Shore to Shore: Exploring our Personal Black History


Blackness is not a monolith. This phrase has been on repeat for years, but I’m convinced its a cry that’s been reduced to black noise. Do people truly appreciate the nuance that exists under the Black banner? If they did, defining such an intricately diverse group of people by a phenotypical trait seems as silly as reducing the human body to one kind of cell. My general assumption is most people aren’t silly, but sometimes I wonder. 

I know Blackness is not a monolith because Candace Owens and Dr. Umar Johnson exist in the same universe. And then there is me. 

I was born in a Britishcolonized African nation, yet from a young age, I was a regular viewer of the Mexican telenovelas “Los Ricos También Lloran” and “Tu o nadie”. I had no true concept of what it meant to be Black until I moved to the States and went to Mother Henderson’s daycare. 

The memory of my first meal at the daycare (boxed Mac and Cheese with cut-up hot dogs) is still vivid 25 years later. At the time, I didn’t understand why the cheese disappeared into the macaroni as it cooled. I remember contemplating this while I tried to guess the animal used to create the pink oval-shaped pieces of “meat” that smelled and tasted like regurgitation. Prior to this experience, I’d never eaten cheese. Nor had I experienced meat that wasn’t playing in my backyard days before it ended up on my plate. I didn’t want to eat it. But I was not allowed to leave the table until I finished my food. I suffered that day.

This memory makes me ponder my privilege. Though I was born on a continent many associate with famine and poverty, my upbringing didn’t reflect that. The irony is, before I moved to the States, my childhood was mostly peaceful and pampered. When raised with people who look like you, you are not defined by the color of your skin. Your words and actions are your social currency. It’s taken many years of reflection to realize this is privilege.

It is privilege to know where your ancestors originate and to know you have a history that dates back millennia. 

It is privilege to have a country to return to if this social experiment fails.  

It is privilege to have a mindset built on an understanding that my worth is not defined by my skin color.  

Even as a member of a minority group not readily associated with privilege, I recognize my privilege exists. And the question that constantly rings in my mind is: Now that you know you have it, what are you going to do with it? 


Emmanuela GiniKa Ebunilo



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