Saturday, June 20, 2009


In between finishing off all the writing assignments for my course, I am reading a book that I think will provide me with very useful insight into the minds of our African American students in our classrooms: Through Ebony Eyes: What Teachers Need to Know But Are Afraid to Ask About African American Students, by Gail L. Thompson.

One of the topics she writes about, using her own autobiography, is Resilience. How do some children, with every imaginable condition against them, manage to pull through and get where even a lot of people with "ordinary" backgrounds get.

The LA Times ran an article today about just such a person: She finally has a home: Harvard. The young woman in the story had been homeless most of her life, but she knew she was smart, because she'd tested as a "gifted child" and her mother encouraged her.
As long as she can remember, Khadijah has floated from shelters to motels to armories along the West Coast with her mother. She has attended 12 schools in 12 years; lived out of garbage bags among pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers. Every morning, she upheld her dignity, making sure she didn't smell or look disheveled.
By high school she knew that her gift would help get her out of the squalor she'd grown up in, so she found good mentors, and even a home where she could live the last few years to complete her schooling. And she is already in Cambridge, participating in a special program to help her adjust to the Harvard culture.

I am looking forward to reading another story in the LA Times (in paper format, I hope!) in four years, celebrating her graduation from Harvard. She's just beginning, and it will be extremely hard. But I think Harvard will supply her with all the mentors she needs to get there. I wish her well!

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