“…And there are so many silences to be broken”
This past week has been one of coming to terms with the reality of the world we are in and personal growth. When I was a senior in high school, I wrote a personal essay on my identity as being a Liberian immigrant and moving to the United States at a very young age. I remember trying to come to terms with how my family saw me, how the world saw me, and how I tried to fit myself into the perfect holes others had made for me. I never knew what I wanted from myself. Although, I wrote that essay and I asked myself a series of questions of my identity and have continued to, I felt the pieces all meld together when I arrived in Marrakech, Morocco.
I have been writing poems that take pages to finish about how I felt in Marrakech, but I still haven’t found the exact words for the feelings yet. And though I haven’t been able to put my finger on it exactly, it’s the closest thing I could think of as home on this study abroad trip and it gave me an overwhelming sense of safety. I slept in the Sahara for one night and I remember looking into the sky, lying on the Moroccan rugs, and sniffling away tears because I just wanted my mother there with me. In that moment, I felt like I was looking— finally underneath the African sky where I was born. And I wasn’t in Liberia, but it still felt like home. The people, the morals, the excitements, the carefree attitude that radiated everywhere felt like a homecoming I had been waiting years for. I walked the sand dunes barefoot and ate with my hands. I made fast friends with people on the street, and perfecting my bartering skills. I went with friends who could objectively see the value in Marrakech, but I felt in my soul that I had found someplace where I belonged.
And then— suddenly on Wednesday, I wasn’t so sure anymore.
I remember waking up early and crying for what seemed like hours on end. The day before, I had been diagnosed with tonsillitis and had to take antibiotics every couple of hours, but it meant I couldn’t go to a Democrats abroad event to watch the election with my friends and other expats. I felt alone, I felt worried for my family, and I felt like I didn’t know where my identity lied anymore. I felt lied to. I felt that my parents had sacrificed everything for an American Dream, and after we worked incredibly hard to accomplish just a little bit of that, we were given an American Nightmare.
Right now is a confusing, enraging, depressing mess after the election, especially as I am not home and being asked consistently what I think of the president-elect. I never know what to say and wish the questions would stop because I have them too.
What’s important right now is supporting minorities in all groups of all people and caring for one another. I hope you are all staying safe and vigilant. Finding a place where I felt at home and knowing I have people who love me here and at home, gave me so many reasons to live.