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Audrey Esemezie, second-year medical science student, Feb. 25, 2020.

I used to feel like being black put me at a disadvantage

I used to feel like not being born in Canada was an unbearable baggage

I used to feel like having dark skin, a gap in my teeth and untameable hair

Made me less special, less beautiful, less worthy … it was my internal despair

I have never felt explicit discrimination because of my skin

But I used to feel the impact of teachers being surprised about how well I spoke

Although, I have never been openly harassed, I could always hear the predispositions within

The predisposition that the colour of my skin is an indication of my intelligence or lack thereof

The predisposition that where I was born meant that I could not aspire for excellence, that I could not achieve the same things others could, or compared to my non-black peers, I probably was not good enough

I used to feel like the most intrinsic part of who I am, being black, was somehow a crippling factor, an inhibitor of my success, a handicap to the feeling of acceptance I so craved when I moved here 9 years ago

Now I have learned that black is not a handicap, an obstruction or an obstacle to overcome

Now I have learned that being black is the epitome of resilience, the epitome of beauty, the epitome of strength … a natural phenomenon

Now I have learned that being black has made me a person who is understanding of all people

A person who feels empathy for anyone whose identity opposes destructive societal norms

A person with integrity

Now I have learned that being from Nigeria is why I have never settled for mediocrity

Being from Nigeria is why I strive for success

Being from Nigeria is an irrevocable part of my identity

Being black has put me at the forefront of excellence

Being black makes me anything but less

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The Black Students' Association wrote and curated pieces from campus about the Black Lives Matter movement; Angie Antonio was this year's Guest Editor.

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