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The Silent Treatment

GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:

In second grade, my teacher never called me stupid or dumb or slow, but when I returned the book assigned to me that morning and told her that I had finished it, could I please choose another, she stared back over her soulful-rimmed glasses and hissed, liar. In third grade, a man wearing a thin brown tie came into our classroom and said that according to his assessment, a select few of us would be asked to take a special test to determine if we were gifted. He called seven names. I watched all of them get up from their seats and leave the room. In fourth grade, after a boy kicked me, the principal demanded that I deliver a letter to my parents that explained I was suspended from school for agitating violence. In fifth grade, the lady told me that the c-a-t and d-o-g could run. Would I mind writing cat and dog on the board? Don't worry if you spell it wrong. You just do the best you can. In sixth grade, on the first day of class, a lady turned my chair to face the wall. The other students' chairs faced the teacher. And so it remained for the rest of the year. You see, they never called me anything. They never said a word. The problem, of course, was that I didn't say anything either.

From PRX and NPR, we proudly present Unspoken, amazing stories from real people who, for whatever reason, can't say what's on their mind. My name is Glynn Washington. Feel free to get it off of your chest because you're listening to SNAP JUDGMENT.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.