Erasing the shame of pioneers

Young woman wearing head tie with finger on lips

 

There are days when my life is filled with grief and disconnect. There are days when I feel completely insane from isolation because I have no one to talk to about the past. Having a memory like an elephant has not served me well, it has caused me so much suffering because I can remember all the things the adults want to forget.

How could something that means so much to me that has shaped my life, my mind, my spirit be so bad. It has been less than easy walking around Los Angeles with tribal marks on my face and while I often feel like some kind of museum piece, my insecurities don’t necessarily come from having them but from the shame I feel from stories of the past.

I have seen and experienced so many supernatural things in my life that I used to question if they had ever happened and the most heart breaking truth is that when I reconnect with my peer group from Oyotunji, there is a sigh of relief from the burdens we carry from our parents and the lies we all weaved to feel safe and accepted.

It is amazing when you start to hear the lies as children we all came up with to both connect and disconnect from our experiences. I told people my tribal marks were a birthmark because I figure out early on Black Folks never questioned God and although people knew I was lying, it created a respectful boundary, a kind of don’t tell don’t ask clause. It was easier to lie because the truth seemed like a lie and once you started to tell the truth it just seemed unreal, so lying seemed more convenient.

So many black folks believe that once we hit these shores our culture was lost. I am living proof that although folks may not have understood why or what they were doing but because they listened to the spirits, things emerged in ways words have no description, those old ancient spirits were too strong to be denied and for that and to them I am eternally grateful.

As I write this, I envision the entrance to a nail shop, there seems to be one on every corner and as black folks enter and see food and drink placed on the ground at the entrance sometimes around Buddha sometimes not they never question, who they are honoring and or feeding. Their hoodoo seems to go unnoticed. So not only are folks willing to cross and enter the threshold where people honor and feed their ancestors on a daily, they are also willing to help these people pay their mortgages, bills and put these people’s children through college.

And as I sit here my grief begins to dissipate because the people from my village invented with one of a fellow cousins from Nigeria the West African Taco and we sold many in our restaurant called Fon and I am reminded as to how I become an expert in hospitality and today I gave thanks and honor to Chief Ajamu, his spirit is whispering that he wants his story our story to be told.

 

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