There are more than 100 million African women who go topless at some point in the day, each and every day, to honor both God and our ancestors. So being in a country like America where nothing is hated more than the image of the black woman, even by black people'because her womb produces the black man and makes us black'I find it of grave importance to implement African images, and especially to produce media images that acknowledge the sexual power and fertility of black women.
I don't see a huge difference between the African condition and the black American condition. The only real difference is that black Americans live in the richest country on Earth surrounded by a majority white population and are almost entirely disconnected from their original culture and their God-given identity.
I loved 1930's women's pictures'films by Josef Von Sternberg or William Wyler. So, I fashioned a style out of that. The integrity and ethos of what I would write, however, came from the films of Ousmane Sembene and from reading Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath and Alice Walker.
I'm not talking about my children's father'he's a wonderful black man, the hero of my life, and he's never disrespected or betrayed me. But I'm talking about what I see in the streets and in the media, this naked hatred that black men have towards the authentic black woman'which is really an indication of black men's hatred for blackness itself.
I have much more power and protection than Salman Rushdie, because I'm an American citizen, but yes, I live in terrible fear for my life and for the lives of my children. My whole family has been threatened, my adoptive parents had to sell their house and move out of Washington, D.C. because of death threats caused by my work and activism.
One of my brothers in my adopted family converted to Islam and I love him with all my heart. I have Muslim women who understand my pain and they give me lots of love and support. But what Black Americans never think about is that the African version of Islam is totally different from American Islam. They've never seen mothers doused in gasoline and set on fire for 'religious' reasons. So they don't know what I'm talking about.
I have never received full credit from the SPLA [Sudanese People's Liberation Army], because the men are very sexist and feel that I'm acting out of place, bringing too much attention to myself - but for the funeral of our leader John Garang, they had me write the poem "Chol Apieth" to eulogize him, and that was their way of acknowledging my contributions.
When my birth parents were murdered, I stayed outdoors all night with the bodies. Years later in America, around fourteen, my psychiatrist explained to me that staying with the bodies that night made me fearless. He said that it made me an 'emotional exhibitionist' and told me never to let people convince me that I was weird for speaking with clarity and passion.
I'm an African woman, I suppose these thoughts torture me more than they do black American people, because it's like watching my own children trapped in a car that's sinking to the bottom of a lake and being impotent to save them'the black Americans have their own holocaust going on. You see the black man erasing black children from the landscape, you see black women desperately trying to get the black man's attention by wearing blonde hair and fake blue eyes, 500 years after he sold her and their children across the ocean.
Because I was in psychiatric treatment for most of my childhood and had to learn English and had to adjust to a white-dominated society, I truly know what being Sudanese refugees [adopting by white family] mean. It's not something that you can explain in the confines of an interview, but there is an immediate comfort, a connection between black phenotypes that is natural.
Though the white man is a kind of Satan, and though the black man is Satan for selling his own children into bondage and assassinating the image of his own mother, because he himself wants to be white'I can assure you that Africa has known no greater Satan than the twins, Arab and Islam.
I have this problem where it's like'I can never stop thinking. For instance, I find myself obsessing over the treatment of black women and girls by black men'the fact that black men have a special prejudice against black women and generally don't protect them or attempt to understand them, and I cry an awful lot about that.