Crissinda Ponder – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Wed, 14 Nov 2018 14:35:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png Crissinda Ponder – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com 32 32 Photographic Memory http://likethedew.com/2011/07/17/photographic-memory/ http://likethedew.com/2011/07/17/photographic-memory/#comments Sun, 17 Jul 2011 23:37:07 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=27645 Her mother encouraged photography; her father advocated school. She brought both to fruition.

It’s around 7 p.m. and DeKeisha Teasley sits down at her cherry wood computer desk, in front of her MacBook Pro. She peruses an application reading “The Red & Black” at the header. But she doesn’t wish to write for the university newspaper—she wants to be a photographer.

Teasley wants to capture important moments in people’s lives, the kinds of moments she had with her father before he was violently taken from her.

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Her mother encouraged photography; her father advocated school. She brought both to fruition.

It’s around 7 p.m. and DeKeisha Teasley sits down at her cherry wood computer desk, in front of her MacBook Pro. She peruses an application reading “The Red & Black” at the header. But she doesn’t wish to write for the university newspaper—she wants to be a photographer.

Teasley wants to capture important moments in people’s lives, the kinds of moments she had with her father before he was violently taken from her.

DeKeisha Teasley

D—-e—-K—-e—-i—-s—-h—-a, she types on the form. Each character more important than the last. She fills out the application knowing this opportunity could open doors for her. This could help her enjoy the life she has always dreamed of, the life her father would have wanted for her.

Photos of her father saturated newspapers and TV screens six years ago. She was only 13. Too young to fully understand and too old to forget.

She is proud that she had made it through the tragedy. Now, she invests her hopes behind a camera lens.

“Are you currently enrolled in classes at UGA?” Teasley checks “yes” on the form, placing an electronic checkmark where her cursor clicks.

Teasley knows she is able to take on the job. She’s been taking snapshots since her mother equipped her with disposable cameras as a child. When she received her first digital camera, a Kodak, as a 10th-grader on Christmas, she took it to school every day. Every person, place and thing was free game for a photo.

Evidence of her photography escapades are organized around her apartment bedroom. She and her college friends spending time in various places; portraits with her and her mother, Deborah, and sister, Deona.

A lone photo sits on her wall near the TV showing her parents posing with her as an infant. The three smile, looking away from the lens.

But there are no photos of her entire family together. None show her with her mother, sister and father. She knows she will never be able to have that snapshot.

On the morning of Friday, March 11, 2005, DeKeisha’s father, Hoyt, dropped her off at Jean Childs Young Middle School, just as he does every morning.

She was an eighth-grader sitting in her first period class when the school declared lockdown mode. The TV was on, but no one was paying attention to breaking developments flashing from the local news channel’s broadcast.

The morning hours crept by. The students were unaware of the severe situation plaguing their city but eventually were allowed to change classes.

All Teasley could think about was the midterm she was scheduled to take in her next class. She wasn’t even settled at her desk when her counselor and a resource officer showed up to excuse her.

The officer drives Teasley and her sister, a student at the nearby elementary school, to Grady Memorial Hopsital.

The entire family is sitting in the waiting room with distraught looks painted on their faces. The two sisters still don’t know why they are there.

Teasley’s mother tells them what happened. Deona immediately cries. DeKeisha, at first, is in shock. Numb to what her ears heard.

She finally lets her tears flow.

The doctor enters the waiting room to escort the sisters to see their father. He lays there motionless, victim to a fellow officer’s gun.

Her father, a sergeant for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department, was on the job at the Fulton County Courthouse when Brian Nichols, an inmate who was in a holding cell in the newer courthouse facility, was changing from his jumpsuit to courtroom attire when he attacked the only deputy watching him.

Nichols took the deputy’s weapon and radio, walked through the sky bridge that connects the newer building to the older courthouse facility, entered the chambers of the judge who was presiding over his trial and demanded to see him.

The judge wasn’t present. One of his staff members hit the panic button for assistance, but when a deputy answered the call, Nichols disarmed the deputy at gunpoint and also took his weapon.

The suspect then went to the eighth floor courtroom where the judge was occupied with an unrelated trial and shot and killed the judge and court stenographer.

Not wearing a vest but determined to protect and serve, Sgt. Teasley pursued Nichols down numerous flights of stairs and out of the building. The suspect shot at him several times. Nichols fled the scene as Sgt. Teasley fell to the ground.

DeKeisha didn’t expect March 11 to be the last day her father saw her off to school. She predicted a typical school day.

It took time for her to accept her father’s death. She imagined him walking through the door one day and ending the nightmare she and her family constantly relived.

When she went to prom, he wasn’t there to light-heartedly threaten her date. When her braces were removed, he couldn’t greet her arrival home from the orthodontist with a smile.

Important moments in her life always met a void, reminding her that her father wasn’t coming back.

But Teasley tries not to think about the day her father was taken from her, but she does think about him.

Every time she sees police cars and officers, she thinks of him. When she watches the news and sees that someone was shot, she thinks of him. When her family and friends lose loved ones, she thinks of him.

Teasley holds on to the many lessons her father taught her. He instilled in her the importance of homework and doing well in school. He wanted her to go to college.

Her father often put math workbooks in front of her after school. He said she needed to learn math since he knew how to do it, and it was the easiest subject to learn.

She knew that he expected the best from her and wanted to make him proud.

Despite the great loss, she perseveres.

D—-e—-c. 2—-0—-1—-3, she enters her projected graduation date on the application.

Teasley keys in information about her previous employment and campus involvement, finishing the application. She skims over it for errors before clicking “print.”

This is it, she thinks to herself. She has never applied for a photography job before, but she was ready to put her Canon Rebel T2i to work. She knows her father would want her to chase her dreams full speed.

She hands in her application to a clerk at The Red & Black office, who places it in a nearby cubby hole.

She walks out of the building, hoping for an opportunity-filled phone call in the near future.

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Fulfilling a Dream Deferred http://likethedew.com/2011/07/08/fulfilling-a-dream-deferred/ http://likethedew.com/2011/07/08/fulfilling-a-dream-deferred/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2011 22:42:58 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=27315 She’s a striking figure at the head of the table – salt-and-pepper dreadlocks, square spectacles in front of her face, an oddly-shaped red charm caressing her neck. But it’s what Valerie Boyd has to say that has 11 students enraptured.

She’s ready to take on the pressing questions her class of graduating seniors has about what lies ahead. One student is expressing concern about her options for finding a journalism job. She is engaged and has to find something close by ...

Boyd, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Georgia, makes her mark in this class as she has been for many years, both as educator and journalist. It was a book about another writer and one of her heroines, Zora Neale Hurston, that opened the door for her to later inspire others.

 

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She’s a striking figure at the head of the table – salt-and-pepper dreadlocks, square spectacles in front of her face, an oddly-shaped red charm caressing her neck. But it’s what Valerie Boyd has to say that has 11 students enraptured.

She’s ready to take on the pressing questions her class of graduating seniors has about what lies ahead.

Valerie Boyd

One student is expressing concern about her options for finding a journalism job. She is engaged and has to find something close by.

“You have to be partners, but one of you can’t keep making all the sacrifices,” Boyd says to the apprehensive pupil.

She continues her journalistic pep talk, insisting to her students that journalism isn’t dead; it’s just changing mediums, changing forms.

“I’m not worried about you guys,” Boyd says. “My job here is to give you the foundation to do a range of things.”

Then it’s time for the students to prepare for their next assignment in Boyd’s critical writing course— food reviews. She walks over to the only desk in the room, cluttered by old AP stylebooks and reporter notebooks, and hovers over it while operating the Mac desktop and projector simultaneously.

Her wardrobe is now fully revealed as she stands— a black top under an unbuttoned, earth tone colored kimono-like blouse, black pants, and black shoes.

On the screen: 10 tips for writing food reviews.

Explore the wine list. Try to blend in with the surroundings. Take notes discreetly.

“Food is becoming more popular as entertainment,” Boyd says. “That’s an area of journalism that is not really suffering.”

Her advice proves to be helpful to her class. The students type and write, only interrupted when a new tip appears on the screen.

Boyd, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Georgia, makes her mark in this class as she has been for many years, both as educator and journalist.

It was a book about another writer and one of her heroines, Zora Neale Hurston, that opened the door for her to later inspire others.

She received acclaim for Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, the first biography written about the author in 25 years. Author Alice Walker called it “magnificent” and “extraordinary;” The Washington Post described it as “definitive.”

It is that book that indirectly brought Janice Hume, an associate professor of journalism at UGA, closer to knowing Valerie Boyd.

“My first impression of Professor Boyd was before I met her, and it was even before she applied for the job because I had just read a New York Times book review of [Wrapped in Rainbows],” Hume said. “And because Their Eyes Were Watching God, which is a Zora Neale Hurston novel, was one of my favorites in college, that review struck my attention.”

Hume, who was a member of the search committee that was looking for a new addition to Grady College, said she and Barry Hollander, another associate professor of journalism who was the committee chair, were watching for emails from applicants when she got a little surprise.

“Valerie’s resume came over the email and I saw it and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s that woman who was reviewed in the New York Times,’” Hume said. “We were both really excited that she had applied.”

Wrapped in Rainbows was released in January 2003 during Boyd’s time as arts editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She returned to the newspaper after taking a leave of absence to do book tours.

“I enjoyed that job a lot, because it was in one of my areas [of interest], but I also knew I wanted to write more books and so I felt like I needed a job with a more flexible schedule, so I knew I wanted to get into teaching,” Boyd said.

Part of her job as a newspaper editor was to nurture young writers. She wanted to bring those same skills to students who are at even earlier stages in their careers.

“Young writers are unformed, eager, energetic, and trying to figure out who they are as writers or trying to figure out their voice,” she said, “and as a more experienced writer, I enjoy working with students one-on-one and in the classroom and helping them to figure out who they are and to learn those basics, so that it can really guide them throughout their careers.”

Boyd has been motivated by writing since her childhood days.

“I was one of those kids who always was like the family writer,” she said. “I was always writing poems and stories and my parents really encouraged that.”

However, she was troubled by the journalism profession. She feared she might end up a starving artist.

“[Writing] was something that I was really interested in, but when I was a little kid I kind of had the impression that writers and people who wrote books didn’t make a lot of money,” Boyd said.

She was 12 and in the eighth grade when she decided she wanted to be a journalist, after an AJC reporter came to speak at her school.

“I remember hearing her talk about what she did and I realized that journalism was a job that you could do where you would get paid to write every day,” she said. “And since I was so drawn to writing, I said ‘well that’s the perfect job for me.’”

Boyd and Hunter-Gault

Boyd stayed loyal to the journalism path and was even editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper. But she also knew she wanted to do bigger things.

Three years after joining the Grady College faculty, she was named the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence. It was a memorable moment in Boyd’s career.

“Having a position that carries her name is extraordinary,” Boyd said.

At the ceremony, emotion bubbled up. She knew what Hunter-Gault meant to the state of Georgia.

Her parents had wanted her to follow in Hunter-Gault’s footsteps and attend UGA; her dad even tried to bribe her with a car. She chose Northwestern University instead.

“When I started teaching here my parents were like, ‘Yay! You finally made it to UGA!’ and for them, what Hunter-Gault and Hamilton Holmes had done to integrate the university was heroic and it was also bursting open those doors for me,” she said.

Now that she is a part of the UGA family, she certainly enjoys her educational calling.

The PowerPoint presentation is over and Boyd heads back over to the conference table, reaches underneath, and pulls out a brown paper bag reading “Whole Foods” in green letters.

She tells the students they have to write a “cookie review.” They can pick from oatmeal, peanut butter or shortbread cookies.

“Here’s the catch: only two lines of your review can be about taste,” she said before reminding her students to use all five senses when writing.

The 11 students crowd to Boyd’s end of the table, reaching for sweets like kindergarteners ready for a mid-afternoon snack.

 

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