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THE BLACK STUDENT UNION PRESENTS

THE VANGUARD

A BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPECIAL! A

H I S T O R Y

S T I L L

I N

T H E

M A K I N G

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012


THE VANGUARD The Vanguard is an official publication of the Black Student Union, which provides a voice for African American heritage and serves the University’s community from an African American perspective.

DISCLAIMER: The articles and perspectives presented do not necessarily reflect the views of The Black Student Union.

Are you interested in writing for the vanguard? If so, contact the Publications Coordinator, Oladapo Onasanya, at theunionpub@gmail.com


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR! Dear new and Returning Students, My name is Oladapo Adedamola Onasanya and it’s my pleasure to welcome you to Binghamton University. I am the current Publications Coordinator for the Black Student Union and it is my humble honor to welcome you into Black History Month as well. For this prestigious and historical time of the year, I hope all of us can take the time out and appreciate the ground breaking African American achievements, historical climaxes and pay homage to our ancestral culture and continue the good will of those before us. Best Regards, Oladapo Adedamola Onasanya Black Student Union Publication Coordinator ’11-‘12’


PRESIDENT - DESIREE YEBOAH VICE-PRESIDENT- GILBERT ARIAS SECRETARY- MARIA GIL SOCIAL-CULTURAL CO-ORDINATOR - ANASSTAJA BURGHER PUBLIC RELATIONS - DAMI AGHEDO POLITICIAL CORRESPONDENT- CHANEE CAMERON PUBLICATIONS CO-ORDINATOR - OLADAPO ONASANYA TREASURER – JAMILA ADAMS HISTORIAN- PATRICIA SYLVESTRE EDUCATIONAL CO-ORDINATOR – KEVIN LAPIERRE S.A REPRESENTATIVE – ESE OLUMHENSE


INTRODUCTION TO BSU YOUTH PROGRAM - PAGE 6 INTRODUCTION TO BSU U-TURN – PAGE 7 “WHY WE SHOULD REMEMBER “ - PAGE 8-9 “THE OREO AFFECT: BLACK ANTI-INTELECTUALSIM” – PAGE 10-11 QOUTES FROM BLACK ACHIEVERS – PAGE 12 “TYRANNY OF THE BLACK MEDIA “ – PAGE 13-15 “ THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE FOR AN AFRICAN AMERICAN” – PAGE 16-17 “TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE” – PAGE 18 “URBAN SCHOOLS # FAIL” – PAGE 19-20 “RADICAL RELATIVISM” – PAGE 21-22 “DEDICATION TO THE BLACK GREEK” - PAGE 23-24 “GUESS WHO” – PAGE 25 “IF OBAMA WAS A WOMEN” – PAGE 26


The Black Student Union of Binghamton University is an organization rooted in the advancement of not only African American Students but our nations youth as well. BSU strives for academic excellence, and is dedicated to reaching out to the Binghamton community through various community service programs. One of the ways this is done is through BSU Youth Program. This program is designed to educate, unite, and uplift the local Broome county youth ages five to thirteen. Every Saturday from 11-3 these individuals have the amazing opportunity to experience a college campus lifestyle, while participating in fun, educational programs through mentorship of fellow student counselors. The Youth Program offers a setting where these children can use their creativity through arts and crafts, learn about their heritage, build relationships with other students and hence develop their unique personalities. Some of the programming throughout the year consists of Halloween Extravaganza, the Kwanzaa celebration, and the Black History Month Extravaganza. The local Broome County youth need strong mentors in their lives because in a society where success is often associated with financial gain, the importance of reaching out to students in urban areas is often lost. Not many people in these children’s lives devote the time to stress the importance of their heritage, be there to support their aspirations, and tell them “YOU CAN DO THIS”. As college students often facing the same situation it is imperative that we break the complacency and provide these students with mentorship and a basis for their personal and intellectual development. The Youth Program is made possible by the volunteering of fellow student counselors and the support of parents, elementary schools, and after school programs in the Binghamton area. As the educational coordinator of Youth Program for the year 2011-2012 I would like to thank all those for their continued support to make this program a success and invite all students of the Binghamton University campus to be part of these children’s lives. True success is the only measure by handwork, dedication, and security in your craft and I truly believe that once you experience the joy of making a difference in a child’s life, there’s no turning back from there.


U.T.U.R.N. is a mentoring program that was established in 2004 by the Black Student Union to mentor juvenile males in maximum security detention centers and its acronym stands for Uplifting Through Understanding Responsibility and Nurturing. This program has evolved since its recent conception to become an internship/ volunteer program that students can participate in and earn credits. It has also expanded to serve two facilities: MacCormick, which is a maximum-security male detention center and Lansing, which is a minimum-security center that house females. Students travel to two locations upstate New York where they get the unique opportunity to meet and mentor individuals who are just like them in every way but experienced the misfortune of being incarcerated. U.T.U.R.N. is a revolutionary approach to addressing the social problem of imprisonment because it provides an outlet for individuals to express themselves and cope with the undesirable conditions of detention centers. Todays current adult prisons have eliminated educational opportunities for prisoners who are then able to obtain a substantial education upon there release and although these youth systems provide classes and opportunities to acquire their GED, there are so isolated in these deserted locations that they become insensitive to society and apathetic to their condition. This perpetuates a dangerous cycle that only programs like U.T.U.R.N. can destroy. Residents eventually discard their attempts to get an education and fall into this cycle, internalize fatal habits and pass them along to their children. I have seen with my own eyes the progress U.T.U.R.N. makes with the residents because students look like them and they see people they can relate to in college and it gives them hopes and drive they to better their circumstances.

U.T.U.R.N. will grow exponentially and act as a model that should be replicated to address the previously mentioned social problems that imprisonment has contributed to. It provides adequate role models for young individuals that are in desperate need of a perspective not influenced by horrible prison conditions, correctional officers, overworked teachers and uninterested counselors.


This post originates from a conversation that took place on Facebook: During the month of February of this year, a Black male Facebook friend of mine wrote a post questioning the need for a national Black History Month. Interestingly, a few days prior to that, a white male acquaintance of mine raised the same question and jokingly proposed the idea of having a white history month. I explicitly argued that the other 11 months out of the year are catered to white history and reminded him why BHM was necessary in the first place. Therefore, when I was tagged in the post, I was not amused. In the note, My Facebook buddy compared the African Holocaust to that of the Jewish Holocaust stating that although Black slavery was horrible Black people “weren’t put in ovens, ordered to build pyramids etc.” He equated the Black is beautiful movement to White power ideologies. And argued that the recent Black Girls Rock campaign was a reverse form of telling young girls of other races that they are not beautiful. I was not going to reply until I noticed that other people were agreeing with his viewpoint. I thought about my conversation with my white male acquaintance, and realized that I had an obligation to step in and address this now and stop cut the nonsense at the root before it spread across the Internet. Response to Post: Students of African descent today are likely to be taught more about the Jewish holocaust then they are about the African holocaust. Therefore, it’s no wonder why you drew up this comparison. You argue that blacks were not forced to build the pyramids, but gloss over the fact that they forced to build the western world’s economy on their back. African slaves laid down pavements across their oppressor’s land, and in America, they built the capital building brick by brick. Whereas the survivors and descendants of the Jewish holocaust have made sure that the world “never forgets” what happened to them, African slave survivors and their descendants have allowed what happened to them to be watered down, swept under the rug, and are willing to “Fuggeddaboudit.” It is a mistake to say that Africans did not have it as harsh as Jewish people. This comment is a result of not taking the time to learn about the history of slavery. In this case, this it is not a matter of comparing who caught worst hell. If you whip a child till he bleeds and beat another child till he passes out, it is still abuse. And it weighs equally. African men, women, and children were squeezed onto ships where they remained in extreme close proximity. Imagine the body odor, the stench from vomit, sweat, urine and feces. They ate, breathed, slept, cried, and prayed there. This was the period before the steamboat. Therefore, the journey was excruciatingly long. Countless Africans died; thrown aboard alive, many fought back but were tortured to scare anyone from rebelling. The Dutch, Portuguese, British, French, the Spanish and the American kidnapped and transported millions of Africans to the new world by brute force. The number of Africans who died during this journey alone often goes untold.


The African men, women, and children who survived the passage woke up to a new land, to foreign people who spew hate at them in a foreign tongue. If you’ve ever traveled to a different country or city, imagine the culture shock you experienced. And so then imagine their experience. Imagine the fear, the pain, the confusion, and the humiliation. Imagine. For the next hundreds of years, Africans labored to death across the Caribbean, Latin America, North America, and across Europe under the most unimaginable conditions. The common treatment of the slave was abominable, because after all, they were not considered human; they were considered property. Across countries and state lines in America, Africans were forced to witness other Africans beaten, (sometimes to death) castrated, hung, skinned alive and burnt alive. Black women had to lie with black men to reproduce. Black men watched their Black women raped and abused. The family was divided, terrorized, ripped apart, and sold. Imagine the damage. Through it all, the African maintained a resilient spirit. But there is doubt that our ancestors wounded soul and an injured psyche is still alive today. If you think about it, when the legalization of slavery ended, no doctor, no psychotherapists, anthropologist etc, flocked to x-slave communities to help these men, women, and children cope with what happened to them. Today, people accept that soldiers can go to war and come back with psychological and emotional distress that can affect them for life. People also accept that abused children sometimes suffer well into adulthood. However, it seems that no one is willing to acknowledge that people of African descent continue to hurt presently. As for the Black Power movement, I think we all need to re-educate ourselves on it. I’m Black and I’m Proud” did not have anything to do with racism. Advocates of Black power never rallied to whip, beat, castrate, hang, or burn anybody. They rallied to advocate self-defense, education, and self-organization to build and maintain the black community. They asked Black people to do for themselves. Its purpose was to help blacks shed decades of being told they weren’t fit to be treated that cried out for human rights all over the world with human decency and dignity. Unlike Black power, white power called for the subordination and destruction of minorities. Granted, some members within the Black power movement let their zeal get the better of them, but the establishment made it a priority to paint them as terrorists rather than do the right thing and render them their human rights. In the case of Black Girls Rock, if we tell our black brothers, sisters, cousins, sons, and daughters that they’re beautiful and that they rock, it doesn’t mean we’re putting down somebody else. We need to tell them this. Who else is going to tell them? I encourage all of you to set aside what you were taught about slavery and go learn for yourselves. As we celebrate Black History Month, remember what our people endured in the past. Advocate for those suffering under the same conditions around the world. You owe it to your ancestors and to your children’s children to end this lack of awareness—today. We cannot afford to forget and allow our offspring to ever forget the price that our ancestor paid. We must remember so that future generations regardless of color may avoid another global holocaust such as that of the African.


“Acting white”, being “whitewashed” being an “Oreo” within the African American community are all the worst labels one can acquire. The criteria in order to fit into one of these categories are as follows: the use of proper grammar as opposed to heavy slang, listening to anything other than hip hop,R&B, or rap music especially rock music and any sub genre of rock music (rock and roll is still debatable as it was pioneered by blacks, but many still receive scrutiny for listening), watching shows like The Office, or F.R.I.E.N.D.S, and genuinely finding them hilarious and entertaining as opposed to shows like Love &Hip Hop and The Game which can be seen as stereotypical and annoying, just to name a few. To a member of another race, these all seem like the status quo, in fact as a member of another race if you took interest in any of these things you’re considered “normal”, but within the African American community you might as well be a white guy, a nerd, a loser, or all of the above. What baffles me is why going against the norm and what society expects of you is frowned upon so deeply amongst our own people? Is it not bad enough that we are judged by the world? I never use slang, in fact I barely understand it after growing up in Valley Stream, a predominantly white neighborhood on Long Island for the past 12 years. When I meet someone for the first time and they hear me speak I always get the look of “But you don’t sound black” plastered across their face, and it happens mostly towards black people. Almost as if right off the bat I’m being judged. So much so that in high school I had 2 black friends; I couldn’t fit in with the rest. What further baffles me is how these “whitewashed” these “Oreos” these individuals who “act white” are often times in the highest of positions and still frowned. They are our doctors, lawyers, businessmen and future leaders of the free world, but many still consider them well-to-do, pretentious, snobby blacks.


When one carries these titles it is automatically assumed that you know nothing of the “black struggle”, that you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, that life was handed to you on a black struggle, and that’s where the non-accepting attitude comes in. I’m one hundred percent certain that the revolutionaries of the 50’s 60’s and 70’s did not fight and sacrifice their lives for blacks to settle for whatever life hands them. We were given the opportunity for a higher education, the ability to do well beyond what we think we can do and accomplish what we feel we can accomplish, and yet if one of us takes on that challenge we bare a stigma. I personally couldn’t care less of the opinions of the people who judge me based on my appearance and the way in which I present myself, but I know that is not the case for many in my position. They have to live with the fear of not being accepted by the people that they identify with the most for no other reason than being different. And what’s worse is that the only reason they are considered different is for wanting to succeed in life beyond what is expected. I’ll never truly understand where this stigma came from in the first place, or why it hasn't completely been ruled out as it is 2012 and it’s time for a change. We have a black president who is articulate, well spoken and Ivy League educated, what’s so wrong in that? I know that no one has the audacity to call Barack Obama “whitewashed” but there are thousands of blacks that act exactly like him. I feel as though in order for us to succeed as a people, those who “act white” should be the ones we look up to not put down and condescend. It’s time to stop caring about appearances more than a proper education; it’s time to stop settling for what society hands us; we have to raise our standards, otherwise in this world we’ll be eaten alive; We’ll be another statistic.


Dating back to the 1800’s of the pre slavery era till present and modern day, African Americans have been and are still subjected to the tyranny of media outlets. Historically one can go back to one of the first of these media projects that were written through a children’s novel called “Sambo”. Sambo was a children’s book written by Helen Bannerman that gained a lot of attention during the late 1890’s. It was about a boy who outwitted a group of tigers. Unfortunately the racial term “Sambo” refers to black men that were considered very happy, usually laughing, lazy, irresponsible or carefree. This depiction of black people was displayed in films of the early 20th Century. During the early 1900’s society gave rise to expansion of Minstrel shows. These are shows that consisted of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface or, especially after the Civil War, black people in blackface. Similar to the Sambo, the Minstrel lampooned black people as dim-witted, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious, happy-go-lucky, and musical. They also developed the Famous “ Black Face” which is a is a style of theatrical makeup that originated in the United States, used to effect the countenance of an iconic, racist American archetype which was that of the dark or coon racist slurs. White blackface performers in the past used burnt cork and later greasepaint or shoe polish to blacken their skin and exaggerate their lips, often wearing woolly wigs, gloves, tailcoats, or ragged clothes to complete the transformation of the stereotypical African American in the early 1900’s. We go back further in time and come across the portrayal of the “Mandingo Negro”. Pre modern media showcased the Mandingo as an animalistic and bestial in nature asserting, for example, that in "Negroes all the passions, emotions, and ambitions, are almost wholly subservient to the sexual instinct . . . ." and "this construction of the oversexed black male parlayed perfectly into notions of black bestiality and primitivism." This media portrayal found its way into modern media as a stereotype that now makes out African American males as over aggressive, sexual, and physical.


African American females too have gone under the same scrutiny if not more, and the famous Mammy is proof of this claim. The mammy archetype is perhaps one of the best-known archetypes of African American women. She is often portrayed within a narrative framework or other imagery as a domestic servant of African decent, generally good-natured, often overweight, very dark skinned, middle aged, and loud. The mammy was usually depicted in a negative manner and portrayed as lacking all of the sensual and sexual qualities that an attractive woman would have. This de-eroticism of the mammy would in turn imply that the white wife, and by extension the white family, was safe. Years have passed and technology grew to benefit mass media outlets ever further. With the rise of computer and Internet proficiency, videos now are broadcasted worldwide in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, Mass Media outlets have grown to be very grotesque and savage like when portraying African Americans in a bad light. They rear their ugly heads in form of Internet sites, talk shows, TV shows and networks. These outlets are your B.E.T, World Star Hip hop, Media takeout, love and hip-hop, Basketball wives you name it. Internet epidemics such as World star have shown the most immature, aggressive, and immoral acts of humankind. These video uploads by World Star Hip hop and Media Take out usually consist of brutal and bloody fights, racist, ignorant and abrasive rants, sexual and demoralizing acts among Black females and more issues far down the list and farthest from the welfare and common good of the average African American citizen. What’s more heart breaking is that we are the individuals pulling out Camcorders, digital cameras and phones to record, upload and laugh at the videos which showcase the worst in us African Americans. We as individuals have are held accountable that these videos serve as evidence and proof for more uncalled for stereotyping and having us misjudged before hand, not mention it kills the legacy of the education, law- abiding and peaceful acts that our ancestors portrayed during the civil rights era.


TV shows and networks are also under the radar of this social media tyranny and must be held accountable. Shows such as Love and Hip-hop and Basketball Wives that are gaining a lot of African American views do not showcase the class, behavior and culture of what defines a Black female. These shows portray adults who are still living off their former spouse’s income yet talk about independence. You can find them at most clubs tipsy and jollying in the gossip and downfall amongst one another, yet call themselves friends to the public. They claim high class, but fight brutal and hair pulling bouts with each other in local stores. The icing on the cherry for these females is that in their small little world they think the world is there’s for the taking and they deserve it without embracing the true qualities of African American females. Sadly these are the current idols to the young and thinking African American female. Although some of these shows may be acting, we as African Americans cannot assume everyone thinks the same and be aware of the fact that some may take it as truth. Finally, As an African American, I really think it’s up to the individuals of this generation to condemn this sad portrayal of us Black folks and stop the media from allowing such rubbish to leak out for the world to stereotype.


Naturally most would think of the womb as a place of peace, creation, and the epicenter of the miracle of life. While I’m sure that some of us have been in life-threatening positions during our lifetime whether it be the obvious like a car accident or surgery, or something with a more discreet possibility of danger, such as jet skiing or an extreme sport. Under normal circumstances most wouldn’t imagine their lives being threatened between conception and birth. So why would a company place a billboard in New York City stating that “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb”? Why would someone want to provoke such controversy by implying and blatantly stating that black women are committing genocide through abortion? By means of an organization coined “Life Always”, Reverend Stephen Broden, an African-American man, proceeded to place billboards containing those words and a picture of a little black girl in SoHo right around Black History Month last year. He wanted to show how our future is progressing through this cherished month, yet, “is in jeopardy as a genocidal plot is carried out through abortion,” he stated. In his opinion, abortion is a wiping out of the black race, but to imply that black mothers are cold-blooded killers is absurd. There are many different reasons why young women choose to terminate a pregnancy, all are personal and unique. What another person does to and with their body is not for someone else to judge but, just as with outward appearance, judgment will be cast regardless. Insensitivity about abortion can range from the father of the child treating the mother as if the baby is her “problem” to the media trying to control the female body. Thisisabortion.com, the website run by Life Always, has a banner stating as a woman who has terminated her pregnancy, you will “spend your nights crying like a baby, with no baby to comfort you.” To further the argument, statistics show that 30% of abortions are by African-American women. You can either that as 70% of every other race completes the spectrum, or the fact that one in four sexually active Black women you know may have had an abortion. Regardless of the statistics and the alarming rate at which all races choose to endure this life-changing process, it is important for us to examine the potential reasons for so many abortions in the black community. First, we must remember that embryos, fetuses, babies, do not get here by the means of just one person. “It takes two to tango”. Except for the case of rape, which definitely is a factor in some abortions, both parties willingly engage in intercourse, unprotected, to conceive the child. Secondly, it is important to examine the dynamic between black men and women and to take note of how casual relationships and sex have become over the past generations. Thirdly, there are other relationships like parent-child relations in which sex and the need for birth control or condoms may not be spoken about candidly. Lastly, and most unfortunately there are people almost validate this “dangerous womb” stereotype. There are ladies out there who have had multiple abortions, disregarding their womb as a precious space and their body as a temple. Some find abortions as a form of contraception and are in and out of Planned Parenthood to the point where if they choose to bear children later, the damage to their uterus may not allow them to do so. With all of these factors accounted for and with our own experiences and that of loved ones and friends, we can better perceive why some women do make the decision to abort. Yet, if we want statistics to change we must change how we think about sex and conception in our culture. More often than not it seems sex is just something to do. People may have become more emotionally guarded through various experiences and past hurts or just feel that they have too much schoolwork, outside work, etcetera to be bothered with a monogamous, committed, serious relationship. For whatever reason it may be, friendship and love no longer seem to be prerequisites to sex.


Some of us have found that we are extremely attracted to someone and we feel we connect with them, yet we haven’t even seen them in their worst days or spent a semester or two getting to know them without being physical. Too often we end up in this place where we have sex because, in college, it’s convenient and easy, and hell, condoms are cheap. So here we are having sex without love and eventually sex without condoms because “it could never happen to me” or “he’s only with me” or “it’s so much better without the condom on…I’ll put it on later.” This is how we end up having to make the heart wrenching of whether we are going to spend a few hundred to go down to the clinic and have an abortion or raise a child for 18+ years with “Mike” who was fun, charming, athletic and had a cute smile, but we can’t see as the father of our child. More times than not we have been guilty of having unprotected sex, thinking someone was on the pill, or forgetting our pill. Other times the issue can start at a younger age. A parent doesn’t even want to imagine their baby girl having sex, so they never talk about it or robotic teachers and ill informed peers give the sex talk at school. Some parents are strictly against sex before marriage, or relationships in general for their kids, so you wouldn’t dare go to mom and ask her to take you to get Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo; especially since if she did it may mean to her that she is giving you permission to go have sex with whomever. Whereas Viagra is universally covered and highly accessible, birth control requires insurance and co-pay’s anywhere from $10-30 and up. It is statistically proven that there are more sisters in college than brothers and if a Black woman gets pregnant in college she may choose abortion because she feels that she needs to finish school or get married before giving birth and raising a child. It also seems like compared to their white counterparts, Black men have the tendency to focus on school and finishing up before settling down, whereas some white men are engaged during or right after college. Raising a child together or apart is possible however, the dynamic between black men and women definitely factors into whether or not they choose to abort. The male may say “it’s your body, you can do whatever you want and I support you, but I encourage you to get an abortion because we cannot afford a kid right now.” Some men may also go as far as to threaten the woman or deny paternity. Regardless, many of us have grown up in single parent homes or have seen parents divorce and want different for our children. Without both parents agreeing that cannot happen. To raise a child you also need money. We know what it is like to deal with loans and financial aid and some of us have had to still pitch in cash to help pay the bills at home, so when faced with the decision to go on with the pregnancy or not some choose not to because they don’t feel they have the means. “Who will babysit?” “What will my family think?” How will I afford diapers, formula, a car, insurance? It no longer becomes the question of “what am I wearing tonight?” or “where are we pre-gaming?” Getting an abortion is not an easy or causal decision. If 350,000 fetuses are dying a year, one every 90 seconds, according to statistics, then we need to change something. Brothers, if that means making sure you always use a condom no matter what the circumstance and whom it is with, than that’s the choice we have to make. Sisters, if that includes you carrying a condom yourself and making sure you use it, even if it is with your boyfriend then so be it. You may need to have that awkward conversation with your mom or dad about birth control, so that you can be protected if you aren’t ready for parenthood. The human life is sacred and abortion affects women physically and emotionally. It is too often a decision that women regret, and that is not a regret we want to have in life. Maybe sex needs to take a less casual tone and the body needs to become more of a temple again or black men and women need to communicate better before the sex about how they feel about abortions and parenting. Regardless, out of all the things we face as a race, abortion is preventable and we have the power to control our destiny.


Test your knowledge! 1. Seen to be tackling the issues of both economic and social equality, schools were often targeted as places of demonstrations. Which city in Arkansas saw 9 Black families enroll their children in an "all-white" school in 1957?

a.Eureka For b.Smith c.Bentonville d.Little Rock 2. The next demonstration was to be on a scale never before seen in the Black civil rights movement. Organized by A. Phillip Randolph this campaign in 1963 is best known for the "I have a dream" speech delivered by King. In which city did this demonstration take place?

a.Washington D.C b.Boston c.New York d.Baton Rouge 3. Who was the first African American to successfully perform open-heart surgery?

a.Daniel Hale Williams b.James McCune Smith c.Charles Drew d.George Washington Carver 4. In 1940, I became the first African American actress to win an academy award. Do you remember my name?

a.Butterfly McQueen b.Ruby Dee c.Dorthy Dandridge d.Hattie McDaniel 5. What U.S. President signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law?

a.John F. Kennedy b.Lyndon B. Johnson c.Richard M. Nixon d.Dwight D. Eisenhower


The issues with public K-12 schools in urban areas have been ongoing for quite some time now. Whether the causes of these issues are within the public schools, outside factors or a combination of both is up for debate. Unfortunately, many urban school systems and their faculty members are not giving young minorities the tools that they need in order to become successful, high-achieving and self-confident students. In 2000, the U.S. Department of Education stated, “that an American student who has been officially labeled handicap in some way which prevents him/her from learning has better chance of graduating from high school than a student of in one of Americas major urban school systems.” If this is shocking enough, a more recent U.S Department of education statistics mention that “in 2007, 25.6% of black males and 15.3% of black females between kindergarten and 12th grade had repeated at least one grade.” What are the causes for such high percentages? How is it that the statistics for minority students are in no way similar to those of their white counterparts? These are some of the most obvious questions that must be proposed after reading such disturbing facts. For one, hiring teachers who are not adequate enough to teach a specific subject to students in these grade levels has become an enormous explanation for the failure of urban school systems. This appears in yet another upsetting statistic which states that “25% of math educators at schools with 50% or more black students do not hold a degree or any other qualifications in the subjects they teach — probably the most egregious example. And once said teachers rack up the experience, they usually flee to more affluent (and white) areas” (U.S. Depart. of Education). From the very day these young minority students set foot in the doors of their respective public schools, they are being viewed as just another stepping stone for inexperienced teachers to obtain the job they really want. The purpose of a school is to “identify basic skills that all students should achieve, skills needed in most jobs in business and industry” (Peterson, 2009). If the person who is supposed to be teaching and guiding students does not have the basic skills necessary to do so, how will any student be expected to thrive and move forward?


It would not be fair to say that urban schools are the sole reasons why a lot of minority students are not able to achieve their goals, education-wise, to the best of their abilities. The fact that most young minority students that attend these urban schools come from low-income households must also be taken into account. This, in itself, leads to many more disadvantages than can possibly be imagined. Quite a few students attending these schools have families that are not able to afford internet in their homes. Take a world where technology is becoming one of the primary sources for gaining knowledge then apply that to a student that does not have access to the internet in his/her home and what do you get? Students that are forced into a position where they have no option much to move at a much slower learning pace than their peers of other races. Ben Feller, who wrote an article for The Associated Press, states that “twenty-six percent of Hispanic and 27% of black students use the internet at home, compared to 58% of Asian and 47% of Native American kids, resulting in a very unfortunate achievement gap” (2007). I have only managed to scratch the surface of the issues surrounding urban schools and minority students but now that I have brought a few of

them to light, I would like to add one of the

educational system’s attempts to correct

them. In 2011 there was a lot of talk of

whether or not the salaries for teachers

should be increased. If teachers are

paid let’s say $60,000/yr starting out

with the highest salary being

$150,000/yr this would be sure to

give teachers the drive they need to

teach better so that students in urban

schools can excel, right? Wrong,

wrong, wrong! Liz Goodwin writes

that “A few studies of programs that

give teachers cash bonuses for lifting

their students’ test scores showed that

those programs didn’t work” and been ineffective, and one New York City

“smaller raises of 20 percent or less have school that embraced much higher pay has so

far underperformed on state tests” (2011). It is clear that throwing money out teachers is not what is going to solve this dilemma. Teachers make a commitment to help and enlighten students so that they will one day be able to shine in their future professions. Accepting a good paycheck but doing one’s job to ensure that these students are receiving the type of education that they should have is unfair and down right selfish. There needs to be strict policies carried out in all urban schools to make certain that every child, regardless of color and socioeconomic status, are getting the education they deserve.


African-Americans have long broken free of the iniquities that confined them to the oppression of the European demons. But yet we are still prisoners. The only difference is that these shackles have been transformed into practices that are used to validate thyself: in hopes of attaining some sense of worth. Instead of seeking means of pacification, those within the black community should feel obligated to rummage around for means of healing the wounds that have eternally plagued our people. If you are receiving welfare from the government your three-year old child should not be walking around in Jordans while wearing an eighteen-carat gold bracelet. By no means am I here to point fingers and condemn parenting practices but instead I would like to highlight several paradoxical practices within the black community. That three-year old is going to grow up with this fantastical idea that being able to dress well equates value. Decorating your black skin with ostentatious garments and jewels is like pumping air into a punctured basketball. At the end all efforts are in vain because the ball is still empty: void of all substance. In addition to such practices, the African-American community has set such a low standard for its members. Mediocrity (on any and all levels) should not be acceptable. But it is. Sub-par expectations became acceptable at the point, which Black America felt that society was in debt to them. No one in this current day society can say that they have a slave master to go home to, therefore no one in this current society should have an excuse for settling. Our history is rooted in the struggles of strong men and women; it is our duty to build our races using such deep roots. Our problem is that regardless of our salaries, regardless of our level of education; we always seem to back track and give “them” what they want. Our problem is not necessarily those outside of our community but those within it. The tendency we have to blame the world for our problems is too great. The tendency that we have to so easily place judgment on one of us is even greater. It is very easy for us to reprimand the low income, public housing living folk. But what happens when these people become rich or famous but their mentality remains the same. Then it becomes a matter of “ you’re acting recklessly, but you have the money to blow, you have the money for bail- so therefore…it’s okay!” The term for this is known as radical relativism. Radical relativism relates to the idea that society dictates points of views; therefore, there are no absolute truths or opinions. Society as a whole judge regular people more harshly than those whom are financially comfortable.


A prime example of a practitioner of radical relativism is Harvard University professor, Dr. Cornel West. Dr. West is known for his outrageous ideas and actions. Over the years Dr. Cornel has constantly made statements that form a paradox with his previous statements. He is constantly preaching about unifying the black community yet he very eagerly criticized President Barack Obama for not being black enough. Such instances echo self-hate. Why is it that every time a black individual does the opposite and does not adhere to the stigmatic stereotypes, he or she (all of a sudden) is viewed as an outcast? In essence African-Americans are practicing a form of self-imprisonment. We have an insatiable desire to link ourselves to some form of identity. In doing so we are diminishing the respectable history that our ancestors have already laid for us. If we keep focusing on the challenges that society has set up for us, we are unable to focus on the means by which we will find solutions. Stop competing with your own people and start competing with the world so that we as a community can set higher standards for ourselves. Do not seek to get on their level, instead create your own level and place it above theirs.


In the beginning, Black Greek Letter Organizations were created to provide brotherhood/sisterhood for African-Americans attending college. They were not welcome in the other established Greek Letter Societies so they created their own. These founding members of Black Greek Letter Organizations make up the National where

Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) members of today. During the post slavery era African Americans were free to pursue political, social and economical

endeavors,

they still were treated as second-class citizens. By the 1900’s, the Jim Crow

Laws were

still in effect and African Americans were still under a supposed “separate

but equal”

status with their Caucasian counterpart. However, this did not stop the flow

of

discrimination and over bearing prejudice against African Americans who

received the

poorest of education, facilities and infrastructure granted by the very same

government who proposed there “separate but equal”

status. During the early 1900’s when

an influx of African Americans started to attend

college for higher learning, the

racism transferred from the streets to the classroom.

Making up less than 1% of the

black population at an all white school has proven to

be the most difficult task for

African American scholars to overcome. Although

attending the same university

and residing on the same campus, African American

students reported that they were

denied access to social clubs, were using outdated textbooks and experienced racial pressure not just from other white students but from professors as well. In order to withstand such hardship and controversy, the small number of African Americans attending these different

Universities decided to form

organizations based

solely with the purpose

of promoting

academic

excellence, brotherly and

sisterly bondage,

career

development, financial

stability, community

service and

increasing the rate at pursued higher these organizations were

which African education. The founded upon respectively is as

Americans order in which follow: Alpha phi Alpha

Fraternity, Inc. (1906), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (1908), Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. (1911), Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity Inc. (1911), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (1913), Phi Beta Sigma, Fraternity Inc. (1914), Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (1920), Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (1922) and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. (1963).


These organizations each prospered

respectively on their own campus and slowly

eradicated their terrifying nightmare of

oppression and racism. Although these

organizations possessed different founding

principles and infrastructure, they found a

common ground, which was the uplifting

of the societal standards of African

Americans. These common interests soon

lead to a joint and collaborative

organization known as the National Pan-

Hellenic Council (NPHC) of today.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is a collaborative organization of nine historically African American, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities. The nine NPHC organizations are most often collectively referred to as the "Divine Nine�. The NPHC was formed as a permanent organization on May 10, 1930 on the

campus of Howard University, in Washington, D.C. the organization

was then incorporated

under the laws

of the State of Illinois in

1937. This council

emphasizes

interaction through forums,

meetings and other

methods for

the transfer of information

and engages in

cooperative

programming and

initiatives through

various

activities and functions.

Today, the primary

purpose and

focus of member organizations

remains camaraderie and academic excellence for its members

and service to the communities they

serve. Each promotes community awareness and action through educational, economic, and cultural service activities. Till this present day and for the past 100

years, the members of NPHC have and are still

following the same principles and

embodying the same legacy they were

founded upon and have continued to

elevate the political, economic and social

standings of our fellow African positions of government all the way down homes through community service. members are students, who walk amongst the

Americans. They have served in the highest to reforming the most poverty stricken of Presently and Most Importantly, these same college campuses as we do, but are shaping

not just the African American experience in Universities but for all races as well.


I was the only African American to work with Thomas Edison and I invented the water closet for railroad cars - the electric lamp with an inexpensive carbon filament and a threaded wooden socket for light bulbs


As our nation's President Barack Obama has doubtlessly made history. While some like to debate his claim to “blackness”, it is irrefutable that once he was elected a ripple of pride went through the Black community. Finally someone who resembled us was in a position of great power. Along with his two daughters and wife Michelle, President Obama has continued to be looked at as a symbol of what people of color have achieved, the epitome of having “made it”. An intelligent, good looking man with a beautiful family greeting dignitaries, signing legislation, and leading a nation. In short, making history. Yet while President Obama is considered by some to be the first black man to be President, he is definitely not the first man. In all the years since the United States first recognized itself as a country and a nation, not once has a woman led the country. We've all seen Obama's success, but what if he had been a woman? My thought is that had he been, we would have been welcoming President McCain into the Oval Office. A woman with the same exact credentials as President Obama would never have won the presidential race. But why not? There is no doubt that there are women in positions of power all across America, from CEO's of companies to our current Secretary of State. But there's an underlying reason why Hillary Clinton is only Secretary of State, not President, and it has nothing to do with her successes or failures. Hillary Clinton is one of 35 women to have run for the office of President. Shirley Chisholm was the first AfricanAmerican woman to run, something many of us know. A Black woman has even made it onto the Presidential ballot. That woman was Lenora Fulani, a member of the New Alliance Party whose name appeared on the ballot in every state when she ran in 1988 and again in 1992. For some reason, despite the serious advancements our country has made in other regards, women, and more specifically black women are still being shut out of certain arenas. The stereotype still persists of the successful black woman as “angry”, unstable, or weaker than their male counterparts. Men who run for office only have to be concerned with justifying their desire to run. Even a Black man, who would doubtlessly encounter several road blocks, would face nothing comparable to the questioning a Black woman would face. President Obama would not have won had he been a woman simply because our society's collective mindset is not prepared for it. Even today, people don't like mentioning that being a Black woman virtually means being a double negative. Contrary to what some would like us to believe, we are not living in a post-racial society, so the stigma of being a person of color still persists. Add that to being a woman and wanting to run for Presidential office and you're facing a barrage of questions about the sheer nerve of you wanting to lead our fair nation. Perhaps this is why so few Black women run for political office, and even fewer attempt to make a bid for President. Women, and even more specifically women of color are taught to not feel entitled to owning power-that's a male trait, which makes them afraid to overstep the boundaries set for them and reach for something higher. Yet the reason why President Obama won despite not having a long political history was because he wasn't afraid to reach for it. As we enter Black History Month I hope that both Black men and Black women and just people of color in general realize that we need to be more conscious of our political power. That means educating yourself on the issues, candidates, and if you like what you see, voting. If you don't like what you see, then as cliched as it is, be the change you want to see. Think about running for office one day. That's the only way we will be sure that it won't be another 200 or so years before we have another person of color in the Oval Office.


The Black History Month Vanguard  

Special Edition Vanguard

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