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My African Sister

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Below is the poem entitled My African Sister which was written by poet Joe Flach. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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My African Sister

I am a white, middle class, American male; raised in a white, middle class American home.  I would not say that my upbringing included a lot of diversity.

I remember talking to my brother, Jimmy, just before he told my father he was gay.  Jimmy told me about the inner struggle he wrestled with in first admitting to himself that he was homosexual.  He said he thought it was wrong; it was sinful and something he must avoid being.  Once he realized that being homosexual was not a fault but an innate sexual preference, he decided that he would not live a life of lies.  He, therefore, decided to tell his family about his sexual inclination.  It took a lot of courage to tell my ex-marine father.

Afi is a beautiful, strong, black African woman; raised in a black, African home.  Afi will admit that she is not overly charitable and not likely to do volunteer work.  When she first came to the U.S., however, she was appalled with how our society treated its AIDS victims.  In Africa, Afi would tell us, AIDS patients were embraced and cared for, not shunned and outcaste like here in the U.S.

Jimmy was not a promiscuous man.  He only knew a few sexual partners in his too short life.  Jimmy was a very intelligent and artistically gifted man.  He was doing post–doctorate research in Iraklion, Greece when he first started showing symptoms of having AIDS.

When Afi volunteered to be an AIDS Buddy she made it clear that she did not want to be paired with someone who had full-blown AIDS.  The organization was so hard pressed to find someone with a profile to match Jimmy’s intellect and interests that they begged Afi to just meet him, just once.

Afi says that within an hour she was no longer on a volunteer mission; she and Jimmy 
would be friends regardless of a commitment to the Buddy system.  Jimmy and Afi 
remained best of friends for the two remaining years we were blessed with his presence.

It has been 15 years since Jimmy passed away.  I am still a white, middle class, American male; from a white, middle class American family – only now, we have a beautiful, strong, black, African sister in our family.

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  1. Date: 3/6/2012 11:19:00 AM

    Amazing, touching and beautiful write Joe........I'm glad to hear your brother was embraced by your African sister and she remains a part of your life today. Hugs

  1. Date: 1/17/2012 12:57:00 PM

    Very interesting, worth while, and brilliant write. Congratulations on your win. And my condolences on Jimmy's passing.

  1. Date: 1/9/2012 10:11:00 PM

    Congratulations on your great write. Best regards, Jon

  1. Date: 1/9/2012 9:19:00 PM

    FANTASTIC, that is all I can say. Congrats.

  1. Date: 1/9/2012 2:19:00 PM

    Congratulations Joe on your first place win. hugs Gail

  1. Date: 1/9/2012 6:36:00 AM

    Congratulations on you win in Debbie Guzzi's contest Joe. Love, Carol

  1. Date: 1/9/2012 6:36:00 AM

    JOE! You tell your new black African sister that IF she is YOUR sister then she is OUR SISTER TOO! What a deeply touching write. I am sooo proud of you for sharing this heartfelt story put to a poem. A favorite for sure! GWendolen

  1. Date: 1/9/2012 12:28:00 AM

    stiring wrote, joe... congrats on the grand win! :) huggs

  1. Date: 1/8/2012 11:02:00 PM

    Absolutely beautiful. This had to take first place. Congratulations Joe

  1. Date: 1/8/2012 9:53:00 PM

    Such a great Story Joe! I'm so glad you guys have a new 'family' member. I'm sure your brother would be so happy!

  1. Date: 1/8/2012 8:56:00 PM

    Congrats. Joe for your 1st place win, wonderful sharing, love, vie

  1. Date: 1/8/2012 8:09:00 PM

    CONGRATS JOE ON A WONDERFUL FIRST PLACE WIN SO WELL DESERVED.. HNY TO U ..

  1. Date: 1/8/2012 1:14:00 PM

    I am so glad Debbie picked this as her winner.....it needs to be read, and read, and read and read.....perhaps it will touch a few more stubborn hearts, and open a few more eyes to pure love. :)

  1. Date: 1/8/2012 12:48:00 PM

    3 Precious hearts seen in this touching write, a first place winner in anyones book. Thanks so much for gracing my contest with your memories. Light & Love

  1. Date: 7/2/2010 5:52:00 PM

    What an amazing story! You are an amazing writer Joe and I thank you now for sharing this with us! Congrat's on your well deserved fantastic win!~Tirzah~

  1. Date: 7/1/2010 10:03:00 AM

    Congratulations Joe on your win in Adeleke Adeite's contest "Africans Attutude" Love, Carol

  1. Date: 6/30/2010 9:31:00 PM

    Congratulations! I am so glad I stole some time this p.m. to visit PS, Joe! Even if your poem is the only one I get to read tonight, I would be truly inspired. I cry because so many people are discriminated against by others who have no idea that they're missing out on experiencing pure unadulterated love! May your brother, Jimmy R.I.P. and thanks to Alfie for her incredible love she showed him. One of my favs! Peace, love, audrey

  1. Date: 6/30/2010 3:14:00 PM

    Congrats Joe on your winning poem in the African attitude contest with this awesome write and win.. a very unique story my friend.. enjoy your win.. with luv from the "Sweetheart" in Hawaii.. and again thankxxx for your tip on my Palindrome.. luv..aloha..

  1. Date: 6/30/2010 12:26:00 PM

    this is an heartrending piece. I love this. I will love to meet this great African. I was touched . i had contacted you before on this but it was another person i sent the soupmail to. I don't mind meeting her probably on email. This piece is just incredible! I love each lines and the passion with which you write Accept my warm congrats. Thanks for supporting my contest. I wish you all the best with your writings. You are going places! Love, ~Adeleke~.

  1. Date: 6/22/2010 10:32:00 AM

    What a beautiful story to share with us Joe....I am deeply touched and moved by this inspiring poem. :) ~ Carrie

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