OK after a week off, let’s continue the story of how I overcame obstacles throughout life and gained my social status.
First, I must give a shout out to my late friend Marcus Austin (more about him in later entries). Mark, like many others after high school, didn’t understand my relentless determination, the refusal to return to Blacksburg without proving myself and others wrong. R.I.P. brother, hard to believe you have been gone nine years. This portion is probably the one I would have highlighted as one of the defining moments in my coming of age.
It was between seventh and ninth grade where I made more friends, smarter friends, and more enemies and haters. I was in honors classes, still in my awkward phase, and puberty was raining down on me like an avalanche. The worst part of all was being in class with some of the very same folks that thought I was beneath them in every way. They didn’t believe a biracial, poor child should be outsmarting them in the classroom and neither did their parents. I was once again alienated but motivated to succeed.
I met some awesome teachers in high school, ones that really nourished my gifts and saw I was headed places. One of the main ones was my seventh grade math teacher and guidance counselor Billy Transou. This man came from privilege, but understood the common student. He stood up for me and helped me whenever he could, even after I graduated. I could go to him with pretty much any problem. Now my mother was still around making sure no bullies were a problem. It also helped us that I had an awesome principal named Mr. James Leigh. His late wife, Beverly, was my sixth grade language arts teacher. I had a few friends and these people in my corner, so thus I was positioned correctly.
Things took a positive turn once my photographic memory was discovered. I had memorized all of the U.S. Presidents in the fourth grade and nearly everything about them. But when I Iearned and memorized nearly every student schedule in the school, it was life changing. It gave me a reputation and identity that I hadn’t possessed prior. People knew who I was, started to like and respect me, and were wowed for years. It gave me a claim to fame and slowly my cocoon was breaking.
My intellect had now caught up. Now it was time for my grades and social status to follow suit.