"Immigrant, migrant, emigrant, exile,
Where do the birds gather?"

So begins "Migrations" -- a soul-stirring poem by acclaimed Ghanaian author Abena Busia. "Migrations" was published in Testimonies of Exile a collection of poems in which Busia describes the uncertainty, anguish and nostalgia that often shadows the immigrant experience.

I'm from the Caribbean island of St. Croix. For the past 14 years, however, I've been living in Oakland, California with my wife, Stephanie Hamilton, and our children, Malcolm, Tulani and Diallo. I'm also the producer of an upcoming documentary film that explores African spirituality and modern science. The film is a called "Across The King's River" (www.acrossthekingsriver.com)

As the years pass, I've come to believe that we all live in an exile of sorts -- sometimes from country, sometimes from inner self and almost always from "the other". How else to account for humanity's uneasiness? Our senseless and seamless transition "from guns to guns again: again," as Busia says.

In the song "Corazon Guerrero", Willie Colon, the New-York born salsero, poses a rhetorical question: "Si todos sabemos que somos hermanos y hermanos, porque formamos barreras y guerras?" (If we know that we're brothers and sisters, why do we create barriers and wars?)"

James Baldwin, the celebrated African- American writer, once said: "All men are brothers; that's the bottom line. If you can't take it from there, you can't take it at all." And David Hinds, lead singer of the reggae group Steel Pulse, says: "At the end of the day, all religions come down to one truth; and if you can't deal with that, you can't deal with anything."

Like Baldwin, Colon and Hinds, I, too, am opposed to barriers. The walls we have erected around us have worked too well Like Baldwin, Colon and Hinds, I, too, am opposed to barriers. The walls we have erected around us have worked too well for too long. In shutting others out, however, we seem to forget that we shut ourselves in.

This website was created in the spirit of openness; it began as a project for Anthropology on the Internet; an online course that I took several years ago at Cal-State Hayward in California.

Since anthropologists study cultures, our assignment was to write a Web-essay on a culture of our choice. I chose to give voice to my culture, Virgin Islands culture, and I will do so by weaving images, sound and personal anecdotes.

And so, "Immigrant, migrant, emigrant, exile, After the last sky, Where do the birds fly?"


Audio Clip Summary: Leona Watson, The education of David Hamilton Jackson–the revered Crucian labor leader and activist.

 

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