Langston Hughes’ Mother to Son

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—


But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

I chose to focus on this poem specifically by Hughes because I love the metaphor of climbing the stairs, and though the climb is rough, the top of the stairs will be such an accomplishment once one makes it there. The title itself clearly shows a mother is teaching her son, and I love how she is telling him that she has been through so much on the stairs, yet she is still going. This poem screams perseverance. It is essential that it is a woman telling a man that she has had such a hard time on these stairs (life), it shows that women have it just as hard as men, and everyone should anticipate some “splinters” while trying to climb the stairs (trying to get through life and be successful). Langston Hughes writes from the perspective of people who have been disadvantaged for centuries, understanding this adds to how much accomplishment means to these people specifically, especially because they were always deemed “less than”. The mother in this poem is telling her son he will be facing a very difficult path, but nevertheless, he must persist, just like she has. I specifically love the part when the mother says “don’t you turn back”, it reminds me of that quote “don’t look back, you’re not going that way”.

This is very relevant to the experiences of minorities and anyone who is not a rich white person in the world. People are disadvantaged and have to work harder simply because the color of their skin, and sadly, the color of their skin affects their income, causing them to be a lower class. Langston Hughes is revealing that these people are doomed from the beginning, but they must still keep climbing the stairs, despite how hurt they get on the way there.

Blog Prompt for December

I enjoyed the listening session very much. There were several key takeaways I got from it. For instance, networking. 

Networking is something I only truly learned the value of in college. Building connections and partnerships with people I have respect for, and look up to in the career field that I wish to be a part of and make a difference in, is key. I also feel like getting to know people in my potential career field is important because they were me decades ago, so it’s like I’m following in their footsteps, and I feel it is so meaningful when they give me advice. Sometimes they say “I wish I did this differently, so you should try to do X, Y, and Z because it would be best in the long run”. I truly appreciate their input and feedback, always. 

I also liked how Nathan emphasized how nailing an interview could get you far. I remember I was so nervous for one particular interview that I actually went on YouTube and searched up “how to interview well”, and I ended up getting the internship I applied for. I think the most important advice I took away from that was to ask questions such as “what are some potential challenges I could face in this position”, “how do you like this work environment?”, “is there growth at this company?”, “do you see yourself here in five years?”

I also want to touch on the poll question “it is CUNY’s responsibility to help students prepare for the successful pursuit of their professional aspirations after leaving the University”. I strongly agree. The way I see it, it’s like a parent giving the children the tools, I feel like CUNY has just as much of an obligation to help their students succeed as a parent has to their child. This is my senior year at John Jay, and I’ve had some incredible professors. I am an advocate for CUNY and their meaningful mission.

My Life

As I’m getting older, I do often think about the rest of my life and how it will turn out. I get anxious when thinking of the future because I don’t know what it holds. I’ve spent time planning things, having expectations, hoping for things, just for it all to turn out differently. At this point, I think about that saying, man plans, god laughs. We only have control over so much. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I’m starting to see that’s the beauty of it, the magic in the unknown.

I am a first generation college student. First in my household to go to college, and first to prove combat sports is for women too. Truth is, I have no idea what the rest of my life holds. I do have goals, but goals can change too, and often in my life so far, they have. So, currently, I live by ambition, kindness, and working towards my fullest potential.

One thing I do know, I am passionate about our justice system. And that passion has become a light inside me that isn’t burning out anytime soon. If I know one thing for sure, it’s that I will have a voice in criminal law in my life.

Another thing I know for sure is that I’ll pursue combat sports. It’s not something I do anymore, it’s who I am.

As a first generation college student and the first to be born in the U.S. I have a dream to provide for my family and make their dreams come true. I live to make them proud and show them their sacrifices will never go unrecognized.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared of things going wrong, but things always go wrong at some point. Then goes that other saying, God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.

I’m ready for them.

The New College Classroom

The book launch for “The New College Classroom” was revolutionary and insightful. I applaud the mission of Cathy Davidson and Christina Katopodis. I want to stress on several aspects of the launch. First, the concept of “metacognition”, I did not know the definition of this word, and now I understand it to be how and why one is learning. As a student, it took me many years to realize how essential this is. One specific quote I want to emphasize on that was said and the launch is, “tell me and I won’t remember, show me and I forget, but involve me and I understand”. I’m currently 22 years old, and I have had class with so many people who absolutely hated school, but this launch made me realize it isn’t necessarily the students’ fault. It’s education in general. This launch made me see that learning styles can be tweaked in numerous ways to make sure that every student has the ambition to genuinely try in all of their classes, and succeed in their academic path.

Another segment of the launch I want to stress is their constant reference to the 19th Century. I like how the speakers continuously bring up this time period to explain that our learning styles are that old, and it is time for a change. What may have worked back then, most likely will not work now. We must keep evolving with the times that we’re in.

Lastly, I want to stress on when Cathy Davidson expressed that she knew a good chunk of students with the mentality, “I just need to pass this exam and then I’ll never think about it again”. This part specifically caught my attention because I must admit, I have been this student; and this launch has made me realize that that isn’t okay. Something isn’t right, and I know many of my peers who have this mentality as well. The book launch made me think how much of a shame that is. Learning is supposed to be life changing, an experience, not just something that “happened” to me.

There were several instances where I was listening to the launch and I found myself thinking of my own past experiences with teachers and education in general. For example, I’ve been at John Jay College for four years, and there were few professors who really left their mark on me. I can definitely tell when an educator genuinely cares about their students’ point of view, and when they are just trying to meet the department’s guidelines and get through the semester without adjusting anything at all for the students’ interests and passions. I distinctly remember one professor I had for anthropology; there were a few times during the semester when she gave us two options as to what we wanted to do to fulfill a certain course requirement. She also tweaked her due dates to assure that everyone would be able to meet them. At the end of the semester, there is a department survey for the professors that is sent out to all students. For this particular professor, she explained that she had another survey she wanted us to do as well. I asked, “another one from the department?” she said no. She said, “this is just for me. I want to know what you all found helpful this semester, what was not helpful, and what was challenging”. In the future, I hope everyone has educators like this.