I didn’t think that I am ‘black’ until I lived in America. It’s something whose weight or impact I had not considered. I understand that this is a contentious issue and therefore I am not going to pretend to fully understand the plight of the African American because I cannot fathom how much they’ve had to suffer and how much endurance, and tolerance they’ve mastered to live in a place that is what they know to be home and yet are unwelcome in their own home. Our news, doesn’t let you forget even for one second how your skin color can make or break you. I stopped watching news a while back, there’s only much that my mind, and heart can take.
When I am asked to describe myself or to tell people about myself…’Black’ isn’t going to be anywhere on my list of adjectives because where I come from that has never been used to describe me.
Let’s try it out. Evelyn, Tell us about yourself?
My name is Evelyn, I have three sisters. I was born and raised in Uganda, I am well-studied. I split my time between Uganda and America, it was a bit uncomfortable before because I felt lost with no sense of permanence, craving for the familiarity of one while I lived in the other and, longing to escape to the concrete jungle when I found myself in the familiar. But I have since found my balance living contently in ‘transit’.
I love writing; in fact I am an author. I like dancing, at the mall, in the shower, in my bedroom, while I wait to cross the road. I can dance anywhere and everywhere but that doesn’t mean I am the best dancer there is.
I’m passionate about women and children causes. I hate injustice. I do still believe that one day the world will be a better place. No… I know what you’re thinking. I don’t believe in Santa Claus. Santa and a better world aren’t the same things. I am both idealistic and pragmatic. It’s possible to be both.
Where I am from what divides us isn’t the colour of our skins. Even the things that ‘should’ divide us such as religion or tribes we keep doing better because we were raised with respect. Perhaps we have more things that unite us in comparison to what divides us. I am not saying we don’t have our shortcomings, we do. But I think we are not callous or bitter, see bitterness blinds humans and we are not yet blind. At least for now.
So who am I? I am human. Then I am a woman. Then I am Ugandan. Then I am African. Then I have achievements & failures. Then I have likes and dislikes.
Notice, the color of my skin didn’t make the list.
Therefore I refuse to just be reduced and boxed to the color of my skin. The thing that should come first is our humanity. our humanity. our humanity. I refuse to live timidly. I refuse to ‘catch’ bitterness or hatred even when there are 1001 valid reasons to be bitter.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. MLK
I double dare anyone to tell me that I can’t be great in America because of the colour of my skin.
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