Dr. J, the immigrant whisperer

 As an Activist Scholar, I Seek to Improve the Lives of Black Immigrants

I am grateful to the United States for providing opportunities for my family. We are grateful to the individuals, donors, and benefactors who assisted our family during our journey through America. My family cheerfully contributes to the fabric of American society.

The U.S. gave us options we didn't have in our home country, but it also exposed us to hazards and dangers that many immigrants miss as they acclimate to a new country. I wish my African immigrant parents and other community members understood about uneven and traumatic curricula, obsolete teacher education programs, a lack of social support networks and resources for immigrants, and flawed immigration and criminal justice systems. As a teenager, I struggled to deal with these concerns and help family friends in the system. As an activist and researcher, I'm driven to help others overcome these personal and systemic challenges.

Growing up in the United States as a Nigerian immigrant was difficult. My family faced poverty, afrophobia, racism, colorism, threats of deportation, chronic illnesses, and adolescent pregnancies. For years, I felt as if I was fighting for my life. My family, thanks to Elohim God, was able to overcome many of these difficulties. My parents, with the support of community members, raised and supported six children, all of whom are college graduates and active members of American society. The same challenges we faced as immigrants, however, continue to afflict new immigrants and minoritized groups working hard to raise their families as citizens of this great nation. Despite the contributions that Black immigrants and other underrepresented groups make to the US economy, and despite small steps toward racial equality, it appears that Black people are still unwelcome in America.

This website enables me to share my research and strategies for assisting first-generation and underrepresented students as they navigate the US educational system. In this space, I'm telling my community what I wish someone had told me. Individuals and families can attend classes and workshops to learn and discuss how racism, white supremacy, colonialism, and immigration occur in the United States and elsewhere, as well as how to respond to racial and inter-ethnic conflicts and other places where oppression occurs. 

My Operational Framework

Elohim God is at the center of my life and work. All blessings, according to my Christian faith, flow from God. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, teaches us that God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26). All humans, not just one race, are created in God's image in equal measure. God is the source of all that is good, and as a scholar, activist, and teacher, I strive to live by God's will. I believe there is power that comes from our families and communities, and I advocate for decolonized black life stories.

My personal experiences as a Nigerian immigrant, theories and findings on the experiences of minoritized and immigrant youth (Arthur, 2000; Kozol, 1991; Omi & Winant, 1994; Portes & Rumbaut, 2001), critical race theory (CRT) (Bell, 1992; Crenshaw et al., 1995), and transnationalism serve as analytical frames in my research. In my work, I investigate the intersections of oppression that occur within vulnerable populations, including issues surrounding matters of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, language, class, immigration status, and disability. Racism, the grandfather of all oppression, is a way of thinking that holds that one race is superior to another. According to critical race scholars, racism can be seen on a micro level when people are treated differently because of their skin color and on a macro level when laws discriminating against certain races are passed. For example, a rule that requires everyone to have the same number of years of education to get a job makes it more difficult for people of color to get a good education. Racism in schools reinforces the message of a racial hierarchy for all students, particularly black immigrant students (Awokoya, 2009; Ukpodudu, 2016). An inclusive curriculum helps all children become more critical thinkers and equips them with useful skills so that they can be active members of society and contribute to the resolution of problems in their families and communities.

In any country, minorities are treated as second-class citizens (Minority Rights Group, 1995). Raising physically and psychologically healthy black children in a society where the word "black" has a negative connotation is difficult. In response to the country's racial climate, African American parents have traditionally taught their children about their history, race, and culture. For Black immigrants, it is difficult to transition from a country where Black people are the majority to one where they are a minority. Transnational socialization is practiced by black immigrant parents (Coleman-King, 2014). Transnational socialization is when parents from different countries raise their children to be familiar with both of their cultures. This can be done by exposing the child to both cultures equally or teaching them about the customs and traditions of each culture. It's important for children who grow up in a transnational family to feel comfortable and connected to their cultures and have a strong sense of identity. These frameworks explain the current racial climate in America and how a growing immigrant population's transnational lenses are changing how people of different races and ethnicities interact with one another. 

My research and writing on immigrant adolescent identity dynamics aims to help families, educators, and administrators understand identity dynamics, create culturally sensitive and inclusive learning environments, and promote a holistic teaching pedagogy. Some Black Girls  investigates the social constructions of gender, race, ethnicity, and class among immigrant children, with a focus on African Diaspora girls and women. Some Black Girls Don't Sit Together in the Cafeteria is the story of Oluwaseyi Adebayo, a young Nigerian immigrant who moves to the United States with her family and decides to stand up for herself after being bullied. Anti-blackness, colorism, skin bleaching, language loss, and bullying are all addressed. These social factors have an impact on immigrant children's identity, academic achievement, and sense of belonging, particularly those from the African Diaspora. Beyond the plot, the novel invites the reader to reflect on the identity, race, and belonging of black immigrant children in the United States. Each chapter concludes with questions designed to spark meaningful debate, change, and action in order to reconnect Black girls with themselves, each other, the rest of the world and promote global healing. My aim is to assist students, parents, and teachers have courageous conversations that lead to meaningful actions, like curricular breakthroughs, student activism, and participation in policymaking.

Finally, I hope that this website will be a valuable resource for students who come from families where neither parent attended college and who are underrepresented in general. I hope that by sharing my personal experiences, research findings, and methods, I can provide people with the tools they need to achieve both their professional and personal goals. To schedule a One-on-One consultation with Dr. J, please contact me.


Dr. J

Limited in reading time? Click here for a free subscription for audiobooks through Audible.