By Basheer Jones
I traveled to West Africa to begin my healing journey. The trip exceeded my expectations. Many of us continue to be harmed by the American Experience. If you want to know who we were before becoming Toby, go to West Africa.
I found myself in Gambia.
Less stressed and more blessed.
Maybe you would think I’m not correct
because my ego you want to protect.
But I’m telling you, I found myself.
I saw myself without the stress of being Black, without police attacks.
I smiled more.
Hungrier, yes, but sometimes it’s a blessing for your stomach not to be full.
No bull, a spiritual pull.
The gravity grabbed me and pulled me to kiss the earth
as I spoke to the one who created it.
I said, “You look just like my auntie.”
She replied, “I am your auntie.” And meant it.
My self told me, welcome home.
When my feet touched the ground the energy wasn’t foreign.
Oh this is how it feels to be on the other side of the Atlantic.
Cops ride past no need to panic.
No need to be frantic.
You’ll make it home after this encounter.
I’ve been to Africa before but this visit was different.
In other places I was awed by monuments
but here the monuments are the people.
The hieroglyphics are etched into the spirits of these people.
My aunties and them.
They pass down stories like heirlooms.
Generational wealth is the culture that is passed down.
These people are rich.
They are my people.
Kunta and them.
Seems like the world has forgotten them, but we can’t.
Because if we do, we forget ourselves.
We lose our wealth.
She said, I am your auntie.
And she is correct.
Basheer Jones is a spoken word artist, author, speaker and activist. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and Howard University. In 2018 he was sworn in as the first Muslim city council member in Cleveland. His published books include I’ll Speak for Change and a memoir, A Journey to Leadership: From Pain to Inspiration, and two children’s books, Am I a Man, Daddy? and The Greatest Treasure on Earth. He is a devoted community servant who strives to live by the affirmation that we must “be the change that we want to see in the world.” His website is https://authorbasheerjones.com/ and he is on Instagram @basheerj.