I was born Black in a Black family in a Black neighborhood. My early childhood was an entirely Black experience. Besides what I saw on television and in movies, my whole world was Black people. My family, my friends, my babysitters, my neighbors and my teachers were all Black.
From Head Start through third grade, I had exclusively Black teachers. As a very bright, gifted Black girl, having Black teachers, mostly Black women, who saw my giftedness and encouraged and nurtured it, meant everything. These were teachers who could look at me and see themselves. They could see their children, their hopes, their dreams. These were teachers who could be as proud of me when I did well as my own family was, who could understand me when I talked about my life, and who knew how to protect the spirit of a gifted Blackgirlchild in a world they knew would try to tear her apart every chance it got.
I thrived in those early years in school. I loved learning, I had a very high capacity for it, and it showed. My teachers challenged me creatively and intellectually, supported my growth, and rewarded my efforts. My second and third grade teacher, Ms. Lucas (who goes down in history as the best and most influential teacher I ever had) gave me my first paid work as a writer. In third grade, after I wrote the best poem about springtime (“…sometimes words can never say the things that flowers say in May…”), she brought me ice cream! She, like the other Black teachers I had, recognized, and helped me to see, my extraordinariness. Seeing it, I soared. I felt confident and self-assured. I believed I was the smartest, most talented kid ever!
Then, in fourth grade, I was put in Ms. Reisman’s class…
Read more… (Black Girl Dangerous)