2016 Fall Richelle Kota

Raisons d’Etre

“…And there are so many silences to be broken”                                                               

-Audre Lorde

This past week has been one of coming to terms with the reality of the world we are in and personal growth. When I was a senior in high school, I wrote a personal essay on my identity as being a Liberian immigrant and moving to the United States at a very young age. I remember trying to come to terms with how my family saw me, how the world saw me, and how I tried to fit myself into the perfect holes others had made for me. I never knew what I wanted from myself. Although, I wrote that essay and I asked myself a series of questions of my identity and have continued to, I felt the pieces all meld together when I arrived in Marrakech, Morocco.

I have been writing poems that take pages to finish about how I felt in Marrakech, but I still haven’t found the exact words for the feelings yet. And though I haven’t been able to put my finger on it exactly, it’s the closest thing I could think of as home on this study abroad trip and it gave me an overwhelming sense of safety. I slept in the Sahara for one night and I remember looking into the sky, lying on the Moroccan rugs, and sniffling away tears because I just wanted my mother there with me. In that moment, I felt like I was looking— finally underneath the African sky where I was born. And I wasn’t in Liberia, but it still felt like home. The people, the morals, the excitements, the carefree attitude that radiated everywhere felt like a homecoming I had been waiting years for. I walked the sand dunes barefoot and ate with my hands. I made fast friends with people on the street, and perfecting my bartering skills. I went with friends who could objectively see the value in Marrakech, but I felt in my soul that I had found someplace where I belonged.

And then— suddenly on Wednesday, I wasn’t so sure anymore.

I remember waking up early and crying for what seemed like hours on end. The day before, I had been diagnosed with tonsillitis and had to take antibiotics every couple of hours, but it meant I couldn’t go to a Democrats abroad event to watch the election with my friends and other expats. I felt alone, I felt worried for my family, and I felt like I didn’t know where my identity lied anymore. I felt lied to. I felt that my parents had sacrificed everything for an American Dream, and after we worked incredibly hard to accomplish just a little bit of that, we were given an American Nightmare.

Right now is a confusing, enraging, depressing mess after the election, especially as I am not home and being asked consistently what I think of the president-elect. I never know what to say and wish the questions would stop because I have them too.

What’s important right now is supporting minorities in all groups of all people and caring for one another. I hope you are all staying safe and vigilant. Finding a place where I felt at home and knowing I have people who love me here and at home, gave me so many reasons to live.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: