Monday, November 11, 2013

The Black Bruins [Spoken Word] - Sy Stokes [with lyrics & article link]

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases a spoken word composition by Sy Stokes, a third year student at UCLA and a cousin of American World No. 1 professional tennis star Arthur Ashe, Jr. (July 10, 1943 – February 6, 1993).

The content of this post is presented for cultural, and motivational, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"The black students at University of California, Los Angeles, sent a strong message about diversity at their school. Namely, the fact that there isn't much when it comes to African-American males, a troubling fact for one of the state's most elite institutions.

A group of students, led by Sy Stokes, posted a video voicing their concerns about the number of black students on campus, and their message is hard to ignore. Stokes, a third-year Afro-American studies student who identifies as black, Cherokee and Chinese, recites a spoken word poem in the video, citing blaring statistics about the university's diversity issue...

“We had to do something to put our issues on the map,” Stokes said.

In an email statement to the school paper, Janina Montero, vice chancellor of student affairs, said administrators acknowledge the need for more diversity and are attempting to work within the state's admission parameters.

“We certainly recognize that the low numbers of African Americans and other underrepresented students on campus does lead to a sense of isolation and invisibility,” Montero said in her email statement. “It is difficult to eliminate this painful imbalance without considering race in the admissions process.”...
"The Bruins" are the names of the sports teams for University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

"Afro-American" is a referent name for African Americans that was used for a short period of time in the late 1960s and 1970s. That referent is no longer in common use, having been replaced by "African American".
Click "Why We Call Ourselves African Americans" for more information & comments on this subject.

SHOWCASE VIDEO: The Black Bruins [Spoken Word] - Sy Stokes

Sy Stokes,Published on Nov 4, 2013



The Black Bruins

In fall 2012, the total enrollment, graduate and undergraduate, for African American males at UCLA was 660 students. That's 3.3% of the 19, 838 other males enrolled here. Out of that 660 African American male students, 65% are undergraduate athletes. The number of entering male freshman students was 2,418; only 48 of them are African American. The graduation rates for African American males at UCLA is 74%... Which means out of that 48 freshmen last year... Only 35 are predicted to graduate.

When we were children, we learned how to mix colors with a paint brush
We learned that white mixed with anything makes it brighter
But we wouldn't dare mix anything with brown or black or else our entire creation would be ruined
What we failed to realize... was that the untouched dark section of the paint brush pallet became the symbol of the melanin in our skin
The painter only used us to write words that were dark enough to be noticed on a white background
So if words are all we are good for then don't you dare tell us to silence our voices when we choose to speak

Now you tell me that I should be proud to be at UCLA?
When only 35 of us are predicted to walk across that stage?
When most of us are dropping out from the lack of financial aid
While Judy Olian, Dean of Anderson School of Management just spent $647,000 on first class flights and hotel stays
But waiting for an apology is asking for the impossible
Because no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible
But you tell me I should be proud to be a Bruin

When we have more national championships than we do black male freshmen
It's evident that our only purpose here is to improve your winning percentage
So now black high school kids can care less about grades, just as long as the number on the back of their jersey doesn't fade
And you tell me I should be proud to be a Bruin

But according to Professor Sander, 3.3% is far too many black kids
On his perfectly paved roads there are far too many black skids

This school is not diverse just because you put it on a pamphlet
But you'll name a building after Albert Carnesale who publicly opposes affirmative action
The action that can make our fraction on your demographic pie chart look more than just a second hand on a clock
It's all.... talk
Just to maintain this fraudulent reputation
Of this institutionalized racist corporation

They don't care about the cultural limitations of being a minority in society
So we have become our own painters... with our own pallets...
And we have voices that speak defiantly

So we IGNITE the flames to help us find the path to our future
Increasing Graduations, Not Incarcerations, Transforming Education because our numbers can't be any fewer
So don't be surprised that we have become rebellious for what has happened to us

When every black student in class feels like Rosa Parks on the bus
We are tryin to rewind time with role reversal as our revenge
Because we have no other choice when the university refuses to come to our defense

But we have come too far to let history repeat itself
Even when they are peeling off the dark fur of the Bruin pelt
Because our faces are just used to cover up from the public what's really inside
Revitalizing lies to perpetuate your disguise

Stop pretending that the wounds of our past have healed
We're not asking for a handout, we're asking for a level playing field
Those with less opportunity are fighting for their position trying to find their place
But those with privilege are hitting triples when they were already born on third base

So with all of my brothers' hopes and dreams that this university has tried to ruin
How the hell am I supposed to be proud... to call myself... a Bruin

Thanks to Sy Stokes for this spoken word composition & video. Thanks also to all those who are featured in the video, and thanks to the author of the article which is excerpted in this post.

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