Link Up with Josephine Aiteobhor – Racism Cannot Go Extinct, Safety tips for you EP 2.
Hi there, My name is Josephine Aiteobhor, Tife dragged me on here to share my experience of living in the diaspora as a Black person. So, here is my story,
I moved from Nigeria to Canada, in the year 2018.
I would start by saying, luckily, so far, I haven’t had any vicious or violent attack from racists. Look at me saying “I’m lucky there are no violent attacks yet” meanwhile this is 2020. I shouldn’t be feeling lucky, it shouldn’t be happening at all!
I’ve come to realise a lot of racist people are the ignorant ones. A lot of them live all their lives in their country, they haven’t gone beyond their country to live and experience life. They are not exposed and their knowledge is so myopic.
Unfortunately, ignorance is not an excuse.
I have a friend who did experience a vicious attack from a racist. He was trying to catch a bus, and someone threw a burger at him and yelled: “go back to your country you nigga”. He was traumatised for some days. It took a lot of self-re-assurance for him to step out again in confidence.
We are condemning racism, but I still feel unsure about what to classify what I experienced in class some years back,
I happened to be the only black and coloured person in my class that year.
It was a TV writing & production course, and they had invited a particular Hollywood producer to the class that day. It was a requirement for star producers, actors and writers to come and lecture us from time to time.
Class started and it was time to introduce ourselves. They usually go round the class and each of us student introduce ourselves in the order of our names, where we are from, the reason why we are doing the course and what we hope to learn from the course.
And then it got to my turn, I boldly stated my name, but the moment I said I was from Nigeria he stopped me immediately. Then he asked, “do you know any Nigerian Prince?”
I wasn’t so fast in thinking about where he was driving at, because I was startled with the question, so I responded “There are many Princes in Nigeria, but I’ve met just a few”
Then he goes ahead to give a story of how a Nigerian Prince called him a few days ago discussing some investment plans with him.
It was then it dawned on me what he was playing at with his question. He was describing the mighty fraudsters, a.k.a 419 from Naija.
Right there and then, I felt like the ground should open, and swallow me.
Everybody had a big laugh at his story, but I couldn’t stifle a smile, it was a very embarrassing moment for me. I didn’t feel the same after that encounter. And this was all because of my Nigerian people.
After then, I began to denote that same snuck reaction from people, even other Africans when I introduce myself as a Nigerian. It is embarrassing.
Although no one will come to your face to call you nigga because it is a crime, you can tell the discrimination from how you’re being looked down on in class and how they expect you to be quiet when they are speaking or contributing.
There was also a place where I worked, the boss didn’t like me, because of the colour of my skin, she was quite harsh to me, she couldn’t say it out loud, but it was obvious in her actions.
Many times, I conclude the only reason why she couldn’t say or do anything vicious is because of how I portray myself as well. Because I didn’t go there feeling like I was less privileged or was desperate for the job.
As a mass communicator, I’ve learnt and equipped myself with good communication skills and comportment of my public appearance reputation.
I place myself in high self-esteem, I think this formed a barricade for people not to come at me vulgarly especially with the laws laid down in the country.
And that’s something I like about Canada, the organisation of leadership and the right you have as a person when living there is very effective. This helps us face racism, or people who want to prove they are supreme, and all that.
As an international student, I have basic human rights I’m entitled to.
One of the major ones that get me is how they care about your mental and emotional state. I could request for a break due to cogent reason for mental stress or what have we, and it will be granted to me, either at school or work.
I’ll say to anyone who Is thinking of relocating to the diaspora, of course, I’m considering the future after this pandemic era, there are a few things you should consider:
- Make sure you know somebody where you’re relocating to, If you don’,t try to connect with someone before you relocate.
- Do your proper research on the country you intend to relocate to. Ask a lot of questions, look up for programmes they have for immigrants. I repeat, ask a lot of questions, have an understanding of the country you’re travelling to before you make that final decision.
- Have a laid down plan. No one picks money on the streets in the “abroad”. And don’t vaguely say when you travel you will start work. Plan, ask ahead and plan.
And when you finally move or relocate:
- Don’t start buying impulsively. Save for rainy days.
- As a black male, getting a house is quite difficult because of the stigma of violence and crime. Come prepared for that as well.
- Use thrift stores, if you plan on saving money
- Always make sure your phone is charged, so you can use the map when leaving your house. Trust me, you don’t want to get lost in a foreign country.
These are just my two cents from personal experience. I researched before travelling, and that helped me in curbing my expectations. It also helped me to move faster when I got here because I knew where I was going metaphorically.
I don talk tire. I hope my story has shed some light for you. If you can relate or have similar experiences, please share your story in the comment section. I love stories and I’ll be reading.