“Where I Come From” is a Darling series that pays homage to the cities, towns and countries that we call home. Although we are not defined by where we come from, these places are a defining part of our stories.
This post was originally published January 15, 2020.
Where I come from most of the faces are brown and black
Where I come from street lines are divides
East side, west side, 8 mile
Where I come from staying out after the street lights went down was not an option
Where I come from children’s laughter filled the air as gun shots echoed in the distance
Where I come bars covered windows of homes covered in Christmas lights
Where I come from the teachers pushed us hard
Because they knew what we were up against outside those four walls
That brownstone was both a bootcamp and a safe haven
Now I understand much more than I did back then
Why they pushed us so hard
The teachers, coaches, parents, pastors taught us “black excellence” because
They knew it was a weapon for survival
They knew in the real world, outside the four walls of school, church and home,
That our value, intelligence, opinions, our voices
Would be constantly called into question
In the real world, black excellence was not a thing.
Phrases like “Black Lives Matter” and “Black Girls Rock” would champion our struggle
To be seen, heard, valued, our stories and experiences believed
They would be our battle cry in a world that belittled us to stereotypes and tropes
Where I come from the kids grew up to be
Nurses, doctors, engineers, lawyers, writers, entrepreneurs
Where I come some kids did not live to make it past graduation.
The odds were stacked against us, but
The belief that we could be something was constantly surrounding us
Where I come from teachers told us
We could be whatever we wanted to be
And I believed them.
Detroit, thank you for raising me to be strong, smart and relentless.
What did your hometown or country teach you? How has it played a part in your identity?