Ask Where I’m A Local 

Posted on May 15, 2020


“He who experiences the unity of life sees himself in all beings, and all beings in himself. ” from Heart of a Buddha, Amitabha Buddhist Society

How could I come from a nation?

How can a human being come from 20200507_173336_hdr

a concept?

To say that I came from

a country suggests

that a country

is an absolute, a fixed point in place, in time,

a constant thing.

But is it?

Countries are expressions of sovereign statehood–

an idea that came into fashion only 400 years ago.


As I had suspected:

History is real.

Cultures are real,

but countries are invented.


What if we asked,

instead of,

“Where are you from?”

Where are you a local?

Take a three-step test,

the three “R’s”:

Rituals? Relationships? Restrictions?


You can take away my passport, but you can’t take away my experience.

Where I’m from comes wherever I go.

A Mexican gardener

in Los Angeles and a Nepali housekeeper in Delhi

have more in common

in terms of rituals and restrictions than nationality implies.

Milieu holds true

in human experience,

this notoriously and gloriously disorderly affair.

The myth of national identity

and the vocabulary of coming from

confuses us. 20200331_164326

All of us are

multi-local, multi-layered.

Hear the truth:

“Taiye Selasi is a human being,

like everybody here.

She is a local of New York, Rome and Accra.”

A found poem with lines taken from Taiye Selasi’s TED talk, “Don’t Ask Where I’m From, Ask Where I’m a Local”


lisa eddy is a writer, researcher, educator, advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

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