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. Ensnared in teenage sex-trafficking, later she became a young woman trapped in a cycle of abuse, drugs, alcohol, unwanted motherhood, and a dangerous lifestyle. Desperate for a new life, she goes to college and becomes interested in language, literacy and identity studies. Her story is about going from the streets to undergraduate and graduate experiences to earning a Ph.D., hence the title.
“When I first settled on the title Po Ho on Dope to Ph.D., some acquaintances tried to steer me against it. One of them told me that I should change it because it would cheapen my story, that she would not recommend a book with that title to her daughter because the point is to discourage that type of behavior. Well, certainly the goal of the book is not to encourage drug addiction and an abusive unhealthy lifestyle. For me, Po Ho on Dope to Ph.D. helps to target my primary audience—anyone who has lost hope.”
Author of three books, and co-author of three others on academic studies of American Black-language patterns, Elaine Richardson has taught at both The University of Minnesota, and The Pennsylvania State University before returning to her home state in 2007 to accept a tenured professorship in Literacy Studies in the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University and pen the story that will encourage others to take their rightful places in the world.
Dr. Richardson belongs to a network of Hiphop educators and activists and is the founder of The Ohio State University’s Hiphop Literacies Conference, as well as founder of a gender-focused club for teenaged girls, focusing on literacy education in Columbus, Ohio. She is also a recording artist and performer, using her voice on behalf of those who may be down, but not out!