To be Nigerian-American is to be inherently unique. It’s a little extra volume in your voice, some extra peppa in your soup.Nigerian-Americans make up a large number of African immigrant population in the United States. If you are one of them, and were raised like me, your suburban home was transformed into a small Igbo village with four Toyotas in the driveway. The smell of stock fish wafts from the kitchen while your dad sings Flavour's Greatest Hits, and your mom scolds you for not yet having all of your times tables memorized. As a child, I just wanted to be 'regular Black,’ Frankie Beverly and Maze Black. Now I understand that Blackness is rich with different experiences, so there is no such thing. Like the textured variances of cultures within Africa, to be Nigerian-American is to be inherently unique. It’s a little extra volume in your voice, some extra peppa in your soup. I have collected 5 things you should know about Nigerian-Americans: Jollof Rice Is Life: Jollof Rice, which is a tomato based rice pilaf dishes with traditional spices is the culinary staple of every Nigerian experience. You learn to make Jollof before riding a bike, braiding hair, counting money. Most west African nations have their own signature jollof recipe, but Nigeria reigns supreme. I am not biased. They won the Jollof Wars. We Do the bridesmaids things a bit different: Bridesmaids are cute, but the Asoebi is everything. Asoebi, is a Yoruba (a Nigerian tribe) word for "clothing of kin." It is a uniform worn by women at special formal events to signify who is really with you. Before a thanksgiving, wedding, or a funeral, the celebrants will select friends and family to be in their asoebi groups. For my wedding, there were three Asoebi groups: One of my friends and family, and my mom had her crew, and then one for my in laws. Throwing money has nothing to do with strippers: Wale caught some flack around his daughters the first birthday about spraying her with money. To someone unfamiliar with the culture, this may trigger strip club memories. Everybody needs to STAHHHHHP!
Pollution and the risk of disaster is assigned to Black and Brown communities through racial discrimination and political neglect.The first time you heard the term environmental racism may have been after Hurricane Katrina, during the ongoing Flint water crisis, or even as recently as Hurricane Harvey. You may have thought, “What? How can the environment be racist? It isn’t a person!” And you wouldn’t be alone in your initial assessment. Although the environment isn’t a person, large components of the environment are controlled by people, and people are racist and creative in the ways they come up with to harm people of color. As history and current events have shown, environmental racism is real. It’s having long-term effects on communities of color, and it’s costing the country billions of dollars. What is Environmental Racism? Environmental racism is the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color. The air we breathe, the water we drink, even the neighborhoods we end up living in are controlled by policies and practices. Redlining and housing discrimination of the 20th century is responsible for segregating people of color into the least desirable neighborhoods. 50 percent of people who live near hazardous waste are people of color (think Cancer Alley in Louisiana), and floodplains (think Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey) throughout the country have a high Black and Latinx populations. Additionally, Black children are twice as likely to suffer from lead poisoning as white children (think Flint water crisis). These disparate health outcomes are no accident; they are by design. Pollution and the risk of disaster is assigned to Black and Brown communities through racial discrimination and political neglect. In regards to environmental discrimination, racism trumps classism. Middle class Black people are more likely to live in polluted neighborhoods than poor white. In fact, one study found that Black people making between $50-$60k were more likely to be exposed to environmental hazards that whites who only made $10k. Black and Brown people cannot buy their way out of the systemic effects of environmental racism. The political will of Black and Brown communities has not made environmental racism go away either. People of color have less political clout, so our needs often go ignored by those elected to represent us. This was the case in Flint, Michigan when residents protested the dirty drinking water for a year. Their concerns went largely ignored by local and state officials until the story made national news. Still, Flint, which is 57 percent Black, is without clean drinking water.
Tattoos were invented by brown and Black people centuries—even millennia—before white supremacy became the dominant global paradigm.You’ve taken the time, done your research, and decided on your tattoo. You’ve saved up money and investigated tattoo shops for the perfect artist to mark your design. You’re excited, nervous, and eager to get started. But the tattooer takes one look at you and says, “Your skin tone is a problem.” Never mind that you’ve seen tattoos on dark skin, and with color no less. Hell, your brown or Black self has beautiful color tattoos which have stood the test of time. Yet here is this artist you respected, admired, and sought out to give them a lot of money to tattoo you, and they’re looking at you like you dragged dog shit into the place. Suddenly you feel sick to your stomach—and not from tattoo nerves. You’ve just been skin-shamed. As a heavily tattooed biracial Sri Lankan American woman, this scenario has played out for me again and again, in context of almost every single tattoo artist with whom I’ve ever consulted. Worse, even brown tattooers who are covered head to foot in designs have frowned at my skin and played that I’m going to be really difficult to tattoo. I’ve had to put my foot down, explain how my particular melanin works and what colors will stick, and hope for the best. Or walk out and start researching artists from scratch.
Whether it be through prayer, meditation or dream speak, now is the perfect time to begin to navigate this power we are all capable of holding.We pay homage to our ancestors. We recognize and give thanks to the ancestors whose names we know and those we don’t. We pay gratitude for their continued communicative efforts with us, for their guidance on our healing and their acts to ensure our return to them; our return to ourselves. Give thanks for our communion. Ase.
Natoya Hall is a seer who knows that her purpose in this life is to awaken others to their healing gifts, and carry messages of divine healing from the ancestral realm to ours. Her method is millions of years old, practiced by her Caribbean ancestors, and it has not only allowed her to transform the lives of her community, but it has healed her along the way. Hall is an energy worker, which she describes as an individual who “can harness the intricate energies of the Universe to heal self and others…[someone who] can access that portal within themselves that activates their infinite healing power.” And through opening this portal, one can freely commune with guides and ancestors, such that divine healing knowledge is communicated in-depth. As a Spiritual Guide and Tarot Reader, she works through clairvoyant and clairaudient communion with whom she defines as guides, ancestors, angels and God (Creator). She, like other healers/witches, works with spiritual energy. Spiritual energy, called ‘ase’ in Yoruban teachings, is the life-force that breathes existence into this earth, and it is with this force that we can create and shift circumstances on this earth, through blessing from the gods and our guides. It is this spiritual energy, or ase, that is fueled with the ancestral love that Hall believes facilitates her ability to heal (with) energy.