Wanna Be Startin Something: The Spirit of the Night

Here, on the pages of the Black Youth Project, us bloggers engage in a tradition of writing opinion pieces that may interest other Black youth. Often we comment on popular culture, racism (naturally), and politics; and most of the time we criticize heavilly, at least I do. Something feels incomplete, though, about the meditations I place in front of you all. Even though comments creep into my inbox and I can see readers show love on Facebook, the impact I hope for never actualises. This is a space that usually ends with the writer and the reader expressing their point of view, and as a result, ideas may change. Mind changes are not insignificant, but they relate to an outside world that still maintains the problems that upset the individual in the first place. The resolution of the outside world, that of that of the government “righting their wrongs,” others stoping their profiling, etc., is what every voice that speaks (whether verbally or in writing) desires.

6-Year Old Author Fights Stigma Of Child Obesity

6-Year Old Author Fights Stigma Of Child Obesity
NPR | March 15, 2011
Listen here

LaNiyah Bailey, 6, follows a healthy diet and exercises regularly. Yet, due to a health condition, she struggles with being overweight. After being constantly teased by children and adults about her size, Bailey decided to write about her experience. Her new book, Not Fat Because I Wanna Be, aims to help kids understand that bullying others because of their weight is wrong. Host Michel Martin speaks with LaNiyah Bailey about her book and her life. They are joined by her mother LaToya White and father Sango Bailey.

The Dark Continent: The Island and Robben

I got the opportunity to visit Robben Island. This is the location that Nelson Mandela was jailed at for 27 years of his life. It still amazes me the sacrifices given by activists in the name of freedom and equality. I am only 20 years old, meaning he was in jail for a longer amount of time than I have been alive. It is a troubling thought, but also an encouraging one. It is encouraging because finally we find a true story with a happy ending. (well…kind of). Finally we find a moment in history where war did not rule over peace, we find a moment where the oppressors realized they could no longer sustain their oppression. And we find a moment in history when a political prisoner turns into a Nobel prize winning president, a man that left Robben Island willing to forgive the people who initially jailed him. We can find the reality and hardship of the jail inside the world of theater.

Racial disparity grows for graduation rates (Study)

Racial disparity grows for graduation rates (Study)
Associated Press (via CBS Sports) | March 14, 2011

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A study released Monday shows growing disparity between graduation rates for white and black players at schools in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.

An annual report by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport found a 2 percent overall graduation rate increase to 66 percent for Division I players, but showed the rates for white players is increasing at a higher rate.

The gap has grown from 22 percent in 2009 to a current level of 32 percent. White players show a 91 percent graduation rate, which is up 7 percent. Black players have a graduation rate at 59 percent, up 3 percent from last year’s study. This is the third straight year the gap has increased.

Richard Lapchick, the institute director and primary author of the study, said the gap makes it hard to celebrate the overall progress.

“To say that it’s troubling is an understatement,” Lapchick said. “It is a staggering gap, but I think you’ve seen an increased percentage among African-American athletes over the years because of the (Academic Progress Rate) thresholds. Losing scholarships is a big lever there. But I think now you have to raise the expectation level of the rates.”

Information was collected by the NCAA from member institutions for the study. The institute reviewed the six-year graduation rates of each school’s freshman class that enrolled in 2003-04, then calculated a four-class average. Princeton was not included in the overall graduation rate figure because it, like other Ivy League schools, doesn’t report graduation rates.  (Read more)

Gay Is the New Black: limitations of identity politics

By Justin Hill

In 2008, when I first read “Gay is the New Black” on the cover of the Advocate, I CRINGED at its implications.  Even as I write, “Gay is the New Black,” it is unsettling because it elides, obfuscates and erases many tensions and concerns. You may be asking, “Why speak about it now, three years after the article was published?” The answer is simple—I feel the need to talk about my concerns and fears on the matter because of the Obama Administration’s legal/political move to position/add gay people as a protected class of citizens.

This is What Democracy Looks Like!?

League of Young Voters | March 14, 2011


Members of the League of Young Voters traveled to Wisconsin’s capitol to see how they can get more African Americans involved in the protests.

March 7, 2011 – March 13, 2011

Skills fund to prioritise Black and Coloured youths
Chantall Presence, Eye Witness News, March 13, 2011

4th Annual African American Men Read – In ‘Brothers Mentoring Youth Through Reading’
J. Williams, The Westside Gazette, March 13, 2011

Teacher encourages students to discover themselves
Kevin Tremain, The State-Journal Register, March 12, 2011

Why black Africans are paying the price for the real or perceived use of mercenaries in Libya
Colin Freeze, The Globe and Mail, March 12, 2011

Local doctors use education to wage war on HIV/AIDS among Black Youth
Charles Moseley, The Westside Gazette, March 11, 2011

Principal Blames Black Students For School’s Poor Scores
News One, March 11, 2011

Multicultural students at top of list for Black Cultural Center
Alli Kolick, Iowa State Daily, March 10, 2011

Juvenile Justice Week Raises Awareness About Plight of Incarcerated Youth
Alex Garcia, The Sun New, March 10, 2011

Parents of minority students criticize culture at top high school
Patrick Wall, Gotham Schools Report, March 9, 2011

Grand Rapids schools hit with sanctions for suspending blacks, students with disabilities at higher rates
Monica Scott, The Grand Rapids Press, March 9, 2011

Clubs seek to engage students
Jermaine Harrison, Accent Advocate, March 8, 2011

Program to encourage minority students to study abroad
Brett Anderson, TCU Daily, March 8, 2011

An artist inspires creativity in youth
Erica Newport, Herald-Tribune, March 8, 2011

Project reaches out to St. Paul’s young black men
Chao Xiong, Star Tribune, March 8, 2011

Hurricanes relying on youth movement
Javier Serna, McClatchy Newspapers, March 8, 2011

Togetherness Supreme: Kenyan Youth, Hipness and Hope on Screen
Ruth Starkman, Huffington Post, March 7, 2011

Paddling smacks of violence, not education
Star-Telegram, March 7, 2011

Vocational courses: Is it because I is black?
Michael Mumisa, The Independent, March 7, 2011

Finding Fairness for Rural Students
Education Week, March 7, 2011

Students were ready and willing to debate
Melissa Tait, The Record, March 7, 2011

African-American Youth Achievement Awards Recognize Evanston/Skokie Students
Trib Local Evanston

Reinserting queer names into black history
Andrea Houston, Xtra News, March 7, 2011

Study Finds That Blacks With Strong Racial Identity Are Happier

Study Finds That Blacks With Strong Racial Identity Are Happier
Atlanta Post | March 2011

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Black people who identify more strongly with their racial identity are generally happier, according to a study led by psychology researchers at Michigan State University. The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, appears in the current issue of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, a research journal published by the American Psychological Association.

“This is the first empirical study we know of that shows a relationship between racial identity and happiness,” said Stevie C.Y. Yap, doctoral candidate in psychology at MSU and lead researcher on the project. Previous research has found a relationship between racial identity and favorable outcomes such as self-esteem, Yap said, but none has made the link with happiness.

For the study, the researchers surveyed black adults in Michigan. The results suggest the more the participants identified with being black – or the more being black was an important part of who they are – the more happy they were with life as a whole, Yap said.

The study also explored the reasons behind the connection. Yap said it may be fueled by a sense of belongingness – that is, blacks with a strong sense of racial identity may feel more connected to their racial group, which in turn makes them happy. (Read more)

March Madness: The Fab Five

Last night I caught ESPN’s 30 for 30 installment, The Fab Five.  The documentary chronicles the two years the University of Michigan men’s basketball team captured the imagination–and ire–of the sports watching public.  I was a young kid when Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, and Chris Webber revolutionized college basketball and rocked my basketball-loving world, even more so than the Larry Johnson-led UNLV Runnin’ Rebels who came a few years before them.  Growing up in basketball obessed Indiana, loyalities were given to either the Purdue Boilermakers or the Indiana Hoosiers.  I had always been rather uninspired by the rivalry, couldn’t care less about Gene Keady or Bob Knight.  But the Fab Five?  I wanted to be their little tomboyish sister or something.  I wanted the baggy shorts, the black socks, the black sneakers–that I had to convince my dad to buy me, because according to him, “girls don’t wear black gym shoes.”–and maybe even the bald head.  The Fab Five documentary took me back to those inevitably heartbreaking two years when Jalen Rose was my favorite Fab Fiver and the Duke Blue Devils were exactly that–devils.  Although the film primarily spoke to the part of me that never got over the Wolverines losing in the NCAA tournament, what also coalesced in the film was perhaps a incredibly pivotal moment in black cultural when desire for respect and the pursuit for respectability were abandoned, inevitably resulting into a hyper-commodified and commericialized black culture that has now reached an extremely nihilistic moment.