Navigating Blackness, Culture, and Belonging as Nigerian-Americans with Phoebe Omonira

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Happy August! Last week, we started to get into how our upbringing affects the way we view relationships, so it only makes sense to dive deeper this week into how culture shapes our entire lives and beliefs. As a Nigerian-American, I grew up between the crossroads of two different worlds, or as today’s guest would call it, the realities and stories of having a hyphenated identity. In this week’s episode, I chat with Phoebe Omonira to discuss empathy, growing gains and pains, leading generational shifts, establishing boundaries, navigating mental health support amongst stigma in the West African community, practicing mutual respect, and unlearning self-limiting beliefs.

We talk about how parents and teenagers can coexist in a healthy way and try to understand the imposter syndrome that comes from growing up in two very different cultures. From anti-Blackness coded in language to not feeling Black enough in predominantly Black or white spaces, this episode tells the stories we wish we knew of growing up. Culture is a gift; there are so many things that we are grateful for...but there are also many areas for growth and improvement.
Our childhood homes are the first places where we learn about how to be. Talking about problems in our families is typically seen as disrespectful, but it's only by discussing ways we want things to change for generational progress to happen. If family is a sensitive topic for you, I hope that this episode can bring you comfort and peace. None of us chose to be born, but the choices we make in our lives can lead us to the most incredible joys and discoveries. Sending everyone lots of love and light, regardless of your family situation!!

Learn more about our guest: Phoebe Omonira is an 18-year-old using her voice to raise awareness about the importance of empathy as the key to reducing inequality. Her advocacy work regarding empathy is centered around creating resources for kids and their grown-ups, working with the Center for Children’s Brainhealth of the University of Texas Dallas has been a great joy for her. She will be attending Southern Methodist University in the Fall of 2021 and double majoring in International Studies and Human Rights with a minor in Philosophy on the Pre-Law Track. Her children's book on empathy, Ollie the Elephant, is coming out in 2022. She is currently the Director of Community Outreach at Gen Z Girl Gang, where she works to redefine sisterhood for a new generation.

**This episode was recorded in March. Podcast Rec: Jesus and Jollof

The VODPOD is all about centering voices and stories of Generation Z authentically. As voices of disruption, we recognize that vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness, and embrace storytelling in a way that sparks thought, inspiration, action, and conversation. Every time that you disrupt, you step into a power that allows you to create, uplift, and empower yourself and others.

LIVE DISRUPTED: Questions to ask yourself after listening to this episode:

  • What has your culture taught you about respect? What’s missing?
  • What’s something you would tell your younger self that you didn’t learn until later?
  • What's been instilled in you that affects the way you interact with people of different cultural backgrounds?

Join and connect with the community on Instagram @deb_olatunji, the podcast page, and the website! Be sure to leave a rating and write a review on Apple podcasts so that we can continue to share the stories of how fellow disruptors are being connected and empowered all over the world. Let’s disrupt together now!

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