I was scrolling down my timeline on Facebook one day when I saw a post that struck a nerve. The post read, “I’m not saying your baby mama ugly but she look real African.” I was immediately bothered and began to have flash backs. During my pregnancy, I would get questions like, “Are you afraid that your child will have nappy hair?” or “What if his complexion is dark?”. With his father being 100% Nigerian-(Yoruba) made and proud, I would usually respond with a look of disgust. The only thing I was truly concerned about was having a healthy baby. Skin complexion and hair texture were at the very bottom of my list of concerns to say the least.
I knew having a child of mixed culture would be a bit challenging. Never did I expect that I would get so many troubling questions and ugly stares from African-Americans when I’d respond, “Yes, he’s half Nigerian.” Before his birth, his father and I chose to name him a strong Yoruba name. I was proud to have a child whose name would have significant meaning despite so many people saying, “Oh, it’s hard to pronounce” or other remarks.
I was seven months pregnant and I asked my midwife how soon I would be able to travel to Nigeria. She looked at me confused then asked me if I was sure I wanted to take him to Nigeria. We had previously spoken about traveling to Canada and she didn’t have the same hesitation. I waited to see if she had a medical reason as to why the trip wasn’t a good idea but instead, the woman looked at me and said “If you go to Nigeria, they will treat you horribly and keep your baby.” I looked at her; puzzled and annoyed, got down from the table and left the building. When we traveled to Nigeria, Kai was four months old. I can honestly say that it was the best experience of my life. From the food to the music to the culture, I enjoyed the every bit of my time there. I even enjoyed the simple things like learning to bargain shop.
His father and I decided well before our son was born that we wanted him to know his culture, speak the language and always be proud. More often than not, some African-Americans associate anything of African descent as ugly or dirty failing to realize Africa is a continent encompassing countries like Egypt for instance. I’ve even had a friend say “if it ain’t foreign it’s boring.” *blank stare*
Many Nigerians look at me and assume that my respect and adoration of African culture is not genuine. Let me state very blatantly that this is far from the truth. I am an American woman, but my son will be raised to never ever be ashamed of who he is. I adore every bit of melanin in his skin. My biggest wish is that African-Americans and Africans can find common ground to understand one another’s cultures. We will teach our son about Juneteenth as well as Nigerian Independence Day (October 1).
So to the men and women who don’t find the beauty in people from the many countries in Africa I say this; you are entitled to your preferences. Nevertheless, I challenge you to take a look in the mirror, look at your features and then look at the faces of your children. Now, try to explain to your children that they’re not beautiful. What you might not realize is that trust me, somewhere in your bloodline, there is some Eritrean, Ghanaian or maybe Kenyan heritage. So those features that you seem to look down on or even hate might inevitably be a part of you. When I look at my son, I see a King and no one will ever make him feel inferior due to his skin tone, hair texture or any other stereotypical “African” feature. We must teach ourselves that our differences make us beautiful whether you have blonde hair & blue eyes or skin darker than the midnight sky. We are all beautifully crafted.
Well that’s the tea! Thanks for reading.
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