Dear Good Americans, Explain Where You Were When…

Photo on 11-4-13 at 6.59 PM

When Leticia Asked me WHAT we use to Talk in Africa
I was in the line in my cafeteria when Leticia black girl walked up to me, “Hey girl, what ya’ll used to talk in Africa?” Boy, was I stunned! She was referring to the “click click” sound made in some languages of Southern Africa countries when she asked this. I know this because moments before, I overheard a conversation she had with her friends on that topic. I looked at Leticia squarely in her eyes thinking, “this bitch…”, but I answered, “we move our noses and squeeze our faces to converse with one another.” She actually pondered on it for a second before saying, “gurll, you being sarcastic?” I walked off…

We Can’t invite You For an Interview Because of Your Location Preferences
I applied to a company that I really would have loved to work for. The recruiter, white male, emailed me back saying the company could not invite me in for an interview because the locations I put on my application were “full.” I took a step forward by explaining that I only put a location because I had to, I really am open to moving, by the way, it was a 100% travel role, so I didn’t see the high relevance of location, I’d never be in my apartment nonetheless. He responded back saying, “The Company chooses to stand by its decision.”
Yeah, I know not everyone gets the role, but it’s a problem in the industry. Recently, a good friend started working at one of the top 3 consulting firms. I asked him about diversity. He said, “4o of us got employed. There’re only 2 blacks, both males…”
There are so many opportunities minorities strive to achieve… people stand in the way. In everything you do, evaluate yourself, and the decisions you make. Is the next person better or worse for it?

When Monica Introduced The Other Student as her Favorite
Recently, I was at a Board of Directors dinner for my school’s business school. I was talking with a board member, white male, and we had great chemistry. He had visited Lagos and knew a lot about my culture. We’d proceeded into talking about my dreams of management consulting… Suddenly, Monica, a white woman who stopped liking me after I spoke up against a bad mentor she assigned to me, cuts our conversation by saying to the highly prestigious board member: “I want you to meet one of my favorite students”… a minority, Hispanic male. She stole my moment, and it took everything in me not to kick her… She actually waited to see that board member and her fav student actually had a conversation. I excused myself.
After re-evaluation of the incident, I’ve decided to confront Monica soon; it will be a contribution in my fight for true equality, especially for African girls. I will update you on how the confrontation goes.

The Substitute History Teacher Who Knows not History
I dropped my brother off to his first day of High School in the US, 11th grade. The admissions office gave me a tour of the school, and allowed me go in to his class. A 60-something year old white woman AKA substitute teacher greeted me. She proceeds to announce to the class that they should be nice to their new classmate, and asks them to say hello to his “mom.” The kids looked at me and I heard echoes of “no man, that can’t be his mom.” “I responded to that saying, yeah, I’m his older sister…”
This compassionate woman goes on to ask, “does your brother speak English?” I responded, “yeah, about as good as yours and mine. English is Nigeria’s primary language.” She SAYS, “oh yeah, Nigeria IS owned by the British,” I said, “Hmm, by owned you mean Nigeria gained her independence from Britain in October 1960.”
She opened her mouth, and I told her to have a nice day and waved bye to the class.

When my Hannah was Concerned About my Mode of Transportation Back Home
My cute, clueless, white friend once asked me with the most sympathy, “Ore dear, how do you travel back home?” “Huh? Expatiate Hannah, me no understand.” She says, “I imagine you don’t have tarred roads or cars, or buses, so how do you move from place to place?” I actually felt some pity for her in that moment. We had a growing friendship (that didn’t grow past that stage, lol), and she was genuinely concerned for her poor poor Nigerian friend.
“Hannah, we have everything Atlanta has, we have a lot of bad roads, and in rural places AKA villages, many people don’t own cars, but for the greater population, we do drive. I actually learned how to drive in Nigeria.”

When Hannah Wanted to Clarify About Huts
Still concerned, she proceeds to say, “Ore, you mean you don’t live in a hut! Your family has a house?”
“Hannah, not only do I not live in a hut, I don’t know one person who does. Our houses back home are really beautiful with many variations from area to area, just like the U.S.A.”

When Milano Thought she Looked African
SIGN: This area is a 21+ area, everyone show your ID’s!
Occurring just one moth after I turned 21, I couldn’t be more excited! Milano, black girl brings out her ID, and we Georgians wanted to see what a license from the East looked like, so we asked her to see her ID.
Me: “Oh, Milano, you’re lucky, just like me, your picture is actually cute!”
Milano: “No, it’s not, I look like a, oh, (laughing), never mind, I can’t say that to you!”
Me: “Go ahead, you were about to say you looked African.”
Milano: “Yes, my bad.”

For the most part, I thought none of these aforementioned instances bothered me, but when I looked back and dissected the occurrence, they have indeed affected me negatively, maybe in small portions, but ultimately, negatively. This is one of the reasons I cannot be ignorant. I choose to travel, I talk with people, I read, I watch, I listen, I educate myself, I push myself out of comfort zones. My goal is for no one to have a story where I play the role of an ignoramus.

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11 thoughts on “Dear Good Americans, Explain Where You Were When…

  1. Very nice Ore. I enjoyed reading this piece. I’m with you on every single point you made. As a female and an African female or African in general, you’re judged even before people get to know you. We must stand our ground and show that we’re as equally qualified as anyone to be intelligent and YES we’re African (Nigerian) and very proud of our heritage.

    Like

    • Moyo, glad you could relate! I think we need to start talking about these issues more. All the best in taking your stand! I hope you’re able to pave the way for those who come after you in your career path 😊

      Like

  2. “My goal is for no one to have a story where I play the role of an ignoramus “. 100% my quote for the month. This is a lovely post.

    My sister once told me of a convo she had when running her master’s program.
    Friendly British: Where are you from?

    Sister: I’m from Nigeria.

    Friendly British: Ah, that’s great. You probably know my friend (put in any random name). He’s African but not Nigerian.

    How can that even work. Nigeria alone has over 160 million inhabitants. not to talk of Africa. He probably thought Africa was a big village where we all know each other.

    The next time you’re asked about how we transport ourselves. Explain how we say spells and appear at our desired locations..

    Disclaimer: This comment was made in good humor and in no way should be viewed as having a racial undertone.

    We’re all the same and “when you follow the path of a stranger,you’ll learn things you never knew” – Pocahontas

    Liked by 1 person

  3. this is beautiful dear. interesting n humourous. i enjoyed it n wished u included more of such encounters. funny how life appears to d ignorant who acts like they re knowlegeable about issues only to discover that they re not…..hmmm.. shows that life is a continous learning school.
    thank God for ur loving heart. keep loving n educating ur world.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Ore,

    “Nigeria IS owned by the British” really cracked me up. XD In this age of information, ignorance is choice, and a poor choice at that!

    The “speak english?” question never fails to amuse me, it’s funny how a good number of Nigerians have a better grasp of English Grammar than even some English folk.

    There was humour in this well-written post, but the underlying message was meaningful.

    Like

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