A reflection of James Baldwin then, today, and the futures that are possible

(Magnolia Pictures/Ringer illustration)

There are days …when you wonder what your role is in this country and what your future is in it. How, precisely, are you going to reconcile yourself to your situation here and how you are going to communicate to the vast, heedless, unthinking, cruel white majority that you are here. I’m terrified at the moral apathy, the death of the heart, which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long that they really don’t think I’m human. And I base this…

We need to restore the vote.

Rob Carr/ AP

Voting is one of the most fundamental rights of our democracy — it determines the outcomes of our country ranging from who our elected officials are to the policies that determine our day-to-day activities. However, this democracy consists of 6.1 million Americans convicted of felonies who are “othered” and made voiceless, not because they chose to, but because they had no other option. This 6.1 million — mostly Black and Brown people — are victims of felony disenfranchisement at the hands of a country that boasts of its representative democracy but is far from it.

“I was a part of…

Edoukou Aka-Ezoua holds a flag that reads “police free schools” as she listens to a speaker during the “Cops OUT of PGH Schools” rally to demand that police are removed from Pittsburgh public schools on Monday, June 22, 2020, outside the Pittsburgh Board of Education building. The rally occurred at the same time the school board was holding its meeting virtually. (Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

What does safety mean for Black and Brown students inside school systems that don’t see them as students, but rather a threat?

What does it mean for Black and Brown students who don’t have the opportunity to show up in spaces “unarmed” when people view the color of their skin as a weapon?

These questions, among many others, highlight the realities of students in K-12 schools and beyond the school itself.

At the age of 15, I can remember in high school thinking to myself: why is there such a significant presence of police, or as schools defined them, “resource…

Scott Bell / The Rivard Report

It has been over a week since the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. Since then, I have been filled with emotions of sadness, anger, and pain. To express the feelings I had bottled up, I took to the streets to protest.

For those who haven’t been in the streets to protest, you may have been left trying to figure out how you can best serve the movement for Black lives and social justice. You may even believe that you have no role in this movement. …

How should we move our educational system forward? For centuries, historians, educators, theorists, and policymakers have tried to answer this question by thinking of new methods to reform our schools. All had different motives of why they wanted reform, what elements of school reform held importance over others, and more importantly, who they wanted to reform schools for. In the early 1800s, some believed that education, at least Protestant ideological education, should emphasize unity, obedience, restraint, self-sacrifice, and the careful exercise of intelligence, while others later in history argued for the focus of technical education over an academic one. …

Photo by The Urban Institute.

The federal government has had a role in education, whether directly or indirectly, dating back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 during the year the constitution was ratified. From the Morrill Act of 1862, which provided acres of land and other land grants to states for the production of colleges, to the E-Rate program, which provided schools and libraries telecommunication and internet access, these all had an impact on the future of education. The goal was improving education — though for different reasons — and the opportunities that came from it has since been a focal point. More recently, the…

Voter suppression in the Trump era.

Image from https://whowhatwhy.org/2016/11/24/russrant-forbidden-topic-vote-suppression-elect-trump/

The history of voter suppression and it’s mechanisms to suppress minority votes is a part of the bigger puzzle to voting rights in the United States. After the Reconstruction period following the Civil War, many free slaves earned the right to hold office and vote; however, many laws were put in place to restrict them from doing so.

Jim Crow laws inhibited African-Americans the very right to vote by means of instituting poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests and more.

Today, we see this as an extreme problem in the era of the Trump…

A look into the start of the opioid epidemic and the successful passage and journey of Governor Haslams TN-Together Plan(House Bills 1831/32)


On January 22nd, 2018, Governor Haslam of the state of Tennessee, joined by House and Senate leadership and Chief Justice Jeff Bivins, announced its aggressive and comprehensive plan to end the opioid epidemic in Tennessee by focusing on three major components: prevention, treatment, and law enforcement (Tennessee State Government, Office of the Governor, 2018, January 22). The governor formulated these components under TN Together, which is a multi-faceted initiative that addresses that issues of opioid addiction through…

A look into Starbucks discrimination and actions set forth.

Photo curtesy of Fortune.com (http://fortune.com/2016/11/10/starbucks-christmas-cups-2016/)

In the past few days, Starbucks has taken a big spot in the the media in light of an incident that took place in their downtown Philadelphia store on Thursday, April 12th.

Police arrested two African-American men who were waiting in line for a friend to join them. The men were then asked to leave by a Starbucks employee, later calling the police, reporting that they were “refusing to make a purchase or leave.” There have been several video footages that shows Philadelphia police officers standing over the two seated black…

Students from Hancock High School walk out of class to protest gun violence. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

A look into the rights of protesting, punishment, and bringing about political change in modern day America.

Across the country on Wednesday, March 14th, several students participated in National Walkout Day. The walkout was scheduled for 10 am, and lasted approximately seventeen minutes for each individual murdered during the Stoneman-Douglass High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. The purpose of the walkout was to serve two facets: to pay respects to those lost in the shooting, and just as important, to push lawmakers to pursue gun reform.

Although we saw several schools who participated in this movement, there were several other…

Mustafa M. Ali-Smith

Writer, activist, and freedom-fighter.

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