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Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.


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The vice president’s cold handling of a migration crisis conveniently disregards the mess the U.S. has historically made in Central America

Photo: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris has never looked more like an American politician than she did last week. That is not a compliment.

Revisiting my interview with the superstar just a few months before his death

Photo: Rob Verhorst/Getty Images

In the back room corner of my old Fort Greene apartment was an old plastic file cabinet. Inside, buried beneath some college newspaper clippings, promotional photos of old Stax stars (Isaac Hayes, Booker T & the MGs), and datebooks from the 1980s, was a ticket stub I should have kept in a place of honor. It was from Madison Square Garden, Saturday, September 20, 1980. The show started at 8:00 p.m. The ticket price for an orchestra seat was $12.50, but mine had “Guest” stamped on it since it was complimentary. …

Growing up in Cameroon, I believed America was the only dream. But the reality is much more complicated.

Photo: NoSystem images/Getty Images

As a kid, I always knew I’d leave Cameroon to pursue my education. My older cousins had left, and talks about higher education in the country were hopeless. I was the firstborn son, so it only made sense that my parents would go into debt, borrow from “ndjangui houses (community credit unions), and find a way for me to join my cousins in Germany or the U.S.

#CentralAmericanTwitter unified a world, banding us together as we fought for our lives

Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

My family and I left El Salvador for America in 1987 — after the massive earthquake, in the middle of the civil war. The 5.7-magnitude quake toppled buildings and cracked open the streets of San Salvador, leaving them uneven and jagged. Records of the 1986 event show that over 1,500 people died, 10,000 were injured, and another 100,000 were left homeless. The seismic event tipped over a wooden-framed television set; it landed on top of me while I played with Legos. My nananoya (“grandma” in Nawat) burst into the living room and hoisted the TV set off of me. …

Where I’m from, color means little. That made my transition to the United States a chilling one.

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

This time last year, I was free to travel anywhere I wanted in my native Cameroon, and no one blinked an eye. All I needed was my identity card and the privilege of my first name. Kamga is the most popular name in the Bamileke tribe, historically situated in the French-speaking part of the country; with my name, there was no doubt I could speak French. I could walk into a room, board a cab, order at any restaurant — choose who I wanted to be, whenever I needed to be, without question. Bilingual on paper, French en réalité.

My family speaks one language, I was raised in another — and my heart and mind speak a third

Bordeaux, France. Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

A few months ago, I filled out a form that confirms that I will one day be buried in the Comoro Islands, my mother’s homeland, rather than France where I grew up — but I used the wrong Social Security number. On purpose. I miswrote the numbers because I don’t think I’ve ever belonged to my mother’s homeland. Honestly, I’ve never really felt like I belong anywhere.


Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.

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