Sunday, 1 May 2011

                                                                       QUEST FOR THE TRUE IDENTITY   
Cameron Davis, America.

There is a destiny that makes us brothers.
None goes his way alone.
All that we give into the lives of others,
Comes back into our own.
I care not what his cast or creed.
But one thing holds firm and fast.
That into the days and deeds gone by,
The soul of a man is cast.

This was a long lost remnant of my childhood, a forgotten chant spoken between brothers, until I was asked to confront my identity. To identity myself.  From grades six to ten, I would attend a stay away summer camp in the backwoods of Wisconsin for a month. This poem became an integral part of every camper at Northstar Camp for Boys, as it was our unofficial oath and bond to one another as brothers. When I turned 16 I went on a week-and-a-half backpacking/canoeing/portaging trip with my cabin mates. We were 12 city kids at the whims of Mother Nature and fate. Every night after endless hours of canoeing, portaging, hiking, getting fire wood, setting up camp, making dinner, sharing stories, playing cards, telling jokes- we would retreat to our tents for bed having spoken this to one another.
What I am remembering is that it was in those moments that the man struggling to find and express himself today was born.  I ask myself the same question- where do I belong? It’s a question I have both all of and none of the answers to. I live life with double consciousness; I see all colors and no colors. I vacillate between worlds that contradict and affirm each other, searching for my own sense of truth, identity and belonging. My body lives in one world, while my heart and mind stretch far beyond. From housing projects in the most crime affected areas of my hometown to mansions and operas in tuxedos. From finding friendship and souls in drug addicts, the outcasts, the second thoughts to finding horror and cold hearted cynicism in those who are the high and Holy. The core of my identity starts somewhere deep in the words of this poem, and exists with its subtext, the unspoken. I was shown the door when it shot into my mind from a deeper somewhere. I do not know how when and how I will walk through it.
I do not know where I belong. Am I American? Am I African- American? What is American? What is African? Why must I be any of those things? How can my identity be bigger, more responsible, than labels prescribed from where I come from?  How do I find a stable since of self when it torn between two worlds and survival is reliant on my ability to switch seamlessly in between?
I ask these questions of myself. They are the voices that accompany me as I walk through this door into myself, deeper, older and wiser.

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