It's very strange, but I have found myself having a lot of Midwestern-Ohio pride lately.
Bragging, I used to joke around with other Ohio natives that my city was the unofficial capital of Ohio. I claimed that my city was the gem of the Midwest.
Ok, so I am neither naïve nor ignorant of my surrounding, I know my claims were far-fetched. I have slowly came to the realization that Cincinnati might never be the pride of the Midwest but no matter where I go, it always feels like home. I don't know if my future will ever led me back to Ohio. I am very unsure if I will ever live "long-term" in Ohio, but I know that it will always play an important role.
Being an African-American or a Black American (depending on how you identify), I have always felt like a nomad. Let's be honest, I can't trace my history back hundreds of years like my other friends. I will never be able to look at any national flag and feel a strong sense of belonging. I am not saying I hate America or anything like that, I do have pride for my country. As a Black American with African descent, I have been taught to adapt to my surrounds in respects to community pride. Don't get me wrong, I do feel connected to America but I can't shy away from the fact that this connection was forced and not chosen by my personal family. I will forever feel a disconnect from my roots.
I am sure that I could pay tons of money with this new technology and find out the region my ancestors came from, but I will always feel disconnected. Something about experiencing history opposed to reading history , feels different. I will never be able to bedtime stories from my grandparents about their pride and love for their country. Instead, I had stories of struggle. I envy the men and women who know their history or at least knows where to find it.
I can trace my father's family back to Alabama and my mother's side to Georgia . My great-grandmother also says that her father was 100% Native American, but that is all I can do.
I remember visiting Birmingham Alabama a few years back while my grandfather was alive. We drove around to his old neighborhood, his home and familiar places of his past. What hurt me the most from this trip was when we drove past an old beautiful church building near my grandfathers home. My father and my uncle instantly ran inside and began to play the instruments and take pictures. What my grandfather did next still haunts me. My grandfather ran out of the car and begged his sons to leave the church.
You should have seen my grandfathers face. He yelled with straight fear that we weren't "allowed" in this church. Of course my aunts and uncles tried to explain that we wouldn't get in trouble by any white men for being there but, my grandfather couldn't comprehend the security of this current decade.
He was scared.
I know my grandfather had great times in Alabama, but no matter what I do, I can't seem to erase his fear from my mind.
This was my history. My first and only trip back rooted in fear and isolation.
Living in New York City makes me feel awkward at times. This city has so much culture and pride. Everyone I meet seems to be able to trace their history back with a sense of strength. There is nothing worse than having to answer with " I don't know" when asked about my origins. It's weird because in Ohio I never felt ashamed because of my lack of origins. While I know there is nothing to be ashamed of, I still feel like I should be able to state my country with pride. Hopefully one day I can save enough money to have someone truly trace my origins, until then I will rep my city with pride!
I Love Cincinnati!