My mom was really great.
I still remember so clearly having to learn my math facts in second grade. Every Friday, we had a timed test where you had to get a certain number of math facts right in the time period for you to get to go to recess.
And if you didn’t, you stayed in during recess. We would copy them down 10 times each and every Friday it was always William Malone and me who would stay back.
And my mom started volunteering on Fridays, so that when the rest of the class went out, she was with me and William. I still remember so clearly, the games we would play, the amount of time we, I would almost argue, wasted trying to get me to memorize these damn math facts.
So I give my mom a lot of credit. You know, my mom is likely dyslexic, you know, but again, she had no dialogue for this.
I also think back to William Malone. I don’t know if Willie Malone was dyslexic or not. But, and I don’t know the circumstances, I know he’s dead. In this little small southern town, he was also what I understood to be a poor black kid.
I think about that a lot. I bet a lot of what I’ve been able to do is a result of privilege and opportunity that William maybe never would have had.
But I hung in there and then when I got into high school, I got really into theater and Speech and Debate. I’m not a very athletic person. I like to run a lot but I’m not a coordinated person at all.
That was the first time I found success outside of school in an extracurricular. I had a great teacher, Mickey Hudson, who held me to the highest of standards. And that was really helpful.
Then, ironically enough, I got myself into honors English, even though I was terrible at it in many ways. I loved the discussion piece so much; I loved the comprehension piece so much.
And my teachers, particularly Mrs. Nance my junior year, held me to such a high standard that it made me start thinking I could meet that standard. And she was old school about it, but she saw something in me that I did not see, that I very much appreciated.
When I was a freshman, we took the PSAT and I was the 14th percentile. And they wouldn’t let me continue with honors English because I was in the 14th percentile, but it was my teachers who advocated that if I was willing to try, I could stay.
I’ve seen your work with Made by Dyslexia. What are your dyslexic strengths?