Monday, December 12, 2011

What If I Was a Poor Black Kid

So I was at work the other day when I read an article that sparked my interest on an important issue, racism and inequality in America. Two weeks before, a friend of mine had sent me a video of a poor African American woman in Florida with fifteen kids and no money. So today, I thought to myself, What if I was a poor black kid in America with no money?

Last week, President Obama gave a speech in Kansas City about inequality in America. He said, ‘This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.’

He’s right. The gap between the rich and the poor in America has gotten wider over the decade. In recent weeks, Occupy “this and that” has been the popular movement in America. Why? A majority of American citizens are tired of the current state of the economy.

The article I read and the President’s speech got me thinking. The rich kids I have tutored are no smarter than the kids from the inner city. The richer kids have it much easier than their counterparts from the ghetto. The world is not fair to those kids mainly because they had the misfortune of being born two miles away into a more difficult part of the world and with a skin color that makes realizing their dream harder. This is a fact in 2011.

I’m not a poor black kid. I was raised in Nigeria in a family of seven. My father worked around the clock with the hopes of providing food, clothing and shelter. My mother worked as a teacher with the hopes of providing additional income, but the Nigerian government never ceased to delay her salary by at least six months in a row. That granted, I’m an African man in my twenties living by myself with hopes of maximizing the resources that this beautiful country has to offer. So the fact that I immigrated to the United States means that things should have been worse for me. Why? I’m black and I have a thick African accent.

But that doesn’t mean that the prospects are impossible for those kids from the inner city. It doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities for them. Or that the 1% controls the world and the rest of us have to fight over the scraps left behind. I don’t believe that. I believe that everyone in this country has a chance to succeed. It takes hard work, perseverance, brains, a little luck and a little help from others. It takes an ability to know how to use the resources that are available. Like technology and others.

If I was a poor black kid, I would first and most importantly make sure that I have the best grades possible. I would make it a top priority to read sufficiently and effectively. Even if I attended the worst public school at the worst community, the truth is that the worst have their best. And the very best students, even at the worst schools, have more opportunities. Getting good grades is the key to having more options. With good grades you can choose different, better paths. If you do poorly in school, particularly in a lousy school, you’re severely limiting the limited opportunities you have.

If I was a poor black kid, I would use the technology available to me as a student. Libraries and schools have computers available. If I cannot afford a computer at Best Buy, I would check Tiger Direct, thrift stores or Dell’s Outlet. Professional organizations like accountants and architects often offer used computers from their members, sometimes at no cost at all.

If I was a poor black kid in America, I would use the free technology available to help me study. My best friend would be Google Scholar, and I would become an expert at sites like Sparknotes and Cliffnotes to help me understand books. I would watch relevant teachings on Academic Earth, TED and Khan Academy. In addition, I would get my books for free at Project Gutenberg and learn how to do research at the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia to help me with my studies. I would take advantage of study websites like Evernote, Studyrails, Flashcard Machine, Quizlet and Free Online calculators. I would use Skype and Oovoo to study with other students who want to do well in school.

Is this easy? No. It takes a special kind of kid to succeed. And to succeed with those tools is much harder for a poor black kid than for a white or rich kid from the suburbs. The fact is that the tools, technology and opportunities are there.

There are nationally recognized academic magnet schools in every state. Yes, they are more difficult to get into, but more than 90% of the kids that attend these schools go to college. Most private schools are filled to the brim with the top 1%. But most of these schools have scholarship programs that provide opportunities to kids that can’t afford the tuition. These schools want to show diversity. They want to show smiling, smart kids of many different colors and races on their fundraising brochures. If I was a poor black kid I would make it my goal to get into one of these schools.

And once admitted to one of these schools, I would make it a point to seek advice of teachers and make my guidance counselor my friend. Why? These are people that would one day help me go to a college. They would advise me on financial aid options, college scholarships, grants, job programs and minority programs.

A poor black kid who goes to college will have opportunities. America is a country of business owners who are starved for smart and skilled people. Yes, President Obama was right in speech. There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor. But the biggest challenge we face isn’t inequality, its ignorance. A lot of kids from poor black communities don’t even know that these opportunities exist for them. Many of these kids come from single family homes who mom (or dad) works at least two different jobs, and is too tired to do anything within the few hours they are home.

Many of these kids don’t have the brains to figure this out themselves, unless they are lucky enough to have parents and a well-funded school system to push them in the right direction. Several resources can help these kids, but only if they want to be helped. Yes, there is racism and inequality, but there is still opportunity for those who are smart enough to go for it.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Confidant...

You cast your eyes up to the sky,
you groaned, though you said not a word;
Yet GOD was not deaf to your cry,
The friend of the fatherless heard.

For since you have trusted His care,
And learned on His word to depend,
He has kept u from every snare,
And been ur best Father and Friend.

Yours Truly,

Special thanks to Tayo Adekoya

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Mechanism Behind A Miracle

Hello!!! Readers, it’s fall time. Ikr...I spend a lot of sleepless nights thinking, thinking, planning and thinking of the way forward. Having no immediate parents around have been taking a hit on me these days, especially on days I need advice the most. So how do I survive? I read….Yes. I read…read and read with every chance I get. Before I go to work, I take a book with me to revive me. Thanks to Brains for introducing me to the podcasts.
I must admit that these books have been teaching me my life lessons. They have taught me the way to speak, act and confront situations I’m faced with. They have become my parents. This week, I saw a post by a friend on a surgical operation being done on a neonatal infant. I was amazed at the miracle of giving an innocent being a second chance at life. That’s what intrigues me about medicine. The mere fact that providing the gift of health to an individual could change the fate and story of a generation keeps drawing me back to medicine. Every day, I see patients at the ED who come in terrified at the abnormalities of life. But I was really intrigued at what one of the attending physicians told me one day. We had just seen a patient who complained of back pain (the most common case I’ve seen at the ED). Within 5 minutes, the attending had diagnosed the physician, and had given her instructions on what to do. When we walked out of the room, she said, “Sometimes, we don’t even do anything. Yet, they think we’ve solved a huge problem for them.” I was astonished. Could this be true?
Oh well…back to my point. This week, I decided to read a little more about Ben Carson. So, I ordered his books, “Gifted hands,” and “Big Picture.” In addition, I ordered the DVD to watch. I must say that I’ve been really inspired. I was most inspired by the dream he had on the night before his Chemistry exam, which revealed the exact answers he needed. A lesson was learned for me, when you walk on the path God has chosen for you, nothing will ever stop you from achieving that goal.

PS: If you read my last blog post, it says to be continued at the end, it continues in the book. You’re blessed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reflections on my childhood

So today I decided to write a little about my life. Funny right, considering I tend to keep to myself a lot. At 1:30am, I sat down in my room thinking of what my life was like before, what it is now, and my fate in posterity.
Recently, I found myself reminiscing on my past. I grew up in different cities in Nigeria. My father, a man whom I will forever respect, worked around the clock as a factory worker with the hopes of providing food, clothing and shelter to a family of seven. In an effort to support my father, my mother worked as a public school teacher, but the Nigerian government never failed to delay her salary by several months at a time.
My childhood motivated me to share my experiences with the world. As a result, I am currently working on my autobiography, due to be released in twelve months. My inspiration to write comes from the lessons I learned from my parents. My father was a highly optimistic individual. He never saw what ‘is’ but he constantly reminded his family on what ‘could be’ provided we persevere through the hard times. My beloved mother, a poised, homely woman taught me the importance of Christianity. She would always say, “No matter where you find yourself, never forget to plead the blood.’’
(To be continued)


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Boston Experience 1

So today I decided to blog after a long time. Miss me yet? Loljk. (I know that’s not a word). A lot of thoughts have been on my mind since I moved to Boston. When I first drove into the state of Massachusetts from upstate, New York, I saw a clear difference between the two states. First, I noticed the trees. I got this feeling of fresh air. The trees and grasses were inviting me to a new world. It was as if I was being welcomed into a world where opportunities were bound to become successes, if and only if, I was tenacious enough to succeed.

Two days later, after complaining about the cost of living here to my group mate, I visited the MIT campus and the Harvard undergraduate campus. It was on a Sunday. That was the beginning of a new vision. While I was on tour at the MIT campus, I saw a quote that caught my attention. It was on the wall of one of the buildings. It said, “Welcome to the home of innovation.” At that moment, I thought to myself, this is what makes them one of the best institutions in the world. They have a principle of producing not just educators but innovators. They follow principles that drive the world’s next vision. I compared this principle to The Ohio State University’s principle. Sincerely, it was no match. Why? Because majority of graduates are trained to work for other companies. However, this institution is motivated to training people to creatively think.

I have come to one conclusion in my journey in life thus far. The people that will control the world are people who have clear goals for their lives and creatively think outside the box or become successful within it. If you don’t have clear goals for your life, you are bound to work for those who do.

Yours truly,


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mom and Dad

Mom and dad:
A million times we needed you,
A million times we cried,
If love alone would have saved you both,
You would have never died.
...If all the world was ours to give,
We would give it years and more,
To see you coming up the steps,
And walking through the door.
To hear your voice and see your smile,
To sit and talk a while,
To be with you that same old way,
Would be our fondest day.
Two hearts of gold stopped beating,
Four smiling eyes closed to rest,
God broke our hearts to prove to us,
He only takes the best.

By Tayo Adekoya

Monday, February 7, 2011

Today I woke up

Today I woke up

and everything was okay

All of yesterday's problems are gone

they left with the setting sun

Today I woke up

everything was fine

my slate is as white as snow

with every morning's sunrise

Today I woke up

the sun's rays quenched my thirst

today was much better than yesterday

much better than the first

Today I woke up

all issues were ceased

crime, oppression, and poverty

war, famine, and disease

Today I woke up

All troubles have passed away

the sun showed over the horizon

and it was a brighter day

Today I woke up

Filled with hope and optimism

I made my first step to change the world

Yours truly,


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I want to go

I want to go
where the days are always clear
the horizon is bright, nothing to fear
where all day the sun will shine
there are no winters, not a cloud in the sky
The sun- a majestic yellow hub
drapped in a ground canopy of blue
where the waves break softly

I want to go,
where pounded yam is free
and Egusi is a call away
where suya is spicy
and moi moi is yummy

I want to go
where moonlight fills the night sky
As a silver sphere in a blanket of stars
giving me just enough light
to see your face and the absence of flaws
In this place there are no worries
all cares for a moment-brushed aside
and my mother's sweet voice is the only thing
that breaks the sound of the tide

I just want to go home,
Where love is genuine

Yours Truly,

Who are you?

You are beautiful

--but critical

Your face, amazing

--but questioning

Your love, so engaging

--but your way is restrained

Who are you?

I can only hope to know....

When I wake up tomorrow

When I wake up tomorrow

everything will be okay

All of yesterday's problem are gone

they left with the setting sun

When I wake up tomorrow

everything will be fine

my slate is as white as snow

with every morning's sunrise

When I wake up tomorrow

the sun's rays will quench my thirst

because I know that day will be

much better than the first

When I wake up tomorrow

all issues will be ceased

crime, oppression, and poverty

war, famine, and disease

When I wake up tomorrow

All troubles have passed away

the sun will show over the horizon

and it will be a brighter day

When I wake up tomorrow

Filled with hope and optimism

We will change the world

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I cried

You told me not to cry

and I said that I wouldn't

You said I needed to be strong

and I promised I would be

but the tears I can't hold back

I can not hold these tears within

You told me not to cry, but I did

The tears held behind my eyes

were drowning my insides

My heart could not float

underneath dashed hopes

My being lay breathless

as if underneath a capsized boat

My insides-consumed by emotion

they seem around and above me

like looking up at the ocean

Engulfed in misery

my future was my history

I tried to move on

but I was missing a piece of me

You were my eyes

for it was you I yearned to see

Why should I have sight

if I can not lay my eyes on you

I cried to wash the images off my mind

of your eyes closed- you lying there with no life

I would rather be plunged into the darkness of night

and at the time of your passing

be eternally blind

I cried to release the pain

of my failed attempt at conversation

as you did not reply

when I stroked your face, and called your name

I cried to fight the sorrow

that tried to overcome me

I cried to stop my soul

to stop my soul from crumbling

I cried to let go of you

because it was killing me to hold on

it will be a hear lesson to learn

but I must learn to go on

I now cherish your memory

your spirit replaces my grief

your spirit fills my emptiness

your legacy lives within me