I Faced History One Day and Found Myself

Face Histroy

I faced history one day and found myself. Beginning in my 9th grade year of high school, I was a “Facing History and Ourselves” student in Cleveland, Ohio. My first experience with this organization was with a Holocaust survivor named Max Adelman. I can still hear his voice ringing in my ear as I remember him stating that, when he was in the work camps he use to wonder “does the world care,” arriving on the negative side of this question. I also realized that at one time, I didn’t care. In middle school I was known as the class bully, taking my title so far that once I nearly broke a kid’s arm.

I faced history one day and and became an activist. Listening to Max Adelman made me look within myself, and challenged me to make sure I was caring for everyone, even those outside of my universe of obligation. FacingHistoryWhen the class lesson was on identity, it allowed me to put my life into perspective, understand who I was as an individual, and illustrated that I can have an impact on the society around me. When the class lesson was about making choices, it challenged me to study the history of the world and my personal past, so that in high school I was no longer the class bully, but the student that spoke against violence in and outside of school. When my facing history class started the session on choosing to participate, I became committed to activism. In high school, I went on to fight for youth rights and became the co-founder of a non-profit called Ohio Youth Voices.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yyrSq7OcOA

Welcome to the Black Youth Project

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Welcome!  Today marks the official launch of the new Black Youth Project website.  Here you will find blogs, our rap lyrics database, news articles, reports, curriculum and much more.  Click here to read the official press release and here to watch a video, both of which give an overview of what we offer on this new website.  Thanks for visiting and we hope that you come back again soon!

Sincerely,

The Black Youth Project

Judging Life

 

By no means am I a constitutional scholar. I have yet to attend a law school class, and I have never given an oral argument before The Supreme Court. With that said, whatever I may lack in legal acumen, I make up for with “real world knowledge”. Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States of America heard arguments on whether sentencing juveniles to life without parole violated the eighth amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment”. For the record, I am a staunch opponent of sentencing juveniles to life without parole. It’s not because I’m a bleeding-heart liberal that doesn’t believe in punishment. No, what I do believe in is science and empiricism. A National Institutes of Health study suggests that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age 25. This explains why teens are more likely than any other age group to be in an auto accident, but it also explains the lack of maturity and foresight among adolescents.

Gone Til November: The Obama Mixtape

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ron Sachs / Rex Features ( 814301t )

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ron Sachs / Rex Features ( 814301t )

Due to my desire to post on Precious, I failed to fulfill a writing assignment.  I think I was supposed to post something about the 1st anniversary of the election of President Barack Obama.  I didn’t know we celebrated the anniversaries of elections, but weird stuff happens when black people are involved.  Frankly, I don’t really have much to say.  I think my blogging record speaks for itself.  I did not feel like the Jeffersons on Election Night 2008.  In fact, I was pretty critical of the whole thing.  But I’m not going to be cranky about this.  Like my grandmother said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, make a mixtape.  (Okay, she really didn’t say that.)  So that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I suppose it’s not really a mixtape, but rather several EPs.  Either way, though I love Radiohead, I’m not going to give the birthers any love by calling this thing “Hail to the Thief.”

Week of November 2, 2009 – November 8, 2009

College Campaigns for Values
Bill Maxwell, St. Petersburg Times, November 8, 2009

Food Stamps: A Canary in the Coal Mine?
Douglas C. Lyons, Sun Sentinel, November 7, 2009

ACLU Sues County Over Graduation Rate
Mark Freeman, Sun Sentinel, November 6, 2009

Black Students Told to Act Like Slaves
United Press International, November 6, 2009

Social Awareness Activist Inspires Children to Look Beyond Perceptions
Sean Maher, Oakland Tribune, November 6, 2009

U-Md. Students Protest Official’s Firing
Daniel de Vise, Washington Post, November 6, 2009

It’s up to Us’; About 100 Attend Forum Aimed at Stopping Deadly Violence
Dave Munday, The Post and Courier, November 5, 2009

Officials Seeing Racial Progress
Jenny Hurwitz, The Times-Picayune, November 5, 2009

’State of Black Pittsburgh’ Will be Explored
Chris Ramirez, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 5, 2009

Minority Students Earned Greater Number of Academic Degrees in Fiscal Year 2006
National Science Foundation, November 4, 2009

Half of U.S. Kids Will Get Food Stamps, Study Says
Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press, November 2, 2009

What Do Baggy Pants Really Say?
Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune, November 2, 2009

Lost in Translation: A Response to 'Precious'

Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry said Precious was awesome and that everyone should go see it. Since I am the most obedient of Negroes, I saw it last Friday. If Flavor Flav is the world’s greatest hype man, this duo is officially the world’s greatest hype machine. I found Precious slightly underwhelming, uninspiring, and lacking much of what makes the novel, Push by Sapphire, so powerful. Sorry, Ms. Winfrey. I had no “A-ha!” moment.

Laughing at Addiction

When i first saw this video and others like it, i was appalled at the fact that we have somehow managed to twist a serious issue like addiction into a joke. Dave Chappelle did it with his character Tyrone Biggums. Now it seems that people have taken to the streets to find real human beings who are struggling with addiction, to make videos for entertainment purposes and throw on YouTube.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GkC0IHCtdc

When did addiction become funny? Seriously. When did it become okay to laugh and poke fun of crack heads and drunks? When did normal, functioning human beings decide that it was okay to make fun of addicts? And when will they let me in on the joke?

They Were There: History Under Appreciated

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skIbv11vkH4

When I was a child, I lived with my grandmother for 6 years of my life. I had to deal with the old traditionalist methods of coming inside when the streets lights came on or only listening to gospel music on Sundays. Yesterday my grandmother turned 78, and she is still as lively as ever, living in Tupelo, Mississippi.

What would you do if you had living, breathing history right in front of you? If someone could tell you first hand what the great depression was like from an eight-year-olds perspective. Or if you could hear about old people fighting for equality when they were teenagers, when risk was higher and safety was not just a “ride home” away. What if someone could give you anecdotes about a time before I-pods and XM radio, an instant before HD flat screen television and movies being watched on blue-ray disc? What if you could hear about race riots, corruption, and struggle?
What If you could listen to history from the voices of the oppressed, instead of the perpetrators who are usually in power? What if? Would you listen? Would you pause your busy life and take the time to hear these stories. Is it more important than your Friday night movie, your Saturday night club, your weekly outing?

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If you could, would you?

Well, you can. You can experience a primary source of history through our grandparents and great grandparents, through volunteering at nursing homes, and talking to the church elders. There are so many people around us everyday of our lives that are eager to talk about the past and their perspective on how society has arrived to where we are today.

Just as youth struggle to be heard, I believe that our senior citizens have an equal struggle also. If they are not being condescended, than they are only being listened to out of respect for their age. I think we miss great opportunities to better ourselves by not using these stories to learn from the past.

Week of October 26, 2009 – November 1, 2009

Boston Still Vexed by School Busing
Justin A. Rice, Washington Times, November 1, 2009

Recruitment effort for mentors kicks off in Cleveland with Susan Taylors
Margaret Bernstein, Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 31, 2009

David Templeton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 31, 2009

As bench marks get raised, more schools in danger of failing
Kerry Lester, Chicago Daily Herald, October 30, 2009

Students Reach Agreement with Bar in Race Dispute
Betsy Taylor, Associated Press, October 29, 2009

African American Office of Gay Concerns to Launch ‘Status is Everything’ HIV Testing Campaign
PR Newswire, October 27, 2009


You Think I'm Black? Part 2

            After my original post, “You think I’m Black”, I received a lot of feedback from some of my friends and colleagues- from some adulation, and from others scorn. Due to their varying opinions I decided that I couldn’t end the discussion on the note that Blacks everywhere should recognize their African roots. Let’s delve deeper into this contentious issue. Why do some Caribbeans, Latinos, and Africans not want to associate themselves with American Blacks?