All my life, I have always thought more about being a woman than I thought about being black. Up until not very long ago, when I thought about discrimination, gender, not race, comes to mind. This is not to say I didn’t watch my fair share of Roots as a child, but race issues have always felt distant and foreign.
Before I go further, let me clarify, I am black, African to be exact. Some people would call me honey brown, but I am black by the general definition nonetheless. Born and raised in Nigeria, a great nation west of the African continentJ. The problem however, is that I did not consider the color of my skin as much of a problem as my possession of a uterus until a couple of months ago when I had an interesting conversation with an Australian colleague. She shared very similar challenges and issues with me from a gender standpoint that, if not for her flowing brown hair and light brown eyes, I would have thought both our parents hailed from the backwaters of Abia state. However, she would never think of the color of her skin as a shortcoming or disadvantage even. Wait, she would never think of the color of her skin, PERIOD!
Not too long afterwards, I spent some time with a couple of African American colleagues and the focus of our talks were centered on race and not gender. At first, I almost scoffed but then I realized that I was in the funny class of people who had to deal with both race and gender issues. Add to that some weird sexual preference and you have a standard outcast!
Do I feel disadvantaged? Not really. Do I sometimes wish I could club the stupid out of some people’s heads on race or gender issues? Most definitely!
You see, a couple of months back, I would never have given the color of my skin any thought because all my life, all I have had to deal with have been gender issues – right from the minute I chose baggy jeans over miniskirts and programming over business administration to this very day. So expectedly, gender is a big deal for me. On the other hand, there are people all over the world who have struggled all their lives with some other form of discrimination. Women and men battling gender, race, religion, poverty, politics and even marriage!
This fact made me realize that no struggle is less noble and no pain or discrimination less real. Ultimately, what it comes down to is the fact that we all have mountains to climb and some of us may have more of the world focused on our issues at different moments in time, but all of us should strive to reach our summits victorious wearing our battle scars like badges of honor. Also, before you broadly categorize a person based on some trivial fact like race, gender, diction, or religion, think about it for a second and decide to rise above the status quo.
Image credit: https://conditionallyaccepted.com/2013/06/24/gender-and-class-shape-how-researchers-see-your-race/