LEAVING BEHIND THE LAND OF LIMITS

One of my favorite boys just turned eleven years old, and while celebrating his birthday with family and friends, I remembered that eleven is the exact age I was when I had the dream of living in America. The past 16 years in this great country have included high highs and low lows, but despite it all, hope is what keeps me going every day.

Choosing to live my life in the US does not mean I turned my back on France. I am lucky to have been born and raised there while being able to still value my African heritage. The architecture, poetry, painting and all artistic creations that surrounded me while growing could never be replicated anywhere else.

But, I had a vision for my life, a vision that differed from that of my home country. In France, there are conscious limits - lines in the sand that some of us cannot cross. We don’t have a Diddy, or Jay z, or a Russell Simmons… We do not have a Jean Michel Basquiat or Malcolm x or even Oprah, and the list could go on and on. The intellectuals, artists, and public figures that call France home are purposefully hidden from the spotlight - a sort of disappearing into the larger context of the culture. This unfortunate truth is what pushed me to consider America as my destiny.

Having grown up with a lack of French, black, creative role models has forced me to ask myself whether us minorities truly do not have the requisite talent required, or whether it is all about the visual representation (which doesn't include black faces) that has always been quintessential French pop culture.

I can’t answer that question objectively, but what I am sure about is that this amounts to passive discrimination. A discrimination that has left countless young people limited by their own society. I refused to be limited and I even now will stop at nothing to live beyond boundaries. I have learned that it isn't that simple though... the black color never goes without opinion or judgement, even on top of the biggest mountain on earth And that is a just a fact that showed itself true time and time again. We have no choice but to have hope and soldier on.