It’s been one year since I’ve seen the Queens College campus. It’s been one year since I walked throughout my college’s library looking for a cozy place to read and complete upcoming assignments. It’s been one year since I’ve walked down the block with my friend Sam hungry for our lunch special at the local Chinese restaurant. It’s been one year since I’ve lived a normal life. This historical moment has changed life for many. Throughout my academic career, I was immersed in the history of past lives. Learning about events such as the Bubonic Plague and even the Spanish Flu, but never did I think I would experience an epidemic nearly as major as the 2 mentioned prior. Although this global pandemic has contributed to a multitude of changes that no one was ready for, I think it has given me the ability to think about life outside of its normal everyday routine. Like most, I followed a set regime. Wake up early in the morning, catch the bus, head to my classes, take a lunch break, resume classes, finish school, hang around after school and go home. I had it set, for 15 years I have had it set. Prior to the onset of Covid-19, spontaneity was a foreign concept. Doing activities outside of my regimen was very rare to me, however, when the world paused, the routines paused as well. I could no longer fall in line with what I have been doing for years without thought. While Covid-19 has done a lot of harm by taking numerous lives, I appreciate that it has given me the time to burst my bubble. A bubble that I didn’t even know I was in. Routines are not bad as long as there is a blend of spontaneity. I am excited to continue on my journey that incorporates a greater sense of fluidity.
Democracy is confusing. It comprises the notion that 2 groups (republican and democrat) will cast their votes for running candidates. There has been a lot of talk concerning the necessity of the electoral college. Many view the electoral college as an over-authoritative entity due to its ability to override the winner of the popular vote. Additionally, many see the popular vote as representative of the president that most people desire and that the vote should end there, however, the electoral college comes into play.
While democracy is often associated with these two groups, I often associate it with 2 other groups, the rich and the poor. It is important to recognize that in every society, the rich rules over the poor and they are often the minority, but the most powerful minority. The rich have the ability to establish laws and rules that will benefit them and enhance their profiles while everyone else, the poor, receives the consequences of rules established by the wealthy. Democracy is not a clean cut concept because it fails to recognize that the rich are truly the most autonomous and have the capability to influence regulations.
If we want a true democracy, the recognition of one’s class status should become void. When we acknowledge class and one’s abilities based on class, individuals are more prone to bribery and actions of that nature. Democracy based on the people and not the peoples demographics especially when it comes to class ranking is the purest form of democracy that will exist. However, I question if this form of democracy can exist. When living in a partially capitalist society, it is difficult to disregard wealth and the power of it. I would like to see how our current form of democracy transitions over future decades.
Does the American Dream Still Exist?
Is the American dream still a big house with a picket fence? A wife/husband and three kids? Do people even believe in the American dream anymore? Personally, the American dream is just what it sounds like, a dream. For many immigrants and people living abroad, they are fed this phenomenon of the American Dream that portrays a false notion of the United States.
According to the Complex Story of American Debt, approximately 80% of adult Americans are in debt. Yes, I said it. 80 whole percent! This debt ranges from housing debt such as mortgage to car loans, unpaid credit card debt, and student loans. Americans living in debt are suffering and stuck in the infamous rat race.
Many Americans work to live rather than live to work. Why are we working to make ends meet rather than working with enjoyment, knowing that there is no debt to pay off by the end of the month? It all starts with education. From elementary-high school, I can probably count on one hand the number of finance based lessons I have received. Schools purposefully refrain from incorporating financial literacy within education to ensure that students remain ignorant of the function of money. Understanding the basis of money and how to make it work for you is crucial. Unfortunately, most people do not know this until they make devastating financial mistakes.
I have heard a multitude of stories about college students getting into overwhelming credit card debt because they did not realize that they would have to pay the money back. Many Americans have lived with debt for so long that they don’t even remember life without it. Debt in America has practically become a requisite. It diminishes the quality of life and promotes stress.
Bring financial literacy to our school systems. Educate students on simple concepts such as assets and liabilities. We must stop throwing students into the real-world without real-world knowledge because that is a set-up for failure.
Inequity in Academia
While this week’s topic does center around the inequity of the American school system, I do want to shed light on what has been happening in my home country of Nigeria. In 2017, the founder of #ENDSARS, Segun Awosanya, started this movement to speak on the harm civilians have faced at the hands of SARS. SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) is a unit of the Nigerian police allotted with the tasks of combating both robbery and kidnapping. Instead of focusing on the objective at hand, SARS has targeted Nigerians, especially the youth of Nigeria. Having dreaded hair, nice clothes, a luxury car, or even an iPhone are associated with criminality and prompts SARS to attack anyone that may fall into these categories. Unfortunately, many have been victim to extortion, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and homicide.
Recently, the movement became more serious when a young man by the name of Jimoh Isiaq was fatally shot while on the sidelines of the protest. He played no parts in the peaceful protest, but a SARS member deemed it reasonable to shoot him. Many Nigerians and Africans around the world have raised their voices to speak against this senseless brutality; I hope you speak on it too. #ENDSARS is not only a movement, but it is a REVOLUTION. Nigerians in Nigeria have been living in unsuitable conditions and it is our goal to fix this. It is time that we make the leaders of Nigeria hear our voices. We want to rid this country of its rampant impunity and that starts with ending SARS for good. Please speak up and let your voice be heard through the application of social media or even at a physical protest. Donate if you can and please help Nigeria become a better Nigeria. Thank you.
Making education more equitable is essential for the progression of the United States and its people. If we were to establish a baseline for all students’ economic standing, every person would either land far ahead of that baseline, around that baseline or far behind it. We are not the same. Not everyone’s pocket enables them to have opportunities. According to the Washington post-2014, “students from families earning more than $200,000 a year average a combined score of 1,714, while students from families earning under $20,000 a year average a combined score of 1,326.” (Abigail Hess, 2019) I don’t understand how and why we utilize exams such as the SAT as indicators of intelligence when there are so many factors that play into how a student may perform on the exam. A parent’s income should not determine the education their student receives.
If we desire the best out of our students, then we must implement a “fair” education system. Of course, the term fair is subjective. What is fair to me may not be fair to the next person and so on. However, if one student is allowed to code computer languages in a school, that opportunity should be present in as many schools as possible. When we give particular students the possibility to get ahead because of high property taxes, we also put students in communities with low property taxes at a disadvantage by disregarding the history of redlining. We must acknowledge how the U.S.’s racist history still impacts a student’s ability to learn and get ahead. Upcoming students will be a part of the next generation; to show how far this nation has come, we have to start by fixing education.
America / Black
Yeah, quarantine has been something. Many people would refer to 2020 as the worst year ever. However, I fervently disagree with that. 2020 has truly placed America’s truth at the forefront. It is hard to be proud of a country that continues to disregard your existence. America is supposedly the land of dreams, but I promise you, George Floyd never dreamed about dying the way he did. Young black boys never dreamed of a justice system that fed off of their imprisonment. No African ever dreamed of being forced to build a country they still struggle to call home. America is like a flower pot filled with soil and worms. Each time the worm pokes its head out, just throw some dirt to cover it up. Honestly, I don’t know how to feel. I hate the phrase “Black Lives Matter” because it reveals how deep racism runs. It makes me question why I have to state what should already be true. I have heard the phrase, “ It’s 2020, why is this still happening?” so many times. In my opinion, this is still happening because our focus is on fixing the surface level issues of an internal problem. It is time that we make blackness fit into America’s dream. I would like to give thanks and appreciation to the Africans that built this nation. Not only did they lose so much, but they experienced a way of life so many of us can not even imagine. I pray for the unity of black people all over the world, regardless of how light one’s skin is or how tight the curl. United we stand, divided we fall and right now, we are falling.