Masks of Denial

Lakeya (Omogun) Afolalu, Ph.D.
2 min readApr 30, 2021
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


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

he invited me to join him
i gracefully declined
okra isn’t my thing

like most evenings,
i lamented
about the
inevitable challenges
that accompany
the first year of teaching

i posed my infamous question —
the one i asked whenever
i’ve felt wronged:
why would they do that?

he chuckled
he does that often

his laughter
was a mockery of my naiveté

his neck
protruded outward
as he quickly drew
and swallowed more soup

i waited

he finally responded,
one day
you will see
the world and people
for whom they really are


i asked for more,
what do you mean?

you will soon see,
he ended

he was right
so so right.

i’ve traveled
many journeys
around the sun

and the truth
is that
i always knew

but i chose
instead of my gut
instead of my instinct

i do not know why i waited so long

to see

the world
and people
with truthful eyes

i do not know

i’m just glad
that I no longer wear
the mask of



Lakeya (Omogun) Afolalu, Ph.D.

Professor of Language, Literacy & Culture | Writer | Speaker | Twitter @LakeyaAfolalu