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Recognizing My Privilege As A Nigerian-American

While the world is watching everything unfold, myself and along with many other Africans, are experiencing many emotions.

Her Voice

If you do not know by now, there is so much turmoil going on in Africa. Unfortunately, many of the endless killings, rapes, government corruption and trafficking taking place is nothing new under the sun. These horrific acts are so deeply rooted and the world is finally witnessing it throughout various social media platforms. While the world is watching everything unfold, myself and along with many other Africans, that are living in the United States, are experiencing many emotions.

I was born in Nigeria, Benin City, Edo State to be exact. My parents made the decision that my older sister and I will be raised in the United States. So after I turned one, my family and I left. Despite not growing up in Nigeria, my parents often shared amongst my siblings and I, their experiences back home. They were explicit about the corruption they had to endure and always reminded us that we do not know true corruption until we go and live back home. I believed their statements and it has always been a driving force for me to want more out of life. However, despite my ambitious outlook on life while growing up, I realized that I never considered myself as privileged in the US.

As a Black Woman in America, privilege is the last thing that many people will associate me as because I am Black and a Woman. It was not until the ruthless killings was made public for the nation to see, that it dawned on me how privileged I am as a Nigerian living in the US.

Before you roll your eyes and bring out the history books to lecture me about oppression in Black America, please note that I am not saying that oppression does not exist because it certainly does. However, what I am saying is that visiting or hearing about other countries really puts life in perspective for you. My people back home in Nigeria have had a very long history of experiencing harassment, killings, rapes, kidnapping and so much more by people who were meant to govern and protect them. As a result, very little opportunities are awarded to them if they do not make a certain amount of money or affiliated with someone of "high power".

As mentioned before, the tragedy that the world is witnessing is not new news. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad, also known as SARS, is a special police force in Nigeria that was created in the early 90s to deal with crimes involving robberies, thefts and more. Unfortunately, its violent approach has created chaos for years and now the world is watching and hearing the cries of the Nigerian people. There is so much more to learn not just about SARS but Nigeria as a whole so I encourage you to do your research about Nigeria's government and most importantly listen to the stories from the Nigerians who have lived and continue to experience the harsh realities of the country.

The more I am learning about the history and current realities of Nigeria, the more I am realizing how fortunate I am beyond my education, employment and home. It is not just about material things but rather about the things that we often take for granted. When the Lekki Toll Gate killing massacremassacre occurred on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, I could not help but to think about the privilege I have to openly protest without the fear of being gunned down.

As the world continues to hear the cries and voices from the people of Nigeria, the reality of my privilege continues to become more apparent and I realize how necessary it is that I openly admit, through my conversations with others, that I am a privileged Nigerian living in America.

Admitting one's privilege generally humbles you to listen more and talk less because the freedom that you often take for granted can impact your perception of things. It is only through listening that we can really understand and adhere to the request of others.

By realizing that I am a privileged Nigerian-American in the United States, I have been able to adhere to the request of what my people back home are asking for.

While they are asking for us to share what is going on through our social media platforms, I noticed that many people living in the US are confused as to what kind of impact they can actually make. Unfortunately, privilege has made people forget that every country does not have reliable media and news outlets that can accurately get the devastating news out.

Instead of questioning their request, I have had to approach it from a humbling position of servitude. It is not until you come to terms with your privilege, that you have an open heart and mind to help the oppressed despite your opinions. As an individual who has always embraced and celebrated my Nigerian roots, I am discovering that it is equally as important for me to recognize and remind myself of the privilege that I possess in order to understand that it is my responsibility to find ways to serve my people back home.

This has allowed me to realize that "making it in America" should go beyond the achievements, degrees, titles and accolades. All of that means nothing if my people back home continue to suffer.

If you would like to find ways to donate to Nigeria during this time, please follow with The Feminist Coalition Group on Instagram.

Featured image by Ajibola Fasola / Shutterstock.com

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