I wrote poetry off and on in high school, when I could manage to get out of gym classes and sports – using my allergies as an excuse – and climb the hill behind school till I found a nice place to settle down with a notebook and look at Spokane spread out below.
School divides life into two segments, which are increasingly of comparable length. As much as anything else, schooling implies custodial care for persons who are declared undesirable elsewhere by the simple fact that a school has been built to serve them.
Being a Sikh meant having to do what Mom and Dad said, and going to temple, and Mom and Dad choosing who I would marry. But going to an American school taught me that I was the one who’s supposed to make those choices.
My first three years of high school, I wasn’t that cool.
Learning, while at school, that the charge for the education of girls was the same as that for boys, and that, when they became teachers, women received only half as much as men for their services, the injustice of this distinction was so apparent.
When I was in high school in the ’50s you were supposed to be an Elvis Presley, a James Dean, a Marlon Brando or a Kingston Trio type in a button-down shirt headed for the fraternities at Stanford or Cal.
I tell you, in this country, you don’t get much of an education. Throughout high school, through junior college, which is all I went, I didn’t know anything about the annihilation of all the Indian nations that were here.
In the early 1970s in Atlanta, I attended what had formerly been an all-white school but had become a black school after integration and white flight. Perhaps because of this, the teachers created a curriculum that included a focus on African American literature and history year-round, not just in February.
Typical news accounts and commentaries about school shootings and rampage killings rarely mention gender.
When I was in high school, I remember writing a research paper, and the teacher said I should write about Langston Hughes. I felt as if I was the only black dude who didn’t like Langston Hughes. He didn’t seem as dark and layered as someone like Flannery O’Connor.