It’s a day that still lingers in the back of my mind. I’m embarrassed by it like it happened yesterday. I think I was 20 years old, in a Psychology 201 class. The professor was a young lady, somewhere around early thirties or maybe really late twenties. The class was rather large and crammed into a large and awkward classroom that was not really all that conducive to running an effective lecture. And there I sat on the front row because it was one of the only seats left.
I already had some negative feelings towards the class because I had always thought that psychology was for quacks. I thought that the mind should be something that was embraced and not over-analyzed, so I thought that all psychologists were nuts. As class moved just 3 weeks into the semester my instructor began to tell us about this new theory that she was absolutely crazy about. Some guy had done some research on some neighborhoods in some city about some young males and some doomsday-type data.
She went on to tell us that this guys’ theory states that our very environment shapes and molds our way of thinking to the point that it can lead us into subliminal cycles of destruction without us even knowing it.
As I slipped in and out of consciousness I noticed that there was a map on the projector screen. It was a map of a city–my home city to be exact. I also noticed that there was one neighborhood that was circled and highlighted on the entire map.
“His theory states that these cycles are broad and destructive and can happen to anyone within the sphere of enfluence. He learned that any African American male who is born and raised in this highlighted circle would have a criminal record, have a child out of wedlock and/or not make it to college by the age of 20”, said the instructor. I paused and began to stare. The circled area included my home zip code…I was 20…I had no kids…I had no criminal record…and I was insulted.
The next five minutes were quite interesting. I challeneged her theory–out loud. I embarrassed her in front of about 135 students. She attempted to rebound with a joke about my intellegence. I returned fire and totally toasted her with a highly intellectual joke. I won. Right?
For the rest of that semester, she made my life a living hell. She took every moment to embarrass me. The other students isolated me. No one would do group work with me. Things occurred that semester in my personal life that required flexibility from my teachers so that I could break away from my academic work to get a grip on the situation at hand–can you guess who didn’t flex one bit? By the time I got out of her class, my ego felt like it got caught in a marital spat between the Incredible Hulk and Godzilla. I learned a valuable lesson that semester as I received my “C that could have been an A that was really a D but she passed me so that she didn’t have to look at me again“. They are three words that can make an instructor your ally and grateful resource. They are three words that can expand your social network and hide you from the fruit of stupidity. Take the advice from the title of this blog as well as my story and just…shut…up…