When my mom placed me next to the window seat of the plane, I started to lose myself in thought on this life-changing flight from Jamaica to the United States of America. I was an immigrant ready to navigate the murky waters that were about to anchor my American dream. When I arrived, I felt welcomed with parted arms. A warm embrace with some hesitation but still welcoming. My eyes were wide open to a 250-year-long delayed American dream as my ancestors negotiated their freedom. Decades later, after a brutal stalemate, I was free to dream of a better future, in part.
Sometimes I felt like raw dough on the American soul, treading on self-rising flour, mixed and beaten with my parents’ hands. Their dry, brittle hands mixed all their hopes and dreams in pursuit of a bowl of possibility and hope. Leaving scraps of peace in the storm. My skin color allows me to blend in with other melancholy souls, but on the edges there are traces of an island girl, lost but not desperate, excited but not careful, sitting in a crowd, but alone.
I have done my fair share by reminding people that I am not here to take anybody’s place, but rather to stand in my right place as your soul mate, helping to create a better future. for all of our kids, carving my fair share of the American pie.
There were times when I had to reach out behind my back to grab the brave version of myself to stay in my truth without diluting my existence for the comfort of others. I was subconsciously asking permission to share an open space, standing to the side or waiting for my turn where there was no visible line. And over time, my existence dismantled the idea that I was the second class of guardians of the earth.
My feet are now firmly planted on the ground which has been seeded with melanin juice which quenches my thirst when I am saturated with fear, feelings of unworthiness and thoughts of inadequacy with my calling. Coming to America allowed me to add my skin tone to the crucible of great possibilities. Immigration is a sensitive topic for most; it’s my life, my story and my window of opportunity. Jamaica gave birth to me, but America made me grow up. So, for that, allow me to bow my head in gratitude, love and honor to a country that has welcomed me as I am.
Laura Kandewen, Richmond Hill