Blame It On Me

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I just saw the recent disheartening video footage of Matthew Ajibade, the Nigerian student who died mysteriously in police custody in the United States earlier in the year, being shocked by police officers while handcuffed to a restraining chair and writhing in pain.

Ajibade, who was only 21 years old at the time of his death, was found dead in jail in the US on New Year’s day. He had been arrested the previous day after his girlfriend put a distress call to 911 for an ambulance following an episode of his bipolar disorder which made him strike her. The police showed up instead and arrested Ajibade despite the girlfriend making it clear he needed medical attention.

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This has become a norm in the United States where young innocent harmless black men are more likely to be gunned down by the police than they would a white. Their only crime is being black. Black people are generally presumed to be dangerous, a threat and always guilty until proven innocent. According to promoters of the Black Lives Matter movement, a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement every twenty-eight hours.

In light of the recent extrajudicial killings of black people, I reaffirm my stance as an unapologetic Black man and throw my weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement. However, I hate the fact that black people blame everything wrong in their lives on racism.

Black music artistes are often quick to cite/blame racism for their failure to get nominations or win music awards. If American actor Leonardo DiCaprio was black, maybe he’d have taken the same route and blamed his failure to win an Oscar, despite mesmeric performances in a number of movies, on his race. Or the likes of Larry Bird, Jason Kidd, Steven Nash and Dirk Nowitski would have pinned Michael Jordan’s recognition as the greatest basketballer of all time on race.

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I do not know if blaming everything on racism makes some of my black brothers and sisters feel better about themselves but it is about time we took some of the blame for some of the things happening to us. There’s a saying that “no one can make you inferior without your consent.” Magnifying our self-esteem issues by seeking sympathy from the world for being black will give others the power to use us as pawns.

I do not seek sympathy from anyone for being black. Being black is not a plague/curse. Back in Nigeria, being black is becoming a bad thing too. It requires painstaking effort to discern a Nigerian from the crowd these days. We have adopted foreign accents and sound more American and British than the Americans and British people themselves.

You are automatically proclaimed intelligent once you speak well with a foreign accent. Perhaps that’s why it has become a “taboo” for anyone, especially those going into media or entertainment industry, to have a Nigerian accent. Listen to the radio and TV stations now, and you ask yourself “why the struggle to sound white?”

The same Nigerian accent we deride was recently ranked 6th sexiest accent by CNN, higher than the the American accent and a spot below the Queens English accent. However, have you ever seen whites  “killing” themselves to have a Nigerian accent? The essence of language is to communicate but it is also an integral part of a people’s culture. It is one of the things that sets one apart.

Accents define us and grant others information about our lives – where we are from, our history and identity as a people/ race. Our accents depict the richness of our cultural heritage and diversity. You don’t need need a foreign accent to have a high self-esteem rather forcing a foreign accent enhances your inferiority complex.

You are a representative of the Black Community; stop making our kids feel being Black and having a Nigerian accent is a bad thing. So instead of blurting out “Don’t Blame it on me” like John Newman, take the blame today like George Ezra and be proud of who you are. Be made of black!

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Is everybody an addict?

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I was listening to the song John Doe, performed by B.O.B and Priscilla, last night and some lines from the song go like this.

Errybody’s addicted to something
Errybody gotta grip onto something
Even if it’s just to feel the response of appeal
Maybe once, maybe twice
Maybe hundreds of times, hundreds of times

This got my mind racing; is everyone really addicted to something? Is addiction part of our make up as humans? Does it help one to fight his/her inner demons?

To answer these questions; yes I think everybody is addicted to something or capable of being an addict and addiction is a part of human condition. However I don’t know if it helps us crush our inner demons.

Whether it is drugs, sex, violence, alcohol, porn, nicotine, food, gambling, coffee, shopping or something seemingly innocuous like gossiping, exercise, power, religion, love, attention, TV series, music, looks or obsession to work, every individual has addictive tendencies. So, it is left for one to acknowledge that particular bane of his/her life.

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Our world encourages and demands addiction. Just like Oliver Twist, we yearn for more – more money, more power, more knowledge, more success, more status, more gadgets, more cars, more happiness.

Boredom is directly proportional to addiction. Most people can’t handle boredom. To be fair, nobody likes being bored. Once we are bored, we look for things to keep ourselves busy until we cross that fine line between loving or using something a lot, and being addicted. You know what they a say, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.

In the end, it is safe to presume that everybody is addicted to something and everybody is an addict but we can channel our addictive tendencies into something positive.

What are you addicted to?