40+FAB Blog

In another man’s shoes

Until you actually find yourself in the exact same situation that another person has been in, you will not understand what they are going through. A man for instance will never understand what a woman goes through in her reproductive cycle. The indignity and injustice that the African American feels can only be understood through their eyes.

I grew up in Nigeria and adopted that whole attitude of confidence which Nigerians generally tout wherever they find themselves. But, on the 26th of February 2016, I had just boarded a flight about to leave London to Amsterdam on a business trip when a caucasian passenger beside me saw the word prayer on my phone and decided to report me to the pilot. Under the pretence of going to the toilet he went to speak with the pilot and the next thing I knew two armed police officers got on the plane and escorted me off the plane at gunpoint without any explanation.

I was interrogated by the detective in the main terminal who quickly dismissed the allegations made against me and he ensured I was booked onto a next flight to continue my journey because the pilot would not allow me back on the flight as he had announced that I was removed for suspected terrorism.

When I got to the boarding gate to wait for the next flight, I sat down and I felt a sense of loss of my dignity as a human being. For the first time I understood what blatant discrimination and racism felt like. It was a surreal moment that left me feeling powerless about what had happened.
I can’t help thinking now that maybe if that incident had been in America, I might not be here to tell the tale.

The next time you are tempted to condemn someone else’s actions as they stand up to fight for what they feel is their right, please remember that if you have not sat where they have, if you have never been in their shoes, then you do not have a full moral right to condemn them for how they act or feel.