I am still trying to divine how that man could tell me that I could not write. Mild-mannered, self-deprecating little man, he was one of my two advisers in a graduate program on education . He was gently humorous. I liked him. So I paid no attention when other black students told me to be wary of him: he had been so nice to me.
But then he told me that I could not write. He could not tell me what, specifically, was wrong. He could not tell me what to do about what was wrong. All he would say was that I could not do it right.
So I spent two years trying to get right what he could not tell me was wrong.
But when in defiance of my fears I took my certifying exams and my other adviser called to tell me they were “Magnificent!” ( his favorite word but what the hell…), I went to ask the little man what he thought. The silence thundered. He could not look at me. Then he said quietly, “I thought the same as R__ . Why do you ask?”
Karen Wilson Ama-Echefu