Po H# on Dope to PhD


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"There was a time when Elaine Richardson was one of 'the Negroes everybody pointed to as the Negroes you didn't want to become.' The title of this book is no metaphor or allusion, but a literal shorthand for a remarkable, unpredictable journey. She inherits a plain way of talking about horrific pain from a mother who seemed impossible to shock. The way too fast way she grew up was and is too common, but her will to remap her destiny is uncommon indeed. To call her story inspiring would be itself too plain a thing, hers is a heroic life." -dream Hampton, writer and filmmaker



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Published 30 March 2013
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EAN13 9781602354265
Language English
Document size 1 MB

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Po H# on DHopeD to Ph. D.: How Education Saved My Life
Praise for Elaine Richardson’s
PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life
“A powerful story by a powerful woman, told with language and imagery that pierce the reader and demand attention. An interesting parable about the intersection of personal change and the educational process – how they sometimes reinforce each other and sometimes produce disconnects.This is an amazing story that will hopefully educate teachers and students.”
—Ronald M. Berkman, Ph.D., President, Cleveland State University
“At a time when so many feel hopelessly ensnared in the toxic grip of poverty, drugs and prejudice, Dr. E offers an authentic blueprint for emancipation and a prescription for empowerment. Hers is a stout ‘I shall overcome’ story that reawakens lost faith.”
—Peter Lawson Jones, Esq., former Cuyahoga County Commissioner and Member of the Ohio General Assembly
“Dr. E’s work is one of the most compelling and honest true-life stories of the dehumanizing horrors of domestic sexual exploitation and human trafîcking. Her ability to escape her highly dangerous and abusive circumstances, the glory of her redemption, and her dedication to help others inspires all of us who are working to abolish this disturbing oppression of women and girls.”
—Paul M. Herbert, Administrative and Presiding Judge, Franklin County Municipal Court, Columbus, Ohio
“If Zora Neale Hurston had a god-daughter, she could be Elaine Richardson: on so many paths, she comes to these pages a deep student of life—the one who studies it up close, unguarded, and, with a musician’s ear for the song that lives in all of her experience, brings home its truths in their fearsome and freeing power. This book, like the life it describes, is a work of spirit Richardson records for us, another way to talk to, and talk about, God.”
—Ted Lardner, Professor of English, Cleveland State University
“Elaine Richardson’s autobiographical memoir, powerfully and eloquently written, reects the tradition of the literary bildungsroman. Her book is a must-read for all those concerned about the social and educational crises in Black communities, particularly among Black girls and women. She holds nothing back in this story of her life in the world of pimps and ho’s and the magnetizing pull of drug addiction. She rose to the ranks of boss ho, getting “White Girl pay,” and she was arrested over 200 times. Dr. Richardson, aka Dr. E, neither gloriîes nor sensationalizes this former life. Rather PHD to Ph.D. presents the raw, uncut truth of that life which held a grip on Elaine from the age of thirteen (and her îrst pregnancy) until she was in her late twenties. Her story is that of many thousands gone and the still-lingering effects of colorism and linguistic shame, that has left its mark on both women and men in our communities—the legacy of the African Holocaust, neo-enslavement and US apartheid. Elaine’s inspirational life and this narrative account represent the triumph of the human spirit and the indomitable Will to survive–and thrive–“against all odds” (as Tupac would have put it). Rising from the ashes of poverty and the debilitating effects of street life, she has become an award-winning scholar and champion of the African American quest for literacy and freedom.”
—Dr. Geneva Smitherman, University Distinguished Professor, Emerita English and African American and African Studies Michigan State University
Po H# onHDopeD to Ph. D.: How Education Saved My Life • • • Elaine Richardson, Ph.D. aka Dr. E
New City Community Press www.newcitycommunitypress.com
Distributed by Parlor Press
Copyright © 2013 by Elaine Richardson
Al rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher.
ISBN: 978-0-9840429-7-5
Cover Design by Alex Everett
Interior Design by Elizabeth Parks
H# STORIES. I never wanted anyone to hurt my daughters or hold anything over them, so I told them about myself from the time they were very young. Some of the stories were funny. Some were sad. It wasn’t long before they began asking me to tell my stories to their friends. My daughters’ acceptance of me gave me the courage to tell the truth about my life. I thank God for all three of you—Evelyn, Ebony and Kaila—for being my best friends, my sisters and my daughters. Thanks to my brother, Chris, my nieces Christina and Crystal, for constant encouragement, and to my Aunt Hellen Vassell. Thanks to all the mentors and people who helped save my life: Mrs. Pauline Fullum (R.I.P), Mrs. Roberta Payne (R.I.P), Ms. Costella (R. I. P), Mrs. Janie Stanley (R.I.P), Ms. Veretta Saulsberry (R.I.P.), Ms. Betty Mitchell, Dr. Andrew Edwards, Dr. Jack Soules, Mr. Louis Brownlowe, Ms. Andrea D. Johnson, Dr. Ted Lardner, Dr. Keith Gilyard, my academic othermother—Dr. Geneva Smitherman. Dr. Mary Weems, thank you for feedback and editorial guidance on successive drafts of the book and for encouraging me
to be true to the languages of my communities. Thanks to Rhonda Crowder (Cleveland Call and Post), Charlotte Morgan, Dr. Jamila D. Smith, James Walker, Dr. Adrienne Dixson, Terrence Smith, Shelia Baylers (African American Lifestyles Magazine), Drs. Gwen Pough and Mark Anthony Neal, Dr. Adam Banks, Kevin Joy (Columbus Dispatch), Julie Cajigas (CoolCleveland.com), and Peter Lawson Jones, Judge Herbert, and Dr. Ronald Berkman, President of Cleveland State University for support. Tamara “First Lady” Allen, thanks for all you do. Alex Everett, for the cover and for being so easy to work with. You’re the best! I would like to thank Elizabeth Parks for the book design. Sister dream hampton for making my dreams come true! Thanks to my publisher, Dr. Stephen Parks, of New City Community Press, for believing in this project. Mama and Daddy in heaven-for everything you gave to me.I dedicate this book to everyone who has been counted out.
Chapter 1: Where I Come From
Chapter 2: Sights, Sounds, My Wounds/My Womb
Chapter 3: The Ropes
Chapter 4: Tricked Out
Chapter 5:Breakin Free (for a minute)
Chapter 6: Under the Big Top, I Mean the Big Time
Chapter 7: The Death of AC and the Birth of My  Drug Habit
Chapter 8: Slammin Cadillac Do’s
Chapter 9: Fools and Babies
Chapter 10: Death Cycle
Chapter 11: The Gift of Love
Chapter 12: The Cleveland State University Years
Chapter 13: Graduatin
Chapter 14: The Ph.D.