Welcome Home: Reflections on Being in Kenya
It’s Independence Day and I am reflecting on what that means for me and the African American community. Ironically, I have spent the past two July 4ths out of the country. This year, I am in Kenya. I am accompanying Nile on a men’s trip that shows him various aspects of a Kenyan Culture. Since I arrived I have gotten nothing but love and warmth without reservation.
People have asked me would I work, live and start business here. I was asked why don’t African Americans come back home. I was asked why do Americans believe all of Africa is largely struggling and have not advanced in technology?
My response: Colonialism and post colonial thoughts about who we are are real. They have interrupted the discourse and created ideas about who we are which keeps us divided. We have allowed media to shape and drive our thoughts about who we are as a people. I am not naive to think moving continents is the answer to cultivating a better understanding of Africa and African American relations. However, I do believe that my peers and I, on both continents, need to leverage technology to engage one another on various levels. To contextualize my response, when I travel I don’t remain in a glass bubble. Luckily I am traveling with a group who is half local and half American. I have stayed in homes, eaten local food, and consistently checked my Americanism at the door. I didn’t show up demanding American standards or place judgement on how people live. I came open to the experience. I let the hosts lead and focused on shifting myself. I kept adjusting my lenses and I found that I was received.
In my research, I know that the hostility that African Americans experience when traveling is a real matter. I have been subjected to it many times in various international spaces. This is where I say the globalization of racism is etched in the fabric of modern society and is upheld by the continuous marginalization of Black people, people of African descent, or African Americans-however, you choose to identify. Kenya isn’t all of Africa. There is still much to cover in terms of addressing the tensions that exists and persist ...Black Panther opened the door to this dialogue in a major way. Maybe DuBois and those who attended the Pan African Congress in the 1940s were on to something. Either way, my circle of Kenyan friends and family are asking, “why don’t more of us come home?”