From Soweto to BrooklynBy Iquo B. Essien, The AFRican Blogger

From Soweto to Brooklyn
By Iquo B. Essien, The AFRican Blogger

Published on Fri, Aug 24 2007 by Iquo Essien
Cut to me this morning, jogging around the Bklyn Tech track near my house. As long as I didn't engage with too many people, I could convince myself that I was still on the continent surrounded by South Africans. You know, they dress so much like Americans, only with brighter colors, that half the time I could have sworn I was in Bklyn.

There was a woman with headphones walking around the track in a black, ankle-length skirt who kept raising her hand in the air. She must have been listening to gospel music because every now and then she would clap her hands together and shout some indecipherable thing to the heavens. Thanking God for another day, I bet.

Someone cut an entrance through the new fence they built around the track separating it from the adjacent projects. Found a way to bend back the wires and make a way in when the fence is locked.

I realize that black folks around the world, from Soweto to Brooklyn, are really the same. Living in physical/emotional/mental ghettoes. Trying to break through. Praying and waiting for deliverance. There was even a sheet hanging out of one of the project windows like some rooftop in the Ninth Ward.

Maybe I never left Soweto after all.

It reminded me of Harlem, mostly, but a little bit of Brooklyn, too. People on top of people on top of people and all black. Do you know that some places in Soweto are becoming gentrified? So expensive that even well off blacks can't afford houses there. Not that that means whites are moving in, but all the same, blacks are getting pushed out.

I think things will flow to a natural order as long as those of us who leave the ghetto never forget that our liberation is bound up with those still living within it. To forget that is to forget ourselves. To forget our communities. I think there must be something protective in living amongst ones own people, even if only emotionally. I cannot put my finger on it, but that one night sleeping in Soweto I think I felt safer than I have in a while.

There is more to say, but another time.


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