Monthly Archives: November 2011

Honoring MLK Day

How do we commemorate the man who, in President Obama’s words, ‘took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land?’ How do we rightfully honor a civil rights activist who gave his life fighting for justice?

Most schools in the country, including UR, were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is a federal holiday. It seems to have become a custom to memorialize a person or an event with a day off. But this year, it is important to ask ourselves what better honors a person: a day off or a ‘day on.’

While cancelling classes for MLK Day seems appropriate – and students look forward to the day off (even on the heels of vacation) – is this really the right approach? As we’ strolled through Marketplace Mall, went skating or watched a movie, did we even remember why we were given a day off from classes? Were we conscious of the man whose life and death merited this holiday?


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Filed under Campus Times, Politics, Race, Religion

In Hip-Hop I trust

As published in the Campus Times

Hip-hop isn’t a genre of music it’s a movement, a culture of freedom and community. Yet, it’s often associated with violence and misogyny. It seems as if our morally satiated society is simply too pure for a rebellious culture like hip-hop. But, any rational person should be able to decipher that the hip-hop culture that’s criticized is merely a mirror of the general music industry. However, the commercialization of hip-hop has seemed to be singled out from the Punk Rockers who originally had a social agenda.

Ever since one student told me that he would never listen to Jay-Z because he’s not into the whole ‘shooting” and ‘violent” thing, I’ve felt a social obligation to deter this contagious ignorance on our campus especially as an active member of UR Hip-Hop where our quest is to recapture hip-hop’s essence.

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Filed under A&E, Campus Times

Prison Reform Is Needed in California

At the beginning of this month, California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) commenced its prison realignment plan per the orders of the Supreme Court. CDCR’s realignment involves transporting non-serious, nonviolent, and/or nonsexual offenders from its notoriously overcrowded adult prison system to local county jails in an effort to reduce the current inmate population of 156,000 by about 40,000 within the next two years. California’s prison population has ballooned to the extent that gymnasiums were converted into makeshift sleeping quarters, single toilets are being shared by 54 inmates, and the mental and medical healthcare services can no longer treat the influx of inmates.

The Supreme Court’s May ruling that CDCR’s 200% over-capacity adult prison system is a blatant case of cruel and unusual punishment and reintroduces the outcry for prison reform. Stakeholders and policymakers must not take CDCR’s over-capacity, high recidivism rates (67.5% as opposed to the national average of 52%), and health care insufficiencies as an anomalous issue — America’s 2.3 million prison population, which is twice that of England’s and four times as much as France’s prison population, is a well-documented dilemma that warrants immediate attention.

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Filed under Criminal Justice System, Policymic, Social Justice

Hurricane Reveals Need for Green Infrastructure Defenses in NYC

It has only been six years since our nation learned a valuable lesson in storm preparation: Infrastructure is everything. In 2005, Katrina caused 28 levees to collapse, leaving nearly three-quarters of New Orleans inundated by storm waters.

This past August, New York City’s infrastructure was challenged. Luckily for us, the much less powerful tropical storm Irene did not make a direct hit. However, with State Farm reporting over 360 homeowner claims, 370,000 people being left without power, and politicians playing Texas Hold ‘Em over how to manage the $1.1 billion bill left for FEMA, there are clearly some structural adjustments that the city should make in order to reduce storm damages in the future. It is imperative that city governments update their infrastructure and exhaust measures to protect their residents. For New York City, this means that the city’s green infrastructure plan should emphasize the use of landscape swales and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings as the best approach for dealing with storms.

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Filed under Environment, Policymic

No average Joe

They have been waiting for this very moment for their entire lives; not a second earlier or later. Two identically unique gladiators walk down a narrow path with their heads held high. Both, with an identity and swagger of their own, walk down the gallows to a chorus of ruckus and chaos, only to meet at the nexus of truth and war — a secluded circle where only the men who have worked so hard to acquire such an honor can hear the loud sound of silence that interrupts their heavy heart palpitations. To the naked and jejune eyes of the spectators, they are violent performers who are trained to destroy the man who stands across from them whenever they hear the cue of a bell. But for these gladiators, they are truly artists who have eloquently mastered the art of courage, discipline and athleticism. This isn’t merely a war — they are artist who paint awe inspiring moments on the canvas of history as they slide their soles across the unforgiving canvas. This is more than a sport, it’s a science — the sweat science. When men step into that scared-circle, they are submitting themselves to a cataclysmic clash where judgment meets history.

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Filed under Boxing, Democrat and Chronicle

Race: the simplicity and complexity of differences

It’s ok to talk about race. Yup, I said it.

In our politically correct world of indirect statements and posturing, it seems as if the mere use of words like race, ethnicity, sex, religion or orientation are likely to elicit a few gasps and frowns.  Ironically, that’s precisely the problem. If we want our society to move forward, then it’s about time that we comfortably communicate with one another in open and frank discussions without fidgeting in mid-conversation.  Indeed, some of the most engaging panel discussions that I participated in the University of Rochester were from the Campus Diversity Roundtable and the Pan African Students’ Association’s perceptions of blackness.

Sharing our differences is a healthy way of sharing and building respect for one another — and that doesn’t mean that I need to agree with or even embrace everyone’s idea about sexual preference or religious identification; however, I at least see it as my responsibility to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do about certain issues. When I discuss my differences with someone else, it allows me to strengthen my self-identification and awareness of others without either condemning them or exhaling myself.Now that I can navigate the ins and outs of my own self-identity and allegiances, I can truly appreciate racial, political, economic and religious discourse with others. By no surprise, I always have a harder time holding a meaningful conversation with people who agree and interpret everything that I say the same way.

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Filed under Democrat and Chronicle, Race

I’ve Got the Point: OWS Decoded

As the haughty media continues to shake its finger of disapproval at the OWS demonstrators like an angry parent who demands their child to explain the reasons for their temper tantrum, they are entirely missing the point; so have I, until a recent Teach-in that at NYU I attended this evening.

I’m sure the first thing you’re probably thinking is “what can this kid possibly say that we haven’t all already heard? There is no platform or proposed policies that they can even agree on! These kids are just venting about our nation’s economic turmoil. Besides a blizzard, there’s no end in sight.”

The way we’re trying to interpret OWS is precisely the problem. We, including myself, have been conditioned to look at movements in the context of our traditional political way of sorting through complaints and pinpointing policies to counteract them. Now that OWS has everyone’s attention, many people believe that it’s most wise for them to cease the moment and uniformly explain themselves. Now we all wait and listen for their platform, just as the once undermined Tea Party was able to culminate their series of grievances with.

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Filed under Democrat and Chronicle, Social Justice