In honor of Coming Out Day, I’m sharing a poem I’ve written last year.
I’m a queer, nonbinary, Jamaican American.
1990, my dad left the sun and sand of Jamaica
to the wintery dystopian wonderland that is New York City.
My mother wanted to follow suit, kept saying
“Mi wan farin pickney.”
but my dad, who was still lost on
how to get from place to place in this new world
said “Please wait.”
1992, mom found a way to New York City,
different from the hustle
and bustle from downtown Kingston.
Her and my dad felt like it was perfect to have
farin pickney because they had apartment
and all the love to share.
1993, I was born on a fall night.
“Tamika Samantha Barnett” they named me.
Birth certificate place made a mistake,
J instead of T
But my parents didn’t care, they said that the
new government name reminded me of home.
Jamika with parents from Jamaica,
they kept it.
And it stuck.
Fast forward to 2015 where,
my Jamaican- American ass with a dash of Cuban
still feels damn foreign.
My parents didn’t expect their foreign child
to feel foreign in the land that ze was born into.
They tried to avoid that shit,
but it’s difficult when you’re in a land that was
built upon white supremacy,
where even our Afro-Caribbean asses can’t see
representation in ads and TV shows.
Where we can hear Beres Hammond and Notorious B.I.G
on White Plains Road and still know that most of
us are confused as shit to figure out where we belong.
Jamaicans. Americans. Dominicans. Puerto Ricans.
All of these people are told to go back to their country.
I was told to go back to my country, but America IS my country.
My parents left Kingston, Jamaica in a kinda bougie area to give
birth to me and my little brother in the Bronx in an area
filled with similar populations of people and their foreign children.
My parents are starting to have constant conversations
about moving back home because America is just getting to them.
They still have “home” outside this world that wasn’t meant for people
Black. Poor. Struggling. Foreign.
My ass wishes that I could follow suit.
But how can I?
I’m a foreign child to two foreign naturalized
citizens of the wonderful United States of America.
They can always go back and feel at peace, feel at home,
but I know that I never will because I know even surrounded
by family speaking Patois on a hot tropical night,
I’m foreign to them too.
Where does that leave me?
I don’t know, I truly don’t know.
Every day when I watch the news, I feel more
and more disconnected to the country that I was born in.
Hearing about how my people are getting shot and killed
how because of the color of our skin, we asked for it,
we’re limited to welfare queens and “thugs” (because calling us
niggers ain’t allowed anymore)
Where our bodies are hypersexualized for being black and
that I should be happy that creepy white men want to fuck me
because I have a chocolate pussy.
Yet, yet, I am not seen beyond that.
Less so because I am fat and from a working class area
with a job.
I obviously only got my job because of affirmative action,
even though that benefits white women so much more.
I feel more and more foreign in the place that I have called home
for almost 22 damn years of my life.
I feel foreign because I am black, because I’m queer, because I’m a trans person who was assigned female at birth but not a man, because I’m polyamorous, because I am loud and voice my anger at how society has been treating me and my fellow black siblings, because I REFUSE to submit to the eurocentric ideals of beauty because I did that before and it messed me up. Messed us up.
I will never belong,
I will never belong anywhere.
When my mother told my father
she wanted a foreign child, she
didn’t expect their child to be a
foreigner in theirr own birth place.
They wanted a better opportunity
a better place to thrive and grow.
This country has allowed their child
to see the world in a different place.
I wonder what would’ve happened if I was born in Jamaica,
would I still feel this way because of my queerness, because of my transness?
Would I ever belong?
I am foreign. No matter where I go.