Letters to My Tutor…

My dearest Simone,

I continue to go through an adjustment phase with being back in school. I hesitate to take the week off completely, so I will give a quick tale about growing up in the the Mississippi Delta:

In elementary school my best friend and I were teacher’s pets. We made very good grades and we scored well on standardized tests. While occasionally we were teased in connection with our pet status, what stands out in my memory is the group of students who said that if my best friend and I were unfairly favored, the blame for it lay with the teachers and not the students, and that any hard feelings should be directed toward the teachers and not us*. One friend with whom I often worked on school projects said to me that we could play normally outside of school, but while we were in school she could not be as friendly because she didn’t want to appear to support unfair favoritism.

I loved the beautiful, brilliant children with whom I went to elementary school.

(Edited to add:  Just to be clear, with a couple of the older teachers in particular there was something other than normal praise for doing well.  Sometimes the language used to say that smart, black people were important in the struggle against racism, implied sentiments about the value of people that were unfortunate and untrue.)

Gotta run,