Sometime in the last two years, I lost myself. Like the spin cycle on a washer, I couldn’t hold onto anything stable that defined me. In 2004, I had arrived in the U.S., a fresh faced teenager and now I was nearing 30 in the midst of America’s reckoning with its systemic racism and my own grapple with identity as a Black Kenyan immigrant. The trauma of living in a Black body in America was becoming too much. Meanwhile, I had never felt more Black, yet significantly less Kenyan and less African—an unsettling thing when these are the things meant to define you. 


Feature photo by Wild Bloom Photography



In our younger days, she had brought us spices and gold of the most exotic kind from China, India, Persia and beyond. Sealing them in boats carved out of trees older than us and wrapping them in bows set as sails. All along the coast—from North to South— we had sat at the turret of our windows awaiting the gifts she gingerly teased into her embrace as she carried them from her mouth to her womb. 

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