So far removed from the lush brown dirt of the Mississippi Delta where I dug bait worms for my grandmother. Coral sand pillowing my feet instead of the cool Mississippi soil of my great aunt's garden. So far away yet so close to home. Perhaps Saipan is the closest answer to the pondering of "What if black folks ran things." An experiment that african americans will never be able to conduct.
So....things are slow here and many folks don't know what to call people who look "black". I had to really think what I should call my self out here. How could I describe myself accurately to someone who didn't really have a concept of what "black" means. Sometimes when I said "Black" they still looked at me curiously. "Black" to a Russian, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese person really didn't mean much. So I started calling myself a "Black American" Because...afterall...Black IS Black and nothing is any cooler or more aesthetically pleasing than that. And American because God knows I can't escape it. I am uniquely American and can finally accept it.
Locals (people of island decent) would often stumble a bit when trying to say that they knew "Black" people back in the states. They'd stammer and look at me apologetically and say "I knew someone like you." The truly didn't know what to call me and didn't want to offend. It made me smile. Here I can be "Black" and also be in peace. Despite the fact that people often had no idea what to call me, they welcomed me. I not been any place on the islands here and not felt welcome. It's the familiar smell of food cooking, cold drinks and feel of Southern Hospitalty. MMMmmmm.
Mentally and physically it is as if a cage has been lifted. Racism in the states is like cholesterol. It's in you dragging you down, influencing every aspect of your well-being but you don't actually realize what it's doing. How sick it makes you. I feel it whenever I go back to visit. And am grateful every time the plane lands on saipan and that hot blast of island air hits my lungs.
Yeah...paradise is what you make it. And in some of the least likely places.
Big Footed Mississippi Girl