Dear imaginary readers (I like to believe you’re real, but then I don’t know for sure)
I apologize for waiting as long as I did to post. I just got caught up with life, exams, graduation, people and all of that stuff. So sorry.
Onto the good stuff. I finally found some inspiration to write something. Today, I travelled to America. I coincidentally finished Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie for the second (or is it third, I’m not sure) time and so my ‘race’ senses were heightened.
Now, race has always existed in my world. Not just white and black, but also light-skin and dark-skin (which is something that annoys me so much that it’ll probably inspire another post sooner or later), but still I cannot claim to be an expert on all matters race and I cannot pretend to be offended by racism.
Instances of racial tension make me laugh. Any kind of racial tension. Then there is also the ‘Africa’ factor. First of all, let me clarify, Non-American Blacks and American Blacks (allow me to borrow Americanah terms) are COMPLETELY different. Forgive me, this is a generalization. ABs are ‘higher’ than NABs, and credit to them, they try not to be overbearing in the way they show this. It’s like they are finally happy to be higher than someone on the rankings. That’s just what I think
And of course, it’s always in the little instances that make me question things. As I tried to buy a pack of Skittles, the lady at the counter compliments me. Hearing my accent when I said my thanks, she asked where I was from. When I say Nigeria, she goes, “Oh I know someone that lives there.” My mouth says, “Oh that’s nice”, my brain is thinking, “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THIS NEW PIECE OF INFORMATION. THERE ARE 170 MILLION PEOPLE IN MY COUNTRY (personally, I think it’s more like 200) PLUS ALL THE NIGERIANS AROUND THE WORLD (and everyone knows that’s a lot). AM I SUPPOSED TO IDENTIFY WITH YOU BECAUSE YOU KNOW ONE NIGERIAN)
Let me talk about diversity for a bit. Being a student at the African Leadership Academy, I hear the word ‘Diversity’ a lot more than the regular Tunde. Because I spend time with people from one country does not mean I am not ‘diverse’. Everyone is different, and there are different characteristics that I can identify with. I just feel like nationality is not one of them. Nigerians are so different. Ethiopians are so different. Ghanaians are so different. You get the gist.
Tying this in with the story about the Skittles seller. If she told me she was Nigerian, then it makes more sense, we would briefly talk about Boko Haram or power cuts while I reached for my wallet. But it’s her friend. Do I converse with him/her through her mind? I don’t get it. Now if she told me she had a friend who wears circular glasses like I do, I could have asked, “Did he/she pull it off?” Start a conversation. Because the topic was specific, not something as broad as nationality.
Another thing I find funny is the effort in which people (this isn’t specific to ABs or Americans, just people in general) put into pronouncing African names. They try and try, rolling the unfamiliar syllables over their tongue and seem genuinely interested in learning it. And so when the lady making my bagel-sandwich thingy (which tasted heavenly) said “Swa-lu Ekin”, I smiled in encouragement which seemed to make her feel better. Maybe that’s why my bagel-sandwich thingy was so good.
But just to clarify, racism isn’t funny. I haven’t gone through any severely racist moment, but I know it happens to people. I just find racial tensions funny. That’s all.