by Aji Oliyide · 10 Jun 2020 · 6 min read
On one of my first assignments at a large corporation, no one could remember my name. It wasn't because they couldn't pronounce it. It wasn't because they had never met me. It wasn't because they had forgotten it. It was because everyone kept calling me by someone else's name.
Growing up, every image depicted around me gave the message that most dark girls were ugly. So, when people would say, "You're pretty for a dark-skinned girl," I took it as a compliment.
Now is actually a very exciting time to be alive. Fear and uncertainty might be taking over our world but I really do believe that underneath it all, this is a time of transformation for our planet.
The heartbreaking deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are sadly nothing new for our country, but they have broken the straw on the proverbial camel's back. All of their stories are tragic in their own right, but the match that lit this fire around the world was the public lynching of George Floyd. I heard about the murder before I ever got a chance to see it, and when clips were being shown I could only stand to digest a good five seconds of what was being captured. Despite all this, the most discouraging part about George Floyd's death is the silence from those around me.
For days I've wanted to use a pen to get to the core of how I'm feeling. I've avoided the pen, but here I go with the contents of me.
In the the wake of Mr. George Floyd's brutal murder, the United States of America suddenly had something monumental at the forefront of its dissonant mind. The protests and the unrest that burgeoned across the country, and tellingly, across the world, simply said, "Enough, is enough."
Take it from someone who just graduated with their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater, when I tell you I know a good performance when I see one. Let's put my training to the test shall we? In my opinion a good actor consists of three things: A. An understanding of tactics and given circumstances, B. An ability to command an audience, and C. A believable performance of the material. It isn't a surprise that performative activism also encompasses all of these things, because it is just that, a performance. My only questions remaining, as a critic, what activism is true activism? Or are these simply just cover up performances to ensure that you do not get penalized for actually being ignorant and racist?
Someone jokingly tweeted that COVID-19 lost a 28-3 lead to racism in America. The analogy is based on the infamous Super Bowl 51 when the frontrunner, the Atlanta Falcons, lost a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots and, as a result, lost the Super Bowl in the last few minutes of the final quarter. This sentiment is still being stated after everything the African American community has endured in America. From 400 years of slavery to the Jim Crow system. From racial profiling leading to the New Jim Crow's mass incarceration of African Americans to the disproportionate cases of police brutality and murders of African Americans, with the most recent incident, no less, occurring in the midst of a global pandemic that is also disproportionately impacting the African American community. No, this is no joke at all and is even more evidence that racism still exists.
I've had a lot of time to think and process my perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement and the world finally waking up to the injustice that has caused many Black lives to be lost within the shadows of white supremacy. I'm still not sure who really cares about Black lives, but I've decided that doesn't matter any more. What's happening is a beautiful thing, though there's been a lot of pain and suffering to our community, the world can no longer pretend that they don't see what's going on. Our plight is gaining international attention. It's no longer just our problem.
As a psychologist — i.e. one who studies the mind and human motivations — my mind periodically returns to Sigmund Freud, the Austrian neurologist who is lovingly known as the father of psychoanalysis, which is the foundation of psychology and the basis of many of the psychological treatments that we use today.As part of his theory explains, the Oedipus complex is a childhood psychosexual stage, wherein young people harbor unconscious sexual desires that fuel their anxiety and/or frustrations that may, or may not, appear negatively in life — depending upon the successful resolution of this puzzling, internal conflict.I have periodically come back to this tenet of psychoanalysis, always with the nagging inclination that this somehow explains America's issues with racism