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Black In Brooklyn Tech. Alumni Edition: Will We Even Matter In 20 Years?



I am a Brooklyn Tech alumnus. Class of 1993. My older brother is a Brooklyn Tech alumnus. Class of 1988. I am African so you can assume he is the same. My best friends, business partners, and associates are also of African American descent and also former Technites (what we affectionately refer to either current or former students of B.T.H.S).  Needless to say, I hold a strong personal affinity for B.T.H.S. so imagine my delight when the recent hoopla erupted regarding racial disparity at my alma mater?

As an unofficial ambassador of the school, I received numerous texts and emails as the #blackinbrooklyntech hash tag began to trend on social media. For those not in the know, the trending hash tag began when the minority student body, believed to be experiencing racially insensitive language and behavior from both faculty and students, took to the Internet as a manner of social protest. I typically don’t tend to chime in on news stories until I’ve gathered a certain amount of information relating to the story so I read all I could and attended the appropriate meetings before responding.

Brooklyn Technical High School is an institution, and like all institutions in America, it is subject to institutionalized racism. Lets also be clear here. Institutionalized racism is not a faceless, ominous entity floating through the annals of the west wing. It comprises the individuals who make up the student body and the faculty as it relates to Tech who engage in such discriminatory behavior or language. With that said, can we really believe that a specialized high school approaching 100 years of existence that used to be an all boys (and most likely all white) school wasn’t at some point plagued with racism by virtue of environment? Even the most liberal of liberals in the 1930’s and 40’s were mildly supremacist by virtue of social evolution, or a lack thereof. With that said, I personally did not associate racism with my experiences there and whether I was aware or not, Tech had probably made considerable advancements by the time my formally scrawny behind decked the halls in 1989.BTHS

Brooklyn Tech didn’t feel racially charged when I attended. Upon my arrival and throughout my academic career, I can only once recall one racial incident personally that transpired. It occurred in my Electrical Engineering class from a faculty member (Mr. Becker) who proceeded to inform me that Abraham Lincoln should be my hero because he freed my people. Firstly, and as stated earlier, I am African, Nigerian to be specific. My “people” came here on Air France via Nigerian Airways, so unless the captain who flew either jumbo jet was named Abraham Lincoln, I am no more indebted to him for my individual emancipation than I am Mahatma Ghandi.

I did not report this incident, which probably allowed lord knows how many other racially insensitive comments to be made by this teacher to other students. My only recourse was to locate the closest African American face and confirm if my anger was just. I found one black face (no pun intended) and we locked eyes and exchanged the exact same incensed look that could only be translated as “He won’t survive the fall if we throw him out the window, and we’ll get arrested so it’s not worth it, but did this man really just say that to us?!!?”

This is all an assumption but I am wiling to bet my Tech-given intelligence that this issue, like most modern day issues, seems prevalent not because it recently arose but because the current communication mediums that brought about exposure simply did not exist prior and most incidents had gone under-reported. Coupled with the decline of the Af-Am minority student body when I attended (35-40%) vs. now (8%) and the increased overall student body (1,200 additional students, raising the overall population to 5,200) and one may begin to understand how these types of incidents can increase in frequency. A dwindled population will certainly lead to an environment where ignorance festers. In any instance, where there is under representation, prejudice is often not too far behind.Racism

As always, and when choosing where to pledge your allegiance, one must weigh both sides as I saw many of my former classmates doing and proceed accordingly. Were the modern day students overly sensitive? Was this a figment of their imagination? IMHO, no they weren’t being sensitive and were just. Students will speak they mind and they absolutely should make their voices heard. When we had our sit-in during the Rodney King riots in the center section, it was one of the most defining events I had participated in at that point in my adolescence. I did what was in my power as a student and wouldn’t want that taken away from anyone.

As for the faculty, were they engaged, responsive and fostering a nurturing environment for diversity? IMHO, yes. The faculty can also only do what is in their power and not only listen but also acknowledge their students. These are, after all, not your ordinary students. These are the future leaders of tomorrow. These are the Nobel Prize Laureates, engineers and future innovators of society. What I believed to be rhetoric preached to us as students was in fact true as was evidenced by several members of the current mayoral administration in attendance at the alumni meetings who also happen to be former classmates. Faculty can only do what is within their power and within the confines of the institution and they seemed to be doing so.

Rather than blame the faculty or blame the students or pick sides, I would like to take ownership and accept my roles and responsibilities as alumni. No offense to any alumni currently engaged in bringing about an awareness for higher education, but I submit to you that we ALL could and SHOULD be doing more. There are more African American graduates of Brooklyn Tech than there ever will be students and faculty combined! EVER!! If we were operating on sheer numbers alone then who collectively has the ability to cause a seismic shift if we deem the current conditions inappropriate and non representative of our diverse history? #bthsalum

I was recently asked a fairly simple question. Is there any literature that exists which;

  1. Informs potential student and their parents of the admissions process?
  2. Provides alternatives if you don’t past the test on your first try?
  3. List the preparatory courses available?
  4. List the benefits of attending Tech?Alum

Sadly, I did not know the answer to these questions at initial point of inquiry, which further attests to my lack of pro activity on this issue. I have since acquired much more information regarding this.

When my brother went to take the specialized test, he did so of his own volition. After having had quite the miserable time in junior high school (I.S 391 / Mahalia Jackson… in Brooklyn.. in the mid 80’s..nuff said), he had decided at the ripe old age of 13 that he would sign up for the specialized examination and take it without alerting my parents. He was punished for not being where he was supposed to be as a result but he passed the test and was admitted. When I took the test, my parents had spared no expense and enrolled me in Stanley Kaplan, which taught me how to navigate the S.H.S.A.T (specialized high school standard aptitude test). That is the difference between an informed parent and one not in the know.

I speak of Brooklyn Tech with a deep adoration even almost 30 years after entering the building. I have gotten into countless arguments with students of other specialized high schools who shall remain nameless (rhymes with Iverson) as to who reigns intellectually dominant in NYC. Former Tech students have often been accused of behaving cult like in the manner we still congregate in all corners of the earth. We are seemingly everywhere and quite boisterous about our alma mater. Be it an official stamp of intelligence (real or imagined) or the camaraderie formed with other students who had to walk seven flights up to the lunch room after swim class in the basement, Tech was home and will remain home emotionally.

Brooklyn Tech holds a special place in my heart and yelling “Tech” with fond adoration is no longer enough to retain the rich and diverse history of this institution. If we alumni do not take action, the Tech name will become a scar rather than a badge of honor and we may not matter in 20 years.

Brooklyn Tech


Rest Easy Eric Curran a.k.a M.C Krispy E



Almost every year for the past 6 years and on the same day, I’ve posted the same pic of me in the hospital  during my temporary and untimely demise  in 2015. A few weeks after I was back to “normal”, I asked Eric “Why’d you take the pics?” And he said, “I knew you would want to write about it if you lived.” Eric was right. Eric was often right and Eric always had my best interest at heart. I am going to miss my friend.

You ever meet someone and become friends immediately?! Well this was not the case with Eric. Before he was my manager at Morgan Stanley, I would often see this 6’4″, giant white guy walk up to the only black woman at work, say something then walk away without any hint of human emotion. Naturally I thought he was a jerk until I asked her “Yo, is that dude bothering you?” She laughed and proceeded to tell me he was a great person, which I ultimately got to experience first hand. Little did I know this Italian from Staten Island was more Brooklyn than most Brooklynites.

Eric was not with the shits!! If there were ever someone who lived their life in direct, honest and no uncertain terms, that would be Eric. He would ask me questions at work like “Why are the other consultants making more money than you?” I knew the answer to that question and so did he. Eric then proceeded to increase my salary by 15K. After arguing with all our managers that “You need to hire Alfred!”, they eventually did 1 year prior to the 2015 incident. In the hospital, one of my friends asked me, “What if you didn’t have health insurance when this happened?” I would be in debt for the rest of my life is the obvious answer. I still am in debt for the rest of my life but at least, it is to those who made sure I had a more enjoyable life and for that, I will gladly repay.

My mom loved to tell me the story of how she met Eric. After they told her I was going to be in the ICU for some time, she told the doctor “Well I’m not going anywhere.” She then hears a voice from that back of the room that says “Well I’m not going anywhere either!” That was Eric and in true form, he was at that hospital every single day until I was discharged.

Eric passed away in December 2021 of stage 4 cancer. After feeling faint on his way to my bbq, he went to get checked out and was diagnosed. During the past 5 years, Eric lost his mom, twin brother and dad. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must have felt like but I’m glad that pain he was feeling is no more.

It’s been a bit difficult to deal with it to be quite honest and I’ve been writing this in my head for years but never had the bravery or grace to accept that my friend wouldn’t be here soon. I also can’t imagine what it must be like to lose your entire family nucleus unexpectedly. In true Eric fashion however, I would like this to not be about me but whomever has lost someone and has been coping. I’ve always intimated that my life would not be as enriched as it was were it not for the people in it. The problem with that is there is also no way to deny that it feels empty without those who helped craft your path. Rather than focus on the negative, I would rather focus on the examples of duty, family and emotional intelligence. All concepts reinforced by Eric that have led me to have successful relationships since I’ve put them into practice.

From being my manager to my business partner, writer, book editor, artistic director, and most importantly, my friend, I am going to miss you MC Krispy E a.k.a “Enrique Pollazo!” And although you told me Enrique means Henry in Spanish and not Eric, it was too late!

Sidebar. The day I was discharged, while everyone was deciding what was best for me, no one had remembered that I would need clothes in order to leave the hospital. Eric shows up (unasked) with all the clothes I had on the day I coded, laundered and ready to go. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve friends like this but i need to keep doing it! Sidebar complete.

Rest in Peace Eric. “Be Good.”

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Writing Your First Book / Should I Self Publish?




I had the distinct pleasure of  participating in a panel discussion on writing your first book, presented by the Harlem chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.  Alongside Jim St. Germain, Author – A Stone of Hope: A Memoir and Dr. Keneshia Nicole Grant, Author – The Great Migration and the Democratic Party: Black Voters and the Realignment of American Politics in the 20th Century.  We opined on pain points, benefits and strategies regarding our inaugural voyages into authorship. Feel free to watch for your self and I hope this provides some insight to all those looking to make the same voyage. Enjoy!

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What the NFT is a BEEPLE?



On March 11 this year, the digital artist Beeple sold a collage of digital images from his “Everydays” series for nearly 70 million dollars as an NFT, or non-fungible token. And if that sentence confuses you, you’re not alone.

A non-fungible token is a unit of data on a digital ledger called a blockchain, where each NFT can represent a unique digital item, and thus they are not interchangeable. NFTs can represent digital files such as art, audio, video, and other forms of creative work. While the digital files themselves are infinitely reproducible, the NFTs representing them are tracked on their underlying blockchains and provide buyers with proof of ownership.” – Wikipedia

Still confused? Let the artist himself explain it, and learn how he went from NFT newbie to making the third most expensive artwork by a living artist in three months. Not to suggest Beeple is an overnight success. The “Everydays” series alone involved creating a piece of art every day since May 1, 2007 – and he hasn’t missed a day.

Check out some of Beeple’s amazing and controversial work below.

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