Id achieve nothing more than what my mother had, having had two children at eighteen with no high school diploma to lessen unforgiving circumstances. And I sit in school feeling as if my dreams, at the very root of them, have dried up like raisins in the sun¦I sit in my classes fathoming my destiny so intently that I am merely pretending to understand what is being taught. Therefore, despite the words of the revered Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, my deepest fear is, in fact, that I am inadequate. I fear that I am not good enough and the task of disproving this dread has been arduous, knowing that every day, something has tried to destroy me and has simply fallen short. And I am unsure if this detail is worthy of celebration. And I wonder¦has my skin color betrayed me?
Has my blackness, this complexion which I was taught to find so beautiful, stricken me with the malediction of having to grow up in a poverty consumed neighborhood, dependent upon the government to house and feed me; the same neighborhood that gunned my father down and took the lives of several of my peers. It cant be¦that my complexion has become so obvious that I am constantly having to change my dress, and adjust my tone to fit the needs of a disapproving majority. Some view my sable race with scornful eye. My color is a diabolic dye¦to those who dont see, that I am human first before I am black. Or is my sex the culprit? Has my being a woman determined my fate? Because as a member of an intersectional community it is known all too well that I am stricken by these processes of sexism, and oppression; not working independently of one another, but interrelated, forming a sort of junction, or intersection, of multiple forms of discrimination.
But this cant be¦because according to mother Maya Angelou, I am a woman phenomenally¦ And I know all too well that the caged bird sings for freedom. I have been so long stricken by the harsh realities of my upbringing¦and I have been so long weltering in self-pity that I have forgotten my heritage and it shames me. Kings and Queens of Africa inhabit me. Affonso and Amina, Idris and Makeda, who are my ancestors, would surely be affronted to know that I have not realized what it has been in my nature to do: overcome, defy, and amaze. And it is here that my African roots assert themselves, forcing me to climb the foothills of my doubt, the mountains of my assumed inferiority, and peaks least traveled by.
And as I stand at the precipice of lifes mysteries, this Pennsylvania State University precipice, I am suddenly intertwined with a family consummated not only of the people of my homeland, Africa, but of the forests of Asia, the waters of the Caribbean, the jungles of South America, and the mountains of Europe¦these people of varying colors, sexes, and cultures who have defied predicaments much different than my own. And we stand, hushed, equal, en masse. And it is here that I hear Mr. Mandela speak to me. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ¦whether it be those of our own lineages¦or those of lineages completely dissimilar.