A South L.A. Novelist on Why He Teaches Kids It’s OK to Be Weird

Jervey Tervalon’s Inner City Education Made Him a Passionate Reader and Respected Writer

As a teenager in South Los Angeles, I worked for Anti-Self Destruction, a government-funded neighborhood advocacy nonprofit. There I met Ollie, a handsome, slender supervisor who rocked lime green jumpsuits and sported a neat beard. One day I needed to talk to Ollie—he had been a Black Panther—about being more serious, more down for black folks, and being committed to the cause. He looked at me with perfect seriousness and said, “Just keep being your weird-ass self.”

I took his words to heart, and have never let them go.

I have …

The Next Great American Scientists Will Not Graduate From Harvard

Small Classes, Intense Mentoring, and Hands-On Research Make Liberal Arts Colleges Scientific Breeding Grounds

In response to billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson’s recently announced commitment of $400 million to support the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, the journalist Malcolm …