Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Racism Comes in Many Forms

Black Lives Matter: A Conversation  

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

The NYTimes provides me with a “Recommended Reading” email  every few days. I was taken with the title “A Conversation about Growing Up Black,” that they gave me today, even though the article is from several days ago.

The young black men who comment on being black in America speak about their own experiences. To me their comments are a direct reflection of what it means not to have white privilege.

If you asked a young white man of the same economic status, same educational level, and same age, not one would need to mention being frightened, having to stay alert, or crossing the street to avoid scaring another person.

But this is everyday reality for boys and men of color. They face an additional challenge, a layer of complexity, in lives that are already complex enough with school, family, friends, and life. When will this disparity ever end?

If you are near Westport, please consider joining me and other members of TEAM Westport Sunday afternoon at 4 pm in the Westport Library for a conversation about race.

Westport First Selectman James Marpe

Westport First Selectman James Marpe

First Selectman James Marpe, TEAM Westport Chair Harold Bailey, and  Chief of Police Dale will be present. The panelists who will lead our discussion include Dan Woog, 06880 blogger and writer and Rev. Alison Patton of the Saugatuck Congregational Church.

We expect this to be the first of several conversations initiated at this time because of flyers in town that said, ‘White Lives Matter.’ Some contained racist messages. There has been some online conversation, a press release from the first selectman and another from TEAM Westport and other town organizations.

I’m looking forward to the conversation in person.

My Nails Look Less Beautiful

Like many women and girls today I like to keep my nails well manicured. I go to Posh Nail Salon. My favorite manicurist is a man named Sang who gives me an excellent gel manicure. Most times I also have my toe nails done, sometimes by Sang and sometimes by another manicurist.

I was shocked to read about the exploitation of nail salon workers in The New York Times last week. The articles described the horrors many salon workers face. The reporter, Sarah Maslin Nir, started with an innocent question to the woman attending to her at a nail salon in New York City. She discovered that the worker was on duty more or less full time – night and day!

She slept above the 24-hour salon, and would be awakened if her services were needed in the middle of the night.

Racism is rampant in the nail salons, Nir said. Koreans are often the owners and the highest paid workers. Chinese are next, and Hispanic women are at the lowest rung.

She provided several examples of the racism. The Hispanic woman in one salon told her that while the Koreans could eat at their desks, she and others had to eat standing up in a kitchenette. Another said they were not allowed to speak during their 12 hours on duty, while the Korean and Chinese workers could converse as they wished.

My book cover shows my manicured nails!

If you look carefully you can see my manicured nails on my memoir cover!

She also published an article with suggestions to help us become more aware. She says, “Converse with your manicurist. Ask questions about pay and hours.” She also says, “Look around, and pay attention to what you see.” On the question of tipping, it’s complicated. If customers tip more, it may just give the salon owners the chance to say wages are high enough or even too high!

The reporter said, “There is no such thing as a cheap luxury. It’s an oxymoron. The only way that you can have something decadent for a cheap price is by someone being exploited. Your discount manicure is on the back of the person giving it.”

The prices I pay at Posh are much higher than the $12 or $15 that some salons in New York City charge. So I hope the workers are being paid well. But I don’t really know.

I wrote about Posh Nails recently. At my daughter’s suggestion I asked the owner if I could have my bookmarks displayed and she agreed. Yesterday I took a small stand and 100 bookmarks.

Fuel Shortage in Country of Plenty

Periodically Nigeria experiences fuel shortages. BBC reporter Will Ross says the current shortage is different and worse.

Cars lined up waiting for fuel which they may not get! From Johnchuks Onuanyim in New Telegraph

Cars lined up waiting for fuel which they may not get! From Johnchuks Onuanyim in New Telegraph

Why, when Nigeria is the largest producer of crude oil on the African continent, is there a shortage?

The fuel subsidies that the government provides to cover the difference between the low price Nigerians pay and the international market price are a major reason. The oil companies say they are owed a billion dollars, and the government doesn’t have the money to pay.

Ross says there is also a major scam going on – the importers say they are importing more than they actually do. So they get paid even more than they should with just the subsidies. They pocket the difference, he alleges.

He adds that many analysts believe the shortages are exacerbated by middle-men who benefit. They are trying to squeeze every cent – I mean every Naira –  they can out of current activities before the government changes hands on May 29!




Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.

Comments are closed.