Treasures of Ours

Izien Ovbiagele

Age: 28
Ethnicity: Nigerian and Filipino
Treasure: ‘Here’ from Nigeria

I wrote a realistic-fiction piece on being proud of my identity, despite having been told that who I was wasn’t good enough when I was growing up in Texas. This illustrates how identity has the power to dictate how we are received by others but can choose not to be led by the cultural norm. Omoyemi (a character I related to) tried very hard to downplay her African name by giving herself an American one and went as far as straightening her hair to fit a hegemonic identity that mirrored the national culture: American. I remember being in junior high school in Houston, with so many Nigerians who discredited where they were from to fit in with the other American-born students—it was unfortunate.

It took nearly a decade to become comfortable with my own cultural identity, including others; and that is in thanks to much reading, attending global conferences, travel and communicating with people from different parts of the world. Unlike Canada (where people take pride in embracing their cultural differences), America is a cultural melting pot as opposed to a cultural mosaic, where instead, cultures are concealed to fuel the power of the supposed national culture. I believe if you are living in the Western world, there is less of an excuse to be xenophobic. “In today’s conditions of postmodern and postcolonial globality, heightened movement (actual or virtual) across borders is increasingly interrupting the power of national culture to remain a ‘hegemonic identity’ category” (Holliday et al. 99). This is due in part to the advancements made in technology and the higher institutions that allow for global and intercultural discussion. My full personal essay with this piece included can be found here:

My prose-poetry is passed along through spoken word and photography.

View a PDF copy of the poem here.

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