My first opportunity to experience the diaspora outside of the United States was when I participated in a Spelman study abroad program in Oaxaca, México the summer after my sophomore year. When I learned during the program’s info session that we would travel to La Costa Chica to stay overnight in an Afro-Mexican village, I remember thinking, I had no idea there are Black Mexicans! Well, Black Mexicans do exist, and spending time in La Costa Chica is an experience I’ll never forget.
When I returned home from México, I considered other countries in the Americas where I could travel and meet other African descendants. After graduating from Spelman, I traveled to Cuba and began to notice that what the majority of African descendants in the Americas have in common is a lack of opportunity. It’s because of this knowledge and experience that I’ve made it a priority to translate “I Know I Can!” into languages spoken by kids of the African Diaspora. I started with Spanish (“¡Yo se que Puedo!”) and Brazilian Portuguese (“Sei que vou conseguir!”), and will soon add French and Haitian Creole. I’m committed to disseminating Faith’s story because in many nations Black children call home, positive representation is minimal if not absent.
About a year ago, my wanderlust and artistic activism were fortuitously intertwined when I stumbled upon the Instagram account of AfroLatino Travel, a travel and tour agency that organizes trips to African Diaspora communities in Latin America. I’ve always wanted to explore Panamá, so I was excited to learn that AfroLatino Travel hosts trips to the Central American isthmus. If that weren’t enough, I also discovered that AfroLatino Travel leads a drive to collect Black toys and books that they distribute to children in the countries on their itinerary. Frankly, AfroLatino Travel was an answered prayer: at an event in Cuba, they featured the Spanish version of my book, “¡Yo se que Puedo!,” and when I scheduled my trip to Panamá, our guide, AfroLatino Co-Founder Javier Wallace, organized a reading for me in Panamá City. I actually ended up having two readings! The first was impromptu in Portobelo, where we visited el Grupo de Congo Mama Ari. I’m truly grateful for both experiences and convinced there may be nothing more uplifting than hearing children shout, “¡Yo sé que puedo!” (“I Know I Can!”), or to hear that “‘I Know I Can!’ makes you believe in yourself” as one little girl recently told me at a reading in Boston. Her statement reinforced my commitment to translating my book so that Faith’s empowering message can inspire all little girls and boys of the African Diaspora.
Want to join me on this mission? You can do so by clicking here to donate to the “I Know I Can!” Translation Fund. And check out more of my Panamá pictures below!