Spreading Awareness at Harvard

Earlier this month I came across a project at Harvard University called the “I, Too, Am Harvard,” campaign. Using a series of photos, each participant holds up a whiteboard with some message detailing a particular phrase or question they’ve been asked as a student of color at Harvard. The people involved make it known just how much ignorance they routinely deal with in school from their peers. This project really is bringing awareness to what many students at Harvard (and I’m sure at other predominately white institutions) have had to put up with on a consistent basis. The project has been so successful that students of color at Oxford University have made a similar montage of messages as well. Take a look below.

http://itooamharvard.tumblr.com/

http://itooamoxford.tumblr.com/

Sy Stokes and Black Male UCLA Bruins Take A Stand

College admissions have always been a tenuous process. When that process involves race and ethnicity, people become divided, temperatures rise and questions are raised.

In the case of UCLA (University of California – Los Angeles), Sy Stokes has brought national attention to the dearth of black males on campus. He brings up the statistic that black males make up only 3.3 percent of the male population at UCLA, of whom 65 percent are athletes. Stokes also addresses the fact that UCLA has made cuts to financial aid in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped the university from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on flights and hotel suites.

While some may take issue with the video and say, “well why don’t more black males just work harder and get better grades,” the matter isn’t that simple. Poor and failing schools, a shortage of resources, and in some cases a lack of quality teachers, too often occurs in black and brown neighborhoods. If these students don’t have access to supplemental help through the form of strong support systems or tutoring, many will fall through the cracks. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on the issue of financial aid.

The lack of diversity at UCLA reminds me of my college experience to a certain extent. My campus wasn’t particularly diverse, but it has improved in recent years. I remember a number of times being mistaken for an athlete (this is the main reason why I never brought any football or basketball t-shirts from the bookstore). Because there were so few black men on campus, many people naturally assumed you were only there because you were a member of a team. I’m sure the guys at UCLA must get this all the time and are probably tired of it, I know I was. Credit to them for taking a stand and making their presence known.

The Program 20 Years Later

This is probably one of the most underrated sports films of the last 20-25 years. I loved it when I first saw it 10 years ago and it continues to be one of my favorites.

“The Program” is a film about a fictional college football team and the challenges and obstacles they must overcome during the course of a season. That’s really just the icing on the cake however. Over the course of the film we get a view to varying degrees of the men who makeup the squad. There’s the alcoholic quarterback. The freshman running-back trying to supplant the senior in the starting lineup. The fierce linebacker who trash talks the opponent to psych himself up during the game before it eventually costs him. And finally, there’s the coach played by James Caan who is fighting to keep it all together.

The film does a good job delving into issues that affect not just college football programs, but college sports in general. Whether it’s boosters putting pressure on an administration, who in turn shifts that pressure towards the head coach, or players going through personal problems that they rather not have highlighted by the media, “The Program” touches on many of these things. It features a young Omar Epps who plays freshman running-back Darnell Jefferson and Halle Berry who plays Autumn Haley, who is Jefferson’s academic tutor.