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Beautiful, Black and Proud

I wrote this post way back in August 2017 on my older blogging platform, i updated it and wanted to share it again.

Do you ever what is wrong with being black or why you were born black? It is annoying but true. You can resist it; and talk yourself out of it but the truth so remains. You may have asked what is wrong with the black man, where exactly did we miss it that we all seem to be experiencing a similar backdrop the world over? Anything black is associated with evil something negative or something bad. The truth remains that there is nothing wrong with being a black man. Understanding it has changed a lot of things for me and believe me, it works. I am no longer angry about being black, I love being black, and I own my existence with every struggle. I write concerning my experience as a Nigerian.



A SYSTEMIC THING

The issue of race is very serious and deep. Years of injustice and slavery have widened the inequality gap. As a black person, you sometimes wonder if you will ever be good enough, so you are always trying extra hard to be heard, to be seen. Even when color should not matter, it counts. With all that is presently happening and the sudden global solidarity with #blacklivesmatter hashtags, you would think things will change that easily but this is over 400 years of suppression, a systemic way to tell black people, that you will never measure up, no matter how you try. It is very complex but this system that has left blacks disadvantaged for years; built on the backs, sweat, tears, and pains of black people which has enriched generations will not be dismantled with just a hashtag social media statements, or publicity stunt. The system operates in academics, fashion, entertainment, policies, trade deals, and politics…the foundations of colonialism in Africa remain to this day. Just because you are black, you are at risk without even doing anything wrong. The challenges of the Black man all over the world are peculiar and the feeling comes with the questions that we alone must not answer.


A MINDSET

As an African, I worry more about how the elites treat ordinary citizens in the streets.; because really, we have no leverage to call others out, when we do not treat each other with dignity. Poverty is so strong in Africa in a system made to enrich the few; when we stand in solidarity with BLACK LIVES MATTER, African leaders must also do better for citizens to match up with the wave sweeping the whole world. It breaks my heart that even the educated “elites” as they call them, have yet to rise above nepotism, tribalism, traditions that hold us back, self-limiting beliefs, superstitions, chronic cronyism, corruption, and defeat. While those in the Western world have experienced some enlightenment, those of us in Africa still deal with issues of tribalism, religious differences, and patriarchal systems made to keep females permanently subject to males. Our problems do not just end in physical dilapidation; it goes far into our mentality. Our way of thinking, relating with others, and how we do our things….our system. The system must be progressive and productive for it to work.



The feeling that if it is imported, then it is the best says so much. There is an almost unquestionable belief in the superiority of the white man (thanks to the black slave-brain washing, which has been passed down generations and still going) resulting in low self-believe; It perpetuates imbalance between export and import; less incentive to invest in local manufacturing, education, healthcare and infrastructure. Imported items cost less than locally made (no thanks to the ”scam” of globalization with unequal terms of negotiations). Many items manufactured in Nigeria carry foreign labels, so people can be compelled to buy them. We want to speak like them (well, If my English speaking skills or pronunciation are not “perfect” then I am illiterate (yes, I have no class), forget that I am communicating well in my local dialect); we tend to use the west as a standard for everything but the irony in that is we never follow through with how their systems work. When you go to countries in Europe, they value their language and build their system to work around that, they do not even make so much fuss about how well they speak English to each other.


Perhaps, if we are copying that system in recruitment, auditions, education, fashion shows, relationships, television, etc, at least, it should be with the same precision of execution. Enduring policies enabling red tape, and unproductive bureaucracy frustrating innovation, competition and even productive collaboration. From getting a job, admission into higher institutions of learning, registering a company, to starting a university or a school, opening a business, building a house, etc, most things are complicated (in fact, if it looks super easy, you become suspicious of it being fraudulent). Methods that do not add value to life, amounting to a waste of time and limited resources cause even more divisions Played by weak leadership and plagued by the indecision of our leaders. As I have discovered, they really cannot lead when they do not understand what it entails. It is easier for a state governor to get a private jet than repair roads, renovate schools or provide drinking water. Leadership is not part of our school curriculum…. it is tiring.



There is hardly a consensus about anything because the deeper divisions somehow creep out despite years of hard work in building movements; solidarity from scratch goes to waste. Mobilizing is a challenge because we are suspicious of each other; chances are the leaders of the pack are likely using the platform to get ahead individually, making people weary to commit. There is always the “what is in it for me” feeling. We want to get the best grades to get the best jobs so that we can live luxurious lifestyles (to show we are better than others). Delayed gratification makes zero sense and excellence is rarely celebrated. We even betray ourselves to get the “white” approval (this is the effect of the divide and rule style by slave masters to divide slaves in the house and those on their field).


In this age of social media influencers who sometimes become political stooges, playing naive to politics but low-key cashing in; As they say, everyone has a price. Instead of investing heavily to improve the well-being of millions to afford them opportunities to be self-reliant, there is never a trickle-down. The national cake remains concentrated at the top; used for ”philanthropic” ‘set-ups; a form of benefactor-beneficiary give back or some sort of savior complex that creates a cult following; an effective control tool for clout-chasing, elections, and oppression. There is so much vested interest and drive for individual success(unhealthy competition, show off); personal glory, less of group success. From leadership to even children; the system forces you to only look out for yourself and immediate loved ones.


FORWARD UNTO VICTORY

Our strength remains in our unity. After we have cried that our black lives matter to others, we must say it to ourselves and fix our differences across the continent. It is unfortunate that the legacy of colonialism, merging territories and colonies with irreconcilable differences into countries hurriedly handing it over to people who were naive to these deep divisions has created deepened conflicts. This is a deep issue in Nigeria today. We must truly emancipate ourselves from every form of mental slavery holding us back and dividing us. The idea is that if something is darker, then it is not worthy.


The millions exchanged in the skin-lightening and human hair industry are mind-boggling; says a lot about the effort, and the desire to look “white”. African leaders will quickly rise in solidarity to Western unrest, releasing statements and condemning violence but are mute to what happens right under their noses; but when communities perish in Africa, the rest of the world blames our system, labeling us as enablers. Hitler is the ultimate European villain, nothing to celebrate his legacy but you find statues, and tributes to slave masters, slave merchants and champions of African genocide all over the West. We continually conform to what others say we are.


We submit to their conditions, their stereotyping and truly, the slave-driving methods are what many of us still answer to. They still use fear, distrust and envy to control the Black man. To look down on your fellow African, no matter their color, to put a fellow black man down will not make you any better. You are a black man and you will always be…..it does not matter what phonetics you speak, where you live, or how educated you are. The chances of a Black man selling another Black man short are higher than another race will. This is what years of impoverishment and deprivation do to people.


You have to be proud of your heritage, love who you are and celebrate it. Value who you are. If you value yourself, you will not sell yourself short and because you will not do that, it is easy to respect others. We must understand what is important in the world of inequality and strategize to progress together. Denying who you are to be validated will never take you far like originality. Own your blackness, and embrace who you are. The clamor to be accepted has many Black folks covering their eyes to injustice against blacks even when they know how the system has set blacks back; you have to work three times as hard, sometimes even more to be validated. To prove yourself even when you should not, to be seen and equally heard. This does not mean being black is evil or it is something you must deny to be accepted; that acceptance is never complete and the sacrifice of renouncing your blackness isn’t always worth it.


We have our challenges but we are.....a great People with something tangible to influence the universe. We are good enough and we must continue to take up space. It is okay to be black!

the struggle continues….


I am Black and proud….proudly Nigerian!


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