By Latrice Coleman
Greetings, Koindanomics family,
I am extremely excited and honored to have the opportunity to be part of this revolutionary movement of social activism while sharing my journey with you.
Let me introduce myself, so that as you follow along with my experience you will come to feel like we have become family. You can understand through my transparency my goals, dreams, and aspirations for not only me but US as a people.
My name is Latrice Coleman. I am a thirty-eight-year-old Air Force disabled veteran, soon-to-be divorced mother of five, and IT Project Manager by trade with secondary education in culinary arts. I’m New Orleans bred and California born and raised in the inner city of southeast San Diego, Calif. I am a cancer survivor, lupus warrior, and living organ donor. I’m telling you all of this because it will be relevant later.
But let’s get into why we’re here: Africa!
In 2007, I met a coworker who was Ethiopian. As we worked next to each other, our daily conversations consisted of my asking her a million questions about her culture and country. I was fascinated!
Fast-forward two years, I noticed a post by my coworker on Facebook one day. She and her family pleaded for someone to help save her cousin who was in the United States on a medical visa. She would soon die if she didn’t receive a kidney from an O negative donor. I chose to step out on faith and become this beautiful young girl’s donor. That moment forever solidified my love and connection to Ethiopia—to Africa.
In April, I was invited for the umpteenth time by her family to visit Ethiopia. I had always declined. It was either a bad time, I couldn’t leave my kids for that length of time, or I didn’t have the money. This time I felt compelled to say yes and figure it out later. I had no idea what lay ahead nor what this experience would be like, but I knew that for me to fully embrace the country and its people, I needed to do a brain dump. I needed to leave my first-world problems and expectations at baggage claim. I needed to leave behind everything we were ever taught and experience Mother Africa for myself.
That decision was probably the most profound moment I’ve had in my adulthood. I believe that my experience exceeded my hopes simply because I decided to leave America and all of its misleading rhetoric behind.
After landing and clearing customs, I headed out of the airport to meet my driver. As I walked down the ramp toting far too much luggage, I began to feel real Wakanda-ish. I felt like I was part of the Dora Milaje on Challenge Day. I was trying to keep it cool and not look like a tourist, but on the inside I was shrugging my shoulders with my arms crossed over my chest, screaming, “Wakanda Forever!”
I stopped just outside the exit. I could hear African drums and a whole tribe of people chanting in my head. The bright sun dancing across my face seemed so much brighter than in America. The very air seemed to fill my chest with pride and unchartered excitement.
I held back tears while riding to my hotel, gazing at the city in amazement. Was I in Africa or New York? Between the traffic, horrible drivers, and the sea of skyscrapers, I was legit confused. The only difference was that no matter which direction I looked, everyone looked like me! Oh, this was definitely not New York or any part of America!
It was at that point that I began to sense my whole life was a lie. For the next three and a half weeks, I continued to have on a daily basis what I like to call “wait…what?” moments. These were moments of clarity that went against everything I was ever taught about Africa and Ethiopia. Growing up, I remember watching infomercials of Sally Struthers begging for 32 cents a day to feed the starving children of Ethiopia. I grew up assuming that the land was barren and famine was rampant. All I kept seeing in my head were babies with bloated stomachs and flies covering their faces. So, when I tell you I was in complete culture shock when I stepped into upscale hotels and resorts with the likeness of something from the Caribbean, I was shook!
Every day for the next twenty-eight days, I was repeatedly amazed by what I saw with my own eyes. The tombs, monasteries, churches, and ancient ruins made one thing very apparent: Somebody lied to me! The walls were covered with portraits of ancient kings and queens—all Black. Murals dating back to the fourth century A.D. of all Black biblical figures, and, last but not least, Black Mary and Jesus with—yep, you guessed it–Afros. I kid you not! Here I was in the cradle of civilization feeling bamboozled! Damn colonizers, man. Was it not enough to rob us of ever having a specific culture or nation to identify with, but they had to lie about what really exists too?
After the eleven-day tour was over, I was able to settle in, soak up the culture, and blend in. This part of the trip was equally as important as the educational tours. I simply observed what day-to-day life was like. I saw what businesses were like. This opportunity changed my life! The level of peace that came over me was foreign. It was hard to fathom that just two weeks before this trip, I was in the emergency room because my lupus flared so badly I couldn’t walk. Yet, here I was in Africa dancing until the sun came up!
How was it that I was walking up 4,030-meter mountains while in America I struggled to get up and down the stairs in my home? Why was my melanin poppin’ so severely? Why were my digestion issues nonexistent?
I’ll tell you why. For the first time in my life, I was free—free from GMOS and processed foods. I wasn’t consuming vegetables poisoned with pesticides or hormone-filled meats. I didn’t know if it was ignorance all those years or my refusal to believe that the food we consumed in the United States was that tainted.
It was time to have a real conversation with myself.
“Latrice, why can’t this be your life? Why are you going home? Why are you returning to a country that has you living in fear for the lives of the Black boys you’re raising? Do you want to continue living to die, or do you want to die to live?”
After a few quiet moments, a short prayer, and a confirmation from the universe, it was a no-brainer. I chose ME. I chose life. I chose my children’s safety. I chose to leave my oppressors in my rear view and live the rest of my life amongst people who look like me—among brothers and sisters who live by the ideology that we are one. I chose to bury the old me beside that ancient holy mountain that day. I chose to throw a match onto my fears, inhibitions, and pain. From the ashes, I will rise! From the concrete, this rose grows.
And the most exciting part is that I get to bloom with the Koindanomics magazine family along for the ride. Stay tuned, as we embark on this journey of freedom and true liberty together!