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  • Ayren Jackson-Cannady

Walking and Talking Melting Pot

"There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning." --1 Corinthians 14:10

I may have been raised on grits and greens, but I love tabbouleh. Traditionally made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur, and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt...I could eat vats of the stuff. It's my if-I-could-only-eat-one-thing-for-the-rest-of-my-life dish. Really, who needs chocolate cake when you have tabbouleh? For the longest time I wondered why tabbouleh felt like such a comfort food to me. Why did I often grab a bowl of it--instead of butter pecan ice cream--when I felt like I needed a food hug? Things started to make sense after my younger brother received the results of an AncesteryDNA test, which claims to uncover one's ethnic mix. Turns out, he and I (since we both have the same parents) are 2 percent Middle Eastern (whoa!). Tabbouleh is historically a Levantine food. Levant was what is now modern day Middle East. I've done my research, ya'll. Ethnically, we are also 20 percent Benin/Togo, 16 percent Cameroonian, 14 percent Irish (so, that explains my love affair with corned beef and cabbage), 11 percent Ivory Coast/Congo, 7 percent Finnish...and a bunch of other ethnicities. The ironic thing about being African American is that you're rarely ever just African or just American. Due to centuries of life's ups and downs--migration, love, slave trade, hopes, and dreams--you're a walking melting pot. Your culture IS multi-cultural. While you may be "African American" on paper, you have the authority to try that new Japanese restaurant, check out the annual Czech festival, or visit the art exhibit of an up-and-coming Senegalese painter, because by experiencing these things, you never know, you may be getting a glimpse into the world of your ancestors.


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