In the first grade I was the best reader in my class. Actually I was the fastest reader, speller and everything else you like to be in the first grade. In the second grade I really stepped my “smart game” up and began reading chapter books, practicing cursive writing and studying spelling words like they were the Holy Grail. My school wanted to skip me up one grade but my dad said no-to which I am still pissed about, but I digress…yeah dad, I’m still mad at you for that one-so I continued to push myself further and further, studying every single day.
My siblings and I went to private school in Redondo Beach, Ca. For my lovely readers unfamiliar with this city, it is obviously a beach city here in L.A. and in the late 80’s, let’s just say outside of my siblings, there were maybe two other black kids there. My first day of school I literally raised my hand and answered every single question that the teacher asked the class. Literally raising my hand before anyone else…on purpose. I distinctly remember answering a question the teacher asked and a boy next to me saying, and I quote, “Wow…you really are smart!” That was all the fuel I needed to light my “I am smart” fire.
Soon teachers began questioning every test or assignment I turned in. They’d ask me who I cheated off of, or who helped me. One teacher even made me re-take a test I easily aced, because how on earth did this little black girl come in and win. More fuel thrown on my fire. I craved knowledge, learning about any and everything I could. I took piano and won every recital I was in. I read more books then anyone else and did my first book report on Lucille Ball, my comedy idol I’d grown to love while obsessively watching re-runs of her at home. I sang in the choir and memorized my Easter Sunday speeches so well that they would assign me the biggest and longest speeches purposely. I started acting in plays at school and would memorize not just my role, but the entire play often helping kids with their lines while on stage. I wasn’t even out of grade school. I was smart. I was smart. I was smart. Continue reading