I hate it when one person in a group commits a crime the whole group is judged. Its like when that nigerian was arrested for trying to blow up a plane with a bomb in his pants, the first thing I saw someone say was "so nigerians are now terrorists" I mean I was so angry about that! How can the action of one man brand everyone as "terrorists" I already have problems with being Nigerian what with all the fraudulent associations attached to being that in people's minds among other negative things.
I'm not even gonna lie. I have denied being a Nigerian loads of times or downplayed my Nigerian side a lot of times because I've felt ashamed of what that means to people. I've been on the streets of London and recognized nigerian folks talking loud and so brash and I've felt like hiding my face as if people could tell I was Nigerian by looking at me. Also there's the accent thing.
We Nigerians (I'm speaking of some of the younger generation who have been influenced by hip hop that live in Nigeria) are heavily influenced by American culture so many Nigerians end up deeply immersed in American movies, hip hop etc etc. You find Nigerians who have some kind of weird American twang in their accent. Look at me saying "they" like I'm not affected lol. I lived in Nigeria for 13 years and when I came back to London the city of my birth I discovered from people's reactions to me that I've got one as well!
My accent is such a mashed up thing that I have my own unique accent. Its part british from being born in London, part fake american from reciting hip hop lyrics as a kid in Nigeria and probably vaguely nigerian. The Nigerian part becomes more prominent if I get SUPER angry which takes a lot to happen. (LOL!)
I feel ashamed when I rap sometimes. Oh I promise, I'm so self conscious! I'm not trying to be an american but when I rap I just sound how I sound because it is what I learnt from years of repetition. I didn't grow up in London during my formative years so I just don't feel like I sound english enough. I hate it that I sound like I'm faking it. Funny enough to Americans I sound english. Ah what to do?
Whether I sound english, nigerian or american, I am black. Nothing is going to change my appearance and I don't want to change that! I am proud of being African! I am proud of being a Nigerian even though currently its crazy over there and our image abroad is still damaged. I will be who I am in a society which has people who view people like me in a certain way. The subliminal message you get sometimes is you're black so you should be fit into a certain mold and that mold feels like its got to be negative and inferior.
Think about it, if the message someone receives all their lives is "you are worthless" or "you will never make it" or "you must be a criminal because you look like that" imagine the mental obstacles someone has to overcome at a stage when one's identity is still trying to be found. To make matters worse, the role models that this person looks up to are mainly in the mainstream media. They are successful men who have made money off of selling an image of masculinity that is distorted and largely negative, dark and always moving in the direction of being criminal.
These distorted images of masculinity which are linked to success, popularity and ideas of "swagger" are internalised by young minds and we wonder why some try to act out these thug fantasies and end up in jail or dead on the streets. You wonder why they walk around feeling that being a "badman" is the best thing to be and what should define them. How sad.
As much as I believe in God's redemption, I know one thing that will not change, there is one thing I can't be redeemed from and shouldn't even think of needing redemption from in this life and it is the fact that I am black and one who will be viewed by many through a negative, prejudiced lens in this society due to images in the media that some take to represent and define all of us. It's not even just due to negative images in the media, these images support the prejudice that already exists in society and has been here for years though it is subtle most times.
I know just because of who I am and where I'm from some have already cast me into a role and even have a script I'm expected to act out. If I followed that script and acted out that role, early death and jail are sure things but I chose to flip the script and break the mold.