Archives for category: Community
Marching and taking pictures with hoodies on is not the final solution to this ongoing problem…Continued activism is.

By: Taren Vaughan

Deeply saddened and completely taken back, reactions have surfaced from millions across the nation in reference to the shooting death of Florida native Trayvon Martin. Prayers have been said and numerous protests have been held in honor of the 17 year-old boy’s memory, one of the most moving protests being the “Million Hoodie March”.

The march attracted the attention of a massive amount of Americans of all races and gender. And it created a chain reaction amongst U.S. citizens all over. College campuses have been flooded with student protestors and professional athletic teams have also taken a stand in the search for justice on behalf of the Martin Family as the Miami Heat players gathered dressed in hoodies, displaying a profound team effort to honor the cause. The wearing of a hoodie is symbolic as it was what Trayvon was wearing when he was killed. And as a way to show support, hoodies have become apart of many people’s attire. The wave has stormed the Internet as well, with changing of Facebook profile pics and Twitter avatars.

Constant outpourings of emotion have been witnessed from school aged children to those of celebrity status so it is obvious the masses of us have been touched by what has happened to this young man. But after the gatherings settle down, will Trayvon’s story be placed on the back burner, not to be brought up for years to come?

His tragic passing will be fresh in our heads for awhile. But will we continue on with true activism in his name and in the name of others who have lost their lives to false accusations and stereotyping? Or to the hands of those who look exactly like them? Black on Black crime is still alive and well too did we forget?

You see, without continued activism, this strong, powerful message that we are currently trying to send becomes faint over time. People begin to forget about the cause as things begin to die down. And that just opens the door up for yet another tragic loss to occur within our community.

And what are we risking when we do that? Another young life.

We are talking about a teenager who had his whole future ahead of him. He was not a common criminal, roaming the streets looking for trouble. Minding his business was what he was doing. And because an overzealous neighbor of his decided to defy police orders and take matters into his own hands, a family has endured a painful loss.

Zimmerman’s freedom remains one of the most infuriating parts of this whole situation as the arguments that many have posed certainly don’t lean in favor of his actions. But aside from that, back to the real question of: Should we stop at the hoodie march?

The answer is quite clear. It can’t stop at a march with hoodie wearing protestors. And it can’t stop with posted pictures on social media networks. It must stem far beyond that.

We must talk to our children about the ugly truths of our society and how certain people already expect you to behave a certain way because of how you look, talk, walk or dress. We must inform them that this is the country where a woman can be detained by security for flour bombing a Kardashian within the blink of an eye but a man can have every ounce of his freedom after taking the life of his innocent, unarmed neighbor. With that being said, it is most important for them to be watchful of their surroundings.

Sadly, Trayvon’s life was not spared but with a continuous effort to inform our young Black men and women about situations like this and what they could possibly have to deal with or face in this world, hopefully this vicious cycle will be broken.


Black men pursuing higher education unheard of?

By: Taren Vaughan

Jaw-dropping statistics lead many of us to believe that the above statement rings true for all African American males. Education is not anywhere near the top of their list of priorities or even if it is apart of their lists at all. With high school dropout rates continuing to remain high and with sisters steadily out numbering them on college campuses, one would think there is no need to speak of Black men achieving at higher educational levels.

“School and Black men just don’t mix” is the thought that many people have grown to believe.

That may be true for some Black men but it was men like W.E.B. DuBois who put that theory up for question.

On February 23, 1868, William Edward Burghardt DuBois was born in the cold state of Massachusetts and unlike most African Americans at that time, DuBois didn’t experience the harsh racism that other Black people did as his family was accepted in the community. DuBois took advantage of his unusual situation, focusing on the one thing that he had full control over…His mind.

Not only did he attend college but he took his pursuit of higher education a step further and became the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from the prestigious Harvard University, the same institution that President Obama graduated from with a degree in law.

With all of the education that he received, W.E.B. DuBois decided that it was time he took on the teacher role becoming a professor at Atlanta University. Academics were of extreme importance to him but he never stopped fighting for the rights of African Americans, co-founding the NAACP and leading the Niagara Movement.

Numbers don’t lie and stats are straightforward. But they don’t solely determine the future of our young Black men. What will become of them is not based on these things alone. It all comes down to their determination, self drive to make something of yourself and become anything but the stereotype.

Are the odds against Black men excelling when it comes to education? Yes.

But are there those who defy the ignorance that is attached to our race? Yes.

DuBois did.

And so have the many educated brothers that have followed in his footsteps.

Taking a closer look into the meaning behind Troy Davis’ last words.

By: Taren Vaughan

Headlines began to heavily circulate after one of the most controversial executions of this century took place. 42 year old Troy Davis was accused of the killing of a Georgia police officer Mark McPhail in 1989 and sentenced to death 1991. After serving time in prison, Davis was executed on Wednesday night at 11:08 pm in the state of Georgia. Emotions are still flaring from citizens all over the country, namely those within the Black community. From social media networks to live protests shown on television, people have gone out of their way to show their support for Davis and believe him to be innocent of this crime. Sadly, his life was still set to be taken. Even though Mr. Davis knew that his life was shortly coming to an end, he managed to deliver a few words before his execution took place:

“The incident that night was not my fault, I did not have a gun…I did not personally kill your son, father and brother. I am innocent.” –Troy Davis

So the fate of this man rested in the hands of eyewitnesses’ words with no hardcore evidence to back up their claims?

The death penalty itself can be a very sensitive subject for many people to discuss. Some feel that executioners are playing God because they are determining when a person should die and only God should have the say so on that. And because it is not a reversible process, some feel that it should not even be considered in case someone is indeed found not guilty. Others feel that executions are just practices that we as Americans should allow to take place.

Mixed feelings have surfaced because of the execution of this man who professed his innocence up until the very end of his life.

It’s clear that this was an emotional event but what was the true message that Davis was trying to send in his last words?

Putting some deep thought into it, one could recognize numerous messages that this whole situation is trying to reveal:

Those who call themselves “friends” don’t always live up to the title that they give themselves.

When things are going good, everyone wants to befriend you. Being a member of your clique is the number one goal on everybody’s list. Telling you that they care about you and have your back at all times regardless of the situation, that’s what true friends are for. But what about Mr. Davis’ friends? If he was not the one who pulled the trigger, where is this mysterious person who did that he probably labeled as a “friend”? They surely were nowhere to be found at his execution. He was left to die without a “friend” in sight.

Message: From this, we see when choosing friends and hanging buddies, choose them wisely and know that when they say “through thick and thin” that they won’t leave you taking the blame for something that they did.

Guilty by association is just as crucial as being 100% guilty of a crime.

It was said that Davis verbalized his innocence on numerous occasions, including moments before his death. His claim was that he was not the one who pulled the trigger. Yes, he may not have been the gunman but being associated with the one who took Mr. MacPhail’s life is enough to make you guilty in many people’s eyes.

Message: You may not be the one who actually committed the crime but if you were apart of planning for the crime to take place, then you may be viewed as being equally as guilty.

In a nutshell, people need to understand what is truly going on here. If a man can be executed for a crime that he repeatedly claimed that he did not commit, what does that tell us? Could race have been a factor in how Troy Davis’ case was handled? Could it be that our society places more value on the lives of law enforcement officials than it does on any other American citizen that holds no badge? So many questions are still being asked in reference to this high profile case.

Less than a paragraph in length, Troy Davis’ last words were much more powerful than we think. It was more than just a man leaving the world with his final thoughts. It was a wake up call.

Are you awake now?

Black college men are often victimized by their non-collegiate environment.

By: Angela Allen

A s a young black woman, the success of my fellow young black brothers is very dear to me. I attend one of the most historic and influential institutions of higher learning in the United States, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. Our institution, along with many other historically black colleges and universities, stand for ideals that reflect integrity, success, eagerness for education, and the production of individuals that inspire, advocate and produce progress and change within our society.

While these ideals continue to stand true, they seem to be diminishing slowly right in front of my eyes. I have unfortunately witnessed the murders of fellow classmates too often during my tenure at A&T. These murders, tragically, have reflected a growing trend: the murder of the young college black man.

Within the past three years, the deaths of A&T students Ivan Coulton, Dennis Hayle, and Derek Hodge, along with other college incidents within the Greensboro and Winston Salem area, have many wondering why so many young men produced from these great institutions, are getting involved in altercations that continuously result in intentional and unnecessary death.

“This issue needs to be looked at in regards to changing the mindset and instilling values in the black man within the college campus,” says Whitney McCoy, 2009-2010 Student Government Association President of Winston Salem State University. “I think that it also has a lot to do with people that surround our communities. For example, mingling with the locals who don’t have the same mindset that college students do.”

Most HBCU campuses were founded and built within black communities long ago, that were once thriving with black-owned businesses, and unified by the moral and social challenges against African-Americans. Unfortunately, a lot of these communities have slowly dwindled due to illegal drug abuse and trafficking, which has promoted black-on-black crime.

Since most HBCU campuses lack gated perimeters around their campuses, community locals are granted access to interacting with students, more so than predominately white colleges and Universities. This lack of campus seclusion may lead to HBCU students exposing themselves to a party life involving community citizens prone to violent behavior, illegal drug use, and in the worst case, fatal out bursts. This was the case for Hayle, who was tragically murdered after leaving a party in early 2009.

“It is really heartbreaking.This is their chance for a better life,” says Dominique Donaldson, A&T Alumni and founder of the Dennis Hayle Scholarship. “I had to go through counseling until the day that I graduated to cope with his death. Working so hard with starting the scholarship has helped me to heal. You have to give back to the community and give kids from broken homes someone to look up to while they are young. You have to let them know that you can’t get too emotional about may end your life.”

“We’re doing what we can based on the circumstances. It’s not just about Dennis Hayle, it’s about everyone,” says Wayne Kimball, Jr., Current SGA President at North Carolina A&T State University. “We have to make sure that we are advocating for non violence and holding our law enforcement accountable for doing all that they can do. This issue needs to be addressed more so as a society versus just as a university. We can have fun, but we need to make sure that it is with the right crowd and avoid negative influences.”

The death of Coulton, in May of this year, can also be associated with those same negative influences. Although these victims may not be involved with illegal drug use, the people in these environments often times are. In many cases, the use of alcohol and drugs creates an atmosphere of individuals with weapons acting on impulsive feelings of anger and revenge, leading to fatality.

“Today’s fights seem to favor the coward holding the gun, not the courageous soul facing it,” says A&T student Malcolm Eustache, in a recent Greensboro News & Record editorial on Coulton’s tragic death. “The pressure of society’s barbaric assertions of masculinity has served as a psychological gun for impressionable young folks to mishandle.”

It is disheartening to think of how the founders of HBCUs would feel if they were here to witness that mishandling. It has been said that black men are becoming an endangered species. This is sadly becoming the case for many young black men at HBCUs. Campus status does not exempt you from this unfortunate reality. But making the choice between being involved in negatively influenced atmospheres and rising above your circumstance, can.