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Op Ed

I’m Better Than You Because The SHSAT Said So

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For the past week, Mayor Bill DeBlasio of New York City has proposed a gradual phase out of standardized testing for all specialized high schools. Reason being, the lack of minority students, specifically Af-Am and Latino students, who make up 70 percent of NYC public school student body but only have an 8% demographic representation in these schools. Within that time, many alumni have chimed in either in favor of or opposed to that suggested legislation. Regardless of stance, what I was most taken aback by was the level of hubris from all sides.

It’s been eye opening watching alumni from my alma mater (Brooklyn Tech) engage in these discussions. It’s akin to watching feudal lords debate the fate of commoners and peasants; “They should find their own way like we did.” “We have a responsibility to help those that come after us.” “Asians are predisposed to educational success because of their culture.” “If Asians were culturally predisposed, they would’ve always been the majority.” Mind you, these folk making all these assessments often have no direct connection to the demographic they champion or denigrate and regardless of stance, the level of arrogance (from all sides) left me a bit unnerved.

I’ve embraced that “elite” badge that comes with being labeled intelligent ever since it was bestowed upon me. After several decades of framing my intelligent, myopic lenses however, I may have lost sight of what it actually means.

Intelligent (Adjective)
Having or showing intelligence, especially of a high level; able to vary its state in response to varying situations, varying requirements, and past experience.

I won’t re-litigate any of the predominant arguments because they really don’t matter. What I will focus on is how we actually engage. For all the ingenious ideas and suggestions given, they were all provided from a 10,000 foot view looking down on those we are allegedly trying to help. Some alumni only seem to be able to dedicate hours of service to their school when it comes to drafting articulate responses in chat groups. When it comes to lifting the same Twitter fingers for some good old fashioned, grass roots participation however, “Tech Stark, Warden of the North and defender of all things Intellect”, will be back after these messages.

The sad truth is the main concern seems not for the middle school students nor the quality of education they currently receive. If we cared about the K-8 Pipeline, we would probably already be engaged in changing it or realize just how daunting a task change is. And if you believed the SHSAT should be changed or done away with, you probably would’ve been engaged in that struggle also. What seems more likely is that the outrage comes from our brand identity being threatened and the social vapor trail that come with that.

Although I shared those halls with thousands of students from varying backgrounds, it seems we all somehow missed each other. Brooklyn Tech championed academia but you were pretty much on your own when it came to social competence and quite frankly, some of us fell short. After witnessing scores of us try and outwit each other in rebuttal rather than help the community that shaped us, I’m left wondering what the benefit of all this “smartness” is if the application does not extend beyond debate and personal interests?

Sidebar: The most important aspect of the SHSAT is showing up. Prepared or not, it doesn’t matter if you are not in attendance. We should probably apply participation to other aspects of our educational interests as well. Sam Adewumi is one such alumni engaged and getting results. Kudos to all those that are hands on and engaged in the ongoing educational struggles in all communities. It is appreciated.

 

 

Crazed Afrykan is a writer / hip hop producer (Nas / Damien Marely) and aficionado of hip hop culture. For over 30 years, he has gained personal introspective into the motivations, rhymes and reasons for one of the most revered genres in modern music. He is also a smug, smart ass with a perplexing penchant for alliterations. You’ve been warned.

Op Ed

Just a Long-Ass Thought About Spirituality, Forgiveness, and Black America

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Walk with me on this Amber Guyger and Botham Jean family story…

We all see life as the longest thing that we will ever do… so we should get the most out of it and we should damn sure not settle for suffering while we’re here. I agree. Do not settle for suffering. But try as we might, we will all suffer at some point. Pain is inevitable. Such is life. The only difference between people of faith, and people who are just grinding, is perspective. If you’re a Christian, like the huggy brother, you believe in your soul being eternal. Whatever hardships we face in life, no matter how unfathomably difficult or negative, you believe that if you live righteously -and that means  not living in revenge and resentment — your soul will live eternally in paradise. People can’t comprehend that. Life is the longest thing we’ll ever do, but if you have real faith, (not that every  Sunday faith) life is short compared to eternity.

Now some of your eyes just glazed over when you read that last part and you made the 🙄 face. It sounds silly and Pollyannaish when you look at the history of America. Black folks have been killed, massacred and overlooked everyday since we got here and it continues to happen. Forgiveness sounds helpless. It sounds foolish. How can you be weak enough to be forgiving of those who hurt you -especially when it’s is systemic and woven into everyday life? And there’s the part about the same people that enslaved us introducing us to a God that will save us? How do those things go together?

Perfectly reasonable questions. If you don’t believe in God or Jesus or an afterlife then forgiveness sounds like bullshit. Hard to believe in what you can’t see, especially when you CAN see oppression everyday. I get it. I truly do.

Some of my closest friends mute me on here because I’m always on political shit. 🤣 I share a lot of it. I am frustrated by inequality and oppression and I fight it in my own life in every way that I can -with my wallet and my time and my purchasing. I speak out on it in uncomfortable personal conversations with friends or acquaintances when I feel people are bullshitting or are blind to -isms. I hate inequality and I don’t avoid it. I wade into it and stress myself out everyday. I’m not for punting on life and settling for what happens after we die. That’s weak. Fight for your joy and your prosperity. Period.

Forgiveness isn’t my mantra here. It’s just part of the story because the story isn’t one dimensional.

None of us are just one thing or one way. Just for a moment stop and try to release your bias against the idea of forgiveness and ponder this blip in time that we call life, versus the reality of eternity. Physics says energy doesn’t stop, it just changes. Think of your life and your soul scientifically. When we die our energy and essence does *something.* Why can’t that something be what people of faith believe? If the Jean family truly has that kind of faith many people will mock it beacause most can’t comprehend it. But if you really have faith and can imagine the notion of eternity then you get it. Meditate on that. You know that that young man getting murdered in his own apartment was horrific and unforgivable and the trial was a signifier of white power vis-a-vis black bodies in America and that’s why the verdict meant so much to us. She was found guilty. And not just of manslaughter or negligence. But murder. That meant something.

However, the sentence was light. That meant something too. But the family’s forgiveness means something too.

Don’t @ me. @ your therapist.

The unfortunate part is that that image of the hugs and the tears is what will be tied to the administration of justice here. Was it necessary for the family? Absolutely. Was it good for America when we so rarely see justice in the killing of black people at the hands of white cops. Hell no! The image that we should have walked away with from that trial was her walking away in shackles. We don’t want to see oppressors feel comforted when it should be our moment to feel some measure of justice. But would an image of the family celebrating have nourished us yesterday? That wasn’t the answer either. I hate that the image of that killer cop being comforted after she murdered a black man in his own home was what represented the story in the news. The angry me gets it and I was pissed yesterday. But so does the person inside who believes that there is an unbelievable strength to that kind of faith and a reason for our resilence in this country is the strength of our collective souls.

But what do I know?

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Op Ed

WILL THE NEXT BE THE LAST?

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Mass shootings in America was the first line I began to write on Sunday November 18th. Before I was able to complete additional research on the subject, Monday November 19th arrived and two more mass shootings occurred. That time a hospital in Chicago and the streets of downtown Denver got their turns in the game of American roulette.

Thoughts and prayers aren’t saving lives

Now on Monday August 5th 2019, we’re in the midst of recovering from three more mass shootings in the span of one week. One in Gilroy, CA that is suspected to be racially motivated. Another in Dayton, Ohio whose motives are still under investigation, and lastly in El Paso, Texas which was definitively motivated by white supremacist views. In total, over 30 innocent people were killed in these terrorist attacks on American soil by young White male American citizens within a matter of days.

Like it or not, we’re all playing this deadly game of chance whenever we decide to go shopping, catch a movie, show up for work, attend a concert, worship at church… I think you get the point. The bottom line is the leaders of this country have made it abundantly clear that they aren’t willing or capable of protecting us. The public safety of all of our citizens is not the primary concern of too many of our public officials. Their priority is re-election and the spoils (money) attached to it.

Thoughts and prayers aren’t saving lives. The time has come to expand our thought process to increase our odds of survival. Below are two possible solutions that we can enact to force changes expeditiously.

  1. Boycotts of areas of mass gatherings could significantly effect the economy which in turn would motivate the Government to act.
  2. Minorities under attack need to significantly increase their own arsenals which would motivate the Government to act.

Either of the two aforementioned solutions tend to be more alarming than the reality of white supremacist terrorism and the possibility of an economic downturn. The sooner we collectively stop waiting for change and force it through bold action, the more innocent lives will be saved.

Mypens Real is immersed in the digital world with the keen eye of sifting through the fat and pulling out the meat. Always keeping tabs on the latest pros & cons technology has to offer. Whether it's sports, politics or pure stupidity...he'll find what's what.

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Op Ed

Why You’re Racist and Don’t Even Know It

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All of the people reading this currently were at some point, mindless, dribbling idiots who didn’t know their asses from their elbows. Some of you may disagree. Now if I said everyone reading this was at some point, a baby, no one would argue that point (except for those who believe their children were self-sufficient Einsteins right out of the womb). Behold! The power of labels! It’s easy to accept or disavow labels simply because of the generally perceived connotations they evoke, especially when that perception is negative. But if you study the parameters that define those labels and compare them to your own behaviors, can you rationally dispute that you are what they said you were? With that said and before you continue to espouse that you are all rainbow hugging flower children who loves everyone equally, have you ever truly defined what being racist is before you professed you weren’t?

rac·ism
[ˈrāˌsizəm]

NOUN

  1. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

Based on the contextual definition of racism, I don’t even understand why there’s a contextual definition of racism. The definition may as well just say “Human” because quite frankly, I haven’t met one person who hasn’t discriminated or been prejudiced based on race. Just look at your spouse, friends, living environments, etc.. We have all knowingly (sadly) and unknowingly (best case scenario), made these types of decisions. Now does making decisions based on race make you a bad person? YES!!! It absolutely does!! And the only way you can be a good person is if you first accept that you are racist, then remain aware of that so it doesn’t affect your future decision making. Once you acknowledge that you have a preference, it becomes easier to entertain the ideal of equality and not succumb to personal preference.

Some people would agree that racism has benefited far too few in America and disenfranchised far too many. I am one of those people. The oddity of that is some unknowingly suggest racism as a solution to… racism. Can you truly level the playing field without being temporarily racist however? Can you justly deny anyone opportunities in 2019 to atone for denying a different race of people opportunities 200 years ago? As an example (and I’m sure an unpopular one), is it really fair to deny any Caucasian any opportunity in the name of correction when A) that specific Caucasian did not cause the issue and B) What the hell does “equal” mean in the first place? Physics clearly state that 2 objects can’t occupy the same space at the same time. So if there is only space for one thing at one TIME (extreme emphasis on TIME), can the concept of equality even exists if we have to remove one for the other to catch up? If you practice deliberate discrimination in the name of aggregate equality, contextually speaking, how are you not a racist?

We were all raised by someone with less refined social ideas of and experiences with other races. This means our baselines for interactions with other races were predefined by those who were also unknowingly racist. It’s OK. It’s not your fault or theirs. You didn’t choose the world you were born into and neither did they. You do have a say in the world you leave behind however. If you don’t acknowledge that you do have a say, you probably won’t say anything and leave the next generation to repeating the same hate speech.

We can never get to a point of resolution if we haven’t accepted and can’t publicly admit that we are ALL susceptible to stereotypes and prejudiced.  Seeing as how no one except for the KKK is admittedly racist, yet racism is still prevalent, I don’t believe anyone should be excluding their personal behaviors and choices from racial evaluation.

Sidebar; For those who say African Americans can’t be racist because we are the marginalized population, even the contextual definition states “typically” but not solely. So sorry to burst your reverse racist bubbles but although you may not be as savage, you may be just as prejudiced as those who weren’t marginalized. Sidebar Complete.

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