Thoughts From A non-American Black In A Post-Obama World
I DID NOT want to add my voice to the mix of voices that will be heard today. Like my brother reminded me, I have nothing to gain. I am a non American black living in Alabama with a growing career in law and entrepreneurship.
Also, since the election which was so clearly a blow to my immigrant black woman heart, I have felt sorta silenced - like my voice and my opinion don't really matter. I made a lot of noise about what an unqualified candidate the new president would be and well, it appeared people did not care so why keep talking?
BUT last night I had a very vivid dream that woke me up in the middle of the night with a heart conviction that my voice needed to be heard and so I write.
I do have one huge request before you read - please only proceed if you are willing to enter into my world with empathy?
This is not a divisive post,
I am not looking for affirmation or protest.
This is just my truth as I see and feel about it right now.
I am inviting you into my world.
If you get into my world and feel like it is total crap then please move on to your next read.
Do not feel the need to attack or fix anything.
Its not that I am fragile and cannot handle criticism, I can. I practice law for a living. BUT that is not the purpose of this post. There are a lot more articles on the internet today that will welcome the dialogue. This is not it. Thank you!
Over the past year I have boycotted giving this new president of America my time and attention. Its almost comical the lengths I have taken to avoid the news, to avoid saying his name, and to avoid seeing his face, to avoid taking in the toxic hate that he has incited. I have avoided it like bad porn. I did all the research I needed to do to make my decision when he first declared his candidacy and once I did, it was off the table. I knew that he had a shot at winning because inciting fear, a hardworking team, and building a good brand are extremely powerful tools in the United States of America. My African history books showed me how Europeans and Americans used those same tools to deceive and colonize a huge part of my continent, steal away our best talent, turn them into slaves. And to 'whitewash' those who were left behind on the continent. I won't go into all of that right now, go read the history for yourself.
And while I hoped that the Americans I know and love would be too smart to buy the koolaid, I was mistaken, and we all get to live in a new world where people like me don't feel completely safe.
I am an educated black woman. I practice law, work with Immigrants, build businesses, go to church, and have quite a few white friends and white collegues I love dearly who would never describe me as 'angry.' But I know that the majority response to this post by those who don't like what I have to say is that I am just another 'angry black woman.' Its funny how things like systematic racism do that to you. Its crazy how stereotyping - the platform that your new president has built his campaign on will make you see an entire group of people through the lens of a 'single story' (like my fellow baddie Nigerian woman, Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche would say.)
Understanding fully well the risk of being misunderstood, I would like to say 3 thoughts I've been having when rumbling internally with the idea of a Post-Obama world and what that means to me:
1. Black America, you have taught me that I will be okay. Thank you for that! As a non American black who spent most of my formative years in Nigeria, I would never understand the concept of loving a country who did not love you, without my experiences of being in an American black space. Black people in America, you fight for a country that has historically let you down over and over and over again. You get mad at it but you don't give up on it and that is so inspiring to me. Thank you for teaching me that there is so much strength in being black and that we as a people will be okay. We always have been. We always will be! Thank you for your rich history of endurance, lament, and overcoming. Thank you for all the ways you put love and beauty back into the world.
2. Obama, wow! Thank you so much for being an imperfect yet great president. As a minority I have often been held up to a standard of perfection so many times that I almost don't get to be human. I have often wondered how to be sustainably 'perfect' for the long haul but your presidency has shown me that I don't have to and that good character will always win out. You made mistakes but you changed the world. The Affordable Care Act website being down on signup day was the most incredible moment of your presidency to me because obviously that kind of technological glitch would happen to someone like me. Anyone that has built things knows that when you take a leap you risk uncertainty and things going wrong, but that did not stop you. You built things and made an impact in small ways and in big ways. Even if this new administration tears down all the policies you built up, they cannot take away from our hearts the things you taught us about love and leadership. And for that, we will go for it because #YESWECAN.
3. My dearest Africans, if you grew up like me there was quite a bit of 'whitewashing' involved in our history - some crap about the United States of America being 'the greatest nation in the world.' It clearly isn't. I know that I live there so you may roll your eyes at me as you read this - but hear me, the United States of America is not the greatest nation in the world. Every nation is as great as its people make it and while colonialism means we have to do more work to make our nations what we want it to be, we absolutely have the power and agency to do so.
My loves, WE have a continent to re-build so lets get on with it. There are people like me in Diaspora doing our best to represent our individual countries well so when people think of Africa they don't think huts and jungles, they think of the educated and intelligent people they do life with. And then there are others of you who are within the continent doing your building; Keep at it. Don't let the Western world rob you of the things that matter. Keep the laws and systems of governments that work for you, rock your tailor made ankara outfits, keep your rich tradition, grow your own food. Don't conform to the ideals of 'the greatest nation in the world' because what has worked for them won't work for you!
Peace and love over the next 4 years!
More than ever lets be ambassadors of peaceful activism and love without expectation.
And finally like the great Nigerian Novelist, Ola Rotimi, would say: whatever happens, the gods are not to blame.