Je suis née a Californie as a Negro. Well, that’s what it says on my birth certificate. It isn’t my word. We moved to Compton from Los Angeles in 1958 when I was four years. This is a picture of me taken when I first learned to read and write. With the help of my father, I took off and read voraciously. Shortly, afterwards, the Sisters of the Holy Family, an order of Black nuns, arrived to Compton from New Orléans and polished my critical thinking and reading skills. Most of my teachers had advanced degrees in their discipline areas from the Sorbonne in Paris. My French teacher, Sister Mary Hubert Singleton gifted me with a subscription to the Paris Match, a weekly journal. I was proud when the mail carrier arrived with my magazine wrapped in brown paper and decorated with French stamps. That was a big deal for a girl from Compton, Pre-Dr. Dre, DJ Kwik, Coolio, Venus and Serena Williams, Aja Brown, Richard Sherman, and Kendrick Lamar.
I was fluent in French by the time I graduated from High School. Complimenting those educational experience is a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology, a Master’s degree in Reading, a Doctoral degree in the humanities and a terminal case of wanderlust that has guided me throughout Africa, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. My favorite cities are Salvador da Bahia (Brazil), Dakar (Senegal), Bamako (Mali), and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Paris, New Orléans, and New York. I have been a Fulbright professor in Cairo, Egypt, South Africa, and most recently, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. In these places and throughout my life, I have learned much about the human experience and the necessity for expression and storying. In May 2014, the University of Baltimore awarded me the MFA degree in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts. I have many stories to share.