Abstract In this articled will attempt to explain the historical oppression of the Nigerian woman in her home country and how each little Nigerian girl is brought up to submit to the men in her life for her entire life span ,living in the background without a voice but many duties. It will explain how this woman moves to America and finds new freedoms and is presented with the option of assimilating into the new culture or maintain her country’s ways.
The identity formation, issues and challenges are subjected to the theories of personality and social change. As the Nigerian woman finds herself in America and trying to understand her new surrounding and to adjust to the new freedoms that she encounters, she must also make the decisions of how much of assimilation of the new culture and how much retention of her own culture does she acquire. This article will show how the course in diversity has equipped and prepared this student to be more competent in working with this population. ?
In reviewing the research on immigrant women and Nigerian women as a whole for comparison I interviewed 50 women to see if these women agreed with the documented research; 15 women from Nigeria residence in US for more than 10 years, 10 women from Nigeria residence in US for less than 10 years, 8 women born in US with Nigerian parents, 10 women from different countries of Africa, 3 women from Hattie, 2 women from the Dominican Republic, and 3 women from America who have traveled or lived abroad. All of the fore mention women were asked questions gleamed from the documented writings of the cited researchers.
The research supports the hypothesis that these women suffer depression and rejection due to cultural differences. The complication of trying to thrive in a society that is different from their cultural up bring and retaining their cultural identity intact posses the issues of identity. The women are faced with the vast opportunity of the western woman. In the eyes of the Nigerian woman she sees her counterpart working and managing a household and having a clear and challenging voice in the home. The Nigerian woman witness that the uplifted head and confident oice of the American woman is leading to promotions (Harvey & Allard, 2009) and the image of the success looks and dresses different than she does. It is not to be said that the Nigerian women are not in position of leadership in their country, but it is so underrepresented and when a women does make to that level she still loses her identity as she takes the role of the men who are in leadership in order to effective (Nekby, L. , Rodin, M. , & Ozcan, G. 2009). This is an ongoing trail for the Nigerian women as they continue to adapt to new cultural identities in and out of their country.
In the interviewing process it was discovered that Nigerian women who have been in the country for more than 10 years report that they have made a way to work in the community and maintain their cultural identity. Some report that when they first got to America that it was hard because they were affluent in their country and had little say about the decisions for their life but here none of that mattered and they had to start over. One thing that ring true for them all is that they found a new freedom in the women they encountered.
Culture shock as explained by the women was an understatement to describe the feelings they had as they tried to maneuver through all of the different attitudes and beliefs. Group identity defined by these women was reference to how they perceived their inclusion into the majority group and how they reflected on their position in their own cultural group (Tatum,M, L. , 2000). The women who came to America at an older age report that it was harder for them to adapt to the freedom that the culture offered.
One lady expressed that she saw a woman instructing her husband to complete some chores and used a demanding tone, “I thought, oh my what a lashing she was going to get”. She stated that she stood watching, waiting for the man to put hands to his wife. Too her surprise the man completed the task and even served his wife a drink without a word. Many of the women told of relationship differences, the Nigerian woman was use to living in a society where the men had all the power and the women obeyed or they would get beat or cast out (Mberu, B. 2007). The Nigerian woman is closely related to some of the other women interviewed in comparison to the male and female relationship. The American stood alone when it came to this comparison. The Nigerian woman is raised to give all her respect to men, even if that man is her son. She is expected to speak in a humble tone, with her eyes lowered and to give her total devotion to the men in her life, which to the American women it appears to be a situation of servitude (Uyanga, R. , E. , 2009).
The Nigerian woman is taught things that she must do in order be a good wife and a good daughter of Nigeria. These women are subject to cuttings and rituals that have been deemed dangerous but is still performed in the country. It is taught by mothers to daughters and continues although with greater education it has become less common in the urban areas (Freymeyer, R. , & Johnson, B. 2007). These ideals of what makes the women fit for marriage and acceptable in the Nigerian is a continuous factor in the opinions and stereotyping of American toward them. Cultural Retention
The Nigerian woman is put in the position of fitting into the culture at large and maintaining her own cultural identity. The women in the interview that were younger stated that they like to wear the fashions of the American women. A sense of belonging and a feeling that they were not going to be like those stereotypes that American’s pictured. The women stated that they felt empowered. The issue arises when they start to look and act more American than Nigerian. The acculturation and assimilation of the Nigerian women puts her in the crosshairs of both communities.
The Nigerian community feels that the women are ashamed of who they are and their Nigerian culture. The American’s feel that the Nigerian is trying to deceive them by appearing to be what she is not. This stems from the history of Nigerian’s being labeled as scam artist and being involved in mail fraud (White, E. 2009). The Nigerian woman changes her look so she can have a chance at success in the western world and then she finds that she likes some of the ways of the land. In order for the Nigerian women to fit in she feels that she has to shed some of her cultural ways.
She may change her hair color, dress in the local garb, and use the same terminology as those around her. This as innocent as it may sound the Nigerian has just set herself up for rejection from her own friends and family. Trying to maintain the group identity of the Nigerian community is desired but is hard to achieve while putting efforts to speak and act in the way of the community at large. The ties to the Nigerian community becomes stained as the women begin to appear to prefer assimilation to the new culture than the preservation of their own culture (Gershon, I. ,2007).
The need to fit into the community that offers so many open doors and to not appear as a sellout or traitor to their mother land becomes even more entwined when it comes to how to rear children. The need to offer the children an opportunity that may not be afforded in their homeland and also to have the discipline and respect of those who are of their own culture presents a problem that is not unique to the Nigerian immigrant, it appears that the need to fit in and to acquire the ways of the land is something that a great number of other immigrants go through (Gershon, I. 2007).
The ideal of assimilation to the new culture for the adults is consider a way to achieve an unspoken goal yet, it is also at the same time a desire that the children be taught the ways of their culture and are sometime sent back to their home country to learn the discipline of their culture (Gershon, I. 2007). This is just one more thing that the Nigerian women are faced; if they do not send their children back then they are seen as depriving them of their heritage. The women know along with the rich knowledge of their people and country the children will also learn the subservient nature that is projected on to female children.
This is the fear of a lot of Nigerian women who have journeyed to America and come to know the freedoms that women have here (Uyanga, R. 2009). The need to preserve the heritage of their native land is best observed in the very old and surprisingly in the younger generations. For the older women who have a stronger sense of what and why their people do the things they do and the importance of each tradition and ritual, it is important to them to keep this rich history growing in the lives of their youth. For those of the younger generation it is as though they are in need of regaining a lost identity (Reynolds, R. 009). In an article noted in White, E. (2009) article spoke about how young Nigerian’s are feeling that their views are being represented and that the generations before them have taking on the identity of the British and other invading countries that they are losing the true essences of Nija’, which is the broken English way they refer to Nigeria. The ideal of losing their cultural identity spans from shore to shore. It becomes more of a struggle in the US when faced with the pressing ideals of the majority culture and a desire not to be seen as an outsider.
Professional Diversity In the work place the Nigerian is faced with being able to fit into a work place where they may have great knowledge but may not be accepted because of language barriers. Although a great many of the Nigerians that come to America can speak English it is cloaked in a heavy accent. The issue that arises is that in some areas the workers of a company may not be tolerant enough to take the time to help the new comer with the language and the company has not incorporated policy to address the issue of language barrier.
As it has been stated the Nigerian women have been the lower party on the workforce load in their country and when they do rise to the position of some type of leadership they are subject to change in personalities to prove they are fit to lead(Nekby, L. , Rodin, M. , & Ozcan, G. 2009). In dealing with the Professional world the Nigerian women have made a place for themselves by their sheer tenacity to adapt to their surroundings. In adapting they learn the ways of the professional setting then they modify their personalities to that of who appears to be in the highest rank.
This can prove to be somewhat of a challenge because of their perception of how to be successful may not blend with the personalities of immediate peers ( Tatum, Melissa L. 2000). The ideal of being able to be successful and having a say so in the household is one of the pulls that continue to intice the Nigerian women to America. The freedom to be who you are without the dictation of a man or the extended family is a freedom that many have chosen to partake.
The freedom to have a higher education and to be able to use it to bring profit not only for the glory of your husband but for the magnification of self is something that the Nigerian women are teaching the younger generations of girls. It is a change of pace for the new Nigerian woman; she is a woman who is willing to make a drastic change to promote herself in an out of the work place. It is the responsibility of the workplace to ensure that they are able to do so. For most companies they have policies that address the no hate crimes and discrimination but fall short when it comes to addressing the cultural competence of other (White, E. 009). It is noted that most do have it written that they do not discriminate due to race, culture, color and so on but there is usually not a plan of action to address the issue. Companies find themselves in a catch up mode when some issue arises due to a language barrier, cultural conflict or outright discrimination. The need to develop a plan of action is then place up front. What this leads to is the Nigerian or other culturally diverse person being left out in the cold feeling like their rights are not as important as the majorities (White, E. 2009).
This is reason that the Nigerian women who migrate here are faced with the choice of assimilation and accused of acculturation by their own countrymen (Haines, D. W. 2007). They want to success and happiness but it cost due to the changes that she has to undergo in order to achieve (White, E. 2009). Conclusion The Nigerian women who come to America are looking to achieve freedoms that are not afforded them in their homeland. They are raised as young girls to bow their heads and to accept the status quo of the country. They are taught to be the silent bearer of children and the willing participant in the bed (Smith, D. 010). The ideas of the Nigerian women have for a long time fuel the country in which they are so under represented. Her voice not heard and here desires left to the whisper only in the ear of a sister and laughed at as senseless. The concept of her body is looked on as a saddle only to be mounted upon when the whims of her husband peeked with desire. The cutting of her genitals is done to sanctify her and justify her as a woman in which is fit to be married (Freymeryer,R. et al, 2007). The deflowering of her virginity and marketing of her sexuality is a self infliction to gain power and control over self (Smith, D. 2010). This was the plight of the Nigerian women as it stood in their country. Now it is a change and the women are leaving and finding a new purpose in their lives. The women are finding that there are freedoms that are offered and she can make the choice. The freedoms of a neighbor to the west welcome the Nigerian woman and she readily goes to partake in those freedoms. For the Nigerian woman the gift of freedom comes with a price tag. She must suffer the stereotypical stares and judgments of those do not know her for who she is but only what they have perceived from negative rhetoric (Gershon, I. ,2007).
She may choose to assimilation into the new culture and blend with them by dress and speech, but she must be ready to feel the back lash of her country men and family as she is accused of acculturation and turning her back on her own kind (Gershon, I. ,2007). The Nigerian woman as with lot of immigrants will suffer throw depression and lost due to the changes they will endure during the process of blending their identity with the culture of the majority. The need to blend in and the desire to maintain as much of their cultural identity is an ongoing quest for the Nigerian woman and others in the same position.
This is a choice the Nigerian woman has to make as to how much she wants to acquire in her new land and how much of native culture does she want to preserve to pass on to her children. It is a personal issue that spills over into her professional life. The working Nigerian woman and other immigrants must find a balance in what is sociably acceptable in their work place and culturally theirs. It is a need to fit in and become a part of the working group and have a since of group identity. It is also a need for the immigrants to maintain their cultural identity.
The part that the employer has is to ensure that no one is discriminated due to their culture. It is to be noted that the employer has the duty to ensure that all are safe and comfortable in the work place, so this may come to a compromise when it comes to blending cultures in the work place. I would believe that the company would have a written policy that address the blending of culture and the need for a group identity that was flexible enough that it still branded the company but fosters new and creative ideas of the diverse group of people working there.
What I have learned in doing this paper is the growing need to meet each client with a blank sheet and let them express themselves. I learned how the history of Nigerians have fashioned a strong minded people and the drive to achieve is great in these Nigerian women. Yet at the same time I have also learned that each group of women, in different generations and different tribal associations will present with a different perspective on who they are, where they are. I have a premise on their history so I know now that I will ask the open ended questions and allow each client to fill in the blanks.
I feel more competent to deal with this population and with other immigrants. It is our duty as counselors to meet the client where they are and to also be equipped with the basic knowledge to begin working with them. In an effort to maintain the competence level that will be most effective to the fore mention population, I will continue to seek more information and trainings on their cultural needs. References Freymeyer, R. , & Johnson, B. (2007). An exploration of attitudes toward female genital cuttingin Nigeria. Population Research & Policy Review, 26(1), 69-83. doi:10. 007/s11113-006-9016-3 Haines, D. W. (2007). Ethnicity’s shadows: Race, religion, and nationality as alternative identities among recent United States arrivals. Identities, 14(3), 285-312. doi:10. 1080/10702890601162773 Mberu, B. (2007). Household structure and living conditions in Nigeria. Journal of Marriage & Family, 69(2), 513-527. doi:10. 1111/j. 1741-3737. 2007. 00380. x. Nekby, L. , Rodin, M. , & Ozcan, G. (2009). Acculturation identity and higher education: is there a trade-off between ethnic identity and education?. International Migration Review, 43(4), 938-973. doi:10. 111/j. 1747-7379. 2009. 00790. x. Reynolds, R. (2009). Igbo professional migratory orders, hometown associations and ethnicity in the USA. Global Networks, 9(2), 209-226. doi:10. 1111/j. 1471-0374. 2009. 00251. x. Smith, D. (2010). Promiscuous girls, good wives, and cheating husbands: Gender inequality, transitions to marriage, and infidelity in southeastern Nigeria. Anthropological Quarterly, 83(1), 123-152. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Tatum, Melissa L. 2000. Group identity: Changing the outsider’s perspective. George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal 10:357–97. Uyanga, R. 2009). The disadvantage in a culturally diversified society: Focus on the girl child in northern Nigeria. International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities & Nations, 8(6), 1-8. White, E. (2009). Paradoxes of diaspora, global identity and human rights: the deportation of Nigerians in Ireland. African & Black Diaspora, 2(1), 67-83. doi:10. 1080/17528630802513474. Apendix Annotated Bibliography Freymeyer, R. , & Johnson, B. (2007). An exploration of attitudes toward female genital cutting in Nigeria. Population Research & Policy Review, 26(1), 69-83.
In this article I learn about the atrocity of female genital cutting (FCG). The article detailed how the cutting of female genitals was and is a process in which the women of Nigeria have various parts of the genital area cut in a ritual of womanhood. It is said that a woman without the cutting is not fit for marriage. I found the information in this article to be beneficial in demonstrating the cultural history of the Nigerian women and also how the moving to America and the present education on the subject is a desired and refreshing ideal for them.
Haines, D. W. (2007). Ethnicity’s shadows: Race, religion, and nationality as alternative identities among recent United States arrivals. Identities, 14(3), 285-312. The article detailed how the immigrants come to America and they have to deal with the group identity. It is further goes into how the immigrants may call themselves by the identity of their native land but for the children who are born in US are called American. The use of the ethnicity of American for the US born children is an adjustment and it is also a point of inclusion for the immigrants.
This gives the parents the assurance that the children will have the all the opportunities of the American children of American parents. When first reading this I was under the assumption this was like the anchor kids, where the illegal aliens will have children in America to gain citizenship. This was a little different this was an effort to gain acceptance in to the community and to make sure their children will not have to worry about being identified as foreigners or outsiders. I was able to use this article to show the effects of group identity. Mberu, B. (2007).
Household structure and living conditions in Nigeria. Journal of Marriage & Family, 69(2), 513-527. doi:10. 1111/j. 1741-3737. 2007. 00380. x. This article describes the advantages and the disadvantages of single women household. Although the article talks mainly how the homes of the single women are doomed to be poor and underprivileged in comparison to those who are headed by single man. This only lends to the adage of male superiority and that men have the financial advantage over females. It as stated in many other research that the female is seen as the lesser of the two and has to have a man to support her.
This is a stigma that the Nigerian women have had to fight against in their country and the article displays how all of the effort that a single woman put she is still seen as less or not as fit as the man in the same position. I was able to learn how the financial effects of a community is one sided when it comes to male and female heads of households. Nekby, L. , Rodin, M. , & Ozcan, G. (2009). Acculturation identity and higher education: Is there a trade-off between ethnic identity and education?. International Migration Review, 43(4), 938-973. oi:10. 1111/j. 1747-7379. 2009. 00790. x. The article looked at the cultural identity of immigrants who have obtained higher education and then the second and third generations as to the identity they prefer or have turn from. The paper dissects acculturation identity into three groups: integration, implying there is a strong sense of belonging to both the background culture and the dominant culture. Assimilation which implies a stronger identification to the dominant majority culture and ties to the culture of origin has weakened.
Then there is marginalization where there are weak ties to both background and majority culture. The paper insists that there is a greater change in the behaviors of the men who obtain higher education to those who have not. The change to women who have obtained higher education does not seem to change. I am able to use the information on group identity of this paper and the cognitive development of the female and the male as a base of comparison. Reynolds, R. (2009). Igbo professional migratory orders, hometown associations and ethnicity in the USA.
Global Networks, 9(2), 209-226. doi:10. 1111/j. 1471- 0374. 2009. 00251. x. This article showed how on specific group, the Igbo band together to assist in the retaining of their culture. It also detailed how as professionals the Igbo still had the effects of group identity when it came to the work place. The assimilation to the majority group and the group identity cross the generations and social classes it paints a picture of a society helping each other to blend and fit in. Smith, D. (2010). Promiscuous girls, good wives, and cheating husbands: Gender inequality, ransitions to marriage, and infidelity in southeastern Nigeria. Anthropological Quarterly, 83(1), 123-152. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. In an effort to shed light on how young girls use their bodies to get what they want and most of the time that is money and status. The young girls entertain married men for the financial benefit, young men for the hopes of love. This was surprising because prior to this I was under the impression that the women of Nigeria held there virtue as a medal of honor. In this article it seems that the growing trend is to be as sexually active as possible.
The ideal of marriage is still held with high esteem but it is defiled with the outside sexual activities of the husbands yet, respected by the secrecy of the young women sleeping with the men. The women still want to be married and feel that they have achieved a special status once married. They change their sexual behaviors to commit to their husbands. Let it be noted that they also change the fashion in which they engage in sexual acts. Something that were okay to do before marriage the women do not do in marriage. I wonder if this is why the men go outside the marriage to achieve their sexual desire or fantasies.