Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama

I recently read Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming”. It was difficult not to imagine myself as a first lady because of the skilled rendition of the story which gave you the feeling of having been Michelle herself in the book.

The book is so relatable. Her circumstances were very personal but relatable because all of sudden the book made me realize that the First black American to become a first lady in the United States of America was a normal girl after all who grew up under normal circumstances just like you and me.

What caught my attention however in her book was when she went to Princeton, an almost all white university and had to be room mates with white girls. Cathy was a white girl who’s mom had serious concerns about her having to share a room with a black girl. Her mom eventually worked Cathy’s way out of hell’s doom to a dorm room all to herself.

Michelle recalls how she was glad she didn’t get to know at the time that she was the reason Cathy left the room.

What would have been different if Cathy and her Mom had prior knowledge that the black girl she was sharing a dorm room with was in fact the first lady in waiting of the United States of America?

Before you begin to judge Cathy and her Mom, I need to remind you that we all at some point in life have been guilty of discriminating against other people on one basis or the other. It could be race, wealth, social status, intellectual standing, career, physical looks or disability or even religion.

Whatever the case may be, discrimination is very painful, it demeans, demoralizes, strips an individual of their dignity and personal worth. The thing is before an individual is discriminated against they already know that they are different and are trying to deal with the fact. So when they get discriminated against it has a way of just icing the cake of psychological breakdown.

Taking a peep into the mind of the discriminator, I see most people who consciously discriminate against another as persons who in the first place have internal crises. They already feel deficient and so to validate their self worth they believe that other persons around them must be subdued and subjected so that they can maintain their top spot. They deliberately pick on any perceived deficiency in the other person and emphasize on it so that the persons can be brought to the realization that they are beneath their discriminator.

Sometimes discrimination creeps in so subtly that we may not even realize we are discriminating against an individual.

Have you been to a kiddies birthday party where the best dressed kids are handed the party packs before the rest? That is discrimination.

Have you been in certain groups where those who perceive themselves to be of a certain financial and social class subtly create a league for themselves with an imaginary line all the commoners do not dare cross? In cases like this, words are not spoken. The atmosphere usually speaks louder than any word could have.

This kind of demeaning scenario have forced some persons to go out of their way to act in a certain manner, wear clothes they know they truly can’t afford, speak in accents they know are a poor imitation of the original and lie their way through to earning a spot with the big league. Those who cannot go through the rigours and herculean task of struggling to fit to shape with the big league are left to throw pity parties on the other side of the divide.

Discrimination hurts real bad. Except you have had some kind of bad encounters with discrimination you may not understand the extent of pain and hurt.

Some researchers have even posited that when an individual with a health condition is discriminated against, the tendency is for the pain levels associated with the condition to actually increase.

I remember when HIV/Aids epidemic began here in Nigeria, many persons actually died of it more out of the pain of being discriminated against than even the infection in itself. Till today not many persons are comfortable about discussing their positive HIV status because they know that status quo will change as soon as people know the state of their health.

I know persons who hae been discriminated upon because they have attained a certain age and are not married, have married and do not have kids of their own or worse still those who have married and gotten divorced. People connote all sorts of perceptions on such persons and place a tag on their persons as the reason why they are not normal. I heard someone say the other day, “ that girl must have a terrible character else she would have been married already”; I wondered at the naivety of the person because I know so many ill mannered ladies who are married and giving their husbands a tough time and vice versa.

… she must have had series of abortions. I also believe some ladies may have had some abortions and still gone ahead to birth children of their own.

Actually its not our business how people got to their social class, health problems, religions, sexuality etcetera. The truth is we also can’t explain how we got graced with some of our A+ traits like our beauty, intelligence and special abilities. We don’t even know the criteria God used to determine our race, geographical location and even the families we were born into
I think what is best is for us to always realize that we are all different and unique in our own special ways.

I have always believed the saying that “better is the end of a matter than the beginning”. The dice has not stopped rolling. That strength or advantage you have that has become a source of discrimination towards others could be lost just like that. Also, things could favour you in the unfavourable situation you have found yourself just like that.

Live carefully and with gratitude for the privileges life has graced you with. Accept the inadequacies you cannot change and learn develope a deep contentment and satisfaction of who you are and what you are about. Validate yourself. Don’t look up to others for your validation.

The dice has not stopped rolling…

Swandy Banta is blue blooded, ask her what that means and she gladly tells you, she’s been through the tunnel of pain and she found illuminating light. She writes and coaches on the difficult subject of pain. Whether it’s national pain, community pain or the pain of loss and the hurts of life that makes us all ask why—she brings new perspectives. Swandy is can be reached on [email protected]

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