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Articles / Majors & Careers / Owning My Identity and Fighting Disenfranchisement

June 9, 2021

Owning My Identity and Fighting Disenfranchisement

David's not sure yet if he wants to be a politician, a musician, or an actor, but he's clear on one thing: his commitment to social justice

"I know all this stuff...I don't want to just sit with it all up in my head and just continue to think about it. I want solutions. I want to take action. I want to try to remedy these problems."

Watch the video and real the full transcript below

So on the one hand, I would either want to be a senator, a governor or a mayor. On the other side of that. There's like, I'd either want to be an actor, musician or a director. Or just like all three at the same time. And [LAUGH] like right in the middle of that is like all of that at the same exact time and more. I know being all of that, in one person isn't necessarily feasible. But I sort of want to find a way to mesh those two aspects of my life. Or at some point just pick one...

Hi, my name is David and I go to Carnegie Vanguard High School.

I am 15 years old and I am a junior. I was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 2001. And then, in 2008, we won the visa lottery, I guess. And we had an opportunity to come over to the states. And my parents like my dad was really big on that. Because he wanted me to have a better education and like better prospects here. So then we came over here in 2008. And I was just kinda been exploring what life is here.”

Can you share a challenge you’ve faced and how it’s shaped you?

“I like to think I adjusted really quickly, I guess to sort of becoming an “American.” But I still had a lot of problems with trying to lose the Nigerian part of me. And trying to conform to American standards and what not. And that was a really big issue I had when I was younger. I had a bit of an accent. And, I thought I was crazy cool, I was really good at faking an American accent. And trying to hide it and what not, but people tell me that it was actually very apparent now. So I had a bit of an accent and kids were very just hostile to that fact. Which is just crazy to me at that point.

So it was kind of overcoming that and I reacted to that by trying to prove that. I was just as American as the other kids and what not. So I rejected a lot of aspects of my culture. I didn't [LAUGH] I thought it was like, I didn't want my parents to come to school. Because of their accents and people would notice that they weren't from here. Cuz I thought that I was better about it than they were or whatever. I was just like I had a lot of self, I don't want to say hatred or loathing. But I was really self conscious about it. I just cared a lot about what people thought. So that was really, really hard to overcome as an immigrant kid.”

What keeps you motivated?

“Now African culture is kinda being reclaimed by the black community. So it's easier for me to launch into that and it's easier for me to sort of claim that now. Lately I've just been sort of synthesizing the two. I don't think that trying to lose the Nigerian part of me. And trying to conform to American standards, those have to be different things and everything.

As a person of color, I find a lot of social issues. I find that a lot of that sort of applies to me. Just looking at, like, this history of disenfranchisement in this country of marginalized people. That's something that really really grinds my gears and what not. And that's something that really motivates me to try to change that. And it's like, I know all this stuff and with that information, I don't want to just sit with it all up in my head and just continue to think about it. I want solutions. I want to take action. I want to try to remedy these problems. And if not remedy them, at least try to inform people that there are problems. So, maybe other people can do that.”

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