Guest post by Dr.Stephanie Oguchi
As I sit here thinking about how I want to share my childhood memories to the public, I can’t help but to daydream about how I got this far, as a Nigerian American Doctor of Occupational Therapy from the big city of Houston Texas, who was bullied because of my differences as a child. As an adult, I should’ve been scared of the world, not open to change and redirect any attention off of myself due to fear of rejection. However, I actually thank the boy who made fun of my differences because it triggered emotions that allowed me to tap into my inner strengths and learn to control my fears, ambition and leadership qualities.
When I was a kid in the 80’s I really didn’t know about any other culture, except mine, which was the Nigerian culture. I knew my family ate a lot of fish, rice and moi moi (an authentic Nigerian dish derived from beans). My parents would dress in their traditional Nigerian clothes, my mom would thread my hair during the summertime, and Nigerian parties lasted till 4 am; which was all normal.
One day, my culture was suddenly seen as “abnormal.” My threaded hairstyle was no longer a normal hairstyle, according to the American kids on the bus. It was the butt of jokes and ridicule which really bothered me as a kid. I told my mom to take out the thread in my hair, which was an easy decision to make as a kid. I was vulnerable and didn’t want to be harassed. I conformed to a “ normal” hairstyle of braids with barrettes to appease the other kids and to eliminate the negative and unwanted attention that was given to me.
Now as I think about it as an adult, I kick myself for conforming to everyone else’s “norm” rather than they conform to my “norm”.
Diversity in Children’s Books:
This experience allowed me to share my story through my new book series called The Colors of Me: Chi-Chi’s Hair. It focuses on the message of loving your differences and respecting others through various characters. To some, it seems ridiculous that I would hold onto this memory for over 30 years, but for me, it is a memory that could help other kids deal with being rejected because of their differences. Fast forward to present day 2018, being diverse and different has become the new norm and a part of my Nigerian culture which once was ridiculed, is showcased all around the world and depicted as beautiful, enriched, and unified.
In conclusion, we have to continue empowering our kids to care for themselves and protect each other which will trickle down for generations to come.
Chi-Chi loves her new hairdo and can’t wait to show it off at school! When the other kids see how different her hair is, they are not very kind.
Read along to find out how Chi-Chi learns to love her culture and teaches others that being different is wonderful.
Dr. Stephanie Oguchi is a native of Houston, Texas. She attended Pennsylvania State University and received her Bachelors of Science in BioBehavioral Health. In 2010, she received her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Seton Hall University. Last of all, she received her Doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy from Quinnipiac University in 2018. She is a second generation child of wonderful, supportive, and hardworking Nigerian parents as well as the oldest of 4 children. Some of her hobbies include traveling the world, exploring art/music, and volunteering in her community.
Connect with Dr. Stephanie via her website,