Many of my UCSB classmates had read widely; few responded to words with the intensity of the underachieving students I hung out with at L.A.'s Dorsey High or those I encountered when I went back to South-Central to teach. At Locke, I took over for a teacher who one day had pulled a 9-mm handgun in class. Shortly before I arrived, a deranged lover had killed his girlfriend and hung her from the huge magnolia in front of the school. Police and teachers routed students away from the tree, where the body dangled, draped in a yellow crime tarp.
Envisioning that scene, I'm reminded of the world's Shauntells. I wonder how Shauntell would have done if she had made it to the university and met people like Mudrick, who would appreciate the tears she shed for Anna. But given Locke's limitations, Shauntell overemphasized her own. She more than likely worried that white people were too smart and well-educated to compete with, so instead of writing essays and studying language, she waited impatiently for the day to end so that she could go home and read in isolation.