Dear 15-year old Buki.

Dear 15-year old Buki,

I’m sorry nobody ever told you –
That you were sold dreams,
That America is a dream you’ll pay too much for.
That your parents will break their backs,
Trying to buy an education that’s breaking you in two.
That they will grow thin,
Bargaining for your place in spaces that are
Actively trying to erase you.
That they would die,
To give you what is killing you.

I’m sorry nobody ever told you –
That you will feel guilty every single day,
That you will keep apologising for your blackness,
For your womanness,
For your foreignness,
For your Africanness.

I’m sorry nobody ever told you –
That you were spoilt by your father,
That black men will spit on your labour,
Squeeze your heart dry like an old dish rag,
And keep making messes for you to clean up.

I’m sorry nobody ever told you –
That you were always too big for the
White walls of this Ivy Tower to contain,
That your ambition will be uncomfortable,
That you’ll take up too much space,
That your voice will scratch at white ears,
That you will learn to be okay with being a problem.

You will love. You will lose.
You will find God, and seek God, and find God again –
In the late nights, in the rain,
In the laughter of your best friends, in yourself.
You will be forced to spend time with your details,
And it will be painful.

You will have the most unceremonious welcome to adulthood,
And I’m sorry you weren’t ready.
You were never ready. You will never be ready.
You will forget the scent of your mother’s comfort,
And that’s okay. You are making room for yourself.
You are curating your own space.
You are becoming.

And never, ever apologise –
For your flavours, your colours, your textures.
Do not ever apologise for being sensitive –
It only means your capacity for empathy is as wide as the sky.
Do not ever apologise for being loud –
It only means you’ll have a hard time being forgotten.
Do not ever apologise for being difficult –
It only means you’re an experience worth having.
Do not ever apologise for being uncertain –
It only means you’re willing to work to seek truth.
You will run into brick walls and you will stumble onto dead ends.
But you will find your way.
You will always find your way.

Hang in there.
Drink lots of tea.
You will start to grow into yourself.

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