Standing in solidarity during trying times

The Neighborhood

Standing in solidarity during trying times

A reflection on MLK and #EndSARS

When immigrants think of the American dream, it typically is a life of comfort, access to resources, and the flexibility to travel freely. However, what immigrants, Americans by birth, and the world have in common–now more than ever–is an understanding that America is going through a time of restoration; a time of change. 

However, as COVID-19, racial injustice, and a tumultuous election continue to rattle the country, one particular group is also facing another social uprising from halfway across the world–that is the Nigerian community in the US.

As many Americans reflect on their own country’s history of racial inequality on Martin Luther King Day, many Nigerian migrants are also thinking about loved ones back home in Nigeria and their experience with SARS and the #EndSARS movement.

Understanding our connection

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

This statement is a true testament of history itself.

Yet, if 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that together we can spearhead change. 

Take for example, the #EndSARs movement in Nigeria. Nearly 30 years have passed since the youth of Nigeria decided to take a stance against corrupt politicians and police brutality.

Now, Nigerians have found the courage to protest against corruption again, inspired by the protesting of people across the US. When Americans took to the streets in outrage over the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other unarmed civilians, Nigerians decided it was about time they did the same by holding protests and sit-ins across Nigeria.

In effect, Nigerian-Americans find themselves at a revolutionary crossroads as they experience both countries they call home going through a political and social reckoning. Yet, at this crossroads, there is inspiration and hope.

As a society, giving up does not yield results. 

Though the world may be at odds, how we move forward is by looking past our differences and standing in solidarity with “infinite hope” for a better and brighter future. 

Ways to stand in solidarity

But how do we secure that brighter future?

Voting. It is our right to make a choice in a leader that will not only act critically for the people but it is our right to select a leader that will bring people together. Protesting and rioting can be avoidable when we dedicate time in being interested in the people that will speak for and lead our community.

Giving back. We might not be able to make it to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to advocate for our beliefs, but we can make an impact right at home within our very own community. This can be achieved by joining local community groups, such as a homeowners association, attending city council meetings, or getting involved with your children’s school board.

We can even learn to give back on a global level! The #ENDSARS movement, for example, is still very active, and needs your support. You can help Nigerians back home by donating to schools and universities in Nigeria so the youth can have proper means of earning a living and being safe from police brutality, or donate to the movement itself.

Keep MLK’s dream alive

When Dr. King held his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. nearly 50 years ago, he probably never thought the world would still be trying to overturn racial injustice, political tyranny, and medical woes.

Yet, in the same breath, the Lincoln Memorial is the same place where the first black president of the United States was sworn-in. That same location is where many immigrants vacation to for the first time as an American citizen. 

Change is not a comfortable process, just a few years ago, an Affordable Cares Act was just a dream. In less than a decade the number of Black/African and Latinx entrepreneurs have skyrocketed. There is light and hope at the end of the tunnel. With that said, our actions are our voice and our voice can change the world as long as we stand together, whether we’re in Nigeria, the US, or anywhere else.

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