Miles Ezeilo: Future Howard Bison

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 I got in. I got in I got in I got in I got in I GOT IN!!!!!!!

 

After five years of working towards my dream school, the light at the end of the tunnel is closer and brighter than it has ever been. I have been accepted into Howard University’s class of 2021. It’s a surreal feeling, to say the least. With every late-night study session, every volunteer hour and every extracurricular activity, despite my schedule being hectic, in the back of my head I always thought “Howard will make this all worth it”. Since eighth grade I’ve had this school in my sights, and now it’s only 7 months away from becoming a reality. Excitement is an understatement.

Especially with Donald Trump’s presidential election, being at Howard is even more important to me. While I will be down the street from him in D.C (yikes), I know that Howard will be just what I need during these next four years. No more hyper-conservative “All Lives/Blue Lives/ Not Black Lives Matter” people will I have to face. Instead I will be fed nothing but knowledge of the world around me, my people, and what I can do to change it for the better. It’s almost as if Howard, or any HBCU is the protective shield every young black American needs. Perfect timing, if you ask me.

I can’t thank enough people who got me to this place in my life. Mom and dad, you’ve been my motivation in more ways than one. Besides literally telling me I need to work on college essays and getting on me about my grades, your presence and success alone provided the example I needed to keep working hard. I love y’all. I also want to thank all my aunt’s and uncle’s and cousins and grandparents and friends of the family for helping me all of these years. Whether through example of your achievements, words of wisdom, or just positivity towards everyone around you, you have all been a huge part in how I’m here. Your help meant and still means so much to me and I’ll be sure to never let you guys down.

It feels weird sometimes, to be honest, when I think about the next chapter of my life. For four years I’ve been working on achieving this goal through school and my outside life. Now that the next step is moving closer and closer, it’s kind of strange to know that so much will change. My current routine, my habits and my norms will all be different, and I can’t lie it’s scary sometimes. However, I know that with a strong foundation behind me and a thirst to learn and grow, success and happiness is in the future. I just know it.

 

I just wanted to express how I’m feeling and give thanks the right way to all the people who’ve helped me get here. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. I’ll make sure to keep you updated as I go through my journey.

 

HU !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

 

YOU KNOW!!!!!!!

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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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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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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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My Experience in London

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Well, I’m back.  

 

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted something, but due to my summer job, the World Cup, and preparing for London, I simply didn’t find the time for TDL. But man, do I have a story to tell you guys now! Now as some of you may know, I was given the opportunity to go to London over the summer break. And thanks to all of you guys, I raised enough money for me to go on the trip. I remember vividly how I felt when I got on the flight, being a mixture of jubilation and curiosity. The plane ride was long and tiring, but you gotta love international flights (Virgin Atlantic is insane).  After a long time in baggage claim, I finally met up with my other teammates who was on the trip, and began our journey.To be honest I didn’t know what to expect, but I was surely about to find out.

 

Now first off, let’s get the soccer out of the way (or “fútbol” for the next 10 days). As I’ve said before, I love soccer very very much, so to me it was exciting to play against players from other countries to see how they play and how we match up. At first we played well with a 4-2 win over a local club team. I scored, everyone had a good time, and we were optimistic about the upcoming games. But then we soon realized why the English Premier League is a little better than Major League Soccer, if you know what I mean. Our next game we tied 2-2, with both of our goals off of penalty kicks. It was rough, really rough,but a tie isn’t a loss, I guess. And finally came the last game against a better ranked London team,where we lost 3-0.We could barely get a shot off, and I wish I could play that game again. So with an average turnout of 1-1-1, I think that we could’ve done better, and we could’ve done worse. Not much to talk about.

 

And now, it’s time. It’s time to answer the question that I posed in the beginning of this journey. The question that will tell you all there is to know about where I came from.

 How does it feel to be a black boy in London?”

          And for my final answer, I say: it feels like nothing at all.   I know this sounds weird, but let me explain. When you’re a black person, and you live in the United States of America, you act accordingly. You try not to be too loud in public places, you stay away from the police, and you get your fair amount of side comments and interesting looks. In England, and especially in London, this simply doesn’t exist. To start, everybody is interacting with everybody. There is no racial divide anywhere that I could see, and we went to a lot of places. The interracial dating was through the roof, there were black and Indian and Chinese people doing every job a white person did, and it all seemed normal. Black people would walk around the same as white people and everybody else, and they all seemed to coexist naturally, unlike anything I’ve seen in the United States. I seriously was taken aback when I saw this, but it makes complete sense.

 

As I found out, England as a country abolished slavery almost 35 years before the U.S did, and there was no Jim Crow afterwards. Let me just say that again: there was no Jim Crow laws following the abolishment of slavery. Can you imagine that in the U.S, and the results that might have come from it? Maybe we didn’t need to get sprayed on by fire hoses. Maybe we didn’t have to go through Brown vs Board of Education. And maybe, just maybe, we didn’t have to see good people like Martin Luther King Jr. get shot.  From public schools, to restaurants, to even the U.S military, all of that would have been integrated. Now there was still prejudice in England, of course, but everything would have been equally shared. So that’s why I say that it doesn’t feel like I’m a “black teenage boy” in England. I interacted with as many people as possible, I walked into as many stores as I can, and I made sure that I never shied away from conflict of any kind. And as a result,  there was nothing remotely racist when it came to problems in England.I simply felt like a teenage boy, not a “black teenage boy” with all the negative connotations that come with that title America. Surprisingly, I had more problems because I was American.

 

It was such an amazing experience, that I will truly never forget.  I don’t know how or when, but I am getting back to London one way or another. There’s no way I’m not. We sadly had to go back a day before my school started, but everyone agreed that this was the best trip ever. And when I got back and started my first week of school, I of course came to the loud and bustling halls of Grady High School. The same school where  the teachers ask guys like me two and three times if i’m sure i’m in the right class (because i’m supposed to be in remedial classes, obviously). Yup, i’m back in America. Great. So that’s why from this day on I’m not going to give you “a black boy’s point of view in this day and age”, because that’s too broad. I’ve seen the other side, including my trip to Ghana last year, and at this moment, I want to see something other than the U.S for a while. From the sights, to the sounds, to especially the people, being out of the country sounds really good right about now. So right now, and from now on, I’m giving you “a black boy’s point of view in America”, because that’s the perspective that needs to be heard.

 

photo 2photo 3photo 5

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My Experience: The African American Excellence Summit

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In this day and age, especially as a teenager, I get the constant feeling that my opinion doesn’t matter. Whether it’s dealing with issues concerning my family, or suggesting ideas in the classroom, I always feel like my ideas are…dismissed. And this statement is especially true most of the time, sadly, due to the color of my skin. Not with my family, but at times I feel like teachers and people I encounter that aren’t black, act like I’m incapable of making my own thoughts or expressing myself. Not only does this anger me, but it makes me a little scared to think that there are people who think this way, when we currently have an African-American president. I could go on for a while about this, but I’ll save it for another post. Anyway, imagine my excitement  when I get an email that I have been asked to take part in a panel on African American Educational Excellence at Morehouse College on behalf of the White House! The panel I was on was literally made to see how Black boys and young men felt on issues concerning them, and how adults can help us on the problems we face. It was so fitting to some of the problems I face,  that I thought it was actually a joke. “Yeah right, so I’m probably going to ride on Air Force One to meet with the President for lunch afterwards, right?” But then, I asked my parents about it, and sure enough, it was happening.

        My first reaction was excitement, but the more I thought about how important this was, my emotions quickly turned into nervousness. The Summit was postponed briefly due to weather problems, but that didn’t stop me from constantly thinking about what I have to say and all the things that can go wrong. What if I start to sweat a lot on stage? What if I can’t answer any of the questions? What if I look stupid!  All of this was swimming through my head as the days leading up to the summit were ticking away. But as I sat on my couch on the night before the summit, my dad gave my the best advice I could have gotten. He said:

“This entire panel is about people like you. You don’t have to make things up or memorize things. Just speak from the heart. That’s what they want.”

And with that, I felt ready to take part in this experience.

        And after all the anticipation, and the weeks and weeks of wondering what’s going to happen, I’m glad to say that it went very well. I felt the energy in the room, as the panelists and I answered all the questions we were asked with fluidity and relaxation. We were asked questions like “how do stereotypes affect the way you live”, all the way to “what is the one thing that adults can do to support black males”. To be honest, it didn’t even feel like a “panel”. It simply felt like a conversation between the panelists and the moderator, Nick Chiles (I liked him… a lot) . The audience wasn’t intimidating at all, and their questions in the Q&A were thought-provoking.  And one of the bests parts, was that I even got to plug  thedarkerlens! I felt like I could be up there all day, but there was a different panel after us. And it was during that panel, that I learned one of the most important messages of the entire day.

        The next panel was about how Black men can have success in college. It was an electric and exciting panel to watch, and I learned a lot of statistics and opinions that can really benefit me down the road. But what I got the most from that panel, was the importance to go to a Historically Black College. All these panelists, mainly men, were all alumni of an HBCU. What was great about that, was the fact that all of them were SO SMART. Like, it was overwhelming how smart these people were. From professors, to  graduated seniors of HBCU’s, all of these people were incredibly intelligent. And honestly, it was refreshing to see. Too many times in the media and on the news, I see the stereotypical depiction of a black man who is either barely literate, or a convict. This panel was a great reminder that there are still brilliant black males in the world, and that it is possible to be around them through HBCU’s. And that’s, to me, why it is so important to go to a HBCU. Whether it’s Morehouse, Howard, Hampton, or any other college, it needs to be a place where I can be around and learn from smart black men. And hopefully, I can become one in the future.

 

 

Me (on the far left chair) at the Summit.

Me (on the far left chair) at the Summit.

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The Mind Of a Teenage Black Boy

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Hey, Miles here. I’m a 15-year-old African-American boy from Atlanta, Georgia, with a couple of things to say about the world I live in.  Although I lack a few necessary character traits (i.e organization, neatness, and sometimes common sense), I always try to be aware of what goes around in my life in every aspect of it. Basically, whatever the subject may be, I usually have a unique opinion on it. And as an African-American teenage male, this lens that I look through as I view the world is different than an average person on the street. Whether it be sports, politics, movies, music, or just the basic things in my life, I like to have my own stance. And because of this, I am doing this blog for two reasons: one, because I love to write. I LOVE it. Ever since I knew what words were, I’ve always been trying to express my ideas and thoughts through writing. I’ve had my phases of not wanting to pursue writing anymore, but the love I have for doing it always brings me back. I never want to stop writing.

And two, because I feel that the true opinions and thoughts of black boys in the world today are dwindling, and are being replaced by what people think we’re thinking. Too frequently I hear from schools or organizations, “How come black youth isn’t engaged/interested in what we’re trying to give them?” Well the answer is simple: you need to ask black youth! If you want a change to be made, you need to look for voices that represent the demographic you’re trying to catch. I may not speak for all teenage black boys, but you can be sure that I can speak for myself. And that’s gotta mean something.

My writing inspirations are very close to me, for they are both a part of my close family. My Uncle (Nick Chiles), and Aunt (Denene Millner) are both prestigious authors that have not only published countless books, but also successfully run websites that have to deal with the lives and stories of African Americans in America. With a résumé like that, how can you go anywhere else? They really are (as well as my Dad who insisted I should start this) the reason why I decided to pursue blogging. And for that,I thank you all. I have a good feeling about this. This is going to be fun.

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