"The same confidence that many of my friends have in the belief that Jesus walks with them is the confidence that I have that nobody walks with me."
--Ijeoma Oluo, writing for the Guardian, October 24, 2015
Writer and activist Ijeoma Oluo was born in 1980 to a white mother, Susan Jane Hawley from Wichita, Kansas, and a black Nigerian father, Samuel Oluo. When she was two years old her father, a political scientist, returned to his village in Nigeria. He was expected to return to the United States and kept in contact for a few months, but then communication stopped. Hawley raised Ijeoma and her younger brother Ahamefule in a suburb outside Seattle, Washington, working two jobs as a single mother.
Describing her brother and herself as "black nerds raised by a white woman in a poor white neighborhood," Oluo attended Lynnwood High School in Bothell, Washington. She later graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in political science. In a 2016 essay for Literary Hub in which she describes reconciling her Nigerian-American identity, Oluo writes:
My first memory of needing to understand the way in which socio-political power works was when I came across a newspaper headline about the Tiananmen Square protests and crackdown in 1986, when I was five. This obsession was often viewed as morbid, or at the least, very boring, by the rest of my family. When I became a teenager and learned that I could make a career out of studying how political systems work, I was extremely excited. When I realized that my father had made a career out of the very same work, I felt like maybe I hadn't just dropped out of the sky as a baby and landed in the wrong nest. Oluo entered a career in tech and digital marketing, married, had two boys, and later got divorced. It was afterTrayvon Martin was fatally shot in 2012 that Oluo began her career as a professional writer. Her older son was the same age as Martin at the time, and Oluo was taken aback by how silent some in her community were in the face of such injustice. She started publishing articles and personal essays at Jezebel, The Stranger, and the Guardian. Today she continues to write on feminism, racism, social justice, and gender and economic issues for those publications as well as TIME, New York magazine, Medium, and the Hunngton Post. She also serves as editor-at-large for the online, female-run multimedia publication The Establishment.
On her decision to work as a freelance writer and publish...