of the great migration as to what Black ppl contributed to the nation's capitol, a once slave holding and trading commerical city, is now home to many black residents.   DC in all its grandeur still left me wanting more.  The obvious changes and gentrification over the past twenty years has left a gaping hole and an almost vacant feeling in the once popular go-go capital of the world.  As I myself married and began to have a family of my own, my desire to live in DC began to whither more and more, as I desired to be somewhere that felt natural.  Everywhere I could think of in America had no mere attraction to me, it was either too cold, too southern, or too far west, and I wasn't going out west.  At heart I'm an east coast city girl, but like my grandmother before me, I was becoming a migrationist... my next choice to live and make a better life....Africa!!!

It felt like a natural place to migrate to, to take my children and raise them in an environment that was not overly gentrified, and one that wasn't purely draining my children of their natural senses and desires of wanting.  It was natural as well to move to Gambia since my husband was from this part of Africa, and as we began to bring into motion this reality, the harder it was to believe that I would be leaving america. Not because everything was wrong with America and clearly there are some things wrong here. And not that everything was so right in The Gambia, because there are some real problems in Gambia too, but there are pros and cons to any environment no matter where you are.  But still, being in Africa felt more natural than being in America, and being in Gambia felt more natural than being in DC, my birthplace, and as I continue to struggle to decide where to be for a while, Africa still calls me....

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