I’ve been listening to poetry on youtube and discovered a Ted Talk by Dominique Ashaheed, where she discusses words and how we build identity with words. How definition and meaning are different things. She speaks about black history month and when she was younger, during that time of the year, she’d hear that we were descendants of slaves. *Descendant being both a noun and a adjective. The adjective defined as moving down, moving in a downward direction. Descendants of slaves could be interpreted as below slaves, moving below slaves, below the status of slaves.
Dominique Ashaheed, speaks about hearing a description of Prince Harry that spoke of him being the ascendent of a King. The ascendant of a King, not the descendant of a King. There is a difference in ascending and descending. Can you feel that difference? It makes me think about my place in the world differently. Like her, I’ve not had a problem with being descendant from slaves. I am from a people who survived. I am here only because they did not give up on life. I am their legacy, faith, and hope. And when I think of myself through the eyes of my ancestors, I feel beautiful, loved, and wanted. A gift. They who came before me are stronger and braver than I will ever be or have to be.
I am an American. Whenever anyone asks me about my nationality, if I am black or African-American, I tell them that I am an American of African descent because that is more truthful to how I see myself and my place in the world. And now..
I have another way of thinking of myself and my identity to add to all my existing words and identities. To think of ascension, of rising. To think of being an ascendant (rising in power and/or influence) of slaves, makes my blood sing.
Here’s the Ted Talk, Words make worlds: Dominique Ashaheed
And, no Google. I did not mean that.