Top 1%


I heard these words multiple times from a white teacher (RIP) who I feuded with for the last two years of high school. I remember vividly getting kicked out of more than my fair share of classes because I always talked back to her whenever she said something to me. I noticed early on that she called me out more than she did my white peers in class. If everyone was talking, I’d be the first one told to be quiet or be moved from my friend. Up until that point in my academic career, it  was the first time I received Ds/Fs in class. I completed the work and put the energy into it, but I struggled to keep my mouth shut because of the disrespect that I felt from this teacher. We just could not get along for nothing in this world and there wasn’t any way that was going to happen. I felt a serious level of dislike for her that was unreal. I just could not understand why this teacher was so hard on me and made everything so difficult. I remember when I got accepted into college and I made the announcement in her class, she was so dismissive and could careless. When some of my white peers in class announced that they got into the same university, she celebrated them and made it a big deal.

Despite the constant obstacles that she threw my way, I made it through and graduated. Fast forward  a number of years, I received an invitation to join a national honors society due to being in the top 1% of my program. I never heard of the organization and of course, I reached out to numerous people to figure out if this was a legit situation. Apparently, its an organization that was founded in the early 1920s and it’s pretty well-known on an international level. Prior to joining the org, I thought back to the situation with that teacher and I smiled for a moment. I never thought that I would be in the top 1% of any academics at one point because of that experience. Hell, I didn’t think that I’d even graduate from high school at one point. I’m humbled that the Most High didn’t allow me to fall through the cracks and never steered me wrong.

As a grown man, I’ve come to realize that despite our constant battle during that period, I greatly appreciated every moment of it. Reflecting on that time, she made me grind that much harder to prove her wrong. I remember going back to see her prior to her passing away (RIP) in my second year of college just to give her an update on my life at the time. It was more of a statement to let her know that she was wrong about me. I was being petty at the time and I’m not proud of it, but at the time, I thought like a child. The obstacles that one encounters makes the win THAT much better. Thank you to the Most High for all the trials and tribulations. Don’t forget we always have a choice in how we respond to these trials: with faith or with despair. Pick one…

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