I am from cornrows and afros,
Hot combs and hair grease.
From bellbottoms with patches on the knee
And flower print, butterfly collar shirts.
I am from Bill Withers and Roberta Flack
Ain’t No Sunshine, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
From Hotter Than July
and I Ain’t Gonna Bump No More With No Big Fat Woman.
I am from hot sauce and hot water cornbread
From mustard greens and pinto beans
New Year’s Eve gumbo and New Year’s Day black eyed peas
Fish on Friday’s and Sunday family dinners.
I am from double dutch and hopscotch,
Street football and four square
From tag and hid-and-go seek and
Chasing the ice cream man.
I am from a mother and father living under one roof
From no one else to blame when something was broke
‘It wasn’t your daddy, and it sho’ wasn’t me.
It musta been you. Go get me a switch’
I am from Oakland and Kansas City, from Berkeley and Corsicana
From the Baptist choir and Methodist Hymns
From proud, hardworking, slaves and African Kings and Queens
I am from all of these things and so much more.
These are what I tell my son when he looks at me
and asks where we are from.