None of us growing up in Atlanta in the 1940’s were under the delusion that we were equal. We were aware of a myriad of differences that had nothing to do with race or gender. Some were better football players. Others were better baseball players. Some could run faster. Others were more witty, or better fighters, or more attractive, or smarter, or more fun to be with.
Yet none of us had any illusions that special talent or physical attributes bestowed special rights. Neither the best quarterback, the best pitcher, the best fighter, nor the prettiest girl got to go to the head of the line.
The only person with special privileges was teacher’s pet. And teacher’s pet paid in spades for the privileges with the taunt, “teacher’s pet, teacher’s pet.” Only a few prissy girls regarded the designation as a privilege. Most would break out in tears and rejoin the group by committing some act of insubordination.
Many of our teachers understood the trauma of being teacher’s pet and were careful not to show any favoritism. However, I had a third-grade teacher who had a relative in the class whom she was determined to advance. The little girl was so ruthlessly taunted that she refused to come to school. My mother, who was active in the PTA, a powerful group at that time, came to the girl’s rescue. My mother called a...