I have often been quite wary of the question, “Where are you from?”
Mainly because I felt like there was no answer that accurately informed the inquirer about who I am or what has formed me.
You see, I could answer with a good selection of locations, yet all of them result in more questions, more doubt, more confusion and none of them provide the clarity that you, the asker, might be looking for.
I am a habitual victim of the question, “but like where are you really from?”
So much so that I refuse to answer with a location at all.
I am from my father’s house, I say
A man who arrived in the United States at the ripe age of 29 as Adeoye but whose colleagues currently address him by John
You see, I am no stranger to assimilation
A month prior to my senior year of high school, my father informs me that we will be moving back to the states from Maputo, Mozambique
My first day of school senior year, I was introduced as “Sarah from Africa.”
I had a strong accent that has since been rid of
My Portuguese slang was not quite understood
I am from throwing away parts of my identity for the comfort of others.
I am from my mother’s aspirations
A woman who never fails to plan
Who puts everything into her children
Who taught me what it looks like to be a good friend
I come from good friends
Around the world who know me better than I know myself
Who are willing to give me advice in English, in Portuguese, in Yoruba, in whatever language will make it stick that I am loved
I come from love.
I come from writing love poems to boys who will never read them
Writing lines like
“I don’t believe in scripted prayers but the part about you is pretty much the same every time”
“To be honest sometimes I just felt like your moon, an empty beacon by which your light shone through. I loved that I could show the world what it was like to be close to you.”
I am from looking for love in all the wrong places.
I am from my paternal grandmother’s confidence
A matriarch who was the first young girl in Ikere Ekiti, Nigeria to pass the exam into secondary school without status and without wealth
I, too, am familiar with the feeling of being in rooms that people wonder how I got into
I am from constantly proving that I am worthy.
I am from constantly saying goodbye
Never getting attached
Always wondering when the director will say cut
When I will be plucked out of this scene and forced into another.
I am from the theatre
A performer, truly
So much so that I no longer know the difference between who I am and who I pretend to be.
I am from a Black woman that came from a Black woman that came from a Black woman
Or whatever Rihanna said.
And I will give birth to a Black woman
I am from amazing mothers
I am from never doubting my appearance because generations of men fell in love with women that look like me.
I am from pretty brown skin
That people write poems about
I am from constantly writing poems but never calling myself a poet.
MiC Columnist Sarah Oguntomilade can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.