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The view on one of my morning walks through Aburi. (Trish Tchume)

The pace was everything my life in Brooklyn was not and I’d never been happier.

So I think for everyone, (myself included) there was this question looming over my entire trip: “Is this move permanent?”

Photo taken by my uncle outside of one Cape Coast’s slave castles.

First, my experience in Ghana, though beautiful, made it clear to me that the “Africa is home to all Black people” narrative doesn’t really bear out.

On a social level, in Ghana even I as a Ghanaian-American was welcomed, but othered. On a personal level, Ghana is my homeland but it is not yet my home. I do not have the set of experiences and relationships there that would allow it to be. So to say we were “choosing the cage” implies that Africa or Ghana specifically is more of an option than I found it to be in reality.

Second, call the US a cage, but for better or worse it is the cage that I know.

While most Ghanaians saw those shootings as all the information necessary for me to stay in Ghana, I saw them as the main reason I needed to return. America was never meant for Black people but it is ours nonetheless. Our blood and bodies have built this place and now that it cannot use our bodies in the same way, it is attempting to reject us. I refuse. We refuse. And so now we are in another period of active demand for our full liberation within this place. In the US, I know how to be a part of that demand. I have a crew, I have networks, I know the levers of power and resistance. In Ghana, at least at the moment I felt impotent, separated from my ability to engage in the ways that I knew. It just felt wrong to be there when there was so much work to be done here.

I also don’t see this as a forever decision.

I hope that there will be a point in my life when I spend more of my time in Ghana than in the US and my days are slow and peaceful once again, anchored only by visits to various doting aunties. For now, I just feel lucky that Ghana is a place that I miss everyday, and that I am one of the fortunate few who has another place in this world outside of the US where I feel rooted.




#Naysayers is a collection of stories about the times in our lives when we’ve said no. Boundaries set. Lines drawn. Big or small asks, invitations, demands, jobs, loves, or moves declined. Learn more on our “About” story.

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Julia Smith

Julia Smith

Currently curating #naysayers, aka The NOvember Project. Say no to say yes. Tweet @juliacsmith to share your #naNOPEwrimo story.

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