Words from an instagram post earlier this month:
This country scares me. In many ways I’m in awe of it but at the same time it terrifies me. I think children who immigrate here are unique in that we get to see two sides to the American dream coin. The side with the white picket fence, to the side with a very ugly avoided history. I used to wish I was born and raised in this country. I would imagine what 3-5 year old me would have thought about Disneyland, or hiking trails lol. What I never thought about was what 3-5 year old me would have thought about race. Because she didn’t have to. I grew up where everyone looked like me. My parents were respected journalists, my aunts, uncles and grandparents were running businesses and held positions of power in the corporate world. The newscasters looked like me, actors (irregardless of Nollywood dramatics) looked like me. The concept of race ever hindering me was laughable. And it showed. I was a very confident child.
I distinctly remember thinking I could drop out of primary 4 and make it as a successful author. I wasn’t joking. I wrote a full novel in one of my notebooks and passed it around school for my classmates to read. I was unstoppable. Useless in math but unstoppable nonetheless. And then I moved here and I shrunk. Part of that is just the sheer trauma of moving to a new country, but I can’t help but wonder how much of that was driven by my newfound consciousness of race. I broke down in 11th grade CORE during the race unit because it was the first time my eyes were really opened to covert and systemic racism, and it was brutal. All the Black kids knew about it, but here I was learning about racism much like the White kids were. Unlike them though, I didn’t get to go home and think about how bad that must be for Black people. I went home and like a ton of bricks the thought hit me all at once “oh my God I’m in danger!”. It was actually really terrifying. Then they hit us with the gender unit right after, oh lord. And so as I age, I think more about my future generations and the truth is, I don’t want to raise a Black child here. It’s dangerous.
Not only physically, but the mental exhaustion that comes with hyper awareness of your Blackness, more specifically the not so subliminal messaging that comes with being Black in America is a burden I don’t want my child to shoulder. And let’s face it, Nigeria is farrrrr (very very far, as in the next pond over far) from perfect. But the confidence and assuredness that comes from growing up in a place where the idea of discrimination because of your skin color, is as foreign as the idea of an honest politician, is immeasurable beyond words. It leaves an imprint that transcends any space you do, dream to, and eventually will occupy. It does not escape me that many Black Americans don’t even have the luxury of entertaining this “Get Out” fantasy. And for as much as I feel I’m stuck here, American racism is a thick generational quicksand with a grip that quite literally chokes its citizens to death.
Excerpt from CNN supervising producer Stephanie Busari's article "What speaking to my daughter about George Floyd taught me about my race privilege as an African". Click here to read.