By Prudent Ndiho
America has welcomed us and made us feel like we are home. But some say we don’t look like them. Others say we don’t belong. Africa is home, where we used to play as children without looking at the color of the kid next to us or in front of us. Our mothers didn’t tell us, “don’t go play there” or “you don’t belong here.” We just enjoyed playing soccer in the street, running barefoot, diving in and out when we swam in the river. We didn’t think about skin color.
America has welcomed us. A pot of different races and ethnicities. We found ourselves mixed into this pot where a race battle was already waging. We didn’t start the battle; we just found ourselves in this war of races. We used to watch the same battle on TV, and now we are in the middle of it. We hear some say “Black lives matter,” and others say “All lives matter.” When we say, “Black lives matter,” some say we don’t belong. If we say, “All lives matter,” others say, “Don’t you see the color of your skin?” Africa is home. America is becoming home. What should we do?
We stand in this land of the free and home of the brave. Some are grown, others are still growing up, and still others are being born. Africa still is home. Where do we belong? Some say we just don’t look like them and others say we didn’t suffer like them. Our accent speaks more than our words. We are trying hard to fit in, striving to learn the American accent so that we can communicate better. We are welcomed here, but where do we belong?
Once at the hospital I was filling in a patient information sheet. In the race section, I saw “Hispanic, white, black or African American, Asian.” And I asked which box I should check. I am neither white nor Asian nor African American. At this point, I am just African. Then I felt frustrated. Who put this section here? Why do they need to know which race I am? Can’t they see what I look like? Then I realized – I am not in Burundi. And a thought came to mind. What if we didn’t have this race section?
So, which should we say? “All lives matter” or “Black lives matter”? We all have the same color when we bleed. Don’t we all belong here? We all come from somewhere and are trying to go somewhere. We all go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning. We go to the same jobs, same stores, same schools … even though that’s not how it used to be. The real question is, “Will this race war end?” Or, “When will this war end?” Is there hope? War is an individual issue. Change starts with the person you see in the mirror. No matter what color you are or where you are from.
Prudent Ndiho is a writer who loves music, people, and God.