Anthropology Magazine
Poem / Identities

The Voice of Diaspora

A poet-archaeologist of the African diaspora encourages seeing the multiple meanings of identities and being open to interpretation.
This profile shows a young protestor wearing a large, round, gold earring with a cutout of the African continent and two multicolored headwraps.

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The Voice of Diaspora (English) - Listen
2:13
A voz da diaspora (Portuguese) - Listen
1:53

“The Voice of Diaspora” is part of the collection Lead Me to Life: Voices of the African Diaspora. Read the introduction to the collection here.

I wake up and realize I’m dirty
The years of subservience
Pouring from me
The thousands of uncertainties mixed into my skin that relinquish
And distinguish
And don’t extinguish the cost
Of this diseased knowledge.

This ivory speech.
It targets my soul
(It was given to me as legacy)
It restrains me
Challenging me to challenge it
Insists in keeping its sovereignty
Insists for me to dethrone it
Works on its behalf alone.
From the aegis of a fractured world
It presents us the venom and the antidote
as evil things to have within the same body [1] Reference to Isabelle Stenger’s understanding of the Greek term “pharmakon.”

But I
I am Diaspora
And also Colony
Made of Love and Ammonia
Carrying insomnia and slumber
Through all the sleepless years

Then, I arise
From every unjust dream,
From every bed unclean
On a quest to spawn for those who dominate
their worst nightmare
(Not revenge, but disdain.)

This sickness is tactic
Emphatic
It ravages this world—apathetic
And it’s what stains me
And it’s what pushes me to the cure
And it’s what fuels the pursuit
For what’s undivided
For what’s diluted
For a way to break this cycle
And stop this master x slave logic

But to do so is necessary
To immerse in these wasted states,
Look through the past mistakes
Change the game
And accept the fact
That it’s not a sin
To carry many worlds within.

Lara de Paula Passos is a doctoral student in anthropology at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil. Her research focuses on critiques of how science can be colonialist and the differences between agents in the archaeological record as viewed through the lens of race and gender. De Paula Passos’ papers include “Gender Perspectives in South American Archaeology—A Look From Brazil” in The Routledge Handbook of Global Historical Archaeology and “Within Me Lives Every Marielle Franco: Repression, Resistance, Archaeo-poetry, and the Materiality of Black Women’s Experiences.” Follow her on Instagram @arqueopoesia.

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