Melanin is strong, melanin is beautiful

I am black

with skin like mocha, and a spirit of fire.

I try to imagine a world where this is considered beauty

to no avail.

I awake every morning bathed in light,

the very light that breathes into me, life.

Why am I plagued with such insecurity,

with such inconsistency, in that way that i view myself?

I am young

full of intelligence and an unwavering belief that things will be better tomorrow.

A belief in a brighter world,

a world where I can breathe without wondering how much it’s gonna cost me.

How much it’s already cost me.

I am resilient.

I am unwavering.

I am determined.

I am incorrigible.

I am revolutionary.

I am black.




Dear Beautiful Black Child

You are black

You are not a burden

You are not bothersome

You are not bad

You are not blameworthy

You are not brainwashed

You are not a bastardized

You are not brutal

You are not bland

You are not blind

You are not boneheaded

You are not barbaric

You are not behind bars

You are not beneath

You are not burnt

You are not beaten

You are not battered

You are not broken

You are not buried

You are not bitter


You are bigger

You are better

You are beyond

You are blessed

You are brave

You are bold

You are behaved

You are becoming

You are blameless

You are believable

You are bearable

You are beneficial

You are brilliant

You are bighearted

You are blissful

You are breathtaking

You are beautiful

You are black

The Age of Mass Incarceration

“Few Americans today recognize mass incarceration for what it is: a new caste system thinly veiled by the cloak of colorblindness.” “One day, civil rights organizations may be embarrassed by how long it took them to move out of denial and do the hard work necessary to end mass incarceration.” (Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow)

When first presented with this idea of a ‘new Jim Crow’, I was of course a bit skeptical. The thought that there may be a cyclical caste system that presents itself in many different ways, but ultimately has the same outcome. I had never before thought of mass incarceration as one of these many systems of injustice, meant to destabilize and disassemble black communities. But despite this fact I took it upon myself to begin reading, with an open mind and it didn’t take very long for me to get on board. I will say that my previous skepticism was rooted for a place of ignorance and maybe even a little bit of denial. But as I read I couldn’t help but draw similarities between my own life and the system and the many systemic ways that it disassembles our communities, with us being none the wiser.

Throughout the course of the book Michelle Alexander raises many important points and issues, that I for one had never before thought of. But it is not until the end of the book that she then gives possible solutions to these issues. She discusses mass incarceration and the way that it is deeply woven into our society, and how much work will have to be done if we ever hope to put an end to this. She also brings up today’s civil rights groups and the fact that they are doing little to help the cause, she states that this may be due to the fact that they are still in denial. This is a scary fact but it would not surprise me, considering that before reading this I was in the same position. But if real progress is to be done then we need to rally together to educate our peers, and to right the wrongs that have been done and that are still being committed.

After this reading I feel that my eyes have been opened, I’ve learned a lot which I believe is the first step. So when presented with a critique of this book I expected the author to have had a similar reaction. And although that is not the truth of the matter, I can understand some of the views held by this author. Michelle Alexander while giving a very detailed overview of the history behind and many examples found in today’s society, there are of course somethings over-looked. James Foreman discusses the fact that she tends to avoid any evidence that does not support this idea of mass incarceration being a new reiteration of Jim Crow, and that can be problematic. But all in all I have learned a lot, and education I believe is the first step to creating change.

The Concept of Black Power

“I know how black it looks today, for you. It looked bad that day, too, yes, we were trembling. We have not stopped trembling yet, but if we had not loved each other none of us would have survived. And now you must survive because we love you, and for the sake of your children and your children’s children.” “Know whence you came from. If you know from whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go. The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear” (James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time)

In our society there have been many reiterations of systems of injustice meant to “cage” and stifle the progression of African Americans. When we first began looking at mass incarceration as one of these systems, I was at first skeptical. But although there are many differences between the iterations, are many similarities. Within every generation of my family (on both sides) I can think of at least two people who have gone to prison, or who are currently in prison. And of course I had always questioned this fact, especially when they’ve been in prison for decades, for minor offences. But growing up it wasn’t out of the ordinary in the neighborhood that I grew up in, I would even say that it was pretty ordinary. People died and people went to prison, I wasn’t something we talked about. But one thing people really didn’t do, was go to college.

Throughout all of my years in the education system, I’ve always felt that the system was not built for me, or ‘people like me’. And because of this I’ve always had to work twice, sometimes three times as hard only to still, constantly have to play catch-up. I’ve had teachers and guidance counselors tell me that college wasn’t meant for me. And yet here I am in my junior year of college, and even now it can be difficult to get past this barrier, that I fell is still between me and higher education. Stokely Carmichael discusses the urgency, with which black people need to get themselves together and contribute to the development of larger society. This I believe is reflected in the many actions that black people make, in order to survive in a society that is built on the opposite.

Sometimes it seems as if this society that we live in feeds off the ‘suffering’ of black people. There is already a stigma placed on every black person within this society. But to be both a black person and a felon, is to experience the loss of all of ones freedoms and rights. Michelle Alexander talks about prison, and the huge amount of restrictions that are placed on prisoners after they are released. When they are released that is not the end of it, this goes on to affect their lives forever. They struggle to get jobs, and houses, this makes getting on the ‘straight and narrow’ next to impossible. And as mass incarceration is only the most recently reiteration of this system, I am truly afraid to see what comes next.

Living the “black” truth

“You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to existence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity.” (The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin)

For my entire college career I have felt as if I had to constantly prove my place among the academic community in an environment where I am supposed to become more academically advanced and challenged. Going to school and getting an education is the one thing that was always made clear to me by my family and teachers, this was the normal path that I was intended to take. However, I did not see another side of this until I went away to college, where I was visible the minority. Everyday I go to class, I am most likely going to be the representation of the minority population that exits on campus. This may seem as a complaint, however, it is far from that. This situation has helped me realized that even though for me it is normal to be doing what I am doing, in reality the problems that plagues my community has created a stereotype that overwhelm the success of me and my peers. Its heart breaking to realize that you have to work twice as hard in and outside the classroom to feel some recognition of what you have been doing just because you are part of the population that has “made it out”, even though the circumstances are different.

As hard as this is for me to accept, it is the reality of things, it is my day to day reality. After watching a Donald Trump rally in Ohio, I realized why young black college students like myself, has to fight for a place in the college environment. Watching Trump stand before an all white audience and proclaim that, “no housing, no homes, no ownership. And I ask you this, I ask you this- crime, all of the problems- to the African Americans, who I employ, what the hell do you have to lose?”, These comments are a reflection of the society as a whole, while the crowd cheers upon hearing some generalize, stereotype and insult an entire group of people. It then made a lot of sense to me why people at school are often taken back my intelligence, because we have terrible schools, we are uneducated and we are all criminals therefore we have nothing to lose when worse comes to worse.

Historically, we were not meant for success, we were not even considered to be humans. But looking back through history and the writings of James Baldwin and Stokely Carmichael & Charles Hamilton, we must recognize where we come from in order to understand our place in society today. When James Baldwin says, “well, the black man has functioned in the white mans world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar: and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations”, we must understand where that comes from and why it is so dangerous to see politicians spew these stereotypical rhetorics that brings out the worse of society.  When I fight for my place my college i’m continuing the work that my ancestors created for me, I am establishing my self worth and the worth of those who will come after me, and the empowerment of black knowledge, power and excellence.


If You Don’t See Color, You’re not Seeing the Entire Picture


In the 21st century,a fresh wave of consumerism has taken over. People are desperate for the newest fashion trend or newest gadget. Along with it, a new wave of rebellion has washed over Western culture almost parallel to that of the 60’s and 70’s. Oddly enough, the media does not often cover the impact of the clashing of the two generational waves. Madison Van Oort explains the mingling of the two in her writing piece Shut it Down!

What’s shown in the news way more often than not today, is the “violence” of the Black Lives Matter movement. Combined with the already obscene and vulgar language of rap music today, it is clear to see why someone’s idea of the black community could follow the guidelines of “violent, obsessed with high priced clothing, and uneducated.” However, what they rarely ever pick up on is the piece that Van Oort crafts about her experience in the middle of protestors and fashion stores. On top of accounts of direct and indirect racism from store representatives, people of color tend to be on the exploited end of Western fashion trends. Holidays such as Black Friday are great targets, as Van Oort points out, for black protestors to make their statements. Black people have always been on the bad side of consumerism. We buy super expensive clothing, but instead of being acknowledged for being able to afford like everybody else, there is always suspicion or harassment. Unfortunately, black people have gotten sucked into capitalism and consumerism as deep as they were meant to. Coming from a place of no money and having to endure years of having nice things being dangled over your head and told, “if you work hard enough you can get it too,” but not seeing the end of the deal, is frankly hard to overcome. From this exact stance has BLM pushed back on the fashion industry. Blacks being the top fashion consumer in the country, fashion companies have definitely attempted to turn the appeal towards the task of trendsetting this new black generation has put on its shoulders.

The Era of the Colorblind

“African American criminality became one of the most widely accepted bases for justifying prejudicial thinking, discriminatory treatment, and/or acceptance of racial violence as an instrument of public safety” (The Condemnation of Blackness Khalil Gibran Muhammad)

I often ponder with the idea that I have to constantly show one side of my personality to people who I feel comfortable with and have a lot in common with culturally and physically and the other side with a different group. This stems from having to acknowledge the negative stereotypes that comes with being an African America. But where did this negative connotation come form with the black community? Whenever a black man is walking in a neighborhood where he is not the norm, then he might have to encounter the police at some point questioning his presence in such an environment, and this is the sad truth. There is an overwhelming belief that African Americans are not successful, educated and we are all prone to violence and becoming criminals, however there are other factors that contribute to this argument whether there is evidence or not. The biggest issue with these beliefs is the link between race and crime, you could in fact have the same amount of crime being committed by another racial group but it still does not have the same effect. According to Khalil Muhammad, “to change the future of race relations- because crime itself was not a core issue. Rather, the problem was racial criminalization: the stigmatization of crime as “black” and the masking of crime among whites as individual failure. The practice of linking crime to blacks, as a racial group, but not whites, reinforced and reproduced racial inequality”.

This makes me think, and should make everyone who feels as if there is not a problem think too. If I thought about the many times where my friends and I have been walking around campus minding our business at night, and people are visible uncomfortable walking by us, as if we are up to no good or we are going to do something to them. Every time I have this discussion questioning these stereotypes and its historical background, I always get the response of “I am colorblind” and “it has nothing to with race” but “it is shown that there are a lot of African Americans who have been arrested or is involved with criminal activities”. It is very common to hear people coin the term “colorblind” when asked about racial injustices and discrimination of a certain ethnic group. This may be viewed as an innocent comment that does not mean any harm, however, for African Americans and other minority groups it can be very challenging. Here is why, when a person response to racial inequality as “I am colorblind, I don’t see color” it neglects the constant battle that African Americans have been facing since the establishment of the United States. This is seen as another way of not dealing with/addressing the issues at hand, which is further creating a bigger problem, when the problem is being constantly brushed under the rug.

Looking from a historical point of view Khalil mentions, “how did European immigrants, the Irish and the Italians and the Polish, for example- gradually shed their criminal identities while blacks did not? In other words, how did criminality go from plural to singular?”. This very important to note because this idea is still alive in 2016. It may not be explicitly said that African Americans are prone to crime and violence but the implication is there. The thing that bothers me the most about this is the argument that most people make claiming that people are genetically predisposed to committing violent crimes, which is an ancient stereotype that has lived on for years. According to the excerpt from The Condemnation of Blackness, “but where the “negro factor” is concerned, Henderson continued, “racial inheritance, physical and mental inferiority, barbarian and slave ancestry and culture”. Because of these existing stereotypes, claiming to be colorblind in the hight of racial inequality and tensions, negate the importance of having conversations about these things and addressing them, but more importantly, having political figures reinstate this rhetoric and stereotypes for the younger generation is detrimental to having the progress that is needed to understanding the severity of racial inequality.     maxresdefault