Poem: Amerikawit

i wear my n’stela
to fit in
and buy vegetables
from the vendors
to support local farmers

i wrestle with my tongue to ask questions in the main language
because in my country
i never bother to speak
my mother’s language aloud

i smile
to gain acceptance
from my brothers and sisters
who sometimes wanted nothing
but my USD

i ran when i couldn’t pedal
my grandfather’s bike
any longer
to shrink my belly
of the cholesterol
that free American public school lunches gave to me

i braided my hair
to disguise my natural curls
because…Africans don’t comb their hair

and because i didn’t want
them to call me ‘Winchar’
or “The Nappy Headed Amerikawit”

i walked with my head down
and buried in my cell phone
shuffling songs i didn’t want to hear
to keep strangers away

i felt excluded
even among other
sons and daughters of the horn because they never cared
about fitting in
as much as i do

i wondered if
the homeland accepts me
or understand
why i refuse to eat their food

but i notice the stares on their face
and do not
know how
i’m not welcomed
in a land where i’m limited in my ability to connect with its people

if only they knew i’d rather
eat Beles
under the sun everyday
and never pull my waist
from Massawa’s salty green shore

if they only knew
how safe i felt hearing them call my name

Amerikawit

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