When asked to consider what aspects of my identity I consider the least, I’m thrown a bit. Frankly, I think it goes without saying that we tend to think more about the facets of ourselves that we aren’t quite allowed to forget about. As a Black man in America, I have to be hyper-conscious of the way I carry myself. It’s disappointing that the biases people hold toward me purely based on my skin color have very real consequences, but they do. I do have to acknowledge that over my time in the United States, this realization has presented an interesting contrast with the parts of me I was more concerned with back home. Nigeria is a homogenous country and its demographics are vastly different from the States’. Growing up, I was much more aware of the presence of my vitiligo. Compounded with a lack of education on the subject within the general population, I was subject to stares and rude questions. It really puts into perspective how easily our physical appearances affect our interactions within society.
On the topic of components of my identity I don’t consider as often, my gender comes to mind. I’m fairly comfortable in my identity as a cisgender man and as such, I’m afforded certain privileges that trans or non-gender conforming individuals are not. We as a society need to do a much better job at ensuring all individuals regardless of how they choose to identify are accommodated to the fullest extent. The laws that are being passed to prevent trans kids from having access to life-saving healthcare are examples of what we need to not do. We need to realize that there are people whose experiences are wildly different from ours and thus, we cannot expect to fully understand all identities. And that’s alright. We just need to remember to respect them.