Peryenthia: A Cultural Autobiography

Race: Black or African-American

This is my great-grandmother, Mendora Woods (better known as "Mommay"). It is through her that many of my family's ideas about race, particularly how to behave in the company of "White folks" emerged. Interestingly enough, my great-grandfather, Mommay's husband, was of mixed race. His mother was White, his father black.

Gender and Religion: Christian Female

When I think of how my religion & gender influence my role as an educator, I immediately think of conversations with Saif Sarfani.

The young man to my right is Saif Sarfani. Saif was one of the students in my English class at Riverdale High School. We bonded over an affinity of the power of words, both being self-proclaimed logophiles, and I claimed him as "my brown son" because his personality is very much like that of my biological brown son, Miles (pictured far right).

After graduating, Saif, wrote me a letter asking how it is that I could love him as my son when our religions were so different (he knew me to be a devout Christian and I knew him to be a devout Moslem). He claimed in his letter that he'd never met a Christian who was as accepting of different people as he had found me to be and expressed an appreciation of what he has learned about the difference between being accepting and being tolerant because of his relationship with me.

Age: Young Adulthood

Apparently, my age qualifies me as a "young adult." Up until this assignment, I'd assumed that I was now middle-aged. Interesting.

SES/Class: Middle Class

My childhood was shaped by membership in the underclass and working class groups. Currently, my life is shaped by membership in the middle class. This "moving on up," like the Jeffersons, provides diverse perspectives into matters of class as I work with students and educators.

Exceptionality: "Gifted"

There is a definite downside to being viewed as "gifted." I am frequently told in my family that I have "book sense, but no common sense" or that I am "too smart for my own good." Consequently, I tend to reject the "gifted" label and have learned to keep my IQ to myself.

Geography, Ethnicity, and Language