Link Up with Gbolahan Osisami – Racism cannot go extinct, safety tips for you – Episode 1
Gbolahan Osisami is a contributor for fiction tales who is based in Monticello, New York.
He moved to New York in 2019. Here are some of Gbolahan’s experiences so far.
Back in Nigeria, I used to work in a bank, I didn’t have a lot of money saved, I used to wear suits and a tie and white shirts to work. For the record, I hate wearing suits. But there is this mentality in Nigeria, that when you wear suits and tie to work, automatically you work in a very big company and must be rich. What a shame, because at that time, I was miserable and desperate for a change of scenario.
I didn’t decide to leave Nigeria with any intentionality whatsoever. I didn’t even know I would be leaving the country in such a short time. It was something my dad and uncle had planned sometimes ago and it worked out eventually. I was presented with the opportunity to leave, and after weighing the pros and cons,
there were no pros for living in Nigeria at that point in time.
I left Nigeria with no spectacular expectations, the only thing I had known about America were the things I had seen in movies, but I knew that no matter what the situation was, it was going to be better than my situation in Nigeria.
I left with an open mind, and I will say my expectation was focused on everything will be better than what I was experiencing in Nigeria.
The reality I experienced based on my expectation were actually the same. From movies I knew I would be shredded on systemic racism, police brutality and fear of the police especially in the black community. I did experience this in small doses, not in aggressive violent doses.
I have experienced all sort of things,
difficulty in finding a certain kind of job, because I have a degree from a different country. That’s some minor career challenges.
One thing I have come to realise in America is, once you can plan, once you can budget and once you’re ready to work hard, things will almost definitely work out for you.
There are things you cannot control, you just try your best to stay as far away from unlawful actions as possible, try not to roll with bad people, try not to commit any crime, because you’re an easy target,
majorly because of the colour of your skin and secondly you’re not a citizen. You have extra reasons to be careful.
At least that is my mindset. There is no space for flexing, enjoying and chilling, that’s not my plan anyway. My goal is to work save, get citizenship possibly, and go back to my country. Maybe travel back and forth here once in a while, that’s my goal.
Because as sweet as America is, it’s only sweet when you’re earning money, it’s not a good place to retire, because if you’re not working and you’re living in America you will suffer. Retirement is not a good idea here, hustle, get your money and carry your money to your motherland.
Personally, as a personal choice, I decided not going to lose my entity because I’m in a different country. And this brings me to moments when I’m talking on the phone to a random person, and the person keeps saying I cannot understand you, and I’m like, I try really hard to listen to what you’re saying, so what makes it so difficult for you to understand me.
I always insist on not changing my accent or try to modify my accent to suit them,
however long it takes for them to understand my accent I will keep pronouncing my words the way I can and should. Ideally, the Nigerian way of pronunciation is more correct to the American, because Nigerians use British, Americans use their own type of English which is mostly filled with grammatical errors and slangs.
Although that’s beside the point, what I’m saying is, if I can try to understand you, you should try to understand me basically. And it happens all the time and it pisses me off, I don’t even classify it as an embarrassing moment. It is a very annoying one.
I don’t relent, I am consistent and I don’t care how long it takes. If it takes fifteen people to meet before they get my order right or it takes 15 interviewers to listen to me properly, I do not care, I’m going to speak with my normal accent, not because I can’t formulate some silly accent, but I will not bow down to anybody, I am Nigerian and proud of it, if I can try to understand you then you should try to understand me.
One worse experience I had on the issue of racism was with my cousin.
We both use to work in a retail store, she was working as a cashier, I was working in one of the departments and this guy had bought some stuff, ready to cash out, then he struck a conversation with my cousin while he was about to pay for his items, he said he was paying with his card and then he asked where she was from because he noticed her accent, she said Nigeria, immediately he said was no longer making the payment with his card, that he did not trust her because she was Nigerian.
This was in the year 2019, it was almost unbelievable for me, I mean in this time and age, this is how you still think and behave? Although my cousin smiled it off and passed him on to the next cashier, this experience stuck with me.
And there are so many other experiences I don’t want to relive.
One thing I will say is, if you find yourself in the hands of the cops, be very respectful if they say lick the ground, you lick the ground, if they say marry the wall, marry the wall, do not argue, do not fight, it is not your land.
Even in my country, Nigeria, SARS are killing people, so I’ve come to expect police brutality as a normal nature of the police.
I never had any regard or respect for police before moving here.
To be candidly honest, there’s no universal tip to how to live right here. Everyone’s goal is different, there are people that come for vacation, some for hustle, some come here illegally.
The main thing is, once you’re here, avoid drama, avoid trouble, avoid people that will put you in trouble, as sweet as America is, America has its own issues. If you’re here to party and ball, party in moderation, do everything in moderation,
the ability to be moderate is a golden rule that will keep you alive and safe abroad.
If I were to give a general tip, that will be; stay alive, stay safe and keep your goal in mind.
If you can budget, plan and be disciplined. It will go a long way because America is a well-structured country. Above all, If you see the police, do not argue with them. Live moderately.