In January 2018, I went to Algeria for the second time in my life. I was 9 the first time I went, in the winter of 2006. This time around, I was going to see my family and my dad's home again as an increasingly aware adult, no longer a child with a narrow and naive view of the world.
From the moment I arrived, I found that I was constantly searching for myself in all of my experiences there. I searched in my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, the food, the mountains and the city. I searched in the foreign, dirty alleyways of Algiers, in the rolling green hills outside of Bourmerdès. I think that I was, still am and will always be looking for a sort of affirmation that I am indeed Kabyle, with blood in my veins from Tamurt Idurar: the land of mountains.
I grew up in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona to an Algerian father and an American mother with an Ashkenazi Jewish background. My mother spent her childhood in the leafy town of Poughkeepsie, New York, while my father spent his between school-years in Algiers and summers in the mountainous Kabyle countryside.
My identity feels liminal. My whole life I have teetered between these worlds, often not feeling like enough, like a racial imposter. Am I American? Am I an Ashkenazi Jew? Am I a Kabyle Muslim? Will I ever fully fit in any of those categories? These are questions that will never stop.
When I fill out the census or other forms asking for race and ethnicity, I usually check the "some other race" or "other" boxes.
This ongoing project, in its infancy right now, will explore all sides of my identity.