Living between my Nigerian and African-American identities

I shoved my research notebook in my desk drawer and slammed it closed.

I’d just completed my dissertation study. I should have been eager to sift through the pages, but that notebook was the last thing I wanted to see.

The year before, I’d traveled to Detroit to purchase it.

Photographer: Tanya Shrivastava

the sun had set
long before
i boarded the train
for the first half
of my long commute
from Newark, NJ to Queens, NY

exhausted
fatigued

when i finally
entered my house,
i met my father,
sitting at the kitchen island
dipping his perfectly rounded
pounded yam
into a big bowl
of ogbono soup…

i found my voice

buried and hidden
in between
the crevices
of people’s desires.

unrecognizable at first,
i walked right past her.

she
called me,
compelled me,
demanded me
to finally stand still
and listen.

i dusted her off.

then she took me on a long walk
down a pothole-ridden street.
i…

Illustration: Sacree Frangine

yesterday
my younger
cousin called me

we hadn’t spoken in 7 months

midway
through
our call,
she told me
she wants to
see herself
as beautiful

i understood her
but
i kept silent

because
some things
cannot be explained

some things
must
be
lived

and as we
live through them
we
fully grasp
deep…

my mother
hates
when
i wear
all black

it should be reserved for those who mourn, she says

i fell
in love
with
black clothing
on the east coast

New York City

subway passengers
semi-patiently
waiting for trains
clothed in all black
exuding
quiet
unbothered
laser-sharp focus

Confidence

an aura
i’ve
always…

Photo Credit: Lakin Ogunbanwo

I’d barely taken off my coat before my grandmother walked into the living room and asked her infamous question: “Iyore, which day you go marry?”

She placed her hands on her hips and slowly moved her waist from left to right, singing , “Eh eh…I wan shake my ikebe.”

Iye…

Lakeya Omogun, Ph.D.

Writer | Professor | I write about identity, culture, and language. www.lakeyaomogun.com

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