Back to News and Updates


Identifying Identity

Filed Under: Education, Featured

Identifying Identity

Don’t put Sekayi Edwards in a box, or think you know his story just by looking at him. Chances are, you’d be completely wrong, but you wouldn’t be alone. SPARK staff member Sekayi was born in England to Jamaican-born parents, and moved to New York when he was two. A lover of psychology, music, and mythology, his graduate studies in expressive arts exposed him to concepts such as indigenous wisdom and the mythology of cultures. Assumptions about the backgrounds of Black people is by no means limited to Sekayi, who’s been racially socialized by society as African American but socialized at home as Jamaican-British.

In fact, if African identity and belonging is where you feel seen, understood, mirrored, heard, and accepted, Sekayi’s life is a reminder of how far we still have to go to understand diversity. “People often don’t know how to place me…that I was from England, like classical music, or other unexpected cultural elements. The typical African American story doesn’t quite fit me.”

Asked about the African Diaspora and how San Francisco has experienced its own displacement of African Americans, Sekayi smiles knowingly. “When I lived in Miami, people shared stories of how their community had once been vibrant, but when a highway was built to run right through it, it was thoroughly displaced and disrupted. I saw something similar in New York where one side of the town stayed the same, while the other side became run down; and here in San Francisco… Communities are pathologized as broken, but there are reasons for how things are the way they are…It’s shocking, but it’s not.” It is the diaspora, taking place in one community after the other.

Like Kamailia, Sekayi sees SPARK’s impact in the small things. He points to drumming activities with parents and Día de los Muertos events as ways they’re helping the community heal. “The candles, shared photos of loved ones lost, the personal stories, the drumming, and the shared tears – in a community setting, it’s extremely powerful.” These are the positive gifts of the diaspora – shared drumming, collective storytelling and grieving, and ultimately, community healing.

It’s evident why Sunnydale kids love Sekayi. He brings kind eyes, a welcoming smile, and a gentle spirit. He has a self-awareness and humility that makes others feel similarly. He is a young 32-year old with a wise and timeless soul – characteristics that are reflected in Sekayi’s perspective on the African Diaspora: “We all have multiple histories and identities. Black isn’t any one thing. We all need to understand each other more, not just superficially because we are everywhere. We can all learn how to speak, learn, and be open to identity in a way that’s inclusive.”

No comments yet.

Leave a Comment    

Subscribe to our Newsletter