I was born and raised in New York City. And not so much in the big apple, but more consistently in the concrete jungle. This city literally birthed all that I am and intend to be. From everything that I’ve ever wanted, to everything I never had or once sacrificed, this city has been the foundation of all my ambitions, accomplishments and disappointments.
I made it my business, unknowingly perhaps, to conquer this city back in junior high school. I committed to that business in high school. Followed through with it in college. And sold everything for it, since then. I told myself in 2012 that I would conquer this city. First and foremost.
That was a major part of the struggle with moving to Los Angeles. In many ways, I felt like I hadn’t yet conquered the city that raised me. I felt insecure and greatly guilty with the growing ambition, each day I spent in LA, to conquer Hollywood and what I consider to be, the land of the Lost and Found. And yet, I struggled even more with a realistic path of attempting, yet again, to conquer New York, with no money and only via means of going back to and through where I’d just came from. I just didn’t see a way.
So, now having been back in New York for two months, and still wholeheartedly in the spirit of LA, I have finally conquered it. I had to find the rest of myself before I could expose and then reconstruct the city for what it is. That is, of course, the only way a person like me ever could conquer this city. A Black, woman, with no money, influence or tangible power.
To conquer New York City, I would have to expose that in fact, material and power were the only real ways to conquer the supposed city made for the dreamer. That the land of Lady Liberty, long ago, drowned her dream of easing the poor, weak and huddled masses, under millions of dollars and thousands of egos.
And so, I did have to come back. I first had to go find the rest of myself, or rather, go discover how to be the rest of myself. Then and only then was I allowed to come back to conquer the concrete jungle that raised me. Adorned proudly in all of my vibrant colors of beauty and bold flames of passion, I took claim on my land, my territory, my corner of the world. On my terms, solely under my authority, the way I saw fit.
Thus, as I said, I am more than a conqueror. So much more.
Ask New York City. Ask the Lower East Side. Ask Brooklyn. Ask the skyscrapers and the concrete. Go ahead. They’ll tell you the truth. The way it really is. As it was, when it was. And how it is now.