Being BLACK to me is a blessing, but a constant struggle. As a black person, I have to continuously live and do the best I can to contribute to the fight against institutional and systemic racism, and I have to continuously learn how to speak up against white supremacy, a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the human race.
Being AFRICAN to me is a blessing, but a constant struggle. As an African Immigrant and international student in the US, I have sometimes felt like I do not belong here, and the threats against immigration by the current administration makes me want to consider my chances of staying here on a long-term basis sometimes. What’s worse? Travelling around the world as an African is a struggle. I have had the opportunity to travel to a number of countries across continents, but not without visa denials, long and stressful visa application processes, and trying to prove that I am not trying to escape from my home country when they see my AFRICAN passport at the airport.
Being NIGERIAN to me is a blessing, but a constant struggle. The first thing some people think about when they see or interact with a Nigerian is an online fraudster (even my fellow Africans are guilty here!). I have to constantly try to break the stereotype that many people have about Nigerians because of the movies they see or what they hear about Nigerians in the news.
Being a WOMAN to me is a blessing, but a constant struggle. In the context of being a woman in my home country Nigeria, I have to continuously struggle with the status quo that women are supposed to be married at a certain age, and the fact that as a woman you are mostly judged by how you dress, what you wear, and not what you are willing to bring to the table. Oh let’s not even talk about how some women are victims of rape but they are blamed for it.
Being a young SCIENTIST to me is a blessing, but a constant struggle. I am part of the underrepresented in science, and I constantly work hard so I can be an example and motivation to others like me, who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM.
The past few days have been very difficult, with the police brutality targeted at Black people in the US, and the unlawful killings, rape and assault of women in my country. Seeing everything happening reminds me of my constant struggles and what it means to be Black. NOW is the time for everyone of us to speak up, seek and demand for justice in unity! A lot has been done so far with the protests and outcry of people on social media and all over the world so let’s continuing lending our voices, learning, spreading the awareness that #BlackLivesMatter, donating to organizations and educating ourselves so all these can STOP!
I have been seeings quotes around that “Freedom is not free” and I agree. James Baldwin said and I quote “Freedom is not something that anybody can be given. Freedom is something people take, and people are as free as they want to be.” As Black people, we will continue to take our freedom until all our voices are heard, and until we will stop being treated unfairly just because we’ve got extra, dazzling melanin!
To every Black person, we are ALL in this together, i’ll implore you to take the time to process all these, take time to have uncomfortable conversations, take time to lament, pray, reflect and take action in anyway you can. The same goes for the non-Blacks who want to contribute as well in fighting this systemic battle.
Sending LOVE, LIGHT, PEACE.
Written by: Juliet O. Obi
Pharmaceutical Scientist, MSPS
PhD Student in Pharmaceutical Sciences