Note: This is part two of my previous post, “Little Did I Know This Was Only The Beginning. See Part one

During the summer of 1986, we moved into our new home in Philadelphia, which was located in a predominately white middle to uppermiddle class section of the city. My mom would always say, we are only living in this house temporarily,because she was set on moving to Atlanta, which never manifested. That home in Philadelphia is where spent the rest of my childhood growing up.

My parents registered my sister and me into the neighborhood school, which was a mile from our house. However, because of whatever the previous school wrote on my IEP, the neighborhood school would not allow my parents to enroll me into that school. My parents found another public school for me which was a good 20-minute car ride from my house. The name of the school was Prince Hall Elementary School located in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. Starting off the school year, I was already labelled as “slow” by family members and placed into Special Education classes. Since I was going to school away from my neighborhood, my parents had to arrange for me to be transported from school to home on yellow school bus because I was way too young to take public transportation on my own yet. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was placed into special education not because I had a learning disability but because of my behavior. However, back in the 80’s I don’t believe they knew how to separate the two.

On the other hand, the students at Prince Hall Elementary School were different from what I was used to experiencing when I lived in Elkins Park and even in my new neighborhood in Philadelphia. For instance, I had classmates that lived with foster parents or lived with relatives because their parents were incarcerated, which I knew nothing about until attending Prince Hall Elementary. I just thought all children lived with their biological parents. Crack had penetrated most black urban communities in the 1980’s and West Oak Lane was once a very nice place to live in the 70’s and earlier 80’s for most families, especially African Americans families. But the crack epidemic had a disastrous impact on West Oak Lane, which still stands true today.

I would see people standing on the corners, trash in the streets, homeless people, drug addicts looking to get their next high, which was very different from the neighborhood I lived in. I had never been exposed to this before and most of my classmates had severe behavioral problems. For instance, I saw countless times of students throwing chairs at each other or at the teacher and getting into fights with each other. I didn’t realize until years later that most of my classmates had been molested and abused, which I know was not addressed by the school or their families. Nevertheless, the fights and bullying had gotten worse as I started the new school year in the 2nd grade at Prince Hall. I can remember this one particular young man, I am not going to use his real name, but I will call him Malcolm, who would consistently tease, bully, and physically attack me by hitting or punching me. I told my dad about this boy who kept on bothering every day at school because the teacher couldn’t deal with his behavior. They were constantly sending him to the guidance counselor’s office once they got tired of him there, they would send him to the principal, then back into the class, and the cycle would start all over again. I got so tired of it I complained to my dad. The next day, he drove me to school, spoke to my teacher and the following day he had a conversation with Malcolm’s mother. From that conversation, my dad found out that Malcolm didn’t live with either one of his parents, but with his foster mother. I saw the woman he called mom several times, sometimes at the beginning and end of the school day, however, I noticed that she looked much older than my parents. His foster mother looked like she was around the same age of my grandmother, probably in her early 60’s. Reflecting back on this situation, I don’t think his foster mother could handle Malcolm and I believe she had a good intention at first, but at the end of the day she had no control over him. I believe she had maybe about three other foster children who attended Prince Hall too but in higher grades. My dad explained to me about Malcolm’s situation, but that didn’t stop from him bullying, which continued for the next three years.

Overall, I didn’t like going to this school, and my parents never explained why I could not go to the neighborhood school with my sister. My sister received a better quality education than I did and she was learning more than I was. As my sister would talk about all the things she had learned and experienced throughout her school day, my experience was the opposite. I was upset that I had to go school outside of my neighborhood and deal with this chaotic situation for three more years. I remembered we read a book called Fish and Not Fish. I read the same book in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade even though I read above my grade level.

However, there were some positive things that happened when I reached the age of 7. That was when I accepted God as my personal savior. My grandmother would always take my sister and me to church every Sunday. Like most children, you don’t want to go to church, but my parents gave us no choice. My grandmother lived about 10 minutes away in the suburbs and she would always come over to our house to talk about God. I loved God too, but I think my grandmother would talk about God all day, everyday. One Sunday after the pastor finished preaching, I accepted the Lord as my personal savior. I felt something different in my spirit and heart; the Lord had led me to walk to the altar to accept God as my personal savior. My pastor was so happy, along with my grandmother, and remember I feeling a spiritual presence of love and safety. It was very good feeling, but it didn’t last for long due to my grandmother telling everybody that she knew about me accepting the Lord as my personal savior and it was annoying. Even at that young age, I didn’t want everyone to know about it and felt that I just wanted to keep it to myself. My grandmother kept telling people for several weeks and the more people she would tell, the more negativity drew towards me especially between me and my twin sister. God bless my twin sister and I love her dearly, but she has always been envious of me, as she was born with a physical disability. However, I was classified as a Special Education Student and was often told that I was slow and not bright. My grandmother would 

always call me “slow” and my mom would tell me I wasn’t University of Penn material. The way I saw myself was very poorly. Getting baptized and accepting God as my Lord and savior was one of the happiest moments of my childhood, but I was going to soon find out that this was all going to change.

About SATUR-Your-Day

SATUR-Your-Day is an interactive blog where I invite readers to engage and go in-depth with me as I become transparent about personal and professional obstacles that have had both negative and positive impacts on my life. I want you to learn that we are all experiencing trials and tribulations in life and that no one is exempt from these life hurdles. As long as you have breath in your body, you are going to go through “the storm” of life. I sincerely hope that you will find lessons from the SATUR-Your-Day Blog, and discover that we can all learn and grow from each other’s experiences, which ultimately make us better people for our families, friends, colleagues, community, and the world. I feel your pain and know that you need time for you to just be you and that is the purpose for SATUR-Your-DAY.

About The Author


Ayasha Roberson started Urban SociaLites, LLC in June of 2010, she holds a bachelor degree in Sociology from Richard Stockton College and Masters Degree in Administrative Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

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