The Power of One Word

Hi Everyone! It's Jamila.

While visiting Houston last year for my birthday, two friends and I met a wonderful lady while having lunch. My friend Astrid wrote a beautiful piece about our encounter that I've been meaning to share on the Callaloo Blog (sorry Astrid lol). 

As the world comes together in the face of such uncertainty it seemed like a perfect time to share our encounter.  Let's all remember that even while we practice social distancing that we can still stay connected to each other and that we ALL have so much more in common that we think. 


One word can have the power to bring people together in the most unlikely ways!

While in Houston visiting our good friend, Lea, we were out for a casual lunch.  Jamila was donning her signature Callaloo Box hat. After ordering our food, a lovely elderly white lady approached Jamila, pointed to her hat and said, "Excuse me, but does that magazine still exist?"

 Jamila was so taken aback and thought the lady was confusing her hat logo with something else. Jamila told her that no, it was not representative of a magazine and was the name of her company. She then asked the lady what magazine she was referencing and the lady said that Callaloo was the name of an African magazine that she knew from years past.

We all smiled at her, went our separate ways in the restaurant and immediately starting googling Callaloo magazine. It is a journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters. How does an elderly white lady in Houston know about a magazine of African diaspora?!? Well, we had to ask her!

And then she suggested we all have lunch together and we learned that she was no ordinary lady. She shared stories of her past, her background, her interests and the journey that led her to Houston. She was a scholar. She was the founding director of a prominent arts foundation. She studied under a world renowned environmental architect. She was passionate about environmental climate and culture as it related to low cost housing. She lived in various parts of Africa, spoke French and was able to connect with each one of us on very personal items about our lives. She was an amazing 91 year old woman, with a phenomenal history, who was gracious enough to share it with us, leaving us feeling so humbled and in awe.

And it all started with one word - one unique and uncommon word that meant such different things to four people, but that bridged a gap of over 50 years, race and culture.

Thank you ‘Callaloo’ for that special moment of connection that we will forever cherish. 

1 comment

  • Derniele

    Love, Love, LOVEEEE This story !!! a smile and kind words always goes a long way !!! thank you for sharing

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