This Is Us

My Life in Their Frame

The pursuit of a PhD from my urban vantage point

Lakeya (Omogun) Afolalu, Ph.D.
Human Parts
Published in
2 min readOct 18, 2020
A dark-skinned person with dreads dipping backward while dancing.
Illustration: Niege Borges

what they don’t tell you
about getting your PhD
is that your childhood memories
of growing up
on the Westside of Detroit

and sitting inside of
public school
with more students than desks
will be etched across
the pages
of your mandated
course readings

they don’t tell you
that your carefree moments
of sharing textbooks
with your classmates
and bike riding
pothole-ridden side streets
past boarded up homes
with caved-in roofs
hidden behind
tall dense grass
will be placed inside of a frame

they will
hang it on a wall
and gaze at it
and their faces will frown
while pity
overwhelms them

they will use words like
and under-resourced

they won’t
say the children
inside their frame need to be saved
but they will study them

they will study them

they don’t tell you
that when you read
their descriptions
of your childhood memories
it will look like a foreign language
although it’s written in your native tongue




Lakeya (Omogun) Afolalu, Ph.D.
Human Parts

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