At an Onyejekwe family get-together, you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone with a master’s degree. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors — every family member is highly educated and professionally successful, and many have a lucrative side gig to boot. Parents and grandparents share stories of whose kid just won an academic honor, achieved an athletic title or performed in the school play. Aunts, uncles and cousins celebrate one another’s job promotions or the new nonprofit one of them just started. To the Ohio-based Onyejekwes, this level of achievement is normal. They’re Nigerian-American — it’s just what they do.
Today, 29 percent of Nigerian-Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree, compared to 11 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to the Migrations Policy Institute. Among Nigerian-American professionals, 45 percent work in education services, the 2016 American Community Survey found, and many are professors at top universities. Nigerians are entering the medical field in the U.S. at an increased rate, leaving their home country to work in American hospitals, where they can earn more and work in better facilities. A growing number of Nigerian-Americans are becoming entrepreneurs and CEOs, building tech companies in the U.S. to help people back home.
It hasn’t been easy — the racist stereotypes are far from gone. Last year, President Donald Trump reportedly said in an Oval Office discussion that Nigerians would never go back to “their huts” once they saw America. But overt racism hasn’t stopped Nigerian-Americans from creating jobs, treating patients, teaching students and contributing to local communities in their new home, all while confidently emerging as one of the country’s most succesful immigrant communities, with a median household income of $62,351, compared to $57,617 nationally, as of 2015.
“I think Nigerian-Americans offer a unique, flashy style and flavor that people like,” says Chukwuemeka Onyejekwe, who goes by his rap name Mekka Don. He points to Nigerian cuisine like jollof rice that’s gaining popularity in the U.S. But more importantly, Mekka says, Nigerians bring a “connectivity and understanding of Africa” to the U.S. “Many [Americans] get their understanding of ’the motherland’ through our experiences and stories,” he adds.
more recommended stories
How Beyoncé and Jay-Z put a visionary African film back in the spotlight | The Guardian
The image is arresting: a man.
Nigeria is the coolest World Cup team ever | Quartz
As the national soccer team prepares.
A Chennai girl’s rise from Madras University to General Motors’s first female CFO | Quartz
On June 13, General Motors (GM),.
Jada Pinkett Smith reveals she contemplated suicide | Page Six
At The actress, 46, has opened.
Homer A. Neal, Leader in Physics Who Explored Matter, Dies at 75 | The New York Times
Dr. Neal had a stroke in.
The American Medical Association Just Elected Its First African American Woman President | Because of Them We Can
On Tuesday night, the AMA House.
Dorothy Cotton, Civil Rights Pioneer and MLK Colleague, Dies | Afro
Cotton died June 10 at the.
Three HBCU graduates bring craft beer bar to Harlem | The Undefeated
Three graduates of historically black colleges.
‘They put us in a little box’: how racial tensions shape modern soul music | The Guardian
Leon Bridges remembers the exact moment.
America’s segregated shores: beaches’ long history as a racial battleground | The Guardian
Summer has arrived, which, for many.