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Black History Month with Bernard Ofosu-Anim

During February 2021 I had the great pleasure of working with the amazing Bernard Ofosu-Anim in the context of Black History Month initiatives. He wrote an incredible article about his personal experiences, and approached me with the idea of creating an illustration that would reflect the essence of his message.

You can read his piece below:

The Significant Nod

Its Importance to the Black Experience

Moving to a place called Abbotsford, a small town in British Columbia was a new experience for someone used to living in big cities. On a sunny afternoon stroll, amongst a crowd of white people, I see a gentleman, dark in complexion like myself send a sharp nod my way. Confused as to why, I send one back and kept walking with an astonishment on my face. Did I know him? I asked myself as I turned back to get a better look at him.

A few days later, as I make my way through the busy university walls there again I had the Nod from another person but this time accompanied with a gentle smile. Months went by till I understood the significance of the Nod in a town with a dominant white population. The Nod in its way served to unify and strengthen "blackness" in a backdrop of predominantly white environments.

I was born in Ghana, Accra and lived most of my teenage life there. A place where the question of race was not part of daily interaction. I did not know blackness, not in a Western perspective at least. Though discrimination exists even between ethnicities in Ghana, I grew up in the blossom of the majority and did not know what it felt like to be a minority.

The Nod in my opinion transcends class, ethnic and cultural divisions but on a shared sense of racial identity for black people living as a minority in places with other dominant races.

Thus, the Nod loses its significance in a place with a predominantly black setting, whereas in a setting with other predominant races, it serves an acknowledgement by kinfolk of their overcome obstacles and the continuance of fighting for equality.

N.O.D - Namaste Our Differences

The word Namaste is to signify Respect, Love, Appreciation, & Unity between each other. Thus, the idea behind the acronym is to respect our differences within race, sex, gender, and educate ourselces by staying curious.

Looking at the current state of the world, there is still a lot of progress to be made in creating inclusive communities where marginalized people feel respected and appreciated. Despite that, there are gallant strides being made to celebrate BHM with the purpose of educating each other not only on the bitter history experienced by black people but work together towards creating a platform that discourages exclusion.

The Nod is something if not familiar with, you might find bewildering or peculiar. "Why did that person nod to you? Do you know him? Who was that?" These are questions I still ask myself when I suddenly receive the nod from other black people. More often than not, I find myself automatically initiating the nod to other black people when navigating places that are dominant in other races.

I would advise your Dear reader (Bridgerton reference) not to Nod to every black person you see, even though the intention is kind. As much as the Nod has been part of my experience living in the Western parts of the world, it may not be the experience of other black people.
In this article, I explain the N.O.D not with the intention of creating division or seclude other races from understanding our experiences in places we feel like a minority. In contrast, it is to include our counterparts and create a discussion around understanding the significance of the nod, in order to connect and bridge a gap between our differences.

I conclude by saying, If you are ever lucky to witness the Nod between two black people, dont feel strange to it but embrace it because you now know its meaning. Without knowing, you have played a role in that interaction and commend you for being part in creating inclusive environments.

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