Brothers Back Home: Our Trip to Nigeria

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    For 11 days, September 30th through October 10th, my family took a trip back to Lagos, Nigeria. For a lot of reasons this trip was extremely important, and everyday I’m thankful that I was able to embark on such an amazing experience .My brother Cole and I both had a lot to say about our trip, so it made no sense to only allow one story. With that, I give you Cole Ezeilo’s experience Back Home.

 

   Ezeilo. That is who I am. That is what I am. That is what’s made me the young man I am today. Before my trip, I honestly didn’t know who I really was.  I knew that I was Nigerian and Igbo because of my father, but I never thought it would make a big difference, especially in the American “melting pot” society we live in today. I am a firm believer that heritage and self-knowledge is the backbone of any man. So the moment I stepped out of the plane in Lagos, Nigeria, I immediately knew what it meant to be a Nigerian. What it meant to be an Ezeilo.

    Contrary to popular belief, Lagos, Nigeria and Nigeria in general isn’t filled to the brim with slimy scam artists that are impoverished hoping to get any money they can find. Lagos also isn’t some rural city where zebras and giraffe’s roam the streets. It’s simply a city that has people everywhere like any other place. But what sets Lagos apart from any random city and the reason why people are so scared of the city is because it’s incredibly fast. And when I say fast I mean fast in every sense of the word. The cars are fast, the conversations are fast, heck, even the days seem faster! It’s simply a faster paced society and the people native to Lagos have always known this lifestyle. On the other side however, when outsiders view the Nigerian society, it makes them uncomfortable because their humans and their natural instinct is to reject change and differences. So prior to my trip, I was simply an outsider looking into my own culture but now I possess the ability to not only adjust to a fast-paced society but more importantly switch between a fast and a slow one. This is what I think makes me unique. The fact that I’m a true African-American or rather, an American-African.

    There’s a certain joy you get when you open your eyes and see family everywhere. It’s truly a humbling experience because you know for a fact, that you’re a part of something much bigger than yourself. I can remember the exact time this feeling hit me. It was during my father’s 50th birthday party on the beach of Lekki, a section of Lagos. All of the Ezeilo’s were up dancing regardless of age or gender with each and every one of our faces painted with smiles. We were able to connect on a different level and many of us had nothing in common except one thing… Ezeilo. I believe it was at this time that my life changed for the better. You see, it’s so easy to say that the people over there that were not taken from the Atlantic Slave Trade are completely separate from us. Especially as a young black man in America, the systemic racism has been set up to disconnect us from our heritage and culture and more importantly, our family. But I’m lucky and blessed to say that I’m part of the large percentage of American-Africans and know who and where I come from.

   So as I got on the plane to leave Lagos, I thought about the knowledge I’d acquired on this trip. This wasn’t information that could be taught in a classroom. This also wasn’t information that I ever could’ve learned here in the states. It was information and care from the family that loved me unconditionally upon arrival and this is of unfathomable value. This is Ezeilo.

 

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Shout out to my brother Cole Ezeilo, the boy that’s gonna rule the world one day. Pop4all.com if you didn’t know already. The following are my words. I hope you enjoy.

 

For me, I knew I was never going to forget this trip when I landed in Enugu State, where my father was born.

After my grandfather’s passing, the entire Ezeilo family was shocked to hear about the hero that was Godwin Ezeilo. He was such a strong figure, saving hundreds of lives in his own lifetime, that his death was almost unfathomable. Because of this, many elders in the family refused to believe the news of my grandfather’s death. With my father being the oldest son of his immediate family, it was his job to travel back to Enugu State to tell his family the news. I came along with him, and what I saw will stay with me for as long as I live.

As I took the brief flight from Lagos to Enugu in the middle of our trip with my parents, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I knew that the Ezeilos were a big family, but for 17 years this big family had been nothing but a concept in my head. No faces to any names, no memories between one another, and no ways of connecting on a personal level. Is this really going to be like my how dad had talked about it for all this time? Will I be able to relate to my own family?  And finally, what is the true strength of the Ezeilo name? All of this tossed and turned in my head as we finally landed at the Enugu airport. From there, I never stopped smiling, maturing, and learning.

With every step I took on Enugu soil, my family grew almost exponentially. My Uncle Paul, who was the backbone behind this entire trip, took us all around the state to introduce us to all of our family members. Everywhere we went there were more and more Ezeilos, each with an enormous smile and an even bigger heart. Something that really stuck out to me was being in the presence of a living and breathing king  who just happened to share the last name as me. Does that make me royalty? Yeah, I think it does. Following this, we moved all around the state through each  house, apartment, estate, or mansion, where Ezeilos were ready to make us feel at home. I met different  uncles, aunts, great-uncles, great aunts, and an insane amount of cousins. I met governors, engineers, and bankers to name a few. It was like a family reunion, except the entire state felt like being in your cousin’s backyard.

When we got to the village where my father and grandfather and great-grandfather was born, however, I experienced something that I had previously never felt before. To this very moment I can’t truly describe the sensation accurately. It was a mix between an out-of-body experience and a lucid dream, as crazy that sounds. I’ve been walking around and talking to people all day, but for some reason as soon as I touched down on such a significant place in my family’s history, things were different. I knew this was bigger than me, to say the least. The village traditions had so much meaning to them that you couldn’t help but stare at and study every movement the elders made. The Igbo, our language, was fluid, strong, and at some times it felt like I could understand them despite never knowing the language. And every time I shook a hand or introduced myself, I was met with such overwhelming joy.  After these traditions and speeches from my uncles and father were finished, my father and I chanted and prayed over the grave of my great-grandfather, James Ezeilo, the man who built everything I saw around me. It felt like I finally unlocked a part of myself that I had been questioning for so long: what does the name Ezeilo really mean? Well after narrowing it down to a country, a state, a village, and finally one man, I can confidently say that I know where I come from.

Now, there were many more stories and memories I had from this trip. It was amazing in every aspect of the word, and I’ll never forget it. But to me personally, the one experience that changed everything was my time in the Ezagwa village. I know EXACTLY who I am, who my people are, the strength my family has, and the power of being back home. Coming back from this trip, it felt like I had a gold suit of armor with a crown to match. The name of this outfit, you ask? E-Z-E-I-L-O. I dare you to try and stop me now.

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Godwin Ezeilo – A Life of Perserverance, Willpower, and the Strength of Family

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        In today’s world, people are motivated by a variety of things. Some people are driven by the need to perfect their image, while others are motivated by money and power. And of course, there will always be people who are driven by hate and prejudice in order to get what they want. But in my opinion, there is definitely a stronger life force than all three of those combined.  No example of this power was better than my grandfather Godwin Ezeilo. Let me explain.

        Whenever I bring up my grandfather to my dad, his eyes light up like he’s won the Nobel Peace Prize. Whether it was a good story or a bad story, the same smile comes over my dad at the end to show the love and appreciation he had for his father. And regardless of what story it was, the message never changed:  Godwin “Goodie, Papa, Pops” Ezeilo did the impossible to make sure that his family was protected. Whether it was fighting as a Wing Commander in the Biafran Air Force in Nigeria, to surviving behind enemy lines for weeks, all of it was to make sure his wife and 5 kids (one of them being my dad) had the best possible chance at success and happiness. This came to a climax in the middle of the war, as  him and fellow officers were seen as traitors of the Nigerian Government. Thinking quickly, he rounded as many things as he could hold, put his entire family on the first plane to out of Nigeria, and said goodbye to his home country as opposing forces attempted to shoot the plane from below. Others would have given up, but not my grandfather. He had something special on his side.

        Things only slowly got better as the Ezeilo’s moved from country to country trying to evade Nigerian officials. Gabon and Portugal were only a few temporary homes for the family, as Godwin  constantly looked over his shoulder and made decisions to leave at a moment’s notice. Finally, the Ezeilo’s landed in The United States, and things changed for the better. He landed a position at IBM as an electrical engineer , received many degrees in education, and never failed to show his children right from wrong. All 5 of his kids are happy and successful, and they’re even showing the next generation of Ezeilo’s how to thrive in this world and its obstacles.  That wisdom lives in them, and I like to think that it’s growing in me.

         I say all that to tell you all that over the last few days I’ve learned something extremely important. Often I wonder why people act the way they act in certain situations, and specifically what is the strongest motivator that can exist within a person. Although I like to think different, too often in this world I see so many people driven by fickle things like power, prejudice, and profit. With all of this around someone, one has to think that the point of life is to be extrinsically motivated towards a big house, a nice car, and maybe some other shiny things. But after battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma for a period of time, my grandfather showed myself, my family, and the staff at his hospital the biggest strength of power. My grandfather was able to stay alive in a severely weakened state for over 6 days without food and water. I remember my family and I being half comforting and half bewildered on his bedside, as none of us could fathom how this man was defying common knowledge on survival in the condition he was in. But on April 28th at 6:45 when our extended family including my grandmother Beatrice Ezeilo was by his side, Godwin Ezeilo decided it was time to make his way toward the ancestors and pass. It was then that we realized that his willpower to live for his family and the ancestors was keeping him alive for so long. After a multitude of emotions throughout the room, the answer to my question was made clear. The strongest force in one’s life is the strength to love your family. That’s why my grandfather was able to provide for his family in rough times, that’s why he made sure to instill the right morals in all of his kids, and that’s why he was able to hold on for as long as he did. It all comes down to family. Without family we’re nothing in this world, so it only makes sense why people can do the near-impossible to provide for the people they love. If our world can somehow move away from the money/power thirst it has and start looking towards the things that matter such as the people around you, I feel like a lot of problems can be solved at once towards a better society.

        But at the end of the day I simply write to honor my late grandfather, who may not have always said much, but always lit up a room with his presence and his infectious joy for the ones he loved. I’ll never forget how warm his hugs were, or how he always made sure to tell everyone “God Bless You” whenever he saw them. But looking back on it, it was always him that was the most blessed, for there is nobody I know and will ever know that was as strong and loving as my Papa Ezeilo. May he rest in peace.

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My Experience at Howard University

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ImageLast year, I put up a post on the topic of college, specifically dealing with college as a black kid. I went back and forth on a few ideas, but for the most part I wasn’t too sure on what direction I should take. Should I go with a majority school? A PWI? Should I go to school out of the country? And of course, is an HBCU the best option? Well, after my experience from the last 4 days, I can say without a doubt in my mind that I will definitely be going to a Historically Black College and University. And if I had my choice to pick, it would definitely be Howard.

 

I say this because Howard really does give off the feeling of a utopia for young black people. Not only is there an incredibly broad spectrum of black people from around the world full of different experiences and skills, but everyone is on a path to success. Never in my life have I seen so many people who you could tell were focused and driven to succeed in their own way. Whether it was the psychology major or the aspiring music producer, everyone had a special type of fire in their eyes whenever they talked about their future goals. It was incredibly inspiring. And I know that one could apply that to any HBCU, but it’s different at Howard. Howard holds a standard of excellence unlike any other HBCU, and that’s reason why they’re ranked number 1 amongst HBCUs. And in many areas, such as the School of Business, they’re ranked extremely high amongst colleges in general. So in terms of academics, Howard is the move.

 

And in terms of the social life, it’s almost disrespectful trying to explain it in words. To quote one of our group’s leaders “ nothing will prepare you for Howard except Howard”. The city of D.C. seemed to have a heartbeat that never stopped, and every day was a new adventure. I could write for days on some of the memories I had around Howard and D.C. , but to keep it short, I’ll just say that this trip will always hold a special place in my heart. From insane Uber rides, to late night runs to IHOP, Step Shows, and everything in between, this trip was great.

 

And even with all of that, I also got the opportunity to attend sessions on various schools of study at Howard. Whether it was the School of Communications, the School of Arts and Sciences and of course the School of Business. Each of these sessions provided not only more information on the school, but extremely useful information dealing with majors, tips for high school, and the application process. I wanted to go to more at the end of the trip, but the ones I did go to helped in many ways.

 

So to conclude, I simply want to thank the Howard University Alumni Association for the opportunity to experience Howard even for only a few days. The bus trip was extremely memorable, all of the chaperones were laid-back and resourceful, and the entire attitude toward the trip was a great mixture between “enjoy yourself”and “learn as much as you can”. To say I’m thankful is an understatement.  And after being on Howard’s campus and receiving only a glimpse into the life of a Howard Student, if all the right things line up, you can find me in D.C in a couple of years.

 

“H-U?!?”

 

“YOU KNOW!”  

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Thoughts on March Madness

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        When it comes to the calendar of sports, in my opinion march definitely takes the prize. You have the UEFA Champions League starting to pick up, and as well as that, the NBA Playoffs are just around the corner with teams trying to sure up their spots. But without a doubt, the biggest influence in my love for March sports is the one and only March Madness.

        To me, it’s like the purest form of basketball. The NBA playoffs are great with their game series structure, but college basketball has far too many teams to go through that. Instead, every game is win-or-go-home with both teams putting it all on the line every game. This results in amazing individual performances, as well as the beloved underdog team from Nowhere State who defeats the top seed in the nation. The buzzer-beaters, the emerging stars, even the brackets created in anticipation all play a role in this amazing tournament. It’s game 7 every night, and it always ends in a blockbuster finish

        Until recently, my opinion on March Madness hasn’t really faltered. As soon as early March hits, i’m usually on my couch, bracket in hand, ready for showtime, no questions asked. To me these guys were celebrities in the making, and what they were doing benefited not only themselves, but millions of others as well. Things changed when I got older, however, and I started to see things clearly.

        Even though there is the unparalleled fame that comes with March Madness as well as possible wealth down the road, I can’t shake the idea that at the end of the day these kids not only still have classes, but aren’t allowed to take any monetary gains from this billion dollar tournament. It’s almost as if they’re employees who are paid on the hope of possibly being in the NBA. Now I know this idea isn’t anything from new, but from my eyes I’m conflicted.

       As a young athletic basketball-loving teenager who sees college around the corner, I truly am unsure if I want to be in their shoes this month. Sure, I could definitely be having a great experience while representing my school, but I don’t want to go the NBA. So is March Madness/ big-time college basketball to kids who aren’t NBA bound a waste of time? And if so, isn’t it more harm to their grades? On top of that, college players have said that they go to bed starving from not being able to afford food at night. Is it all worth it?

        Honestly, I don’t know. I truly love the tournament and what it shows basketball is capable of, but sometimes thinking about the actual players participating makes me take a step back. If I end up playing basketball in college, I’ll make sure to give you guys an in-depth expose. Until then, I’ll be watching with intent.

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Why I Support Trump for President

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Yeah, you read it right.

 

I, Miles Ezeilo, wish Donald J Trump the best of luck in the upcoming elections. I know that this seems like something out of left field for me, considering what my usual stance is on things, but I stand by this one proudly. To many this probably sounds a little strange, even. But since I can’t vote in this upcoming  Presidential election (December birthday, sadly), I feel like I can at least voice my opinion here. And the reason isn’t very…straight-forward. Let me explain.

 

America deserves Donald Trump right now. With the current state of America, with greed and lies in the government while citizens are struggling everyday with no change, Donald Trump is the perfect President. With poverty still being a pressing problem at the same time the rich get richer, Donald Trump answers that call. With things like the Housing Market Crash still affecting people’s lives on a daily basis, while unnecessary wars are being paid for without fail, Donald Trump is the man. And with institutional racism, classism, and sexism becoming so common in society that we’ve become numb to it, that’s why Donald trump is the perfect candidate.

Everyday me and millions of people like me live with constant fear, having to err on the side of caution in order to protect our lives. Everyday women can do the same amount of work as a man, yet still get a smaller paycheck. Everyday more people are becoming unemployed, for it’s only so much Obama can do without the help of at least a few members of Congress. To me, this isn’t a place I’d like to raise a family, or even live my adult life in. America has become toxic, and the solution is Donald Trump.

 

The way I see it, America didn’t deserve Obama in 2008, and especially not for this long. President Obama has had to deal with so much after Bush, and has done a good job doing the most he can do. But even after all of this work, not only does he not get the accolades he deserves, but he’s ridiculed and assaulted daily by people who can’t see past his brown complexion. These are people who are supposed to be helping him, but sadly this is not the case. So as a result, America is a mess, but because Obama is doing all he can and making small victories, it doesn’t seem completely bad. If anything, Obama is the problem, right? No.

 

This is where Trump comes in.

 

With Donald Trump in office, all of the doors can fly open to reveal how broken this country really is. Donald Trump, the TV personality/ real-estate businessman, acts as a placeholder for the Presidential position. Because he has no political experience and obviously can’t lead the country, one simply can’t look at him to blame for America’s issues. The policies won’t be strong enough, the foreign affairs will be sloppy, and all of it will be done by the talking hairpiece known as Donald Trump. With Obama gone, all the people who hated him can finally look up and realize it wasn’t the black guys fault; it was the country he was trying to lead.  Hopefully after Trump does enough damage, politicians can wake up and try to solve some problems.

 

Now I know there’s other candidates other than Trump out there, so one could ask, why not just support someone else? I feel like while that sounds like a good idea, people will still have hate for a candidate like what Obama had to go through, and all that will do is give people another excuse for why America is bad instead of looking at America as the problem itself. America needs to do better than that. America needs a restart.

 

So yeah, if I were to vote for anybody this Presidential election, it would be Donald Trump. Not for his policies or his charisma or even his toothless smile, but simply as a strategic move to hopefully get America in a better place. As well as this, a perfect punishment  for targeting my people and trying to stop our success is having a clown as a President.

 

But hey, this is only my opinion. I do feel strongly about this, but I am more than open to be proven wrong, or simply hear a different viewpoint. Let me know by commenting below.

 

[NOTE: 4/11/16

Over the last couple of months, I’ve received many questions and concerns dealing with this post. Now although most of the points I still stand against, let me make this clear to everyone. This was a satirical piece, displaying a wild and unorthodox reason for voting for Donald Trump. If I had the chance to vote in the upcoming election, I definitely WOULDN’T vote for him. He would run this country into the ground before anything got better. I know this. So while I am happy that many people have opinions dealing with this topic, I feel like a lot of people took it in an unintended direction. Any publicity is good publicity, but I wanted to make things clear.]

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Thoughts going into the Grammys: Kendrick’s Turn

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[UPDATE]

 

I’m back y’all.

I know it’s been a minute, but I’ve been getting settled into a completely new situation at the house, and sadly I’ve been putting TDL on the back burner.That coupled with some technical problems caused a slight malfunction to TheDarkerLens. Bad news: I had to repost everything, and unfortunately I lost a couple from last year.  But now that everything’s good, expect more TDL posts on the way.

 

Now back to the topic.  

 

When it comes to most things in my life, I’m pretty optimistic. I always hope for the best in my school  and whatever sport I’m playing, and I always believe that the best possible outcome will show itself. Helen Keller once said “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

Now while I do like to keep a positive outlook, there are a few things that I’ve simply given up on. The first one, is the possibility of 100% percent harmony between races, for after the last couple of years, it’s becoming less and less like a possible reality. The second one, is the possibility of Tupac being alive, for as much as I want the Cuban Conspiracy to be true, I feel like he would’ve come out by now. And the last one, which kind of fits in with the first, is the possibility of black people getting the proper accolades they deserve for what they do. Richard Sherman and Cam Newton are successful black men who have fun playing football?

“Just a couple of thugs”.

Serena Williams is the most dominant player in women’s tennis?

“She might be a man”.  

President Obama passed the Affordable Care act for millions of Americans, ended the war in Iraq, turned around the automotive industry, and created 8.7 million jobs?

“Still running our country into the ground”.

The examples don’t end, and this goes across the board. One of the clearer examples of blatant disrespect comes in award ceremonies such as the Oscar’s and the Grammy’s. Now, the Oscar’s are a whole different beast for another post, but as for the Grammy’s, something is different this year.

Although for many years black people have been snubbed of well-deserved awards at the Grammy’s, it’s sometimes debatable that there might be some competition in the fields that they’re in. And on top of that, the work made by black people might not have been “Grammy winning” that year. But that was the past, and that was before To Pimp a Butterfly.

I distinctly remember staying up all night waiting for that album, hoping that one of my favorite rappers, Kendrick Lamar, will deliver with a quality project for me to listen to. I was simply hoping for some quality lyrics, some catchy hooks, and a banger or two to play in the car. Needless to say, my standards weren’t too high,

 

And then I listened to it.

 

I don’t even want to chalk it up to the thought-provoking lyrics, or the fusion of jazz, funk, spoken word, and Hip Hop. I don’t even want to chalk it up to the overarching message of the whole album. I say this because that was the closest thing I’ve heard to a perfect album. This album gives you music you want, and music you didn’t even know you wanted. This album is extremely personal, while also having the ability to speak to so many people at once. And of course, this album was one of the most timely things anyone could’ve  produced given the state of the U.S. With songs like “Alright” that uplift an entire people despite the weights of society (police shootings, poverty, etc), “The Blacker the Berry” which speaks to the dichotomy between uplifting fellow black people and black-on black crime, and “Complexion”, which paints a vivid picture of the colorism that still exists amongst black people, this album puts music to the lives of every African American living in the United States right now. That’s why it’s certified platinum, and that’s why it’s nominated for 11 Grammys.

But even with all of that in its corner, I as well as others, are still not too sure if Kendrick will get what he deserves. He was already snubbed a Grammy in 2014 after Macklemore took it with “The Heist”, but that was a different time and this is a different album. To me, everything is lining up perfectly, now it just needs to happen.

So this monday, Lord knows I’ll be watching the Grammys to see if the right things happen. Right now I’m still not too sure if the Academy will do the right thing, but hopefully they can prove me wrong.

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Thinking About College as a Black Kid

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As I’m coming up on the midpoint of my junior year, a lot of things have changed since I entered into highschool. I’ve gotten a little taller, I can drive now, I’ve met some really cool people,  and I’ve had more tests and quizzes than I can count. But the one thing that’s changed that is currently on my mind, is my mindset. I say this because in 9th grade I was focused on having fun, making friends, and dealing with the insane workload that I acquired. But as I move into the later part of 11th grade, I’m adding one more thing: the future. When talking about the future, I’m thinking about what I truly want to do when I leave this place, and what really makes me happy. And the magical place that helps me answer these questions, is none other than college.

Now what I just said is what’s on any other teenager’s mind right about now, for college is definitely something that needs to be contemplated when looking at the rest of your life. Does this university have this major? How’s the social life at the university? What will a diploma from this college say about me? I can’t speak for all current students in highschool, but these questions are constantly in question. And without a doubt, there are different questions and more questions when the student in question is African American. In order to avoid generalizations, I’ll just speak for myself.

To start, there always the standard questions that come with speculating a college for the first time. These things are usually based on interests, how much the college is, closeness to home, and other things. But as a black kid, I also have to think about the racial makeup of the school. Speaking from experience, when you are one of the only black kids at a super white school, things happen that you don’t want to happen. You start letting slick racism slide, you change a little every now and then to fit in, and ultimately you start to become less and less like the person you were before. It’s bad. So as a survivor of a mini PWI, I don’t think I could deal with 4 years at a place just like that. I’m pretty sure white people don’t think of that.

Following this, there’s the community outside of the school. Whether it’s Atlanta, Los Angeles, Raleigh, or anywhere, the city outside of the university really means something. Basically, I don’t think I could spend 4 years in the middle of Mississippi (which happens to be the  2nd most racist state in the world with 11 KKK organizations. I’m not bashing Mississippi, but there’s a lot of other places). I honestly don’t care if I get a super scholarship to Ole Miss for having two eyes or something, I just can’t do it.

So after hearing all of this, you think there would be an easy and clear solution, right? A predominantly black college with a cool area around it….sounds like a lot of HBCUs! Whether it’s Morehouse or Howard or Florida A&M, these are all good choices for me to go. Problem solved. Goodbye.

 

But not really.

 

HBCUs are all great, but there’s one common trait among them that is a problem : America. Now don’t get me wrong, all HBCUs looks and sound like an amazing choice. But recently I’ve decided that my problem isn’t necessarily the specific places in the U.S that hold these universities, but the U.S as a whole. Whether it’s the police, politicians, or yet another mass shooting, the United States is looking pretty shaky.  After my trip to London two summers ago, things have really opened up for me. The world is really really really big, and why should I limit myself? There’s Nigeria, Spain, London, South Africa, Singapore, and whole lot more to choose from right? From the sound of it, I should be whipping out my passport and looking all across the globe. But that’s where the dilemma comes in. With family in one place, as well as a culture that I’ve grown accustomed to, should I really take that long plane ride across an ocean? I mean, Howard is still a really cool college in the heart of D.C. , and if I go to Morehouse, I got all my family around the corner. And I’ve barely even been to the west coast!  Is it a punk move to just pack up and go when things look a little rough? Honestly, I don’t know.

So at this current moment, I’m at a little bit of a loss. There are pros and cons for both sides, and I feel like I’ll be weighing them until I make my final decision. But I do feel like I’m not alone, for there has to be more kids like me who have to make this choice: should I stay home where it’s iffy, or should i take the leap where it’s a mystery?  Hopefully I’ll choose before time runs out.

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1 Year TDL

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 The date of February 14th, 2015 had a lot more meaning that I realized, for more reasons than one. The first reason was obviously this year’s Valentines Day. The second reason was  this year’s All-Star Saturday Night for the NBA (duh), in which three point and dunk contests filled my eyes with joy.  Both of these events/holidays are ones I enjoy, for not only do I enjoy basketball, but I thoroughly enjoy  being happy with the people I love. Needless to say, both of these events this year did not disappoint in making my February 14th a great one.

      But the last reason that February 14th, 2015 had so much meaning to me, is that it marks the 1-year anniversary of the start of The Darker Lens. Wow.

       It’s hard finding words on how much this blog has done to my life over the course of this year. For starters, I got to be on a panel for the White House on how to help black boys due to one of my first posts on Jordan Davis.  As well as this I also got to go to London due to the help of all of my family and friends through this blog (with the help of Go Fund Me), which ended up being one of the bests trips of my life. But in addition to this, I also gained something from this blog that no trip or opportunity can surmount. This blog gave me a voice.

       Hopefully this blog has, and will continue to succeed in its mission of informing as many people as possible of what goes on in a black teenage boy’s mind, for we have obviously been frequently misunderstood, which leads to decisions and actions that aren’t for the best. This is what I hope for the most, for in my opinion, if these politicians and judges and policemen had an inkling of our true thoughts and intentions, then maybe these tragedies that I see all the time will start to go away.  But even with that being said, this blog is more than just a microphone.

       This blog has given me a chance to truly express myself in ways that internal thoughts can’t. As soon as I see the ” Add New Post” prompt on my laptop, something lights up in the back of my head, and I get this feeling unlike anything I can describe. Maybe it’s the same when a painter looks at a canvas, or when an entertainer looks at a microphone and an audience, but it’s definitely a feeling I love. Whenever I bring myself back to the question of what my future career will be, all I need to see is that prompt and I remember all over again: I want to be a writer. Because of this blog I’ve had the chance to voice my opinions on topics like some of my favorite music, sports, TV, as well as many stories related to the topic of the moment. It’s calmed me down in times of anger and frustration, and it’s inspired me to think about things in a different light. All of this came from a simple idea my parents and I had one year ago.

    So even though I’m technically a day late, today I want to thank everyone who has ever read my blog, all of my friends and family, and the people who have inspired me and pushed me to do this. I love you all for it,  I’m thankful, and I hope for many more anniversaries of The Darker Lens in the future.  

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My Thoughts on the Michael Brown Verdict

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I got an update from CNN at around 11 o’clock last night. Being half asleep, I glanced over to my phone, stared at it for a while, and slowly sat up in my bed. Staring into space now, all I could do was think of the current situation I’m in, and my heart sank. No outrage, no screaming, just disappointment and a hint of fear. With that I listened to some music, and went to bed soon after.

 

That was my initial reaction to hearing that Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for the shooting of 18 year-old Michael Brown.

 

What saddens me the most is of course the fact that the legal system is indirectly calling black boys targets, and not human beings. As a black boy I am no longer safe, for now it seems like I’d be safer running away from the police than towards them for help. This has been shown multiple times. But the thing that makes me hate myself, is the fact that my response to these shootings are becoming less and less passionate. I remember when Trayvon Martin was shot, and how I was fuming for weeks on end, angry at everyone and everything. I was thirteen, and in my eyes this was something I’ve never heard of: someone who looks just like me is killed for no reason. This was heartless, sad, and unprecedented for the most part. But after two years of the same sad story with different names and faces, all I can do is stare at a wall and pray for the families of the victims.  I’m slowly being desensitized from an issue that directly affects me, and I hate that I feel this way.  This is something that needs to change.

 

In no way is it OK to normalize the shooting and killing of black boys. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing normal or regular or just about Michael Brown, Troy Davis, Trayvon Martin, and countless others. All of them were unique lives that ended too soon. But the fact that it happens so often is where the psychological issue comes into play. When you see black face after black face after black face on the news as a kid and as an adult, you start to see it as normal. This leads to the further devaluing of black boys, resulting in the process starting all over again. So when something is becoming “boring”, what does the news latch on to make a story?  In this case, its the riots.

 

I woke up at around 9:30 today, and turned on the television to see how people were responding to the verdict. Hoping to see news coverage on the Michael Brown’s family, or more on the lack of indictment itself, I was instead greeted by headlines like “Riots Fill the Streets of Ferguson”, and “Ferguson up in Flames”. This was coupled with video segments of black people looting and jumping on police cars, but nothing on the cause of this anger. I turned off the TV and finished my cereal in silence.

 

OK, this is the part that makes me mad. Not only does the news seem to not cover enough of the lack of indictment itself,  but instead MSNBC and CNN are focusing more on the looting and the rioting caused by this issue. Sure, the news still needs to cover something like this, but the main story is being missed. “Michael Brown’s Killer Set Free”. “Shooter of Innocent Boy Released”. “Darren Wilson Gone With No Charges”. These all sound like headlines that would not only bring in views, but would also tell the real story instead of the aftermath, no matter how exciting that may be.

 

To say the least, these are my feelings on the lack of indictment. I’m sad, dissapointed, but in the end I can only shake my head.  So this holiday season, I’ll have a lot to be thankful for. I have my family, my friends, my health, and especially the ability to be alive, for I know for sure that can change at any time. RIP Michael Brown.

 

Happy Holidays.

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Michael Brown, Another Black Teen Dead.

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Michael Brown

 

To be honest, I  really didn’t  want to cover this story.

 

I know I’m supposed to cover things like this, because you guys want to know what  boys like me think about these tragedies. But it makes me sick to my stomach to keep repeating the same story over and over and over and over again, and to see it countless times on the news. First it was Trayvon Martin, then Jordan Davis, and now Michael Brown , as well as countless others. And even more recently Ezell Ford, who was fatally shot by the police in south L.A 2 days after Michael Brown was shot. Another Black  Boy was shot and killed by the police.

I’m sorry, but the last time I checked, black boys don’t resemble geese, quail, or any kind of deer for that matter.  So why in the world are we being hunted by the people that are supposed to protect us.  How  am I supposed to call this country “home”, when it is obvious that the police force turn on anybody that looks like me? Is there a reason behind this violence? That’s what I’m still trying to find out. But until then, I am staying as far away from the cops as I can. Because at this point in American society, making it through the day as a black boy truly is a blessing.

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