Archive for the ‘National Issues’ Category


My 2014 Summer Classes

July 2, 2014

When I first thought about this summer, I was caught between doing what I did last year or doing something new. The academic year was so busy for me that I didn’t have the time to sit and do the research for the new classes I had in mind. When I had time off during Regents Week, I took a much needed break. During most breaks in the academic year, I was usually went away for something work related (ie. conferences, counselor trips).

Once I was fully rested during Regents Week, I cracked down on researching materials for the classes. It was so down to the wire that I almost considered just doing the classes I did last year. But I didn’t give up because I felt these new classes were as important as what I did before. So, I’m glad to share with you all the syllabuses. Feel free to follow along and engage!

The Daily Poverty Show
In this class, students will explore the issue of poverty using clips from The Daily Show, articles and other video sources.

Attendance: 15%
Discussion: 40%
Notes: 15%
Leading Discussion: 30%

Week 1
June 30th: Class Warfare—warren-buffett-vs–wealthy-conservatives—the-poor-s-free-ride-is-over

July 1st: Welfare Test and Health Care—knoxville–tennessee-edition

July 2nd: The Welfare Abusers–a-waste-odyssey

July 3rd: The Wage Fight—fast-food—minimum-wage—the-poverty-line
Homework: Joseph E. Stiglitz’s “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” in May 2011’s Vanity Fair

Week 2
July 7th: Inequality for All showing (Netflix)

July 8th: Continuation of Inequality for All

July 9th: Growth or Lack Thereof
Neil Irwin’s “Growth Has Been Good for Decades. So Why Hasn’t Poverty Declined?” in The New York Times
Homework: Trip Gabriel’s “50 Years Into the War on Poverty, Hardship Hits Back” in The New York Times

July 10th: The Great Society vs. Now

Week 3
July 14th: Out of Touch—power-of-love

July 15th: Politics Over Life—-taker–states

July 16th: Cutting Life Lines

July 17th: Homelessness in Another Light

Week 4
July 21st: A Place at the Table showing (Netflix)

July 22nd: Food Insecurity
Continuation of A Place at the Table

July 23rd: History or Poverty

July 24th: The Poorest City in America

Week 5
Students’ Choice

Building a Complete Me
In this class, male students will explore topics that relate to their growth in discussions using videos and articles.

Attendance: 15%
Discussion: 40%
Notes: 15%
Leading Discussion: 30%

#1 Rule: What is Said by Another Student Stays in the Room

Week 1: Defining Manhood
June 30th: Barack & Curtis

July 1st: What It Means to Be a Man (Presentation)

July 2nd: Violence and the Media
Tough Guise – Violence Media and the Crisis in Masculinity

July 3rd: Free Talk

Week 2: Loving Yourself
July 7th: “The Importance of Male Self-Love”

July 8th: “Increase Your Self-Esteem”

July 9th: “The Skill of Self Confidence”

July 10th: Free Talk

Week 3: Having Swag and Productive Friendships/Relationships
July 14th: Changing and Creating Your Own Style

July 15th: Being Honest and Giving Respect
Matt Walsh’s “Dear single dudes: it’s time to man up”

July 16th: What is a Friend?
Fredric Neuman’s “What to Expect From a Friend”

July 17th: Free Talk (Setting Limits)

Week 4: Fathers
July 21st: Nothing but a Man showing

July 22nd: Continuation of Nothing but a Man

July 23rd: Smoke Signals showing

July 24th: Continuation of Smoke Signals

Week 5
Student’s Choice


Oppose HR 2637!

August 27, 2013

If you’re aren’t sure what a For-Profit College is, watch this documentary!

The bill “Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act” (HR 2637), is scheduled to come to the floor in the House the week of September 9th when Congress returns from recess.

Representatives Foxx (R-NC-5), Kline (R-MN-2) and Hastings (D-FL-20) introduced The Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act (H.R. 2637), which would repeal and prohibit specific regulations that protect students and taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud and abuse by unscrupulous colleges. Specifically, the legislation would:

-Resurrect loopholes that allowed for-profit colleges to pay bonuses for increasing admission numbers at the expense of students.
-Amend the incentive compensation regulation to allow third-party service providers to enter into tuition sharing agreements and allow colleges to use incentive pay to compensate individuals for enrolling higher numbers of students.
-Repeal regulations designed to reign in abuses at schools that waste taxpayer dollars and leave students with unmanageable debt and worthless degrees.

H.R. 2637 would put students and taxpayers at greater risk of harm from high-pressure tactics and fraud by undoing regulations that protect against colleges putting financial interests above student well-being.

For-Profit Colleges prey on poor people and veterans. Almost half of the student default on their loans. Graduation rates are terrible.

Students take out more loans at these colleges.

The schools also lie
about job placement rates.

A whole bunch of organizations are against the bill.

Contact your legislators today to urge them to vote no on this legislation!


My Summer Classes

July 2, 2013

In being apart of Pace University’s Liberty Partnerships Program, I’m teaching three classes in the combined Summer Program with Upward Bound. If you happen to keep tabs on me, I’ve taught activism classes for two years during the academic year with Upward Bound. This is my first time teaching in the Summer. I wanted to do something fun that had depth. One class deals with college admissions definitions. The other two are called “Superheroes in Media” and “The Philosophy of Rap.” The discussion in these two classes that I created has been great so far. Check out the syllabi for them below!

Superheroes in the Media
In this class, students will watch TV shows and movie clips containing the portrayal of superheros. The discussion topics are racism and sexism.

Attendance: 5%
Participation: 30%
Notes: 15%
Discussion Leading: 50%

Ground Rules
-What is said in here stays in here
-There is no such thing as a stupid thought
-One person speaking at a time
Breaking these rules will result in an automatic failure or grade reduction

Week 1: Adult Diversity Friends Part 1
July 1st: Justice League Season 1 Episode 4 “In Blackest Night”
July 2nd: Justice League Season 1 Episode 17 “Fury”
July 3rd: Justice League Unlimited Season 2 Episode 9 “Grudge Match”

Week 2: Adult Diversity Friends Part 2
July 8th: The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1 Episode 9 “Living Legend”
July 9th: The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1 Episode 11 “Panther’s Quest”
July 10th: The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1 Episode 12 “Gamma Word, Part 1”
July 11th: The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2 Episode 2 “Alone Against A.I.M.”

Week 3: Black Power and Being the Sidekick
July 15th: Black Panther Episode 1
July 16th: Black Panther Episode 3
July 17th: Black Panther Episode 5
July 18th: Iron Man Season 2 Episode 9 “The Armed Wars”
War Machine vs. Iron Man in Iron Man 2

Week 4: Young Diversity Friends
July 22nd: Young Justice Season 1 Episode 1 “Independence Day”
Young Justice Season 1 Episode 2 “Fireworks”
July 23rd: Young Justice Season 1 Episode 13 “Alpha Male”
July 24th: Young Justice Season 2 Episode 7 “Depths”
July 25th: Young Justice Season 2 Episode 14 “Runaways”

Week 5: July 29th to August 1st: Students’ Choice
Students get together to lead discussions based off their own materials such as TV shows, Movies or Comics.

The Philosophy of Rap
In this class, students will watch TV shows, documentaries, and analysis messages in rap music and videos. The discussion topics are racism, sexism, homophobia, politics and growing up in poverty.

Attendance: 5%
Participation: 30%
Notes: 15%
Discussion Leading: 50%

Ground Rules
-What is said in here stays in here
-There is no such thing as a stupid thought
-One person speaking at a time
Breaking these rules will result in an automatic failure or grade reduction

Week 1: Where are the Ladies?
July 1st: Back in the Day
Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything” from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill’s “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

July 2nd: Before the Pop
Nicki Minaj’s “Autobiography”
Nicki Minaj’s “I’m the Best” from Pink Friday

July 3rd: Others Out There
Iggy Azalea’s “Murda Bizness” Feat. T.I. from Glory
Jean Grae’s “My Story” from Jeanius

Week 2: Kendrick Lamar’s View from the Streets
July 8th: Being Own Self
Kendrick Lamar’s “Vanity Slaves” from Kendrick Lamar EP
Kendrick Lamar’s “Faith” Feat. BJ the Chicago Kid & Punch from Kendrick Lamar EP

July 9th: Growing into Self
Kendrick Lamar’s “Average Joe” from O(verly) D(edicated)
Kendrick Lamar’s “Cut You Off {To Grow Closer}” from O(verly) D(edicated)

July 10th: Defining Self and Struggling to Stay Self
Kendrick Lamar’s “No Makeup” Feat. Colin Munroe from Section.80
Kendrick Lamar’s “HiiiPOWER” from Section.80
Kendrick Lamar’s Verse from Drake’s “Buried Alive” from Take Care

July 11th: On Top Being Self
Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drink)” from good kid, m.A.A.d city
Extended Version
Kendrick Lamar’s “I’m Dying of Thirst” from good kid, m.A.A.d city
Kendrick Lamar’s “Real” Feat. Anna Wise from good kid, m.A.A.d city

Week 3: Lupe Fiasco’s World View
July 15th: Real from the Start

Lupe Fiasco’s “Real” Feat. Sarah Green from Food & Liquor
Lupe Fiasco’s “American Terrorist” Feat. Matthew Santos from Food & Liquor

July 16th: On a Deeper Level
Lupe Fiasco’s “Gotta Eat” from The Cool
Lupe Fiasco’s “Dumb It Down” from The Cool

July 17th: Never Breaking
Lupe Fiasco’s “Word I Never Said” Feat. Skylar Grey from Lasers
Lupe Fiasco’s “All Black Everything” from Lasers

July 18th: Going Higher
Lupe Fiasco’s “Around My Way [Freedom Ain’t Free]” from Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1
Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad” from Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1

Week 4: Social Issues in Rap
July 22nd: Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes viewing

July 23rd: Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes Discussion

July 24th: The N-Word
The Boondocks Season 2 Episode 11 “The S-Word”
Julian Curry’s “Niggers Niggas & Niggaz”
Sha Stimuli’s “The N-Word Song” from Hip Hop Dock-Trine 2 (The Saga Continues) [Hall Of Justus Edition]

July 25th: Homophobia
The Boondocks Season 2 Episode 13 “Story of Gangstalicious (Part 2)”
The Advocate’s “Homophobia in Hip-Hop”

Week 5: July 29th to August 1st: Students’ Choice
Students get together to lead discussions based off their own materials such as documentaries, TV shows, music videos or audio.


Helping Our Poor Youth Change the Face of the World

April 25, 2013

Without Pace University’s Upward Bound Program, I wouldn’t be here. The program literally saved my life. Before I joined the program in the summer between the ninth and tenth grade, I didn’t know college existed. I thought high school was the end of it all. My parents never finished high school. I didn’t know anyone who went to college. No one spoke to me about it. Upward Bound helped me strengthen my academics in high school and exposed me to schools like Skidmore College, which I ended up graduating from.

Unfortunately, every poor child can’t be in an Upward Bound Program or some kind of college prep program. Every year, these programs lose funding or get cut completely. Even without the cuts, every student can’t be reached. Most high school students, especially in New York City, only have access to one college advisor. One person can’t give one on one attention to the hundreds of seniors and juniors. One person can’t expose that many students to schools like Skidmore.

David Leonhardt’s New York Times article called “Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor” cites a study conducted by a Harvard professor and a Stanford professor: “Only 34 percent of high-achieving high school seniors in the bottom fourth of income distribution attended any one of the country’s 238 most selective colleges.” To make matters even worst, Third Way cited a survey called National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 and 1997 stating that of the poor born between 1979 and 1982, 29% got into college and 9% graduated (Page 41).

But there is hope! A study done by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities states that first generation students, who are usually poor, are more likely to graduate from private institutions than public ones. To expand on that more, the U.S. Department of Education cites that students in general are more likely to graduate from private nonprofits than other schools (Figure 45-2). This is because these schools have the resources to help students succeed.

Despite these positive numbers, families still think schools like Skidmore cost too much. My family was one of them. But this simply isn’t true. David Leonhardt published another article in the New York Times called “A Simple Way to Send Poor Kids to Top Colleges” citing a study on exposing poor students to schools like Skidmore. In it, Leonhardt states that “Selective colleges frequently cost less for low-income students than local colleges, because the selective ones have the resources to offer bigger scholarships.”

This is true for where I went. I was admitted Early Decision to Skidmore’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). I was offered a package from Skidmore/HEOP that would have left me with only $8,000 in loans. Since I had outside scholarships totaling about $6,000 and became a Resident Assistant (RA) in my senior year, I graduated from Skidmore with no loans.

New York State’s HEOP is a program many poor students in the state aren’t aware of. If students aren’t from the state, many states have similar programs. These programs ensure poor students graduate. Even if schools like Skidmore don’t have a program like HEOP or a student doesn’t get into HEOP, they still have the resources to help a student attend and graduate from their school.

There are schools out there that still give great financial aid packages to high performing and hard working poor students with leadership skills. But since there is a lack of knowledge, it is up to us to expose these schools to students. Those of us who graduated from these kinds of schools have to change the conversation. I was able to do that with my mentee, Gaetan Lamy.

Before Gaetan and I put out a book called Different Families, Still Brothers, we were just a mentor/mentee pair in the iMentor program trying to figure each other out. He had a limited view of what a private college was and didn’t know what HEOP was. He had his heart set on CUNY’s Baruch College. Throughout the first year of our pair, which was his junior year, I exposed him to schools like Skidmore and HEOP. I believe every hardworking poor student should get the chance to experience going away to a private school.

When it came to applying, he applied to some of the schools I exposed him to and took other people’s suggestions. In the end, he got into Long Island University’s HEOP. He’s in good hands. But now, he’s even thinking about moving on to a better school like some of the away schools we discussed.

In that experience with Gaetan, I learned how much I could do with my knowledge of the college admissions process and schools like Skidmore. All of us from these kind of schools have this same knowledge to offer. All of us can be mentors. We can do it with a program such as iMentor or on our own.

Let’s change the conversation! Let’s change the face of government which usually consists of those from Ivy League schools and privileged backgrounds. Let’s change the faces of doctors, lawyers, pastors, business owners and teachers operating in poor neighborhoods to reflect more upon those they serve. If all of us do our part, we can change the face of the world.


Reforming Our Election Process

November 5, 2012

Earlier today, I had a great conversation with my girlfriend after she had a conversation with someone about the Presidential election. One thing the person asked her is how she would fix the process. In my conversation with her, I came up with a few ideas on the spot.

-Have early voting for all states for a month long. This would shorten the campaign cycle. Or we could have Election Day and even Primary Day be declared holidays where people get paid time off.
-Allow people to vote online using their Social Security number and address. A lot of government services like unemployment are already online. You can even register online in some states.
-Have ALL who are running take part in debates with questions from people via internet. They already do this with the primary.
-Popular vote should be the way to go. That would make ALL states matter, not just the few that get pandered to today.
-Allow people who have done their time in jail to vote in all states.
-No ID needed to vote. Use Social Security number. Even signatures can be faked.
-No party specific poll watchers.
-Have a combination of electronic and paper ballot like they have here in New York.
-Get rid of Super PACs. Only individuals can donate. Limit max donations to $500 given by an individual. That would go to the candidates and DNC/RNC.
-Make the number of signatures (around 20,000) to get on the ballot the same everywhere.
-Limit the number of ads allowed to air on TV and radio.
-Make appearance time equal on cable for everyone running.
-Allow write ins in every state.

I could go on and on if I wanted to. I’m a problem solver. I hate people who complain and have nothing to offer. I hate only being an ear. I’m the type to say, “we’re going to solve this together.” This is why I don’t have that many close friends, lol.

“If you are ready to criticize a system, be equally ready to offer assistance to improve it.” -Armando Sanchez

“If you’re outraged at conditions, then you can’t possibly be free or happy until you devote all your time to changing them and do nothing but that. But you can’t change anything if you want to hold onto a good job, a good way of life and avoid sacrifice.” -César Chávez

If you are really for what I have presented before you, I encourage you to link up with me!

All campaign season we heard a lot of back and forth such as how Republicans want to keep the poor and middle class down. I believe it is true, but I would even say that Democrats want to crush people’s freedom/voice too. What about third party candidates? Well, I honestly believe most of them run just to get on the speaking circuit, not to change the country. If they did want to change the country, they would be all over the internet since it is their only option. I think the internet would be key to their success. It was for the President in 2008.

I would go one step further with my proposals with saying that we should get rid of parties all together. Let people run on their own ideas!

While we can’t change this now, I encourage you all to vote tomorrow!

I want back and forth on who to vote for. I was going to go with Jill Stein, but since New York City got hit by the hurricane, I worry that not enough people will go out to vote tomorrow.

I intend on voting for President Barack Obama tomorrow on the Working Families Party line tomorrow to send a message to the President. I also intend on voting for Kirsten Gillibrand on the Working Families Party line. I hope my fellow New Yorkers will do the same.

People who know me have seen my support for the President on my Facebook and Twitter. Some might have seen my article on here criticizing him. I’m with the President on everything but his record on Free Speech. I feel that the President can moved on his current position on Free Speech. To me, Mitt Romney isn’t even an option since he has no specific plan and intends on hurting those in need. He has a record of hurting those less fortunate as CEO of Bain Capital and Governor of Massachusetts.

And when I consider my faith, I want a President who is guided by the morals of their faith.

So again, I encourage you to go out and vote for the President tomorrow. Find out your polling place and who’s on the ballot for other races. If you’re in New York City, your polling place might have change because of the hurricane. Do remember to vote in the other elections as well. They are as important as the Presidential election, if not more. Do research on the candidates of those races.

Side bar: I also endorse Governor Tim Kaine for the Senate seat in Virginia. I wish he was running in New York, lol.

Buy my book if you haven’t! Check out my website!


My First Book is Out Now!

October 31, 2012

Today is my 25th Birthday. Coming from where I came from, living to see 25 is rare. I thank God for granting me a new year to live His Word. Today also happens to be the official release of my book with my mentee called Different Families, Still Brothers. You can see a preview of it and buy it now for $2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app for any of your devices or even read the book in your browser. Above is an interview my mentee and I did with journalist David Whitely about the iMentor program based in New York City, our mentoring relationship and why mentoring is important. Please share!!! Stay strong. Keep it pushing. Peace be on to you, brothers and sisters! God bless!


“Poverty: Bigger Than the Block”

October 13, 2012

A lecture by me about what poor people in America endure and why we need to stand up for them. It was given at Free University Week.

In this video, I also talk about a new book I have coming out with my mentee. It is called Different Families, Still Brothers.

The book cover

It showcases the benefits of mentoring. It contains of two years worth of email exchanges between my mentee and I while they were in the iMentor program based in New York City. I give my mentee advice on the college application process, financial aid, dealing with the pressures of high school and so much more. We also share our stories of overcoming the many factors of poverty with each other. The book serves as a motivator for young people coming up in a crazy world.

It includes an introduction essay written by me called “The Importance of Mentoring.” In it, I encourage those who came from impoverished backgrounds to mentor and those who don’t know what it is like to be poor to do research to better serve those in poverty. Next week, I will post part of that essay.

The book will come out on November 1st, my 25th birthday, on Kindle. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app for any of your devices.

If you would like me to speak, lead a discussion, Bible Study or workshop at your meeting, event, conference or school, visit my website for more information.