My Experience of Racism in America and What Africans Can Learn from It

My Experience of Racism in America and What Africans Can Learn from It

By Dr Aroms Aigbehi

One day, my wife and I were travelling from Miami, Florida to Cape Coral, Florida, USA. We had to drive through US 75. That road is Long and lonely, with very few petrol stations. Remember not to fall asleep because the road is straight , as if someone used a laser beam to measure it.

If you miss the last patrol station before the long straight you are in trouble when you run out. Because you will get stuck halfway at the Alligator Alley. You will find out soon enough why they call it the Alligator Alley.

The car was running low on gas, as the Americans would call it. ( I will further call it petrol.) So I decided to stop and ask if someone knows how far the next petrol station was. Because, I could only make another 40 miles with what I had. If it was too far from it I would rather go back to Miami to refill because I don’t like alligators.

So, we came to this nature reserve area and there were lots of people there. I felt safe. I parked the car, left my wife in the car and I walked about 100 meters away where other cars were parked. I saw two ladies and decided to ask them. I approached their car and immediately they spotted me they roll up the car windows and warned me to stay away from them. They were very scared and locked the doors of the car and drove off immediately.

Guess what? They drove to the other side of the park 100 meters away and parked next to my car with my wife sitting inside. There they felt safe because now they were three white women there. Remember the saying, there is safety in numbers.

I later found a man who politely told me that the next petrol station was just 10 miles away. So, I thanked him very much and started moving back to my car and these two women were right next to it..

Now, I was thinking, I hope these women don’t decide to shoot me to protect themselves from this ‘Black maniac’. I was trying to signal my wife to come out of the car at least to pretend she knew me, so the other women stay calm, but she was too busy with her magazine that she didn’t see my act of desperation. Now, I was thinking. I have protected you all my life, at last you have the chance to save me and you are reading a magazine.

Luckily, as I got closer the women thought the place was getting too dangerous and they drove away leaving my poor wife there to face the black maniac alone. When I got into the car, my wife said she didn’t notice anything.

Lesson Learned

No matter what you have achieved in life, as long as you are a Black man you remain a suspicious character and someone people have to watch out for. Except of course you are Barack Obama or Kofi Annan or maybe Denzel Washington. What is the difference? Everybody knows these men. They know they are not hooligans but not many people know me in Florida, for them I am just another Black man.

Primal instinct says, Black man is dangerous, RUN. That is not the time to figure out if the dude is Barack Obama or Kofi Annan, because then the same women would have come out of the car for an autograph. That is what you do when you get home. Then you feel regret. In the heat of the moment they must have been thinking, what a stupid and dangerous Black man? And I was thinking, some stupid White women? Actually, I thought we were all victims of circumstances. I wonder what ever happened to these women in the past. It was hurtful, but that is one of the realities of life.

I can just imagine their story in the next Tupperware meeting about how they escaped death on the US 75 from Miami to Naples from a manic black rapist.

Whether you like it or not, black people have a reputation, an image. It is that reputation that makes people to disrespect us. Not necessarily due to our colour. If we were green with the same reputation we would still get the same treatment. Then it will be the green people who did it.

Anytime, you see someone cheating, lying, doing corruption and other vices that is now the order of the day in Africa. Say something, do something. Remember, if you don’t, you are a party to creating the environment of disrespect black people face daily, whether for a job interview, or at the airport or at the restaurant. It is the same thing. We are being disrespected all over the world, no matter how rich you are. If you have a degree from Nigeria, they say it’s fake. I wonder why?

The transformation of the Black race must start with Nigerians because ONE of every SIX black person in the world is a Nigerian. So, we don’t have a cheating Nigerian, no, a cheating black man, Not a corrupt Nigerian, no, a corrupt black man, etc. You know how we can tell if someone is an Igbo man and the other is a Yoruba? White people can’t do that. In Europe and America Black is Black.

In Europe you don’t have corrupt White man, no, you have a corrupt politicians and a stealing dentist. Why, because the society don’t accept these vices and in Africa we accept them, and celebrate the people. That is why we are all labeled as such. We respect thieves, corrupt people and high level hooligans too much. So, we have branded ourselves to be such. Birds of the same feathers flock together they say.

No normal people sell their own people as slaves, Loot everything that belongs to everyone and bring it to other nations to develop themselves, steal food donated to their refugees, allow their citizens to live in disease and squalor. No, nobody that does that gets respected. The only different is, because the other people don’t know you personally, the only thing they see first is your colour and they base their judgement on that.

Yes, I know, it is wrong and I am not condoning discrimination but remember, if a lion is pursuing you, that is not the time to find out if it is a trained circus lion or one that escaped from the local zoo.

It’s time we hold ourselves to a higher moral and ethical standards. It is only by doing this the black race will ever gain respect from the world.

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