On Racism, Missouri, and why America Disappoints Me – From a Nigerian Student in America

First of all, I am grateful to that very misguided comment on that one article that pushed me to writing again. You don’t know how glad I am that I have a topic to express my views on. For that, accept my thanks.

If you adamantly refuse to believe that systematic racism is a problem and you refuse to have an honest discussion about it, stop reading now. Close the link. It is okay. On behalf of WordPress, I thank you for your web traffic. Bye Felicia. However, if you want to learn or you’re just willing to listen to an opinion on the matter, read on.

You might be wondering what got me riled up. What inspired the largely inconsistent Soala Ekine to actually type up a post? I came across a comment on the a certain article that made me wish I could email someone a slap. The Internet is lucky I didn’t have any time to write this post immediately after I read the article. There was no time. It was 7 a.m and I had a class at 8 and so I paused my thoughts. If I wrote what was on my mind at 7 a.m, the venom in my words might have burnt down my laptop, and then the Internet. That was how infuriated I was, but I’ve calmed down. The Internet gets to survive another day.

Let me get started. The user commented on the “irony” that the article was complaining about a group of people holding a party where they only let in white girls (I might have disclosed the identity of the event with that) yet they were talking about the African-American Cultural Center. This user bemoaned that if there was a White Cultural Center, the members would be labelled racists. Let that sink in….

Are you kidding me? How on earth are you relating someone hosting a college party and only letting girls in if they were white and the existence of an African-American Cultural Center? I don’t even know where to start with you. The reason why there are African-American Cultural Centers and Black Entertainment awards and magazines solely for people of color is because people of color are not represented enough in a lot of mainstream industries. It’s very simple to understand. It is important for people of color to be able to feel comfortable in places where they are the minority (e.g college). It is important for people of color to be able switch on the TV and see people like them. It is 2015. I should not have to be explaining this. So don’t you dare equate such beacons of hope for people of color to a stupid frat being clearly prejudiced/racist.

Yes, it was your ancestors who made slavery happen and it’s not your fault and why must you apologize for things your ancestors did and all that yadi yada. No one is saying that you are at fault for what your ancestors did. But you need to understand that your ancestors’ actions still have an impact on the way America works today. That is why systematic racism exists. Don’t compare systematic racism to students insisting on “black spaces” (although I don’t know how I feel about “black spaces”). There is almost nothing a black person can say or do that will influence or represent how your race is treated by society. Systematic racism involves power. So when you are accusing a black person of being racist, realize that it is not the same thing (this by no means suggests that I am in support of black people being bigoted and prejudiced, black people can be nasty things, as can all of humankind).

White privilege is a real thing. Don’t tell me how your family lives just above the poverty line. Don’t tell me how you’ve worked three jobs every summer for three years. It doesn’t change the fact that white privilege exists and if you’re white, you benefit from it. There are certain things that you can get away with, certain things you can access, because you’re white. Sure you didn’t do anything to cause that, but it is what it is. There are all sorts of privilege, check yours. It is white privilege that allows to presume that people just LOVE to play the race card. After all, black people are just looking for something to blame so they don’t have to take responsibility themselves (Do you see how racist stereotypes have slipped into the mix). Why do people think people of color want to be oppressed? NOBODY WANTS TO BE OPPRESSED.

And those of you that are like, “the best way to stop racism is to stop bringing up race”, nah bruh. You tried. But nah. Race has been involved in everything that has created this system in America and you think you’ll just say, “We’re all equal, let’s move on” and it’ll be fine? REALITY CHECK. Life doesn’t work that way. There is a problem with the system. Silence doesn’t bring change, confrontation does. Protests ensure that discussions are held. Think about why when the news covers police officers assaulting people of color, your initial response is to put the victim on trial and judge their life. I saw an article on why killing Tamir Rice, a twelve year old who committed no crime, was justified. A TWELVE YEAR OLD. HAS THIS COUNTRY RUN MAD?

But the worst people aren’t the blatantly racist people. It’s you, you “I don’t see color” people. I’ve heard people say, “What is a black person? What is a white person? We are all humans”. I’ll give you one dirty slap. If I put my hand in the front of your face, will you tell me I’m transparent? That there is no color there? I am a black person. It is a socially constructed identity. It does not need to be erased. The world just needs to be taught that there is nothing wrong with it. We all need to be aware that the colors of our skin are just that, the color of our skins. Saying you are color blind is another way of ending the conversation. Clap for yourself. You don’t see color. REALITY CHECK. We see color in this world. Society treats some people differently because of their color and your color blindness isn’t letting you see the harsh realities they face.

To the anonymous Missouri students on Yikyak. I do not know one student who goes to your university but I’ve been drawn to your issue because of the news. Now I doubt that any of you will ever read this post but I have to air my grievances. While I am not endorsing the protest [edit: I now am], one thing I know about protests is that protests create confrontation which create discussions which lead to solutions. What you might see it as two cherry-picked incidents might just be the tip of the iceberg for what people are going through. Don’t be so quick to dismiss their struggle. How can you say that football players should have their scholarships taken from them? To you, all they do is play football for your school. How does the fact that they don’t pay for college mean they can’t be oppressed? I don’t know how else to explain to you but to refer to privilege. It is from a place of privilege that you can not imagine that people can be oppressed because of their race, and so, you must deny its existence and view things from your lens only. Can you imagine that I saw a yak about someone saying they don’t understand why the found swastika was treated as a hate crime against people of color and not anti-Semitic. The replies were full of people “claiming” the offence. I won’t tell people what to be offended by, but seriously, are you that desperate to make the conversation center around you? The audacity. And do you not understand why groups of oppressed people have their own places/organizations? You don’t see anyone establishing heterosexual organizations in a response to LGBTQ organizations so why are you so keen to insist that “if we had a white space we would be called racist”. It is 2015, I should not have to explain the importance of representation and the presence of safe spaces.

You would think that in 2015, fellow college students would want to see their group members, teammates, roommates, comfortable in their college, but no, you want to feel attacked. You want to make their struggle about you.

There’s so much in my mind about this issue but my anger from 7 a.m has subsided and I am struggling to be coherent. So I’ll just mention a few key words that formulate the ideas I can’t really express right now. Media. College. White People. Police. The Past Still Matters. Oppressive Systems Exist. The Race Card Gets Played Often Because Race Issues Happen All The Time. Don’t Be So Defensive.

Nigeria is not perfect, far from it. But we Nigerians don’t pretend it is. But you, America, you think you’re the greatest thing that has happened to the international state system since the discovery of sovereignty, (I’ll discuss this later) but you have issues. And worse, you don’t even know it. I don’t know if it’s because you just don’t want to be responsible for the problems but don’t deny they exist. That’s why you disappoint me America. You declare yourself the most free of all sovereign states. If there is any place where this shouldn’t be happening, theoretically, it’s in America.

Racism’s still alive they just be concealing it

Sha, I’ve said my own. I’ve written way more than I planned to, so I shall end.

P.S Twitter trolls, I’m just waiting till the day I learn how to hack so I can find out who you are behind that egg. Just wait.

P.P.S Also if after all this you still hashtag ‘AllLivesMatter’ block me on every single social media platform. Just get out.

P.P.P.S I think calling yourselves ConcernedStudents1950 is a bit distasteful. I’m wondering if equating your struggle to theirs undermines their horrors.