Good Black News just learned from Hip Hop Wired that rapper Future is working to support students trying to advance their education with college scholarships via his FreeWishes Foundation.
Last week the Atlanta hip hop artist visited his alma mater, Columbia High School, in Atlanta, GA. He and his artist Guap Tarantino surprised undergraduates with an unscheduled performance, specially designed merchandise and a check for $10,000 in the school’s name. Future will continue to pay it forward with a new initiative coinciding with his new “Legendary Nights” tour.
“Prospective students around the country can now enter to win a college scholarship in the amount of $2,000.00 via his FreeWishes College Scholarship. 17 scholarships will be awarded in total and gifted at each tour stop. Along with the scholarship, lucky recipients will also receive 2 tickets to the Legendary Nights Tour and an exclusive “I Am A Dreamer” sweatshirt.
Students interested in applying for the grant must follow FreeWishes’ social media feed (@freewishesfoundation) and submit a 500- word essay detailing “How Receiving This Scholarship Would Be A Dream Come True” to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon of each tour date.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: For some time now, we here at GBN have struggled with the fact that while our operating directive is always to present positive stories, there are so many issues that affect our communities that don’t fit that philosophy, but would love to find a way to present that doesn’t stray from our core mission. It recently dawned on us that the steps we as individuals and societies take to solve problems, large or small, could perhaps be our way in. Solutions can only come first through awareness and acknowledgement of the issue, learning about it, discussing it, then figuring out ways to act that may help solve it.
In that spirit, we introduce “Let’s Talk About It” – a new GBN feature we will occasionally present about problems that need ideas for solutions. Our first entry is a share from, appropriately enough, The Conversation, a website GBN has partnered with to bring to you exactly this type of content.
First up: How can we as a community begin to solve the black student debt crisis? Should we follow the lead of billionaire Robert F. Smith, who single-handedly relieved the debt of Morehouse College’s graduating class of 2019, and task the wealthiest among us to pitch in and help out? Or are there other ways for us to alleviate this issue? Read below, and if you’d like, let’s discuss!
-Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Founder and Editor-in-Chief
by Mako Fitts Ward, professor at Arizona State University
When billionaire Robert F. Smith decided to pay off the student loans of the graduating class of 2019 at Morehouse College, he suggested that others follow his lead.
“Let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward, because we are enough to take care of our own community,” Smith declared in his commencement speech.
But is there even enough black private wealth in the United States to pay off all black student loan debt?
As a scholar in social transformation and African American studies, I’m intrigued by this question. It provides an opportunity to examine black wealth, higher education and the possibilities for alleviating debt, which in turn opens the door to new economic opportunities.
That’s a lot of money, and he’s done it before. Before his gift to Morehouse, Smith donated $50 million to Cornell University, his alma mater, in part to support African American and female students at Cornell University’s College of Engineering.
Other black celebrities have also stepped up to fund education. Powerhouse couple Beyonce and Jay Z gave more than $1 million in scholarships to students who lived in cities they were touring in 2018.
Rapper Nicki Minaj gave 37 “Student of the Game” scholarships. LeBron James, through his foundation, promised to pay for 2,300 students to attend the University of Akron – at an estimated price tag of $100 million. Oprah Winfrey has donated more than $400 million to educational causes.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Crown Act (aka CA Senate Bill No. 188) into law, making it illegal to enforce dress code or grooming policies against hairstyles such as afros, braids, twists, and locks.
To quote CNN’s article:
Los Angeles Democrat Sen. Holly Mitchell, who introduced the bill earlier this year, said the law is about “inclusion, pride and choice.” “This law protects the right of Black Californians to choose to wear their hair in its natural form, without pressure to conform to Eurocentric norms,” Mitchell said in a statement Wednesday. “I am so excited to see the culture change that will ensue from the law.”
The student had to choose whether “to lose an athletic competition or lose his identity,” Newsom said.
“That’s played out in workplaces, it’s played out in schools — not just in athletic competitions and settings — every single day all across America in ways that are subtle, in ways overt,” Newsom said during a bill-signing ceremony.
The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, addresses policies against natural hair that are unfair toward women and people of color, the governor’s office said. “Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter black applicants and burden or punish black employees than any other group,” according to the law.
Mitchell said that until recently an image search for “unprofessional hairstyles” only showed black women with natural hair, braids or twists. “I believe that any law, policy or practice that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a profession — not because of my capacity or my capabilities or my experience but because of my hairstyle choice — is long overdue for reform,” said Mitchell, who observed that she wears her hair in a natural style.
Mitchell said that similar state and federal laws protect against discrimination due to religious hairstyles and head coverings.
When the PBS NewsHourasked educators from different parts of the country to share their picks for some alternatives, they offered books that shift the perspective from a white girl’s point of view to people of color. The stories, many of them more contemporary than “To Kill A Mockingbird,” tackle the multitude of ways racism affects different marginalized groups in the U.S.
In their own words, educators select 12 books, including a popular nonfiction pick, that are great reads and help continue the discussion around racial injustice in school and in life.
The overall top pick: Angie Thomas novels
“The Hate U Give” is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. It takes up issues of racial injustice and identity, both of which resonate with many students — and it feels particularly timely in the wake of countless police shootings of unarmed black men and women. One of my students said she thinks this is a book everyone should read, and I agree. It also models for students how they can stand up and speak out against injustice.
— Adison Godfrey, English teacher in Pennsylvania
I would like to nominate Angie Thomas’ book, “On the Come Up.” The main character Brianna faces an unjust suspension when a rogue white officer body slams her to the floor in retaliation to a search and seizure shake-down upon entering the metal detectors at her school. This mimics incidents that made national news about white officers body-slamming girls in class.
It sheds light on the skewed suspension of more students of color. More importantly, it shows the youthful response to the archaic mindset of prejudice that keeps black Americans stuck in a post-slavery, Jim-Crow America. Using social media to spur on the injustice of treatment — the same way television was used during the 1960s civil rights movement when white and black freedom riders were beaten.
The day after he turned 18, Amari Frazier learned he had been accepted into New York’s most prestigious arts college Juilliard to study dance. But the real gift could be how he rewards Chicago’s South Side with dance now and for decades to come.
Frazier, a soon-to-graduate senior dancer at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, has used dance to spread love with the non-profit he founded a year ago with friends called Step Into Joy. Step Into Joy performs at churches and groups for those who have been abused, first by dancing for the audience and then dancing with them.
After attending Juilliard, Frazier plans to return to Chicago and build on Step Into Joy to create a dance academy for those who can’t afford it.
“I feel like you need to spread love in the world, more than hate, and there’s a lot of hate on the South and West sides,” Frazier said. “I just want to change the world and change the look of the South and West sides and how people are there. There are better ways to go about things, and dance is a great way to communicate with people. I know I can use dance to really help people and putting smiles on people’s faces.”
To see the Step Into Joy dancers in action, clickhere.
“He wants to give back to his community,” Donna Frazier said. “He sees the struggles in people, and he realizes where dance has taken him, and where it can take others.”
Frazier is the 10th Academy student to be accepted into Juilliard during Chicago Academy Dance Chair Randy Duncan’s tenure. Duncan said Frazier is “is a dancer of enormous talent and has a solid dedication to the art of dance.”
“His ability to focus is outstanding! Amari is one of those rare dancers that catches on to movement after only seeing it once,” Duncan said. “He understands and delivers the message a choreographer gives with all the technique and emotion necessary, which allows him to capture and magnify the spirit of the dance.”
Frazier said attending The Academy has been a godsend for him as a student and performer. And he said it’s only the beginning.
“I want to provide kids who don’t have the funds for dance – because dancing is very expensive – with the resources through my foundation because everyone should have the opportunity to be able to do what they want,” Frazier said. “Dreams should be fulfilled, and they’re possible.”
According to bronx.news12.com, after days of students protesting for change at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Bronx, NY, their lockout of administration has ended in victory.
Nearly 90 students took part in the lockout that started Monday, and some even slept at the school. Thirty students spent Wednesday afternoon and evening negotiating with board members and school administrators – alongside alumni mediators who were involved in a similar push for equality at the school almost 50 years ago.
The campaign for change was launched at Fieldston after a video surfaced recently showing students engaging in racist and hateful behavior a few years back.
Isbella Ali was one of the students who helped secure the changes, which include racial bias training for all staff and parents, recruiting more students and faculty of color, and introducing a mandatory black studies course to the curriculum.
“We’ll make sure that they implement the demands that they have agreed too,” says Ali.
Students in the Bronx felt the school’s @ecfs1878 response to their demands to address racism on campus were inadequate..
The Board of Trustees signed off on 16 long-term improvements put forth by members of the “Students of Color Matter” movement. One of their demands for the administration was establishing a new system to report bias.
State Attorney General Letitia James released a statement saying, “Students in this state and around the country often learn about the importance of activism, civil rights, and social justice in their textbook, but rarely do they have the opportunity to live it.”
AT&T recently announced it is deepening its commitment to Brotherhood Crusade in Los Angeles – a 50-year old grassroots organization with a vision of improving quality of life and meeting the unmet needs of low-income, underserved, under-represented and disenfranchised individuals in South LA – through a $150,000 contribution to the organization’s new Media Collective.
The new program, called BELIEVE Los Angeles, is a grassroots campaign committed to supporting workforce development, career readiness programs, with a special emphasis on digital media and entertainment employment opportunities for underserved students in Los Angeles, especially diverse millennials who want to be filmmakers. The initiative is an extension of AT&T Believes℠, a larger company-wide initiative designed to create positive change in local communities.
Believe Los Angeles aims to increase the number of diverse storytellers in the entertainment industry, in front of and behind the camera. The semi-annual 11-week program will provide hands-on opportunities to 15-20 students to hone skills, form creative partnerships, create short films and gain industry access needed to be successful.
“We’re honored to join with Brotherhood Crusade to help support local emerging filmmakers succeed in the entertainment industry and give back to the South LA community,” said Rhonda Johnson, President of AT&T California. “The launch of this innovative program is perfectly aligned with African American History Month and Black Future Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of the people and organizations who strengthen our African-American and other diverse communities.”
“AT&T’s support of Brotherhood Crusade’s Media Collective will help aspiring artists within the local film industry grow their skills and network, as well as make a tremendous difference in their careers,” said Charisse Bremond-Weaver, President and CEO of Brotherhood Crusade.
According to jbhe.com, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the Illinois Institute of Technology have partnered with the Kapor Center to launch the Illinois SMASH Academy – a 5-week, all-expenses paid STEM summer camp for high school students from underrepresented groups in Chicago and Southern Illinois.
The Kapor Center, based in Oakland, is dedicated to leveling the playing field in tech, making the field more diverse, inclusive and better equipped to address society’s challenges and opportunities.
The Kapor Center has already established SMASH academies in California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. According to the center’s data, every SMASH student graduates high school and 91 percent earn a college degree within five years, 31 percentage points higher than the national rate.
The new program will accept 35 ninth graders from Chicago and 35 from Southern Illinois for the first year of the academy, which will be held at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The deadline to apply is March 1.
Participating students will attend the summer camp for three years, until they graduate from high school. They will study a variety of disciplines including math, biology, chemistry, and engineering. They will also receive SAT and ACT test prep in order to prepare them for college.
“These are future leaders,” said Meera Komarraju, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. “Even one kid, if they are able to pursue their dreams, for their family and the part of society they live in, this can have a big ripple effect.”
Anyone interested in the program can find more information here.