I’m Tired of Being a Political Statement, When do I get to be Human?
As a black bisexual agnostic woman, I am oppressed on three fronts. As a black bisexual agnostic woman, the hallmarks of my being are always up for debate. As a black bisexual agnostic woman, my whole life is a political statement.
My skin is black, my name is ethnic, and I have an “African accent”. These are the first things any non-african I cross paths with will notice. I am black, this means that once I step outside black Africa, everything about me is politicised. It means I have to constantly assert my right to not be killed because my hairbrush looks like a gun and the kind officer feared for his life.
My hair is natural and that’s a problem; even though I live in the biggest black nation, I must fit into europatriachal standards of beauty. I must not be too black. I don’t have opinions, no, I have black opinions. Because even though I am one person, I speak for all black people whenever I open my mouth.
I am the token black friend/employee. If I get an international opportunity, I have to prove that I’m competent and not the result of affirmative action. I’m Nigerian, so I must prove I’m not a fraud. I must take on impossible work at shit rates so I can “build trust”. I’m tired. I know racism isn’t going away anytime soon, but I really wish I’d be allowed to just live. When can I be a person? Not a black person, just a person.
I live in Nigeria where my very existence, by virtue of a 2013 law, is illegal. Everyday that I live accepting my sexuality, I am saying fuck you to the man. I’m saying I’m here, I’m queer, you may try to erase me, but I live, fabulously. I make a political statement whenever I date women. I say this is who I am and I will not be forced to be someone else by an oppressive law. I say love is love and I can love whoever I want. But I must not be too loud.
I have to hide my sexuality from employers or I risk losing my job. I must hide it on the streets else I risk being mobbed or arrested. If I am dependent on my family, I must hide it from them or I risk being thrown out and cut off. I have to argue with homophobes, to prove that I’m a real person not just a bundle of sin, to assert my validity. I’m tired. When do I get to just live?
I’m an apathetic agnostic. This means I don’t know if God exists or not and I don’t care. I live in an uber religious country and come from a long line of Christians. When I say I don’t believe in God, I open myself up for debate. I am told to bring proof of the non-existence of the sky daddy. I am told to examine my life and point out all the times he has “shown up” for me. I am told it’s just a phase and I have to find my way back to God. I am miserable and will not know true joy and peace until I do. Why can’t I just be irreligious? Why do I also have to become an apologist? Why can’t I just live?
I’m a woman in a patriarchal world. I am a feminist. I am more likely to suffer violence (physical and sexual) than my male counterparts but I must take it lying down. It is my lot in life. I am a woman, I have to work twice as hard for not up to half of the recognition. I must prove that I got my job on merit, and not because I’m sleeping with one of the higher ups. I must prove it again whenever I get a promotion.
I cannot rent an apartment unless I have a husband. I must not drive a car, else I’ll be tagged an ashawo. Who are we kidding, I have a vagina, I’ve been an ashawo since the day I was born. I must not have a voice, I must always defer to a man, whoever that man is.
Whenever I stray, whenever I move from Esther to Jezebel, I am making a political statement. When I choose my career over family, it is because the feminists are deceiving me. When do I get to just live? When do my choices stop being up for debate? When does my life become just that, a life? When do I become a person?
I’m Emmanuella, I’m black, I’m bisexual, I’m agnostic, I’m a woman, and I’m so fucking tired of being a political statement. I just want to be human.