Sunday, April 26, 1998

The Higher Functions of Lower Math (Archie Williams)


I have spent the morning weeping over the higher functions of lower math while the medical student Tom, a doctor in waiting, sleeps in the other room. He is neither doctor nor student, yet he would have no trouble passing the math test. He could pass it in his sleep. Maybe I should ask him while he sleeps.

Neil attempted to show me the simple algebraic equations that poor Archie Williams tried to teach me some 25 years ago. He may have been the first black man to win a gold medal for running, but he couldn't teach me the higher functions of simple math.

I admired that golden disk within its five interlocking rings. And the heft of Archie's Olympic medal. Nouns Berlin and Hitler were stored in memory to be extracted at a later date when the larger picture would reveal itself some some 20 years later— when I fell asleep in front of the TV.

Hearing Archie's name mentioned on the TV, I pieced together a string of names that were attached to the story of Berlin, 1936, Jesse Owens and Archie Williams—the underprivileged, the those censored by race and by creed. Under a Nazi Germany, was it Nuremberg? The story took years to piece together. Before internet.

I struggled to become a teacher like Archie, but I failed a practice CBEST test. A test a sixth grader could ace. I couldn't piece together the parts of the whole in order to pass the practice test. I'm failing the higher functions of lower math.



see more on Archie Williams
"Olympic Pride, American Prejudice" documentary includes Archie WIlliams
RIP Harry Roche
Segregation Games (Archie Williams)

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