You are Great in Your Own Right: Principal, Dez-Ann Romain

450 total words    

2 minutes of reading

You are Great in Your Own Right[1]: Principal, Dez-Ann Romain[2]

“You’re not college material,”
my high school counselor said
and lucky for me at seventeen,
self-defense was my default stance.
Set on survival, I really wasn’t present
enough to fully understand what
her verdict meant. 

Y’all know what I’m talking about. 

How many times did someone
tell you or treat you like you
were never gonna be somebody,
like you were out of your mind,
like you already messed your shit up,
like it was not gonna happen for someone like you,
like you weren’t gonna make it out,
like you couldn’t come back from that!
and like you was never gonna amount
to nothing?

I guess this is what happens
when we are forced to live
in a world where there are
only fake choices between two
false things, and thank the Lord
that God protects babies and fools. 

Which one are you? 

The Wizard of Oz is my favorite
movie, so I foolishly believed
that I could always make it
because there was no other
choice. 

As an oppressed
black south side
Chicago girl,
my story inherently
came with tornados,
burning brooms,
dying mothers, 
splintered homes,
lying ringmasters,
camouflaged witches,
broken loyal friends,
winding trails,
flying monkeys,
and privileged white people
living in gated cities of gold.

Rosemary Olds[3] drove
a red Pontiac Fiero. She
was the good witch that
walked into my composition
class with a cane from
her then recent diagnosis
of MS. She was the first
teacher to tell me I could
write. 

I thought she was smoking crack too, y’all. 

“Me a good writer!?” I looked
at the A she scribbled on
my handwritten paper.

“Yes. I can see you. You are a
good writer,” she said. 

“You must first tell your
own story before you
can understand or tell others
because your story
is equally important.” 

Olds’ magic was that simple,
truth,
love,
respect,
and humanity.  

Looking and seeing. 

After that day,
I believed and was released
from the binding words
of my high school counselor. 

Whose words held or are binding you? 

They say
hurt people,
hurt people,
and I say
that hurt people
healed and healing
make good teachers.  

Long after Olds,
I thought to send
my high school
counselor a copy
of each degree I
earned, but I
never did. I guess
I didn’t want
to give her or myself
the satisfaction
of admitting
how powerful
her limiting words
had been
in my life.  
I didn’t want
to give her any
of my magic.  

I say, “good teachers heal people.”

There’s no place like home.

There’s no one like you.

You are so special.

You are your home.

  • Taiyon J. Coleman

    Taiyon J. Coleman is a poet, essayist, and educator. She is Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her poetry and essays have appeared in numerous collections and magazines.

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