Clarkie of the Week: Chima Egbuzie
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
Chima Egbuzie (‘19) grew up in Enugu, Nigeria, but spent his teenage years in New York City. He is a member of the International Students Association, Film Production Society, African Diaspora Dance Association (ADDA), and is president of the Caribbean and African Students’ Association (CASA).
Scarlet: What kind of events does CASA hold?
Chima: CASA is a cultural group where we try to share our Caribbean and African heritage with a lot of people. For example, this past October we had an event called Folk Tales from CASA because Halloween is not celebrated on Africa as a continent. It was really interesting that we decided to use that American holiday to tell stories. [They were] all the stories that I was told when I was little, and [the kind of stories] people grew up listening to. People were just telling. A lot of people were very comical. A lot of people were very scary.
Scarlet:I know you’re a member of ADDA, what is that?
Chima: ADDA is a new club that started last semester. I’m the only the guy there, so more guys should come [LAUGHS]. For me, it’s a destresser, because it helps me connect to the dances that I grew up with.… I am able to see other people’s dance moves, get excited, learn, and even see my mistakes. The good thing about our type of dance is that there is a lot of freestyle. Everybody has their own styles, which makes it more interesting. It’s either really comical, which is also good, because if you are making people laugh that is a good thing in our culture. If it’s really cool, then you stand out and you’re an awesome dancer. I’m more of the comical side. I like making people laugh.
Scarlet: What is a moment at Clark that represents your time and experience here?
Chima: Those days when you’re trying to catch the door for The Bistro and it shuts in front of you and then your friend opens the door for you. That’s a Clarkie experience.
Scarlet:What is your least favorite part of Clark?
Chima: On the political side of it, Clark is so liberal. I feel like that is problematic in the way that if you’re not just in that majority poll everyone is against you. A lot of people, for example, find out that I’m Catholic and they are just like “what?” And I’m like “yeah I’m Catholic and I pray, but you don’t see me pray. You never ask me.” When it comes to racial biases, I find it hard.
I find it problematic when people don’t speak up on racial topics. A lot of people just assume [that] it’s fine and not [their] issue, and they want to be racially blind. It’s an insult to the history that has been made and the progress that is trying to heal the past. At the same time, I wish more people talked about racial topics or controversial topics in general. It’s weird when you don’t know where someone else stands. There are two types of ignorance: there is ignorance where you don’t know how you want to learn and there is ignorance where you are denying something happened. I have a problem with the second part. The first people are the people who [for example, say] “I don’t know if I should call you black or African American.” I will t
ell them, “oh call me black or African.” For me, I have the energy to teach people and [tell them] this is what the issue is. But then there are some people who are against things. In class, people can just have conversations. When I’m I am the only black person in the class, I feel like I am speaking for my entire race and it makes me feel like I’m complaining, but I’m like “No, I’m just stating facts. This happened. This really happened in history.” I feel bad. It’s like we can’t connect, which is no one’s fault.
Scarlet:Tell me about your religious background.
Chima: I grew up with my Grandma, so I grew up very very Catholic… I didn’t have a choice. I love my grandma. She made us very religious as we grew up. As I grew up, I became less religious, because I don’t live with her.
My views have become more liberal. In the past, if you met me, I would have probably been homophobic … because it was not in our culture to accept people like that. If you ask me now, the reason why I was able to be more left wing was because I was able to empathize. I was able to empathize because when I came to America I had a deep accent and no one really understood me. It made me feel isolated. I was always frustrated, because I would speak perfect English, [it was just] deep. People would always say, “What? What?” and that was just annoying. The only person who always gave me hugs [identified as] lesbian. For me, I still had my views then, but it was weird because the only person who was giving me hugs was this gay person, who I was not supposed to like, but other straight people were giving me shit. For me, she made me different. The way I thought about LGBTQ+ was in the sense of oppression.… For me as a straight person, I try to see it as a privilege that you can’t see, but you can empathize. You can’t tell people it’s only in your head. I don’t see it as a problem. My high school experience allowed me to empathize.
Scarlet: Who is your biggest role model?
Chima: In high school we had this program called NYU Mentorship Program. One of the mentors was Nigerian, but lived mostly in America, so he was more American than Nigerian. His life just was set. He was in a good school, had good grades… He just made me realize the person I want to be… Every time I spoke to him I was just awake. I wanted to be him.
I lowkey don’t have [just one] role model… I think it’s weird just to have one role model. There are people who I see [who have] their life together… If I see something good in someone, I try to take that attribute and add it to mine myself. I do that with religion too. I listen to what everyone has to say. I pick out the most useful thing I can relate to… Religion is a social construct. I feel like I pick one out of everything. It’s hard because for some other people they can’t just believe in “this” and believe in another thing. For me, it’s easy, because I get to understand a lot of things… I can combine everything together and just be like “I’m Chima.”