how i started playing guitar….
As a young African-American girl growing up in Chicago, I faced some challenges. My father was a janitor at a private school, so I was able to attend tuition-free. This provided me with an excellent education in both academics…and in the way the world works.
Thankfully, my father was an incredibly hard worker; and maintained positive relationships with almost every single teacher — except one.
Mrs. Mason did not like my father. She always asked him for pointless favors at inconvenient times. If, at any point, my father forgot something, she was the first to call him out on his failure. Or, if someone needed to get into the building at an ungodly hour, she would always refer them to him.
Unfortunately, our relationship was similar.
Mrs. Mason was my junior year English teacher. Though English was typically my favorite subject, I was definitely not her favorite student. She had a hard time trusting me with any task. She wouldn’t check any other student’s homework but mine. She wouldn’t punish any other student but me.
But now, as an older woman, I can look back and be thankful for the way she treated me.
How? Well, she drove me to start playing guitar.
You see, her class was so stressful…but we did read one book that stuck with me. It was a biography of Les Paul. It inspired me to seek out m
y own guitar teacher, save my babysitting money, and begin taking guitar lessons.
Years later, I was visiting my old high school. I realized that though she treated me awfully, I knew I needed to thank Mrs. Mason for being a part of the divine plan to get me to start playing guitar. So, on the way to the school, I stopped by Amling’s Flowerland and grabbed her a bouquet of sunflowers.
When I walked into her class and dropped them off, she was speechless.
She knew that she didn’t treat me well.
She knew…because she too, is black.
Years later, I can see…she did it to prepare me for the hardships I’d face to come. She wanted to make sure I was always ready to be extra scrutinized and judged.
She did it out of love.