"...I always kept to myself about how my parents spent their extra money, not building for their own security and their own future, but instead sending money back home to Nigeria to look after their parents, brothers and sisters..."The death of George Floyd made me realise I am recovering from emotional issues I wasn’t even aware of. Ever since I was 9 years old, I've always wondered why I felt so alone.
"Even though I have been able to achieve some of the goals and reach heights that the teachers in high school told me I never would, some of my black peers may never be so lucky."
Finding myself living in the Scottish town that is Livingston, I grew up around many white faces. I have realised this was why I was always singled out throughout my years in Primary school, which continued throughout High School; and why I was always the last one to get picked in social circles. At the time, I never understood why I felt so alone but one thing was made clear - I was different and not in a good way.
As I’ve grown older, now at 29, looking back at my life I am starting to realise most of the emotional trauma I have lived through, but never been able to speak about, was due to the birth of racism over 400 years ago.
My parents moved from Nigeria to the U.K. in 1995 to seek better opportunities. They moved without their children, there were 4 of us. By the year 2000, my mum & dad had managed to reunite our family together in Livingston. I often asked my parents why we moved here and they always answered: “you will understand when you are older”. From a very early age, my parents had always made me aware of the systematic racism that exists in the U.K.; however, as they predicted, this would not become apparent to me until I was much older.
Past conversations with my closest friends discussing the property ladder would often leave me feeling insecure, along with the re-emergence of the feelings I felt when I was 9 years old. My friends would often tell me about how privileged they were, to have parents generous enough and able to contribute to a full deposit towards their first mortgage. However, I always kept to myself about how my parents spent their extra money, not building for their own security and their own future, but instead sending money back home to Nigeria to look after their parents, brothers and sisters, a country only liberated from British rule in 1960.
Racism has become so internalised and structural that when I first tried to address some of my experiences with white friends, about how the history of my ancestors and their ancestors have shaped my life in ways I have no control over; it was never digested or even acknowledged, but instead brushed under the carpet because they felt racism wasn't an issue in the U.K.
Even though I have been able to achieve some of the goals and reach heights that the teachers in high school told me I never would, some of my black peers may never be so lucky. Some may never have the voice to share their experiences on a platform to reach others who need it most.
I want to use my voice to highlight a different type of racism, the real racism Scotland faces but claims not to see - systematic. Which is sadly, very effective at keeping faces like me down.