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A Child Of Diaspora

Cena do Candomblé (Século XX) Wilson Tibério

A little bit of context: The term diaspora derives from the ancient Greek word διασπορᾱ́ (diasporā́) meaning dispersion, being scattered or sown in different directions. This reflection upon its meaning was first written for a project about diaspora by a friend, referencing the format of the Talmud and its annotations across space and time by the Jewish diaspora. This was my contribution, with some modifications.

Every step I take, I breathe diaspora. It is in the ways I carry my body through the streets, the way I smile at strangers passing by, how my heart beats faster when I overhear people speak the language of my home, in the ways I become embarrassed to speak my mother tongue as we are continents apart, the hunger in my throat that aches to be in community. A separation that didn’t take place on my terms, yet still being written. Diaspora is filled with so much joy, it has to be, a monument of persistence – and still, it is to be without a home. Without ties to the soils your ancestors walked upon, to stand on a street corner and see before your eyes unfolding the lives they have lived, the lives you will live. Doubly removed, I sit here, descendant of Black enslaved people, carried like ware to foreign grounds. Our gods cry for us over the Atlantic, their voices soaring in tides and hurricanes – and I weep with them. To be diaspora. To have become diaspora. Your undoing becomes contingent upon the small things. Sometimes, late at night, I sit in the mirror and grieve the death of myself. Unforgiving, a strange face stares back at me, stares through me, connects only to the void that is left. I make my turns around the Tree of Forgetfulness.

"The Tree of Forgetfulness stole identities. The Europeans believed that if Africans walked around it [...] Africans could erase their own histories, lose themselves in space and time

Once detached, they could be reinvented as they packed the dark hull of a westward bound ship. They would fight for little, because they remembered nothing."

Spirits whisper these stolen histories, as the pain reverberates a thousandfold. There is joy in that loss, there must be. Resilience to be found, we forged it. In the comfort of my mother’s voice, the depth it carries – a depth of displacement which mine has grown to be alike. It is found in the pouring rains, the memories I trace on my skin. It is found in the warmth spun by the hands of others, each their own diaspora. In building our homes, finding steadiness in disorientation, I have come to understand – home is a people. We flow around each other in currents of abundance and precarity. Conjuring beauty from the things left behind, mending the tethers of our souls. Oxalá, a home we will stay.


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