Wow. Wow. Wow. 34 years in the making. As I sat and awaited the Oath ceremony to be sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America, I was filled with a mix of emotions. The significance and irony of this happening on International Women’s Day makes it that much more poignant for me. Today I add country number four to my citizenship list. Born in Canada, of British and Nigerian blood, and raised in England, Nigeria, and Indiana (yep let that contrast sink in), for years as a young woman I struggled with identity. Always feeling I floated somewhere in between all my cultural experiences and influences, never feeling fully accepted nor grounded in any one culture. Never completely fitting in. What I do know and have always known is that I am an African. In spite of mixed race or culture, Africa is in me. No question. That will never change. But today, I am also proudly an American and the full on antics of host immigration officer Ms. Wanda reminded me why I love this country so. Ms. Wanda was supa dupa fly (Coordinated in green from the eyshadow all the way down to the green velvet shoes. Straight B’more style baby) and her #blackgirlmagic was all the way live! Ms. Wanda commanded the room as she prepared 60 anxious and excited newbies from 28 different countries to pledge allegiance and become part of the same tribe. She reminded us that for many, the road had been hard and long, and not to lose sight of the single most important benefit of American citizenship, the right to vote. “I want you to exercise that right” she bellowed. Her delivery was as comedic as it was serious. Her confidence and conviction unforgettable. I love this country because of the space it makes for Ms. Wandas; the freedom to be and do you. Today I am also brilliantly reminded that borders are artificial. They are created to keep someone or something in, and intentionally designed keep others out. As a Nigerian British Canadian American:), I don’t believe in borders. I believe we should all have room to live, grow, and love into everything God intended us to be. Who we are is not defined by a piece of paper but rather all the beautiful people and experiences that impact our life’s journey. So know that if you catch this international woman at any time, I may be wearing my Supereagles jersey, eating my jollof, having tea and chocolate biscuits, tapping maple syrup from the tree (not really), dancing shoki while baking an apple pie, waving an American flag and shouting BoilerUP! Happy International Women’s Day!!!
Ps. Loving and thanking my JOY Collective family and Kelli Joy Richardson Lawson for the dope poster that’s so me
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