I'm not black, I’m Nigerian (Identity issues)
Where I am from no one has ever called me black. Since I was born, I have always been Bibi or Bidemi. No color, no racial categories, no box! Fast-forward 20 years later, I find myself in a country where I'm termed "Black". Isn't that interesting?
I am tired of feeling self-identity disclosure forms; I know you can choose not to feel them but sometimes I just scroll through the options hoping to see African or maybe someday Yoruba but all I get to choose is "African-American or Black descent". I get to put myself in a box I don't identify with.
What does it mean to be African-American or of black descent? I don't know the slightest thing about being black in America. I don't have any ancestor that fought for the civil rights movement or suffered slavery that I know of. The concept of racism is not embedded in my subconscious. I am yet to be a victim of structural violence or systemic racism. However, because racism isn't embedded in my subconscious doesn't make me immune to it.
I know racism exists but I'm afraid I don't recognize discrimination when it happens to me. My African mindset is set to "kumbaya" state where no one treats me badly because I am different. When someone treats me badly I automatically do not assume it is because of my race, I think they are mean people. I'd like to believe my inability to recognize racism is a blessing and a curse for a varied number of reasons.
I get invited to go to peaceful protests against black shootings but I can't seem to get myself to do it. My mindset is yet to align to my label, my "black" label. My identity is multi-layered. It lies with my ethnicity (Yoruba), nationality (Nigerian) and regional identity (African). I don't like the African part of my Identity because I don't have any deep connection with the region. Be that as it may, I'm in an extremely diverse country so I am categorized as the "black lady" or if I'm lucky the African.
I just want to be Bibi, a fun-loving makeup addict that has dreams and nothing can stop her. I don't want to be just "black". I don't want my skin color to change the way I view myself, set my goals, follow my dreams and aspirations. I don't want my skin color to determine the way people view me, treat me, act with me, relate with me, and talk about me.
But then, isn't that what every person of color has to struggle with?