Hidden Gem

For the longest time, I have always had my high school basketball three-peat championship ring stored away cause it never seemed authentic. It has been over a decade since obtaining the ring. Over time, I settled for a different feeling to appreciate the reward.

More importantly, I received the ring during my junior year at Norcross high school (2007/08). However, now, the state championship ring has a meaningful feeling because I view the ring outside of its typical aspect, being all about a state championship title.

Moreover, when I look at the ring, I think about what brought me to Norcross high school. Norcross is a county near the city of Atlanta which is one hour away from my hometown Athens, Georgia. Temporarily, I moved from Athens to live with my cousins in Norcross to grow in a more desirable environment.

Furthermore, moving in with my cousins while attending Norcross high school lead me into trying out for their school’s basketball team whom previously won two titles back to back before winning a three-peat title. Correlating Norcross’s academic and athletic program’s success can arguably be compared to Duke University.

Amongst hundreds of others, I was one of few players to be selected on their defending state championship team. At the start of the season I attended court hearings with the high school sports clearing house, meanwhile I was rejected to play for the school’s basketball team because I transferred from a different school district. However, my excuse for moving and transferring to a new school district was not valued in order to be clear of playing basketball.

On the grounds of not being able to play basketball my junior year at Norcross, I moved back home to Athens, Georgia since I was purely homesick (2008/09). Once again I was denied and ineligible to play basketball for my former high school (Clarke Central) because I transferred. In the middle of my senior year I dropped out of school. Thereby, I completed my high school credentials over the summer and then I sat out of school for one year while pursuing a music career as a producer (2009/10).

Through that, the following school year I attended a junior college in Georgia, Gordon College (2010/11). Thereon, I was just a regular student taking pre req classes. In a moment, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thereupon, from the blind side I was jumped by a group of 20 people. After recovering from my scars I went back to the same area everyday to play basketball alone or to play with random people at their basketball court in hopes to gain retaliation but I never got revenge. Altogether, this lead me into neglecting academics. As a result, this gave on to why I was given a one year suspension from Gordon College.

By those means, I only wanted to continue to advance my education if I played basketball at my dream school, University of Georgia. Or, if I was far away from home to pursue a higher education at any college as a regular student. In the mean time, I saw a social media post from my former team mate who I met at Norcross, he was one of the few players that made the basketball team during the three-peat title run. Often, he posted mind-blowing photos of San Diego, California. To conclude, I reached out to him while he insisted to rescue a new start of my life in California (2011).

5 Reasons Why

In view of many people who know me, understands that I am an extreme symbolic person. Promptly consequent to where I come from, my beliefs, relationships, etc., I express nature, character, emotions, and signs allusively. Specifically, the way that I signify someone and a form of awareness is simply by wearing a certain basketball jersey number. Thus, here are my 5 reasons why.

  1. To begin with, I grew up attentively watching high school basketball favoriting two players my brother (#4) and his teammate Corey Hill (#5). Corey participated on the varsity level from his freshman to senior year. Which encouraged myself to contest at the varsity level as a freshman too. Even so, his downfall occurred while I was a freshman contending on the varsity team, therefore number 5 generated as my life-long number since that shattering moment.
  2. Secondly, after hearing Corey’s fate I have always considered marking a tattoo to represent my love for basketball and for him. Usually before an organized basketball game I would stare at the tattoo located below my right shoulder if I am not wearing number 5. Then I would reminisce of him, which would be my drive to perform well and represent Corey’s basketball jersey number.
  3. Thirdly, wearing number 5 shaped my style of play according to how I perceived Corey, with respect to being a shooter. As an illustration, for people who wear number 30 as their basketball number are likely wearing it because he or she admires Stephen Curry. So to say, one would obviously attempt three point shots or deep range three pointers because that is what makes Curry notorious. By way of representing Corey’s jersey number 5, my role and performance of basketball shifted. I converted from a ball handler into a jump shooter but netted them. This alter strictly allowed me to advance my skills. In that, I was able to execute identical to Corey Hill.
  4. Fourthly, Corey was one of few people who progressed to college while facing many setbacks. Graduating high school and advancing to higher education was slim and uncommon for most people in our town. Considering many young African American males destined to be a statistic, Corey was able to persevere by using sports as a tool which resulted college arrangements. This was an approach which I desired until the announcement of his death. Corey’s account for suicide shut me speechless and nonetheless to analyze how the experience thereof college itself, residing in a different state from home, and furthermore being upraised by a difficult background would eventually lead someone into such actions. This agitation prevented my aspiration on pursuing college. Although, I managed to conquer a Bachelor’s degree on top of living far away from home, while Corey being one of my motivations during the journey.
  5. The final reason why I wear number 5 is due to suicide awareness. Most people have a story behind their jersey number selected. In addition to this, the awareness to Corey’s afterlife harvested my reason. That well known suicide report have lived with me up to this moment. Also, remembering the fact how heavy his decision had an impact on students at our school and the community. Even the coaches together with whom I saw as the toughest and hardest acting people wept. Seeing those emotional reactions from everyone established a memorable sense of pain alone. Today, another immovable thought which stricken myself individually and surely everyone else, is “why”? Many reasons came about while examining and judging Corey’s inspiration. However, we will never know his reason(s) to extent of an undertaking action. In view of that, I wear number 5 in support of suicide awareness and Corey Hill.

Deeper Than The Ocean

Despite the Atlanta rapper Future’s club music, Future also established many deep songs that are not known in his sake of publicity. I have been listening to Future since January 2011 and my main empathies about him were his heartfelt lyrics. Though, some of Future’s songs can be soothing and curing rather than purely hyping a crowd.

However, people do not like Future because they are not able to understand or simply relate. Accordingly, he has been in the drought and had to grind in the streets to get where he is at, so that is what he raps about. If one cannot recount to it, Future also speaks of going through depression, struggle, and starvation. However, if that unfits a comparative sense to the listener, then Future will just be your typical “turn up” artist.

Granting Future’s catchy hooks and flows, Future has made a progression in his career by topping the billboard charts with several club bangers. In the past six years that I have been exposed to Future, he has remarkably gained a diverse and broader fan base. Although I am convinced with that being the reason for his slight changeover. Ultimately, the transition in Future’s music is absolutely noticeable from then to now [2017].

With that being said, do not get caught in the hype. Still, Future has a select number of deep meaningful songs in shed. Below are some lyrics that have always stood out to me, while these are only a few of Future’s obscured songs.

“I done been lied to, I been neglected, I done had all kind of people turn against me, You try to bring me down ima go harder”

Future – “Harder” Pluto, 2012

“Yeah you should’ve never doubted me, The pain and the struggle followed me, My daddy never been there, bothered me, And these cold streets made a man of me”

Future – “Last Breath” Creed: Movie Soundtrack, 2015

“All I ever wanted for you was to believe in me, I came, I struggled, I made it, I conquered”

Future – “Blood, Sweat, Tears” Honest, 2014

“I got some homies, they can only mean the world to me, And they ain’t comin’ back home, they in the cemetery (rest in peace), I wish I made this up, it was a fairytale”

Future – “Permanent Scar” Pluto, 2012

“I’m standing in the middle of the rain, Trying to hide the tears running down my face, And when the drops stopped, I come to my senses and I go hard for my block”

Future – “If You Knew What It Took” Streetz Calling, 2011

“You can’t take my pressure you probably be done blowed your brain”

Future – “Special” Honest, 2014

“I’m frustrated and I been up lately, (Just thinkin’ of things nawmean) Goin’ over my plans, Feel like I’m sinkin  in sand, Some things you wouldn’t understand”

Future – “Truth Gonna Hurt You” Pluto, 2012

“The struggle and the pain, I still remain the same, I’m grindin’ so hard I’m just strengthin’ up my brain”

Future – “Never Be The Same” Streetz Calling, 2011

“Roll up the kush, and let’s get high, and take you to a galaxy, See I just wanna be in my zone, where nothin’ bothers me”

Future – “Substitute Everything ” Drugs, 2013

“Have you ever been so broke you don’t even wanna live? So fucked up to the point that funerals can share the tears, Gotta grind so fucking hard the shit bring you to tears, Forgot to call my momma on her birthday God bless the kid”

Future – “Bigger Picture ” True Story, 2011

“We go through hell to get to paradise”

Future – “Paradise” Pluto, 2012

“My homie set my homie up, the game is full of madness, Sometimes I wanna get inside the Escalade and crash it, My pain running deeper than the ocean”

Future – “Deeper Than The Ocean” Astronaut Status, 2012

Black in the Bay Area

Warning! The Bay Area is not all cracked up, especially if you are black. Darkonesun09 gives black men who are not California natives a heads up about relocating to the Bay Area while ranting his personal experiences. In the media we see California as glamorous, full of palm trees, and a sunny weathering paradise. Yes, it comparably exist within certain places in the state. However, in the Bay Area it falls differently. The Bay Area is bitterly cold, gloomy, and so are most of the people. In a way, black men receive such shade from people in the Bay Area.

Black people are dissed in the Bay Area. To begin with, many nonblacks in the Bay Area act like black men but they do not like real black men. Secondly, there are a lot of nonblack women who play the role of acting as black women although they do not like black people. Thirdly, there is an extreme usage of the “N” word from residents who are not black in the Bay Area. Furthermore, nonblack people imitate blacks by wearing blow out afros and cornrows. Nevertheless, they have a negative perception on black people who embrace their natural afros and wear braids. Altogether, black people suffer from a contemptuousness irony in the Bay Area.

Be that as it may, the actuality of a black male in the Bay Area narrates a monster. People devote a petrified expression due to who you are personally. Namely, they are running from you for the simple reason that you are black. Women become frightened when you are in sight no matter the time of the day, location, or the number of pedestrians that are surrounding. In the event, they are hiding their cell phones, clutching their purses, jumping when you appear, and avoiding you by redirecting their route. Being black in this atmosphere makes you feel separate to everyone else and demand alienation. Consequently, it is difficult to feel human here. Hence, black males are labeled fierce.

Many black people who are born in the Bay Area are accustomed to the black experience stated above. However, for someone like myself, if you are coming from a different region such as the south or east coast, it will shock you to see the amount of racism that you receive. Mainly, it will throw you off, granting that the Bay Area is categorized as a place of diversity, and still has such bigotry towards black people. As for traveling from a different region where it is classified as a racist environment, to exploring a new place that is portrayed as the opposite falls mystifying. Accordingly, the black experience in the Bay Area does not differentiate among any other place in America.

Admittedly, the Bay Area is not what you think. On the subject of being a black male in the Bay Area, it endures the common African American experience just as being anywhere else. Stereotypes are exceedingly embedded and people are afraid of you. However, people enjoy your cultural lifestyle but refuse to respect you and even perceive you as a human being. Darkonesun09 does not recommend black men to come to the Bay Area unless you are here as a music artist, extremely financed, or yet like myself, here for the weather. As for responding to his video blog, I agree with him. The people occupying a space makes a place. As a result, the people in the Bay Area makes it unwelcoming for black men.

Potential Book Cover

The autobiography cover was designed in order to portray visions reflecting personal relevance, life experience, activities, and growth.

Alongside the basketball court, the image presented at the upper left hand corner projects Stonehenge community center. Although there were many chill spots in the neighborhood whereas people would associate, this area would best fit the script of anyone’s’ concern of my whereabouts. So to say, this place was a second home, meanwhile, it played a significant role in my personal-development.

Underneath the community center states “A Story for Believers”, in the event that I was lectured several stories and motivational conversations from peers who had hope in my aspiration. In terms, it was a healing factor that assisted my self-assurance while in doubt. Let alone, I can recall numerous amount of dreams from childhood friends who are deceased. It makes a huge difference to have people who care about your success to give feedback, coaching, encouragement and accountability. Such people planted an ambition in my motive, however, it is very conventional to share my journey for next generations who identify with an equivalent path or witness similar experiences.

In the top middle, Stonehenge is an art of several stones whose name is inscribed into one of its horizontal beams portraying the beauty outside of the neighborhood. All of the initial homeowners were white and now Stonehenge is predominantly black. Built in the late 1990s, as a gateway for a housing subdivision. Spectating the viewpoint is amazing while appearing forefront of the neighborhood. In view of the foreground positioning, Stonehenge is an appreciative sight to observe upon the overall city Athens, GA.

With sight-seeing in mind, the upper right hand corner resembles a direct photograph of Oceanside’s ocean view. The image was taken while traveling from Los Angeles, CA to San Diego, CA. After deep reflection and conscious decision-making, the significance of this photo represents a journey of striving. In the case of forfeiting life, education, and basketball while in a new environment and being exposed to a total new lifestyle that I was never intended to be settled in. Nevertheless, growth begins the moment you step out of your comfort zone.

Underneath the ocean lies the symbol of Ankh. The ankh is the Egyptian symbol of life, also referred to as the Key of Life. Notably, the water and sun above represents the nutrients for life. With the arrangement of the ankh symbol, the authors’ name being the autobiographical sets a venue. To resume, Osiris is worshipped as God of the afterlife as Egyptians believe there is life after death. Aten was a being who represented the god or spirit of the sun. The god Hapi controlled the water itself. Thus being spiritual once before, discovering ancestry data through higher education conducted a strong relevant connection to my impression even before studying.

At the bottom of the book cover, a transparent basketball hovers on the weighing scale. Basketball was an activity of mental balance and has been the pivotal reasons for my drive, venture, and triumph in life. In view of a translucent basketball, the more I aged the game faded away forethought. Yet, basketball gave me an education, opportunity in life, and a future that I would not have otherwise. The more I learned in the classroom the less I was concerned of the sport. Although I played through injuries, basketball taught me the discipline and work ethic I entailed while encountering adversity on and off the court.

Lastly, the weighing scale at the base of the book holds the powerful word and unique name Justice. The meaning of justice has been the most emphasized category that I have clinched through higher education. Due to the extreme active social political aggression for human rights, living in the Bay Area has been truly eye-opening. Owing to the diversity, the environment makes it effortless to glance injustice unlike other places that I have occupied. Being that San Francisco State University was the first Africana Studies program in the United States, it has been an effective program to shift my paradigm. Hence, higher education and witnessing a prolonged journey led to critical consciousness and altered my perception of the world.

 

 

Decolonizing Education

Considering higher education, Eurocentric epistemologies have been the paradigm by which all children in America are taught through approved curriculum (Delgado Bernal and Villalpando 2002). America being the most diverse it’s been since becoming a nation one must ponder over the affects teaching such a diverse nation through such a narrow lens has on one’s success concerning African American students self-esteem, self-identity and how it correlates with their academic achievement in higher education. A preliminary study conducted by Walberg & Genova suggest that, “mixed ability grouping, cooperative learning practices, and use of instructional strategies and materials that consider the unique perspective of African American students relate to a positive racial self-concept” (Walberg & Genova, 1983). Namely, the learning styles and strategies of European descents quite differ from African American teachers of Black students’ styles. In 2010, educational research data revealed that the graduation rate of white students is 80% in contrast to 60% graduation rate concerning African American students (Aud, Fox, & KewelRamani, 2010). At any rate, 2008 studies revealed that 32% of African Americans were enrolled in college in comparison to 44% European American students ranging from 18-24 years of age (Aud et al., 2010).

A student’s ability to identify with academia is generally the extent in which the individual’s self-esteem is formed based on one’s accomplishments and goals in school (Osbourne, 1999). In the scholarly journal Non-Cognitive Predictors of Academic Achievement for African Americans across Cultural Contexts Goode and Watson (1992) state, “that feelings of self-esteem or self-worth are necessary precursors for helping students strive toward academic excellence.” As African Americans lead their European American counterparts in higher dropout rates from high school (National Education Statistics, 2002; Osbourne and Walker, 2006), along with being less likely to enroll in colleges after graduating high school (Aud and colleagues 2010). These disparities spark the inquiry of the roots causes of lower academic achievement concerning African American students in comparison to white students. The rate of African Americans academia achievement and reaching higher education will continue to fall short upon their white counter parts.

Methodology

Theoretical Framework Analysis

The study was designed to determine two factors: cultural awareness and academic achievement. The present study is measuring academic attainment based on racial identity with a set of qualitative questions. The qualitative questions relate to motivation theory (Boykin & Cunningham, 2002) and teacher expectations theory (Eggen & Kauchak, 2003), because they were designed in order to gauge students’ comfortably within the classroom and with faculty, as well as their personal motivation to learn. The reason this investigation is looking at the participants past perspective on education rather than their current perspective is to gauge how the participants’ present cultural perceptions are impacting them at this present time of our study. Some of them may have newfound cultural awareness which would not have been reflected in their past levels of education. To gauge cultural awareness, this investigation uses a modified version of the Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS) (Parham & Helms, 1985). However, various questions of the participants’ experience of grade school is based more on racial identity, pride, and self-esteem. Therefore, the study operates from the approach of the worldview paradigm (Kambon, 1999) to gauge the participants’ perception of their past experiences and response to social and cultural phenomena that occured throughout their lives.

Participants

This study focused on a sample population of people in the Bay Area. The only criterions were that interview participants self-identify as Black and 18 years of age or older. The research plan was to interview an equal proportion of males and females, and monitor results as they came in to ensure that they were meeting this proportion. There was no criterion for gender or grade level, although the demographic survey included a section for participants to identify the aforementioned characteristics. The study did not consciously seek out any specific groups of African Americans, in order to present a broad sample group with diverse experiences and backgrounds. Although the original intention was to exclusively interview undergraduate students, high school alumnus and post-graduate students were approached as well.

The majority of participants participated in this study were students at San Francisco State University. The research study recruited participants in classes via personal invitation and e-mail. Instructors were asked for permission to announce the study in their classes. This research approached African American students on campus to distribute the interview, or took their email addresses and contact numbers to send them the demographic surveys electronically prior to the interview that occurred through telephone. Overall, the research study concluded after 25 participants completed the interviews and demographic surveys- 18 males and 7 females. As a result, the number of participants interviewed was a suitable amount of people to gain a general sense of the African American former and current student body in the Bay Area.

Instrument Description

Interviewees were asked to respond to several questions to explore their experiences and perspectives as a Black student in grade school, as well as higher education. Interviewees were questioned to specify their awareness upon African/Black History. Interviewees were asked several probing questions to glean more explanation and clarity. The dimension was associated with mainstream values of identity (pro-White/anti-Black). Due to the curriculum exposed about African/Black history, questions were raised about their own identity of themselves and the crucial factor that it has played in their life. Such dimensions related to encounter (confused White/euphoric Black).

Furthermore, questions were posed referring to their thoughts on the misconceptions of black students, followed by methods they used to combat stereotype threat.  This dimension is level three, Immersion (idealized Black/anti-White)Lastly, in measuring their racial identity, a questioned ask if they have enrolled in Africana Studies courses after their attainment of higher education. Probing questions followed the interviewees response. “Why?” and “How have those classes affected them?” This dimension is the final level measured, Internalization (internalized Black/accepting White).

As a result, Academic Achievement plays into factor from each level that has been encountered. To measure academic achievement, the research study constructed a series of questions that will measure participants’ responses based on the following categories:

Low level: Students who have not excelled out of high school with a diploma, or the equivalent.  Moderate level: These categories would be for students who have surpassed high school with a diploma or the equivalent. High level: These are students who performed to their full potential attaining of higher levels of education despite setbacks.

For questions on the participant’s grade school experience, the study additionally relies on a likert scale, scored according to the following numerical order: (1) strongly disagree (2) disagree (0) neither agree nor disagree (3) agree (4) strongly agree.

Procedure

The interviews were administered through telephone and face to face taken place at San Francisco State University, with a minimum of twenty-five-minutes timed. In particular, locations of these interviews were located in reserved rooms at the library, Cox Stadium, the top of Cesar Chavez building, and through the phone for the matter of the interviewees comfort. The interviews took place May 9tht – May 13th 2016. Once getting their attention with a brief information on the purpose of the research, 20 students were approached on campus to participate in the research study. After reaching out to them through campus, interviewees were given the information of the research, a consent form, and contact information. Lastly, questions were offered if there were any concerns about the study before and after each participant participated in the research. Participants were noted that the research was completely anonymous and participants were required to answer a series of multiple-choice questions using a likert scale response system from the demographic survey. For this reason, results were recorded and inputted in Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Software, which was used to determine the results.

Dissemination Plan

The results of this work will be shared with San Francisco State University, San Francisco Unified School District and University of San Francisco. Disseminating data to Universities will allow these institutions to be able to support and maintain Black academic success. As the influence of this work reaches institutions, we most want this work to affect our immediate surroundings to conduct further studies. Within this goal, the attention of academic progress for Black students within universities may benefit from the attention being placed upon their success in school versus lacking’ within education. SFUSD can benefit greatly from these finding, using the result to operate their institutions effectively for the shrinking Black population within San Francisco. Descriptive statistic shows a 35% decrease within this population within San Francisco. As this school district develops future students of higher education’s minds, this research must prepare to support future student’s academic goals. With the utilization of these results for the betterment of student success, we can provide a key tool in bettering the education of Black people within these institutions.