Celebrating Black History Month With Amara Nwaroh

Black History Month is an annual observance and celebration of achievements and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in February in Canada and the United States and in October in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. 

The precursor to Black History Month grew out of "Negro History Week" in 1926 founded by noted historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. The 2nd week of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Emphasis was placed to "inspire schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures." 

Over the next few decades, Negro History Week evolved into what we now celebrate as Black History Month as universal acceptance from mayors grew across the United States and also due to the civil rights movement. 

The Black History Month 2018 theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honors the roles that black Americans have played in warfare, from the American Revolution to the present day. 

''In 1996, after a motion by politician Jean Augustine...Canada's House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month and honored Black Canadians. In 2008, Senator Donald Oliver moved to have the Senate officially recognize Black History Month, which was unanimously approved.''


I now present to you - AMARA NWAROH!

Amara and I were in the same graduating pharmacy class of 2013 at the University of Alberta. In addition to practicing in her field, she is also doing something FABULOUS on the side of her pharmacy career. Amara and her sister, Chidera are Azarya Life & Blog

- ''a lifestyle blog focusing on inspiring a life of purpose, growth, self reflection and most importantly, a life reliant on Azarya- The Help from God'' 

Being the fashionista I am in addition to my music, I follow @azarylifestyle RELIGIOUSLY because I love their fashion trends and blogs they post about but most importantly because these women embodies what it means to be powerful, beautiful in and out, independent, inspirational and #GIRLBOSS. This month is #BlackHistoryMonth and the success and accomplishments Amara has achieved for such a young woman, and a woman of colour gave me no choice but to ask if she would like to be featured on my blog for her to share her amazing story. This is just a snippet - stay tuned for another feature about this powerful duo in the next couple months to come! I only aspire to be as successful and inspirational as Amara and her sister has been! Let's learn a little bit more about Amara! 

1) February is Black History Month - what does this mean to you personally? And with the #metoo and #timesup women's movement, how does this affect you as a successful woman of colour?  

''Black History Month is a time where we remember and honour influential black people and black culture. I think that this is an important way to honour our history and educate people on the sacrifices that made it possible to have the freedom we have today. Not only that, but also our culture which is so rich and diverse. I feel that we get a lot of negative attention, but by highlighting influential people, it can help bring more positive attention. 

The significance of the current #metoo and #timesup movement is the fact that it brings this normally private topic into a very public light. I am encouraged by the dialogue that we are now having about sexual misconduct and issues surrounding it. It means that people are talking about where the lines are and when the lines have been crossed. Also the victims no longer have to feel alone.''

2) Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and what were some challenges you may have faced growing up? 

''I was born in Nigeria and lived there until the age of 9. I had an amazing childhood which can often be surprising to people who have only heard the negative when it comes to Nigeria or even Africa as a continent. When I was 9, I moved to the Netherlands with my family and lived there until the age of 17 when I chose to go to university in Canada. The main challenge for me was having to move around a lot. I was often the only black girl in a mix of other races. A lot of times teachers write off the black kids (especially the boys) so I knew from a young age that I had to work harder to prove myself and prove my worth.'' 

3) We went to pharmacy school together and let's face it, you were the only black person in our class in a sea of Asians (including myself!) - did you feel some sort of pressure being so under-represented?  

''Yes- I was one of 2 black people in our class of approximately 130 people. What's interesting is that I feel like African parents are similar to Asian parents in terms of the value they place on education, so I don't think the pressure I faced was much different from anyone else in our class. We all associate Asians with being smart but black people not so much. I felt pressure in some way to challenge those stereotypes.''

4) I read on one of your IG posts that you were once told that you "look like [you] should be in a music video and not a pharmacist" - how did this comment make you feel? And what do you say to that?

 ''My initial reaction was shock!! In that moment I honestly did not know what to say so I brushed it off. I remember thinking: "I went through pharmacy school, I studied, passed all my exams. I went through all that hard work, for this?" I went through all that to still be seen like I don't belong? I was upset! When I think about it now, I feel more disappointment than anything. I feel disappointment because I realize that no matter how hard I work, some people will still hold their prejudice. For some people, it doesn't make sense to think of a young woman of colour as a professional, so they hold on to their preconceived ideas. I guess the challenge as I mentioned earlier is to continue to work hard to break those stereotypes and mindsets that people have.''




5) Who would you consider to be the most iconic/inspirational figure in black history and why?  

'' There are so many to choose from but if I were to choose right now I would say Katherine Johnson. Have you seen the movie Hidden Figures? It's based on her life and it's a movie I only just recently saw. I won't lie, I had no idea who she was before the movie, but after watching the movie, I just had to go and read up on her life. She is an inspirational figure to me because she excelled in her career even though the odds were stacked very high against her. '' 


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