Home to her

She’s been on my mind lately….

with her flawless attitude and beautiful mind

with her mind numbing soul and intimate vibrations

with her fierce qualities and poetic justice braids

with her loving spirit and accepting energy

with her love that strikes to the core

she’s been on my mind lately

that girl who grew up near the Nile river

that girl who was breathing the air of the Horn of Africa

that girl who wore the habesha libs in all its exquisite ways

that girl who spoke to me in her beautiful amargina

that girl who said konjo to me and made me feel at ease

that girl who called me hermiye as she uttered my name

that girl who held me together with my many pieces

that girl who understood me so effortlessly…

she’s been on my mind lately,

that girl who has been here many, many times

and always makes her way here

as it feels like home to her.

My place

As many of you have probably noticed, I wasn’t active on the blog as I used to be. My apologies. A lot was going on in my life this past month and handling many things and kind of abandoned the blog, it seems like. I’m back now. Very enlightened and refreshed with new ideas. I can’t stay away from this beautiful space for a long time. I miss it and need it to make sense of my life.

Here is a special kind of lovin’ dedicated to this beautiful space to get the summer started

My place

This is my place when nothing makes sense, when everything makes sense and when I feel so human

This is my place when I love, feel, hope, breathe and live easy

This is my place when I leave, get inspired, return and is full of energy, but most importantly

This is my place when I love, love and love

This is my place when I feel greatly and hope to touch others

This is my place when I want the comfort of home and distant energy

This is my place when I feel abandoned from the world and want to be left alone

This is my place when I want to be loved and return that feeling to you

This is my place when I don’t feel so loved and want to astray away

This is my place when I want to be gone and never come back

This is my place when I want to be with you and honor you with pride

This is my place when I want to try harder and show that to you

This is my place when I don’t feel too easy and want to be loved by you

This is my place when I want to feel your comfort and beautiful energy

This is my place when I want to be with you and never want you to leave

This is my place when I reminisce about all the ways we used to be

This is my place when I hold the memories we had boldly in my heart

This is my place when I want to be courageous and hold you close to me

This is my place when I’m soft and hard all at the same time

This is my place when I want to show you my story and tell you who I am

This is my place when we make sense of it all and never get tired of it

This is my place when I want you to hold me and never let me go

This is my place and hope you continue to enjoy my writing and creative energy.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Are the people in Baltimore ruining their own neighborhoods?

It’s not a surprise that there has been lots of tension circulating around social justice issues in America lately. The very recent one being the death of Freddie Gray. The death of Freddie Gray by use of excessive police force is not a new narrative we’ve encountered in recent years. It follows the tragic and sudden death of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and so many other black men as well as black women whose lives were taken away through excessive force by police.

Since there’s already a history of this, when Freddie Gray died in the hands of police officers recently, it brought old and painful feelings to his community members and others all across the nation. This incident erupted different protests and demonstrations in Baltimore City, including rioting, which the media chose to focus exclusively on. Despite the fact that there were many peaceful protests, the media focused on the rioting, to shift people’s attention from many structural inequalities happening in Baltimore City and framed the story as “young thugs who don’t have anything better to do than to destroy their own community”. When I found out that the youth of Baltimore were called “thugs” for fighting for something that is rightfully theirs, I was livid.

Many fail to realize that the situation we are seeing now in Baltimore city is bigger than Freddie Gray. Yes people are fighting for justice for him and it seems like its well on its way after all the police officers have been announced to be charged (yay finally, right? I mean it felt like it took a million deaths of  black men, dying unnecessarily, in the hands of police officers to get the movement going this far along). For those who still don’t understand why there is protesting and demonstrations going on, it’s because (like I said previously), this is bigger than Freddie Gray. Many inner city neighborhoods in America are impoverished. They lack resources, their schools lack infrastructure for the youth, many people can’t afford three meals a day, they live in poverty wages and are in poor/ dire situations. These few social conditions alone can drive people to the point of rioting to get their voices heard.

It is not a new scene in America that people are rioting, despite many who are witnessing this in shock as if its the first time happening. Perhaps many haven’t witnessed it in their life time, and that could be the reason, but these kinds of riots have happened in the past. They have happened in different cities because of the same anger people are feeling now, anger that specific people in these kinds of circumstances feel: anger that their neighborhoods aren’t good enough, anger that they themselves aren’t good enough, anger that they don’t matter and anger they aren’t being properly addressed concerning their needs and issues.

When these riots happen, the best thing for us to do as outsiders is to listen and understand the frustration the community is going through. In order to be effective and create solutions, we have to understand the oppressed and create a healthy dialogue with them, so situations get better. If we dismiss people’s struggles and don’t acknowledge them, these things are going to keep happening and we are going to wonder why they are happening (as some of us are doing now), despite the fact that they have happened before for the very same reasons or despite the fact that police officers have been charged in this case.

We need to understand that people don’t just get up one morning and decide to ruin their “poor neighborhoods”, they have been pushed to this level by detrimental factors that we can’t imagine living under, and this specific case being more than Freddie Gray aims to explain the reasons. The best thing for us to do in return, is to listen and avoid all judgement as much as possible. Lives are being taken away unnecessarily, people are in dire living circumstances, and they are hurting. RIP to Freddie Gray and may things get better in the city of Baltimore and other places that are going through the same heartbreak.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Its been a tough road for African Migrants

It’s really been a tough week to be an African migrant. You may have checked the news about what is going on with African migrants recently, from the mass protests of xenophobia and Afro-phobia in South Africa to the slaughtering of Ethiopian christian migrants in Libya, its been a tough week to process everything being an African migrant myself and still go on with life and be unaffected. I can’t of course help being angry and affected about the injustices happening all over the world to African migrants and African-Americans (including the Freddie Gray unrest in Baltimore). It seems like you can’t turn on the news and go on without seeing something crazy happening to POC now-a-days. The question I really want to ask everyone is “Can we live?”.

Yes, you comprehended it right, Can we live. Can we live being African migrants in the countries we are migrating to. Can we live without racist micro-aggressions following us around everywhere we go, can we live being African migrants in countries we are fully aware that can we came with our strong wills, can we live without having to face protests to get out of your country because you are threatened by us, can we live without you exerting your power to make us feel powerless, can we live without your stereotypical assumptions of how we are and should be, can we live without you mass murdering/ slaughtering us because of our religious beliefs just how ISIS did to my people, can we live, please, can we fucking live?

I can’t imagine how the African migrants who felt threatened by the South Africans or the Ethiopians who were threatened and killed by ISIS must have felt. I really can’t imagine. They had to drop their ego and fight for their rights to exist as they were in countries that didn’t want to see them thrive. What got me shocked was also the fact that Africans in South Africa were the ones telling other Africans to leave the country. I can’t help but imagine what kind of a world we have come to embrace. I was shocked when I heard the news and I’m sure others were shocked as well. It is shocking to see this type of behavior coming from Africans  and shown towards other Africans. We definitely see the self hate working towards those specific South Africans who were afro-phobic and showed this type of behavior to their own. I was glad to see the South Africans who marched for justice and who displayed support to the African migrants displaying not all indigenous South Africans feel this way.

These are extreme situations African migrants feel all over the world. Not to mention, there are many un-extreme situations we go through on the daily being African migrants. I go through it myself being an African migrant. I struggle facing untrue assumptions about me on the daily. Assumptions about my character which are untrue, I have to prove to people that I’m not what they think they are and can have actual and decent conversations with others, I have to prove that I don’t come from a place that is poor despite the fact that I am here currently, I have to prove the fact that I don’t have any type of hate towards others, I have to prove the fact that I’m genuine and nice, I have to prove the fact that although I have to struggle everyday to exist in the ways that I am, I can still live a regular, fun life being a 26 year old African migrant, and not to mention still have a long and successful road ahead of me, I have to prove the fact that I love, and love and love with all that I have, I have to prove the fact that you can’t run all over me just because you may have more privileges and more power as a result, I have to prove the fact that I exist, and here I am with all my African ways, and I don’t care how tired you may be of seeing my existence, but I am here to stay.

Much love, peace, power, prosperity and growth to all of my African people and African migrants alike. There will come a time when all of our countries face economic prosperity, growth and democracy for all of our people, and we’ll never have to leave our countries again. To all of you showing hatred towards Africans and African migrants, Africans are here to stay, so you should really face it and get accustomed to it.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Embracing my fighter spirit, with all its contradictions

Everyone should know by now that I’m a huge believer of doing the things you are passionate about and also fighting for the things you know you are capable of getting. I’m not sure where I got this “fighter spirit” from to be honest, but I’ve had it ever since I was a young girl navigating my own little world. Every now and then, I sit back and think about the influence I’ve had in my life to make me a fighter at a young age. I decided that there are indeed many factors to it. One that definitely sticks out to me is the impact of my strong Ethiopian mother. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve never seen such a strong woman in my life and seeing her work, fight for my sisters and I to live a beautiful life in this country and be vocal about her passions had such strong influences and contributed in creating my very fierce attitude of life and living.

This type of personality trait of course doesn’t come without a price. Before I learned how be myself with all that I have, I used to be doubtful of my fighter personality and thought it may even lead to my downfall. I think it is without a doubt when I say many people, even those who are not necessarily fighters, are scared to speak up about things that don’t involve them (trying to avoid “confrontations”) or even things that are affecting them on the daily (because that’s what society has taught us). Many people choose silence over speaking up because silence is safe, silence is comfort, because it gives us comfort at the moment, although it may cost us in the long run.

As you can see, I’ve become very vocal about my needs and when in comes to the things I deserve. This shows me that I’ve come to embrace this fighter side of me and have learned to live with it by exploring it more each day. Don’t get me wrong, there are days where I feel like I’m going crazy or that what I’m doing is completely insane, especially being an immigrant woman of color, and being told constantly to silence myself and assimilate in order to be successful. This definitely has such an impact on my psyche, after all, what all of us, especially immigrants, want to do is to avoid the traits that hinder us from growing or becoming successful in a world where we came to do just that.

Although its very evident that I’ve embraced this side of myself and even created a space to talk about the many things I want to fight for, I recently realized that I can’t live my life fighting day in and day out. At some point, your energy gets drained and it becomes tiring. I used to believe that people should fight for things even at the cost of their peace (like I mentioned in previous paragraphs), but I’ve recently had a realization that not everyone has the energy or is built to fight. In short, fighting is not for everyone and it doesn’t have to be, and even for those of us who do it, it’s still tiring and we’re certainly allowed to take breaks. We can most definitely take a break and don’t have to fight every battle we experience.

After all, people like me, who have the “fighter spirit” do try to make the world a beautiful place for everyone to live in but it’s not our responsibility to do that everyday, and certainly not our responsibility to make sure everyone is taken care of. We are humans too and sometimes, we want to enjoy our lives and choose not to speak up in certain circumstances because we are choosing our “peace” at that moment, which is completely okay. It is also not our responsibility to correct everyone’s ignorance whenever we see it happening at every little corner. At the end of the day, we have to do the things that’s best for us with the lives that we’re living, even if it means not fighting for it when we are so drained to do so.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

 

Are you traveling simply because you can?

Traveling is such a fun activity to do especially in your younger years. I observe many of my peers traveling from one island to another, from one landmark to another in hopes of discovering something. It seems many of us like to travel with a goal in mind. Perhaps we think we’re going to find the love that changes our lives, that culture we connect with or we simply like to travel to take lots of pictures and show our friends and family all the adventures we’ve been embarking on. As you can see, there are so many great things that can happen because of traveling and observing other people’s cultures. We may even become a little bit more open-minded, and start seeing the world in a completely different light. Although, I acknowledge and see the many positive aspects of traveling, I can also acknowledge the negative aspects that traveling can cause to those people whose cultures are being appropriated without their input or decisions.

When many people, especially westerners (black or white) travel, they travel with the mindset of having fun, learning cultures and experiencing something new. These are very normal behaviors and attitudes of humans when we are getting ready to embrace ourselves in newness. However, the problem is the mindset of travelers who completely disregard the locals that are living in countries they are paying a visit. I’ve seen many travelers boast about the many ways they are going to make an impact to the places they are visiting i.e. wanting to save others. This of course comes with the assumption that the traveler feels that he/she has a better life than the ones they are visiting. Another behavior I have also observed with most western travelers is the attitude that they want to visit different places because they want to show off the places they are traveling, to intrigue their friends and family members back home. This is not only disrespectful to the people and places you are visiting, but it’s also egotistical. You shouldn’t use a country to “intrigue” or create a certain type of reaction from others because you have the money to do so. When you have these types of attitudes, it not only shows that you’re inherently uninterested in the places you are traveling and visiting only for your ego, but you’re also doing a major disservice to the cultures and people you are visiting.

I’m a big advocate of travel and experiencing new things as part of the human experience, but I strongly feel there needs to be a major attitude and behavior shift in people who are traveling especially from western countries. Here are a few tips I want to give out to those who are “travelers”  and want to “explore the world”:

-Please travel with the intention you want to learn something new from the place you are traveling to. Have a note pad and write about all the new things you are learning about the culture and the people, and how this made you an open-minded person as a result.

-Don’t boast about saving the people you are traveling to or showing them new ways to live. This is a big NO! Be humble, you are no better than others.

-When you go to a new place, get out of your way to interact and talk with the locals, don’t just go to a place, and interact only with the people you are traveling with or only tourists like yourself.

-Know why you are going to a certain place, don’t just go because there are beaches, islands and margaritas. Ask yourself why you are visiting this place and what specific thing you want to learn from your new experience.

-Please, please, please ask permission to take pictures of the locals and their landmarks. I had a crazy experience of a European man taking pictures of historical possessions when he was not supposed to in Axum, Ethiopia when clearly, the sign said, “Don’t take any photos in this museum”. If you are unsure that you are taking pictures of the right places and things, ask people there to be sure you are doing what you are supposed to as a tourist.

-And last but not least, be respectful and considerate of the culture you are visiting. Just because you have privilege and traveling, doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. Humble yourself, travel, learn, love and enjoy without disrespecting those you are paying a visit.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Insecurity: the worst kind of disease

The feeling of insecurity is one that many of us can relate to. It creeps up on us when we are least expecting it. This can happen at the most random places, when we are with or without others. I used to feel insecure frequently in my younger days. I had a hard time overcoming it.

My journey of self acceptance and self love has been a long one and with this journey, I’ve started becoming more secure and confident about myself. I used to feel so insecure about the things I didn’t have, and the things I haven’t accomplished yet. I used to be so insecure because I used to compete with others and was always living for others, instead of myself. I used to feel insecure especially when I was in the company of those my age, who have “accomplished” many more things than I did. I used to feel I needed to do the same things others were doing in order to be successful. I always thought success was sitting in a cubicle and working that 9-5 shift. I always thought that success was doing happy hours with friends after a long work day to wind down from work, I always thought that success was taking yearly vacations, just because I can, and showing them off on instagram. I always thought success was doing things most people around my age were doing. I didn’t learn how to stand on my own and be completely okay with myself and the things I was accomplishing until recently. The thing that also amazes me is how much credit many of us give to the things we have actually accomplished.

I guess it is a part of growing up learning how to be secure with oneself. I am still learning how to do that. I think most of us young adults are still learning how to do that. We are in that age, where we are not too young or we are not too old. We are still living our lives trying to see which type of living makes sense. I think it is safe to say that we are testing the waters trying to establish the life that we want for our future. We are still in that enjoying our freedom phase because we are adults, but still insecure about some aspects of our lives because we are not there yet. I’ve learned that it’s okay not to be there yet, despite of some being there already. I’ve learned it’s okay to be 26 and still figure out what the heck I want from this life. It’s okay to be 26 and not know what makes sense. It’s okay to be 26 and be insecure about certain aspects of my life because I thought I would have been living in some kind of riches by the time I reached 26 when I was 18 or 19.

I’ve learned that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to cry when you need to, ask for advice from friends/family, be confused about what you want from life, still trying to figure it out, learning how to be secure and giving your life its own meaning. I’ve been learning and my biggest goal for this year is to be so secure about my journey and my life, nothing can shake me or the ground I stand on. I also want to be brutally honest with myself about the things I want from this life and the life I have lived so far. I am learning how to be honest about my journey with others. I’m learning to be honest in all aspects of my life. I know honesty will set me free and there is nothing I want in this world than to be brutally honest about the different aspects of my life. I hope you also have a personal goal you want to achieve for this year. Here is to living fulfilling and happy lives.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Race through the eyes of Black Celebrities

As we all know, black celebrities can be a great representation of what black people are about. They are out there entertaining, inspiring, doing what they love, and living very passionate lives. They are in the spot light all of the time and needless to say, most live public and fierce lives. To be honest, I really don’t know how they balance it all: their professional lives vs. their personal lives, which happen to be very public for the most part. I, sometimes look at certain celebrities we have like Rihanna, for example, and wonder how she keeps sane while living her private life very publicly on instagram or on other social sites. They definitely have tough skin, that’s for sure. Otherwise, I’m not sure how one is equipped to handle all of the baggage that comes with fame and all of the people that are living with you all of a sudden.

Aside from having tough skins, black celebrities often get asked about black issues, because hey they are black and their opinions about the black community matters.The thing that upsets me most is when these moments happen and the answers they give do not have anything to do with the real struggles black people face in the US. Their answers are usually so infused with privilege, it hurts my soul to listen to any of their views on identity struggles. To give you few examples of this: Zoe Saldana, a Black Latina actress, when asked about race, articulated she didn’t think there was any need to categorize people as “people of color”, matter of fact, she didn’t think people should look at her as anything but “Zoe” as her mother once did. When Raven Symone, a Black American actress was asked about race, pointed out a similar perspective stating she didn’t want people to see her as anything but an American, most importantly- a human being. Another instance was when Common was asked about racism tying to his recent amazing performances at the Oscars, and he answered that racism has the ability to end if black people lend a loving hand to white people (I don’t know about that one Common), and the most shocking one was when Terrence Howard (after his fame on Fox’s newest TV show hit Empire) made a statement stating he didn’t mind if white folks used the n-word casually and in fact he even allowed his white wife and her friends to say it.

So you ask, what do all these black celebrities have in common to make them respond to race and racism in similar ways: wealth and money privilege. Some how rich folks think that having money can automatically erase the struggles that people of color/ minorities have been going through for decades. Their solution that we can just move forward by not dealing with these issues or by simply ignoring them (identifying ourselves only as human beings or lending a loving hand to white folks) is a slap on the face for those who are dealing with these issues.

I, in turn, would like to suggest to all of the black celebrities that feel in these similar ways and to even go a step further to publicly announce their very misguided and full of privileged thoughts, to please read some books that deal with identity issues before you say problematic things that does more harm than good to the black community. You are doing more harm to the black community by not acknowledging the issues and/or choosing not to see race because you are wealthy. Please see race, its okay to be black, its okay to propose effective solutions like change of systems/ cultures to accommodate black people as well as everyone else, and also, please stop allowing your white spouses/friends to say an offensive word that’s been used to demean generations of people for a long, long time, and no not all black people say the word.

Peace and Love,

Hermela

Pictures from See, Speak, Feel Event at the Anacostia Arts Center!

 

Loved the high of performing on stage

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of performing in front of a huge audience at the Anacostia Arts Center for the annual See, Speak, Feel event. I usually perform my poetry pieces to some of my friends and family members but yesterday, I had the opportunity to perform to audiences I wasn’t too familiar with. Let me first say that it hasn’t been too long since I’ve started writing poetry. Although I’ve always had the desire to write, I just never had the courage to say what I wanted to say in paper entrenched in deep emotions.

I wrote some of the most intimate pieces in my poems so I never really shared them with anyone when I first started writing them. I felt so vulnerable and so exposed when I shared them and didn’t like the feeling, so I didn’t share them until very recently. Many close friends and family who I shared it to pushed me to share it with others since they connected with my words and thought others would connect with them as well. I finally gave it a try yesterday, which I was hesitant to do until the last minute I got on stage.

The minute I got on stage to rehearse, I got so nervous and forgot some of the words from my poetry. I quickly composed myself and started over. I was relieved that it was only rehearsal and it wasn’t the actual show. Getting on stage and speaking felt so different to me. It almost gave me a high I couldn’t get off of. It wore off after a while, which gave me the confidence that I will be fine once I got on stage for the actual show. After a few hours of waiting for the audience members to get to the show, the show finally started.

It was a sold out show so you can imagine the number of people who showed up. It was a packed show with many beautiful faces. I loved every feeling of it and all of the performances. There were dancers, singers, poets and artists from different backgrounds and age groups and it was amazing to witness such a great show that was put together very well. Once it was my turn to get on stage, I got up and the feeling of being high started again. I gave my all to recite my piece with all the emotions it required me to do. I felt all the words, the emotions, the deep meanings and the love story behind it. I deeply felt it and I hoped the audience felt it too. I was so happy to know that my poetry was received very well because of people’s enthusiasm at the end of my performance.

You can imagine all the high and the great energy/vibes I felt yesterday, which made me love the feeling of performing. Stay tuned for more of my performances in the near future, and pictures from my performance from yesterday’s See, Speak, Feel event will be up very soon.

Peace and Love,

Hermela