We are all worthy of one another.
But my mother wanted her children to be educated by nuns and priests all dressed in black, the way it had been done down through the generations with her people. Taught by people who had a firm grasp of how big and awful the world could be.
I have said with as much sincerity as I can muster that if I were thrown into a dungeon with a sentence of one hundred years, with my only company being an illiterate guard who came twice a day with meals but who never spoke, I would still write - on coarse toilet paper in the dark if I could spare it.
My father was Catholic, and my mother wanted me to go to Catholic school. That's what I did in first grade. But she couldn't afford the payments. I think it must have hurt her a lot, not to be able to give me a Catholic education.
When you grow up with a mother who has to wash dishes and clean hotel rooms, you know the importance of having a job, and you can't be without a job for any length of time, or you will be without anything.
Those of us with this ancient compulsion to tell stories sometimes start with a single kernel of something.
Something happened during the 1980s - perhaps the political climate of that time - that caused me to ask how a people would become part of a system that oppresses their own people.
It just so happens that I was born and raised in Washington. Had I been born in Chicago or San Antonio, the streets and places would have figured into whatever I wrote. Just so happens that it's Washington, D.C.
Perhaps if I knew I would be stranded on an island with but one book, I would choose the Bible. For no religious reason whatsoever, but because of the varieties of stories, which might be useful as the days pass.
My mother worked in the white world, but I lived almost exclusively in a black world. I don't think I had ever seen a white teacher until I got to high school.