Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. In September, he launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. You can read his previous columns here.
“Homeboy, do you know what it means to be kicked out of your country and not be able to go back? That shit is serious, cuz, and sits with me every day.
“In Ethiopia, I was someone. I was a graduate in the school of agriculture. I went to go work as a coffee inspector and then got a job as a reporter for the Ethiopian Herald. I was one of the best writers in all of Ethiopia. I covered all of the important topics. I am telling you the truth, homie. But in Ethiopia, the government did not like that I was running my mouth and writing certain things, so I had to flee from my home and leave everything behind. That was 33 years ago.
Continues after the jump.
“I left my country for this Babylon. I ended up landing in Atlanta, Georgia. I got my college degree in applied animal nutrition. I got married and had twins. I worked a number of jobs. The thing is that I was not supposed to be in this country. I was supposed to go back and serve my people in Ethiopia, but I couldn’t go back because of the government. Most of the Ethiopian people knew and respected me there. Here, I was a nobody. I had a college degree and my green card and had all of my shit straight, but it was never the same.
“I ended up getting into drinking and drugs and this-and-that. What can I say, homeboy? These things are a reality and a fact of life for some people. You can never understand until someone takes away your life and country and tells you to start over as a nobody. I couldn’t handle things and ended up leaving my life and family in Atlanta and moved to Newark, New Jersey, but it wasn’t any better there. I came to Washington eight years ago to be back with my Ethiopian people. I sit on these streets and see the people that I grew up with and the people who knew me from my writing days.
“Just because I am around my people, though, doesn’t mean that everything is lovely. I may have a college degree, but I ain’t nothing but a hustler now. I have been doing a lot of things in the nations’s capital, but to tell you the truth, I am not going to tell you how I get by here. All you have to know, homeboy, is that the strongest survive and the fools die. My father lived until 87 and my Mom lived a long life, too. I am 59 and will be a survivor just like them.”