The Politics of Educating Oneself

Random thoughts about what leads a person to bettering themselves…

Over the years, I have received warm compliments from many of you in regards to my ability of organizing & utilizing the 26 shapes that we refer to as the alphabet in constructive ways.

Well, my passion for isolating the right ‘word’ along with placing it in precise sequential order to get my point across, be it verbally or in my writings was ignited shortly after we moved here to Olympia in the summer of 1988. You see, I started Fifth grade at a school that seemed as foreign to me as seeing snow for the first time for those trekking out of the Sahara…due the fact that there were only two of ‘us’ in the entire 5th grade class at this very established elementary and shortly after the school year started, for some reason unbeknownst to me, I was singled out and pulled out of class for ‘testing’. You see, even though I was a child (aged 10) it became even more apparent to me of just how different my new environment was and how I was to navigate that space on my own due to the lack of support I once had in a school where my last name was a common as the chalk the Teachers used to scribe out their lesson plans on the contrasting black canvas – the only ‘thing’ that bared some semblance to how others refer to me in this country. What I remember from that day is how I was made to feel during that impromptu exam and what I overheard as the Librarian tallied up the scores that comprised my reading comprehension. “She doesn’t know what these words mean…what were they teaching ‘them’ down ‘there’.”….”How are we going to fix this.”….”We’ve go to figure out where she fits.” And over the next couple of weeks I found myself shifted to another classroom at Lakes Elementary, after being told that Mr. Frazen’s class was too full and accommodations had been made for me in Mr. Johnson’s class on the other side of campus.

So, it was at that time – at the age of 10 that I busied myself by diving head first into every encyclopedia, dictionary and Childcraft series I had access to. Because, never again did I want to be made to feel as if I were incapable of learning or that was too feeble minded to comprehend what I hadn’t even been taught…see that’s but one of the reasons why my (still young) parents uprooted their lives and moved us out here – out west. I mean at that time it was reported that, “The state still ranks near the bottom in teachers’ pay, 46th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It ranks 48th in spending for each pupil.” Don’t believe me…well, read this article by the New York Times.

That being said, this little country mouse took it upon herself to learn the meaning of every word (and over the years those words came in French, Italian and Indonesian) that she could, because as we all know – knowledge is power – and when you are able to address a person with conviction due to the words you’ve arranged in your speech, it speaks volumes

Oh and lastly, very few of you know that my Great-Great Grandfathers name is Major Page. He was born on March 11th, 1898 and died in February of 1994 (when I was 16 – the same year I lost my Pawpaw) never having learned how to read or write…he used an X as his signature on the ‘pages’ of documents that came across his path during his lifetime. A signature that he used when he enlisted to serve in WWI (a war that he served diligently in without even being recognized as a citizen – a citizen of country for which he was defending with his life) as well as when having purchased the first Model A ford in the entire county, and furthermore utilizing that same signature on countless invoices when he was the only Black person allowed to shop in the boutique department stores in southeast Arkansas.

I suppose what I’m trying to convey & say is don’t ever box or ‘class’ify someone into a space you’ve designated for them, over something they never had the ability to learn – you could very well be staring into the face of a mute genius. You just never know…oh and in the 9th grade, I registered for my first AP (Advanced Placement) class – AP English and that next year in 10th grade I took AP Creative Writing and won a national poetry contest

My Great Great Grandfather ~ Major Page & I on his 81st birthday❣ I was four months old…
Yes indeed! That’s why you’ll forever find me with a book in my hand…I realize the power of knowldege and my ability to obtain it along with living up to ALL of their dreams.

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