I have personally learned just because I have citizenship to a land, that does not necessarily make me feel connected to it. This is the struggle of the “foreigner” in any land: how do you juggle the longing for your home land and make peace with your new land while seeking some semblance of prosperity? This is a question that has many intersections and deeply woven crosshairs of which I, as well as many people, maneuver through daily. It is a road wrought with profound blessings, deep pains, and sometimes unanswerable questions.
In my life, I have always felt like a foreigner. Born West African, raised American and yet with no place to really call home. I have many memories of longing for home, for a place to fit in, a place that was made for people like me, yet knowing that I may never really find it. To the world, they have coined a term for people like me, “Third Culture Kid”. In essence, you are a mixture of your parents’ culture but raised in a new culture, forced to make sense of this conundrum as well as create a new culture in which to inhabit and survive in.
I’ve been surviving for years and have gotten used to it. I believe that many of us as blacks in America have been just this: a foreigner, a “Third Culture Kid”. From our history to present day, we seek for home. We learn to make peace with our circumstance and still find ways to prosper in a land that tells us otherwise. I have lived in this intersectionality for my entire life and yet am still seeking what it means to be prosperous. This idea of being a foreigner provokes thoughts of Israel in Egypt when God lead them through the exodus and reminded them that they themselves were foreigners once. My heart connects quickly to these moments and begins to long-- Long for home.
But then just as quickly, it saddens because I think to myself, where is home? In Africa, I am not fully a part because my rhythm is missing certain beats but in America, I am not fully a part because I was forced to learn another rhythm with swells and cadences that my parents could not fully repeat. So for many years, traveling back and forth trying to match these rhythms, cutting out pieces, adding beats, rewriting the music became exhausting. I felt undone many a times and a certain level of betrayal because I couldn’t get it. I wanted to fit it. I wanted to just be the melody as everyone else. I couldn’t understand this sheet music that God gave me and it frustrated me.
I was picked on by African Americans because I spoke properly, rejected by white society because of my personality, not good enough for Africans because of my accent. How was I supposed to find peace and prosperity in this land, this dichotomy of living? It was in these moments God reminded me that He always remembered the foreigner, the alien, the modern day “Third Culture Kid”. From Exodus to Revelation we were on His mind: we as blacks taken from homelands, cultures and traditions and forced to adapt into new lands not as equals, we as Christ followers knowing that once we are in Christ, truly we are a new creation maneuvering this world with uncertainty, and for even us internationals whether by choice, parental guidance or seeking freedom. He was always thinking about us, about you, about me.
God showed me that the idea of being a foreigner is from Him. Knowing once sin entered this world that His children would never perfectly fit in, nor did He want them to. He pointed me back to Jesus to show me how perfectly awkward the kingdom is. Upside down, inside out that only through Him could true peace and prosperity be found. That He truly cares for the “foreigner”. Israel was to remember that even they were foreigners and to never forget. God revealed to me that foreigners were just as integral to the kingdom as any other part. It is His reclaiming radical reconciliation in a world that draws divisions and categorizes everything.
I have this deep love for fusion whether in food, people, or knowledge but especially for music. There is something that internally makes me find a deep satisfaction when I hear different instruments, from brass to wind, drumbeats, electronic or hand played, to the unexpected beat changes and great rhythms that can all happen in a span of about 5 minutes. My head can’t help but to sway and rock back and forth. The anticipation of the musical changes grab at me and keep me wanting more. It was in this moment God showed me that the reason I couldn’t understand the sheet music He gave me is because I kept trying to rewrite it, instead of playing it just as is. He showed me that being a "Third Culture Kid" was just that, bringing together a fusion of music that seems upon initial glance as though it wouldn’t work but just playing it as is created the greatest fusion piece ever written.
So I accepted my disjointed rhythms and let them play out. The gift of my afro fusion over hip hop beats, classical melodies, electric rock, and inter-sectionalism created in me a harmony to the kingdom’s melody of home that showed me it was more than ok to be a foreigner but in essence reminding me as He did with Israel that we are all foreigners. I as a West African American, along with my African American, Caribbean Americans, Afro Latinos, International Blacks living in this land are just passing through making beautiful harmonies and that God will and continues to reconcile all people. He reconciles us to each other even as we long for home. We create a Third Culture, we are a Third Culture. We are the foreigners and rest in that knowing He creates and gives peace to us not as this world gives; because true prosperity is within Him.