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
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Decisiveness is arguably a trait of nature vs. nurture. When you’ve been brought up in an environment that penalizes children for taking pride in themselves, it can manifest in your adult life in ways that fly under the radar. You may find yourself avoiding the spotlight, having the fear of being the center of attention, or shrinking yourself to make others feel more comfortable.
If you’ve found yourself adopting an agreeable, self-sacrificing personality, there may be a psychological reason behind it, and it’s called “echoism.”
What Is Echoism?
Echoism refers to a concept in psychology related to the patterns of behavior and traits exhibited by individuals who may be on the opposite end of the spectrum from narcissism. While narcissism is characterized by an excessive focus on oneself and a desire for admiration, echoism is considered the opposite, where individuals tend to be excessively focused on others, often at the expense of their own needs and desires.
The term was introduced by clinical psychologist, Craig Malkin, in his book Rethinking Narcissism and delved into the topic through additional articles for Psychology Today. As the author explains, “Where narcissists are addicted to feeling special, echoists are afraid of it. In the myth of Narcissus, Echo, the nymph who eventually falls madly in love with Narcissus, has been cursed to repeat back the last few words she hears. Like their namesake, echoists definitely struggle to have a voice of their own.”
People who exhibit echoist traits often prioritize the needs and feelings of others over their own to an extreme degree and can struggle with asserting themselves, setting boundaries, and may be overly accommodating to others.
Traits of an Echoist
The fear of coming off as “too needy” or expecting too much are driving forces in an echoist’s life. Echoists may go to great lengths to avoid conflict, even if it means suppressing their opinions. This can result in the individual having low self-esteem and regularly downplaying their own worth since they may not feel deserving of attention or recognition.
According to Healthline, individuals with elevated levels of echoism may:
How To Heal and Work Through Echoism
Identifying the cause of one’s echoism is an important step to healing the behavior. Experts say that this trait can develop in childhood when dealing with parents who struggle with emotional regulation or pass down their self-effacing values to their children.
In your early years, you may have coped with stress by soothing your parents at the expense of expressing your own needs. The constant focus on meeting others' needs could then leave little room to voice their own desires, leading to a loss of connection with one’s own aspirations.
Fearful that asking for things might upset the parents, young echoists may have found that avoiding burdening their parents was the best course of action, even at their own expense.
Taking the necessary action to heal echoism means developing a more balanced and assertive approach to relationships, where you prioritize your own needs without completely sacrificing your consideration for others. While it may take time to adjust to the change in behavior, there are steps to take in the process:
1. Set Healthy Boundaries
There’s nothing fun about setting boundaries, but they’re necessary to determine what is and is not okay in our relationship. When you set boundaries, we’re nothing just teaching others how to treat us, we’re teaching ourselves what we deserve. Practice saying "no" as a complete sentence and learn to establish and communicate healthy boundaries with those around you.
2. Practice Being Assertive
Take small moments throughout your daily interaction to practice speaking up for yourself and expressing your opinions and needs in an assertive, yet respectful way. Put your communication skills to the test and work to effectively convey your thoughts and feelings with close friends, family, or even co-workers when the situation presents itself.
3. Embody A “Star” Mentality
Going years denying yourself the joy of prioritizing your own needs and desires can take time to correct. Through your process to heal your echoism, remember that you are worthy of being seen and having your needs and desires heard. Gradually expose yourself to positive and affirming attention. When someone pays you compliments, hold it and say thank you without feeling the need to diminish it.
4. Learn To Love What You Like
An aspect of echoism is adopting people-pleasing tendencies, but it’s okay to be disagreed with if your preferences don’t match those around you. Our differences are what makes us who we are, and altering that to appease others only makes us feel smaller in the long run. Take time to identify and pursue your own personal goals, and have fun exploring your own interests and passions.
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