This morning I'm at Pablo's ordering to-go again and the owner (let's call him T) is chatting me up while he rings up my order. He asks if I'm American and I say yes. Then he asks where I come from.
I look confused so T clarifies, where my parents come from. I'm still confused so he says, "You know, your roots?" Ohh...I say I don't know. "You don't know?" No, most of my family has no idea. "You've never looked up your family tree?" I say no, not yet, hopefully one day.
And listening to myself talk, I was a bit saddened. I hadn't realized how much I and a lot of other African-American/Black folk like me take our not knowing where we come from as a given, like it's an unchangeable fact of life. But this is not to say that roots don't matter. And unlike some people (eh-hem, Ms. Raven), I will not use this passed-down ignorance (and by ignorance I mean simply, "not knowing") as an excuse not to try and find out. I will also not use this ignorance as a convenient excuse to shirk so-called "labels" which as far as I'm concerned, are not mutually exclusive, do not have to be limiting or confining, and only serve to make one more complex, and therefore dynamic, and therefore beautiful.
You have the right to identify yourself any way you want. But all that "I'm not this, I'm not that" stuff? You can keep that. You can keep all of it.