PHD to Ph.D.
How Education Saved My Life
by Dr. Elaine Richardson
New City Community Press
Book Review by Kam Williams
“Elaine Richardson grew up in a poverty stricken area of Cleveland, Ohio to her Jamaican mother and American father. Being raped at 13, she became involved with what basically amounted to the same abusive boyfriend over and over again.
She also became a teen-aged and then adult prostitute, drug addict, and single mother. Addicted to drugs, abusive controlling pimps, the streets, short stints in jail, the cycle of death that was her life, and on top of that, pregnant again.
It was the end. The only way out was death or prison, but that wasn’t her fate. Instead, she went to school… and never stopped. On her journey, she became empowered with knowledge of her culture and history.
Today, Dr. Elaine Richardson shares her story of sexual exploitation and other forms of bondage to promote healing and empowerment through education. Her story is about going from a Po’ Ho on Dope to a Ph.D.”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pages 5-6)
Dr. Elaine Richardson encountered a host of horrors practically from birth. That’s because she was raised on a rough side of Cleveland in a seedy apartment where she recalls seeing a rat scamper across the floor as a toddler.
Growing up, she was teased mercilessly about both her lips and her weight by cruel kids in the neighborhood who called her everything from ‘liver lips’ to ‘rubber lips’ to ‘bubble lips’ to ‘chub’ to ‘fat girl.’ And soon after reaching puberty, she lost her virginity when she was raped while just in junior high school.
That sexual assault, which left the 13 year-old pregnant, was only the start of a deep descent into depravity that would be marked by pimps, prostitution, drug addiction, incarceration and single-motherhood. She eventually bottomed out but was able to turn her life around before her future was swallowed up by the streets entirely.
That admirable transformation is the subject of PHD to Ph.D., an inspirational autobiography chronicling Elaine’s very unlikely transformation from a self-described “Po Ho’ on Dope” to a Ph.D. and professor at Ohio State University. This heartbreaking cautionary tale is tailor-made for at-risk girls since the author recounts her tragic experiences in a gripping and graphic fashion which leaves little to the imagination.
Crediting God and her supportive mother for putting her on the road to recovery, Elaine nevertheless acknowledges that she’s still healing and learning to love herself after all the years of abuse. A remarkable memoir by a remarkable survivor who miraculously managed to beat the odds!