Updated: Jun 25, 2020
I’m African of Southern Nigeria heritage.
Born in Edo state. I’m proud of the cultural similarities of the ethnic groups in the areas of religious worship, folk-lore, festivals, traditional modes of dressing, arts, and craft.
We were taught about ours and other ethnic groups' heritage and history growing up, and in school, we also learn about how Benin City the capital of Edo state has a history of being one of the foremost destinations of Europeans during their exploration of African centuries ago. Some of the flashpoints still remain tourist attractions to this day.
I have good memories of my childhood. After moving to live in the UK at a very young age, I made a lot of good lifelong friends from secondary school (White/Asians) many I’m still close friends with today.
However, there were times I felt down because of how people acted towards me because I was different. People made fun of my accent and used racist words as a “joke” many times. There were times I wasn’t invited to after school get-togethers of friends because I was seen as different. Although there were many Asian students at the school, I was 1 of only 2 black people there at the time so students and even teachers didn’t know anything about black culture.
I didn’t think much of these things at the time as I was young (15/16 years old) and I certainly didn’t let it stop me living, but I always knew that problem was there.
Race and culture weren’t topics that were talked about when I was in school and of course, it would have helped enlighten many students if it had been discussed. I remember being asked by a student if there were cars in Africa. This was in 2009, so you can see the lack of awareness and education.
When it comes to relationships there have also been issues relating to race. In secondary school, I was speaking to a girl and we planned to go on a date and when she told her friends about it, they started making fun of her saying she likes black boys.
I’ve dated a girl and a lot of times when we go out people look and stare and you can obviously tell by their looks it’s one of disapproval.
I can’t remember any time someone I know from a different race has stood up for me and shown solidarity until recent events. There have been a lot of white people who have messaged me showing support and solidarity and even spoken out against racial prejudice and discrimination on Facebook/Twitter posts. Of course, there have also been a lot of white people I know who have continued to incite racism, hate, and division.
One of the most difficult things is when people pretend or hide the fact that racism in the UK doesn’t exist. I’ve been spat on, called a nigga many times, and told to go back to my country. I have friends who have experienced similar racist treatment.
In my opinion, I believe education in schools is key and an important way to teach people about race and equality.
I believe the words of Nelson Mandela: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of their skin, background, or religion.”
Racism and hate are taught. If kids have a place to go and learn (schools, libraries, museums, tv programs, etc) they’ll grow up educated about other cultures and race they’re not ignorant, and won’t judge/mistreat people because of the colour of their skin and how they look.
I stand with and thank everyone who has protested and spoken out against racism.
We are all equal and All humans are entitled to the blessings of liberty.
Therefore “Let us dedicate ourselves to containing the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world.” - Robert F Kennedy.