The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

RGLP Participant Reflection:

Article Type 

In the summer of 2020, while quarantined at home wallowing in self-pity and self-importance (I was lamenting the loss of my future and dreams), I started maniacally cooking for my family. It began with pasta. My mother bought me a pasta maker on which I spent hours making linguini, spaghetti, bowtie, and even ravioli. It was delicious. My thighs got thicker and my glutes widened. I started working out in the morning. I made myself an elaborate morning schedules that I followed for two weeks at a time, before falling off. Wake up at seven AM, walk three miles, do a half hour of abs with YogawithAdrienne, and make a healthy breakfast. My thighs thinned. My glutes tightened. I obsessed about the state of the world and wondered why, what is my purpose? I was selfish. My mother bought me spring form pans for baking. I started making French gruyere tarts, baking lemon blueberry cream cheese layer cakes, cookies, and obscure muffin recipes hidden in the New York Times Cooking. I paid five dollars for that subscription. I feel it keenly. My face broke out. I drowned in my own grease. I restarted my morning routine. I started drinking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with 20-dollar manuka honey. My pimples left. My grease abandoned me. I cried about my ugliness. I asked about why I was born black, cried about the length and luxury of my hair. Mom said, "I want some salsa." I burned some jalapenos for it. She loved it. Mom said, "Y'all need to sell this." She is a monetizer. I cried about my unattractiveness to white males. Mom said, "I saw this packet of eight for the salsa. Its twelve oz jars. Aren't they cute?" I briefly glanced over and continued washing the dishes. NappyFuQueen became my new my best friend. She talks of rice water for hair growth and full weekends in front of the tv pre-pooing, clarifying shampoos, deep hydrating conditioners. It is a workout for my arms. My hair is thin. I note this. I compare with my sister. Her hair is thick. I want thicker hair. Ginger and onion juice for hair follicle stimulation. My hair is clean. It is longer, stretched. Onion haunts me. I make eight 12 oz salsas. They sell in five minutes. Mom says, “People like it." I buy five hundred containers, and 1,000 carry out bags. I make 200 dollars in a matter of days. I am an entrepreneur. This is adapting.

My friends are from all parts of the world. There is a knowing we share. When I tell other people about Sista Salsa, they ask me my age. They note my blackness—they ask me where I am from. I answer Cincinnati—they are shocked, they want to know where I am really from. And I would tell them, Ghana, Accra…except I validate their feeling of oh—this is why do you this, this is why you name a company Sista Salsa. This is why you are exceptional—black and trying. I don’t want to do that. It’s like my hair. All poof, trying to fly high. Americans look, they stare for too long. I smile. They look away. Now, I twist it down into a ponytail. Nobody to look at. Nothing strange. Is this adapting? Pinning myself down. Hollowing myself. Drinking in adaptable.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences