Finding a Home in a Foreign Space
I am coming up on my third month here in Buenos Aires, however, my feelings have yet to change about this city. One thing I have realized is the importance of finding a common identity in foreign spaces. It’s only human nature to want to feel a sense of acceptance and comfort and to have a person or object that you can identify with when you are in an unfamiliar place. My time here in Argentina has been surrounded by constant adjusting and being flexible because I am in a different country than what I am used to. I am in a place that for the past three months I have tried to make a home away from home. That has proved to be somewhat difficult because I rarely see anyone who looks anything like me. It’s difficult for anyone to truly understand that concept coming from the United States because of the diversity that the U.S. has in terms of seeing black people in my day to day routine; here that is almost non-existent.
Nevertheless, I managed to find a group of black girls here in Buenos Aires who are from the United States just like I am. The past weekend one of them in the group celebrated her 21st birthday. For me, although it was her birthday celebration, it was another way to embrace black women who are outside of their home to study and learn about a new culture very different from their own. It’s empowering, magical, and honestly, it’s a feeling that’s truly hard to explain in words. Being in an environment in which there is someone that can identify with what you have struggled with while being away from home (in my case Buenos Aires) is not only comforting, but ensuring that I am not the only one going through this process of growth and greater understanding. Simple things like sitting around, laughing, and listening to the same kind of music we enjoy is freeing and revitalizing.
To me what is most interesting is although we all come from different backgrounds, we all share one common identity as black women that creates a unifying factor. Aspects of life that we have to overcome or struggle with as black women creates an open space for us to share, which is hard to find in a country where there aren’t many black women. It’s something that is refreshing and encouraging that I am able to articulate my thoughts or concerns in a safe haven.
Furthermore, the plight of the black women often goes overlooked. We have to not only fulfill our role as “caretakers,” but we are also marginalized in the workplace and education. We are only allowed to go but so far in positions of power and are told what kinds of career paths we ought to take. What types of lives we ought to lead and the roles we should pursue as women seem to be determined for us. Kola Boof, an Egyptian-Sudanese American poet and novelist has even gone as far as to say, “The Black woman is the most unprotected, unloved woman on earth…she is the only flower on earth…that grows unwatered.” For me, in that moment being surrounded by beautiful black women of all backgrounds, I felt like we were the flowers. During this unique period in our lives, strangely enough, Argentina has become the land that we choose to plant our seeds. Despite the deprivation of water from our culture that constantly tells us what we can and cannot do, we have explored further and re-configured our identities by going beyond the borders of the United States to share our uniqueness with the world.