“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”

I moved to the States shortly before my 2nd birthday, honestly days before, and this has been home…my only home I’ve ever truly known. The person I am, the cultural person that is, has been affected by the duality of my existence as a Jamaican in America. My cultural development was rooted in the Black-American experience while sprinkled by the Black-Jamaican community—my family—in which I existed. As I have matured in my American experience I have come to have a deeper understanding of my Jamaican essence and how the two should always exist in a symbiotic relationship. I would not be the person I am if I were to fully let go of my cultural identities. However, time and time again I have questioned why I have not let go of my technical ties to a country that I do not know—Jamaica.

On several occasions I have started the paperwork to become an American Citizen, to technically adhere myself to a country of which I am essentially a part and on each occasion I have not completed the process. Today, relative to time and the actual date, I find myself, again, at a place where I have completed the paperwork to become and American Citizen, I have considered the monetary cost ($400 for the filing portion), and I continue to consider the philosophical cost. The reality is that the monetary cost far outweighs any philosophical cost, yet the essence of the philosophical cost dances in the recesses of my mind.

I believe in America, I love this place, more than any other place on earth—well next to being in my mother’s arms. Then there is my appreciation for where my family has come and that stays with me like a roach survives the generations. I am an American, I daily perpetuate the greatness that is America, being American is all that I know how to be. As an American I am free to think what I believe to be true, I am free to express my sentiments in my own way, I am able to sit in my home without free of persecution—well I am a Black gay Jew so that may not be fully accurate, but if I am persecuted I believe in the system, although at times faulty, to be just in the end.

My mother died before she could become a citizen, if nothing more I do this for her. My mother’s dream will be my reality. In this lesson, maybe one of the most important we learn to accept America and all that she has to offer: her greatness, her warmth, her democratic nature, her ability to unify the disjointed and to empower the disenfranchised.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”