Testimony on Gifted and Talented and the Specialized High School Admissions

With all of the debate regarding the recommendations to reform the City’s Gifted and Talented program, I decided to provide my own testimony, which I submitted to the City Council earlier this year, which also discusses the Specialized High School admissions process. I submitted a similar testimony to State Senators Robert Jackson and John Liu later that month.

I also ask that before people rush to conclusions regarding what is actually being proposed, please read the actual report drafted by the School Diversity Advisory Group. Despite the frenzy created by the media, they are not proposing to do away with enrichment programs. They are questioning how it is currently being implemented, which I have also taken issue with. This report was a follow up to the original report developed by them, which can be found here. Both documents should be read together to develop a full understanding.

Here is my testimony below. Feel free to share your thoughts.

City Council Hearing – Joint Hearing on Segregation of NYC Schools – 5/1/2019

Dear Council Members Treyger and Eugene and other members of the Education and Human Rights Committee,

I thank you for holding this hearing, as this has been a very important issue for me. Sadly, I am unable to attend but am sending my suggestions of how the city can diversify both the Specialized High Schools and the Gifted and Talented (G & T) Schools/programs, which are naturally feeders for the Specialized High School. I speak as a former science teacher at Stuyvesant High School whose son attends the most diverse of the city-wide G & T programs and will be attending a Specialized High School. My son is bi-racial, Asian and black, and represents the 30.7% of students in his racial category who received an offer.

This biggest problem I see with this debate is the public’s misunderstanding of gifted education, which includes the Specialized High Schools. Giftedness is a neurodivergence, and gifted education is a type of special education. Yet, too many upwardly mobile parents see it as a ticket to the top schools and universities when it should not be viewed that way. It should be one of many options for students who are the right fit. The for-profit test prep industry has made the situation worse by drilling four-year-olds with flash cards and getting eleven and twelve-year-olds to study every day for hours for what was supposed to be an aptitude exam, i.e. they are reading and doing math at an early 8th grade level.

Here are my solutions for how we can increase diversity and achieve equity:

  1. Universal Screening for all 4-year-olds. This could be part of the Turning 5 evaluation. The OLSAT and NNAT can be administered at all the Pre-K and Head Start classrooms, while children of other education programs can arrange to take the exam. It will not counter the ridiculous lengths some parents take to inorganically prep their child, but it may start the conversation for many parents who may have not even considered gifted programs as an option.
  2. Better training of teachers. The research shows that black teachers are best at identifying black children who are gifted. Implicit biases and systemic racism within our school system cause more gifted black and Latinx children to not be identified. For many of these children, they can even be classified as children with “behavioral problems”, when they are just very bored. This can start as early as Pre-K and Head Start, which will now be part of the Dept. of Education.
  3. State Senator Jamal Bailey has introduced a bill, S7984, that requires schools to screen all children for gifted and talented programs before the 3rd Students not in G & T programs should be screened again at 2nd grade, since seven to eight-years-old is the more accurate age to determine giftedness in a child, where additional gifted programs can be created at the local school districts for these children, which addresses the lack of gifted programs in many districts. Broward County in Florida, although far from perfect, implemented this from 2005 to 2010 that had successful results. Senator Bailey has also introduced S8212, which requires all students to take a “pre-SHSAT” exam that identifies students who have the potential to score well on the SHSAT and work with them in areas, either in math or reading, that may inhibit their ability to do well on the actual exam. This may be a more accurate selection criterion. Programs like DREAM rely on state exam results and grades. There are students who scored strong 4’s in both Math and ELA that will not do well on the SHSAT. There are students struggling to get a 3 on either or both subjects who have the potential to do well if they just caught up with their peers.
  4. Redesign of gifted education programs. A recent study found that many gifted programs do not have well-defined criteria for justifying their program as gifted, as other special education programs do. Faculty members in these schools also need to be trained to work with a more culturally diverse population. Special Education teachers should be teaching gifted programs.
  5. Issuing an RFP for the few test prep programs who do understand the purpose of the SHSAT exam and the importance of equity and representation, which can work with the students identified from Senator Bailey’s proposed bill. We cannot ban for-profit test program programs, but we can reward the ones whose curricula are sound and do not exist to give students a “competitive edge”. Possible regulation from Department of Consumer Affairs for those who make false claims to their potential customers would also be helpful.
  6. The validity of the SHSAT in its current form needs to be assessed. If the exam was redesigned to increase diversity, it failed miserably. I still do not understand why logic problems were eliminated. The fact that the exam was written by Pearson is also problematic, given errors made by Pearson for the state exam. I also do not believe that the SHSAT should be the sole criterion for admissions. Students should also have at least an 80 average and score at least a 3 in both the math and ELA at the end of 7th grade to qualify to take the exam. There are parents who tell their children not to focus on the regular school work and just study for the SHSAT. This does a disservice to their children since it eliminates other high school options that their children might do well in. Theoretically, a student should be able to score at least a 3 on both math and ELA if they also do well on the SHSAT. The exam could also be administered on a school day at the school as an additional option.
  7. Identifying and providing more support for children considered Twice Exceptional. According to the Inside Schools website, the percentage of students with I.E.P.s or a disability in the SHSAT schools range from O% at Stuyvesant High School and Queens High School for the Sciences at York College to 5% at High School for Math, Science and Engineering with most at 1% or <1%. I was shocked by these numbers because I remember teaching many students at Stuyvesant who had I.E.Ps. The city-wide G & T programs are not that much better ranging from 5% at TAG to 8% at N.E.S.T + M. Theoretically, the SHSAT, OLSAT and NNAT should be able to capture a certain percentage of students with I.E.P.s, given that many gifted children also have other diagnoses. My son lost at least two of his classmates within the first three years at his school because both parents gave up on fighting for the I.E.P services they were entitled to.

All these measures may cost much more than the mayor and chancellor’s plan, but it is a much more accurate plan that still follows the mission of gifted education while also creating a more equitable selection process that seeks talent in every part of the city. This is not just about achieving equity, although that is also very important; this is about identifying future leaders and great minds. Society and humanity lose out if we are unable to identify children who may accomplish great things in the future if they are given the support they need.

-Flora Ichiou Huang

Additional References:

National Association of Gifted Children Website. Available: www.nagc.org

Elysian Trust Website. http://www.elysiantrust.org

Davis, Dr. Joy Lawson. Bright, Talented and Black. Great Potential Press. 2010

Lhota and Cuomo are Wrong: City Should Not Foot Bill for MTA Repairs

Straphangers continue to be collateral damage from this ongoing feud between Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Cuomo’s new appointee for MTA Chairman, Joe Lhota, has joined in this ongoing city-state squabble. Lhota was re-appointed after he abandoned the MTA the first time for a seriously failed mayoral run in 2013, against our current mayor, amidst this current transit crisis we are facing. He has recently proposed a multi-billion dollar capital project, which would occur in two phases.  

Phase I of Lhota’s plan will cost $836, which will focus on repairing basic infrastructure that is needed for a rail system to be functional, while Phase II would cost an additional $8 billion that Lhota claims will bring our train system from the “19th century to the 21st Century”, but he is also proposing that the city finance half of this. Mayor de Blasio, however, has been adamant that this is not the city’s responsibility and that the city had already pledged an “unprecedented” $2.5 billion to the MTA’s $29 billion capital plan back in 2015.

The city continues to maintain that the MTA is a state agency. The majority of the MTA’s board members, after all, are appointed by the governor, and even the MTA board members appointed by the mayor need to be approved by the State Senate. Lhota, however, fired back and claimed that the state bailed the city out in 1981 because it was in a fiscal crisis and that the original intent in doing this was not to have the state continue to finance the subways, especially when the city now has a $4 billion surplus.

While many of the measures in Lhota’s plan do make sense, such as the repair and replacement of signals and additional track work, the problem is that the MTA has had the opportunity to make these repairs years ago but failed to do so. The MTA spent years squandering billions of dollars on unnecessary, bloated projects, such as the renovation of the Fulton Street station and the expansion of the Second Ave subway that could have cost much less.

Lhota had previously criticized de Blasio for his lack of leadership and went as far as contrasting our current mayor with his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, whom he praised for getting the city to finance the expansion of the 7 Line that culminated with the new Far West Side station. The final cost of the 7 line expansion was $2.4 billion, or $2.1 billion per mile, which the city did cover most of the cost for, but the MTA still had to cover a portion of this cost, and that money could have been used to repair/replace signals and switches and support additional track maintenance work. Instead, it was used to finance a project that benefited very few, and the new Select Bus Services lines have demonstrated that they can provide the same type of service at a tiny fraction of the cost.

These are the types of projects that have brought the MTA to the state it is currently in, and Lhota and Cuomo now want our city to bail out the state and an agency that had mismanaged its funds for too long. This is like a landlord asking the tenant to pay for a leaky roof and a deteriorating plumbing system when the landlord knew these problems needed to be taken care of years ago, but that landlord decided to spend money on remodeling the facade of the home, instead. It took years for our transit system to implode like this, and it will take years for the MTA to undo its repeated neglect of our vital and crucial system, and million-dollar “genius grants” will not get us out of this mess.

Ultimately, we, as riders, are the ones left to suffer, as we continue to pay more for substandard, unreliable service. Furthermore, Albany has continued to ignore funding streams that could have been used to keep the system afloat. It started with Pataki eliminating the Commuter Tax for non-city residents, which led to former Governor Whitman demanding the same perk for New Jersey residents, and it continued as plan after plan was struck down, such as Congestion Pricing and the Ravitch Plan, which would have bailed out the MTA back in 2009. Meanwhile, Albany has continued to siphon off the MTA’s budget for years to balance its own budget, and Cuomo went as far as “eviscerating” a bill that was passed to protect these types of raids during his first year as governor.

This week the mayor has proposed a plan that will tax the wealthiest New Yorkers to finance subway repairs, but this also requires approval from the state legislature and governor. The governor is also looking to revisit some kind of congestion pricing plan to finance the MTA but has not given any specific details. Whatever plan the state decides to adopt, it is still not the responsibility of the city to cover the funds that Lhota is demanding the city cover immediately. Yes, the MTA needs a complete overhaul, but it is not up to the city to bail the MTA and the state for its own gross negligence. If anything, the city continues to suffer as a victim of a quasi-government agency that it has very little control over but is completely reliant upon. 

Unfortunately, it seems as if Lhota is more interested in following our governor’s agenda, who has never made our transit system a priority, except when it comes to a photo op for a new, shiny station with Chuck Close paintings. It should also be noted that Lhota is endorsing Republican candidate, Nicole Malliotakis, for Mayor. The mayor’s office, on the other hand, had given a very positive statement about Lhota on the city’s official government Website.

People Thought She Was the Nanny? So What?

It is no question that the most viral and talked about video in the past couple of weeks was the BBC interview of the professor in South Korea, Robert Kelly, who had the pleasure of his two kids crashing his interview. Not surprising, of course, was the backlash that followed from the usual online activists and bloggers who were outraged that many who viewed the video thought his wife, Jung A Kim, was the nanny. Countless blog pieces, particularly from the usual Asian activists and bloggers, have been written showing their predictable disgust about how people could be so ignorant and make that assumption, because she clearly looked like their mother. Even the BBC added their own commentary to the issue.

Most likely no one would have confused his wife for being the nanny, had she been white, but that is part of the reality that anyone who goes into an inter-racial marriage and has bi-racial/ multi-racial children deal with on a regular basis. By no means am I justifying the ignorant behaviors of others, but anyone who decides to go into an inter-racial marriage and have children need to understand that this is a cruel and unfair world made up of ignorant and hateful people. If you do not understand that, then you will be setting yourself up for a very difficult journey ahead. God may be impartial, as a white woman with a black husband once mentioned on a talk show, but people certainly are not.

As a mother of a bi-racial child, whose father is Haitian-American, someone once thought I was my son’s social worker. A good friend of mine, whose mother is white and father is black, once shared with me about going into town with her siblings, and people would come up to her mother and praise her for doing such a “wonderful thing” because they thought she was their Fresh Air Fund mom. Her mother would shoot back a dirty look. Many white mothers who have bi-racial children, whether that child has an Asian or black or Latino father, can share stories of how strangers have confused their biological children for being adopted. This is what we signed up for. In a perfect world this would not happen, but the world is far from perfect.

People make these assumptions all of the time, and it amazes me how sanctimonious some get because a few others make that mistake. How often do we see a black woman, especially if she has a West Indian accent, with a white child and automatically assume she is the nanny? She could be looking after her friend’s child. She could be the child’s foster mother, which is quite possible, but even the most enlightened, or “woke”, person has probably made that mistake. Don’t deny that you have; just be more aware of it next time.

The sad part about this type of online activism, which is mainly done on social media, is that it takes away from more important issues. Rather than focusing on more serious matters, such as the wage gap between Asian-American women and the rest of the workforce – particularly for older Asian women with less education, there is this fixation with these types of issues that can often be a distraction caused by online activists and bloggers trying to get more hits and likes on their posts.

It takes away from Asian-American activism that is really working to advance social justice for Asian-Americans and other communities of color. More radical organizations like Yellow Peril, which fought with the Black Panthers, and the Red Guard Party were at the forefront of Asian-American activism, but very few people, with the exception of academics and older activists, know who they are. Even now, an organization such as CAAAV, one of the first organizations to address police brutality against Asians-Americans, are not given the credit and recognition they deserve. Yes, social media activism is probably an easier way to voice your opinions, but actually getting involved with an organization like CAAAV has more impact.

Equally bothersome are the many people outraged about Mrs. Kelly being confused for a nanny, which is certainly not a profession to look down upon, and that brings up another point. Many of these faux activists are predominantly middle-class Asian-Americans, who are mainly East Asian, and are often unable to see beyond their world. They are insulted that they can be confused for being a nanny, when there are many Southeast Asian women found throughout East Asia, including South Korea, dutifully taking care of children.

If there was an an issue Asians could focus on, it is getting better treatment for Southeast Asian women who serve as domestic workers all over the world. We should be focused more on getting them fair wages and better work conditions so that they are not continuously exploited, including by other Asians. One of the founders of the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance in the U.S., by the way, is an Asian-American woman. Ai-Jen Poo is a MacArthur fellow and was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people.   

Yes, no one would have made that assumption that a white woman would have been the nanny for her two children, but what do people plan to accomplish by tweeting their outrage? Do we really need another blog piece echoing the same, tired issues over and over again?  If Asians continue to get outraged over trivial issues such as these, we will continue to remain where we are, in which we will be constantly protesting actresses like Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, and Tilda Swinton taking roles away from Asian women but with no success or advancement.    

MTA May Be On To Something with Supreme Metro Cards

As everyone may know, the biggest craze this week in the NYC seems to be these  Supreme Metro Cards that have caused a stir on the Broadway-Lafayette Station early this week and the Supreme store in SoHo. I admit that I had to Google what Supreme was, as I have become so out of touch with youth culture; I am an uncool mom now, but perhaps  the MTA has just found an ingenious way to generate revenue that they so desperately need. They can partner with other over hyped brands that Generation Z has bought into hook, line and sinker. If Supreme can convince this generation to buy a brick with their name on it for a ridiculous price, the MTA can create all kinds  of special edition Metro Cards with different corporate logos on it that seem like they are anti-establishment.

This may actually get the MTA out of debt from all of their capital budgets that went over budget, like that glorified mall on Fulton Street or that shiny new station on the Far West Side that no one seems to use or those three stations in the Upper East Side that cost $2.4 billion dollars to build. An ordinary station would have been fine, but Governor Cuomo and the MTA decided to build stations with Chuck Close paintings in them. Every time you swipe your MetroCard, 17% of that fare goes to the debt that the MTA owes to lenders because these projects that I just mentioned went way over budget. Think about that, as we will pay an extra $4.50 for a monthly card in March.

Now, MTA may actually have a feasible plan to pay off some of that debt. But, no, they will probably use those extra funds to finance another over-hyped capital project that will only benefit a select few because that is what the MTA does best. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be paying more for train delays that result from signal, switch and/or rail problems. I just hope that you were able to purchase one of those Supreme MetroCards and sell it back for $1,000, which is what they seem to be going for on eBay. That will cover 8 months of a monthly Metro Card.      

Reflections on the 4th

As we celebrate the 240th birthday of this nation today with barbecues, hours at the beach and fireworks, we also need to reflect on the many issues that we need to continue to work on. It may come as a surprise to some, but I do love this country. I might not cheer “USA, USA” during the Olympics and other international sporting events, particularly the World Cup – both men and women, but I do show my patriotism in other ways and will defend this nation, even when it has behaved badly to other nations. This is why I take the liberty to be critical of it, so it can always be better. Maybe it is the Asian in me – joke. While I would like to see a whole array of reforms and improves on various issues, these are the three that are most important to me, as they are to others. This is especially significant this year, as this is another presidential election year, as strange as this one is. I like to think of this as my birthday wishlist.

Health Care:

If you do not have your health, nothing else really matters. Our health care system is too convoluted and complicated with too many tiers of service and restrictions that make some people only eligible for this service and some people eligible for that service. As a result we have one of the most segregated systems that is not only separate and unequal, but inaccessible to many. It is also not a surprise that we pay more per capita than any other industrialized nation in the world, at least double for many other nations. There is too much paper work to justify a particular procedure. I understand that there is the potential for insurance fraud, especially when it involves public money, but when the cost of regulating these procedures wind up costing more than the actual procedures themselves, then we have a serious problem.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka ObamaCare, has done a great deal to increase accessibility of health coverage to more Americans, but it is now time to move beyond this policy, even though we still have a Congress that is hostile to ACA. This is also why Congressional races matter, too. Eventually, we do need to move towards a single payer system, which could start out as the “Public Option” measure that was often discussed when the Affordable Care Act was being drafted. By having a basic coverage for all, we are able to guarantee that people do not go seek medical help, when it is too late, which winds up driving up cost.

At the same time we need to do so much more to develop some of the best and brightest talent to become part of our future health care and human services work force. This involves tapping into a much more diverse population who is able to understand the complexities of the people of this nation in a way that others cannot. If we want to address health disparities, we need to not only remove barriers that prevent for healthier outcomes but engage communities so that they are part of the process. Piecemeal solutions that do very little to address the root cause of some of these health problems and do not eliminated barriers to better health are just a waste of time and money. All it does is create jobs for a few people.


Our current educations system is under attack in a similar way the health care system is. Rather than addressing real issues for why children are not learning, which also requires engaging parents, teachers and students, we have moved more towards a trend to privatize our public education system through the use of corporate charter schools and an over emphasis on standardized tests. Once again, rather than looking at investing in programs that may actually work, we continue to blame “bad teachers” for children not learning and the unions that enable these “bad teachers”.

While I am not against standardized exams as some parents may be, I do believe that we need to step back and look at what our priorities and philosophies are, when it comes to developing an education system. What do we want our children to acquire and achieve after 13 to 14 years of public education? How do w prepare them to be not only functional citizens who can hold down a job and manage their finances, but also civic-minded adults who understand that the greater good of contributing to society. They must be able to have the common knowledge and the critical thinking skills to make decisions for themselves, others whom they are responsible for, and the public when they go to the voting booth, which should be a civic duty, not an optional choice.

Rather than focusing too much on standardized exams, we need to provide learning experiences that relate to their every day lives, as well as opportunities that allow them to explore different career paths and how the subjects that they are learning are actually very relevant to preparing them for these careers and other aspects of every day life. At the same time curiosity should be encouraged, and students should be encouraged to question, not accept things for what they are but at the same time know how to do the research to answer these questions. An example would be trying to connect students with different careers in health care, as I had previously mentioned. These conversations should be starting early on in high school and junior high school, not when they are in college choosing their majors.

At the same time higher education needs to be much more affordable and accessible to those who have the potential to do well and excel. Once again, piecemeal solutions are not enough. Real reform, which may involved universities and other institutes redesigning themselves to adjust for a population that is changing faster than we realize, is required so that we do not prolong systems that no longer serve their purposes.

Law Enforcement and Its Relations with the Community:

The #BlackLiveMatter movement has brought the issue of police brutality to the national forefront, as the names of Ramarley Graham, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Akai Gurley and many others have continued to make headlines.  This is the civil right issue of our era. While those of us understand the difficulty of being a law enforcement officer, more needs to be done to bring justice to victims of police brutality and shootings, and more needs to be done to reform the system so that incidents such as these do not continue. As the mothers of Ramarley Graham and Eric Garner stated in a #BlackLivesMatter, “We do not want any more members in this club”.

Increased dialogue between the community and the law enforcement agencies are critical in moving this forward. This involves serious self-reflection from everyone, as well as substantial reform within enforcement agencies, moving more towards a community policing model that engages all members of the community, especially those most vulnerable to being targeted by law enforcement officers. Furthermore, we cannot deny the role of race in all of this. This has to be discussed by all, no matter how uncomfortable the subject might be.

It is true that victims of police brutality and shootings are not just limited to African-Americans, but we cannot deny the gross disproportion and disparity that affects African-Americans for this issue and other issues for that matter. It involves a painful discussion on race relations that all Americans must be able to confront and discuss, and this is why the #BlackLivesMatter movement has grown so strongly these past few years. People are angry and are not just settling for the status quo any more. As another speaker at this same #BlackLivesMatter demonstration mentioned, “Black Lives Matter; All Lives Matter, but black lives are being snuffed every day”.

As a daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, I used to wonder as an adolescent whether my parents should have moved to this nation. As an adult, I could not be more thankful that my parents did because I know I would not be who I am had they not. The knowledge I have acquired, the people I have met, and the experiences I have encountered could not be replicated anywhere else but here, especially in the City of New York. This may have been a nation founded by white, wealthy landowners, many of whom owned slaves, but that does not mean that it did not work for others.

While there are still many problems we as a nation face, I am still grateful to be born and raised here because I never would have had these same experiences and opportunities living in Taiwan, which does by the way have a health care system we could learn from, or any other part of Asia, and while people talk about all of the wonderful social programs in Canada and European nations, such as universal health care and at least one year of paid family leave, I still would not trade it for what I have here. However, that does not mean we can do much more to improve our nation, and this is what real patriotism is about, being able to self-criticize for the betterment of your society. It will probably take generations to tackle the issues that I have cited above, but that is also why we need to stay focused on what really needs to be done.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!


Can We Please Move on about the Oscars?

Last week the most hotly discussed topic in the world of the Asian-American blogosphere and social media was the outrage over how Asians continue to be the “butt of everyone’s jokes” during this year’s Oscars, which was even brought to attention by Charlotte Hornets Guard, Jeremy Lin, and Fresh of the Boat actress, Constance Wu. Asian bloggers and You Tube videos continued to express their outrage on the Web in reaction to what they had seen on the award show. The jokes of course were related to a skit by MC, Chris Rock, who presented three Asian kids, referring them to the accountants for the Oscars, and Sacha Barron Cohen’s joke about Minions, which can both be seen here. However, Chris Rock seems to bear more of the brunt.

I finally got a chance to view both skits on the Web, since I stopped watching the Oscars years before the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, and I have to say, what is the big deal? As for the S.B. Cohen joke, that one is up for debate. I have close to zero respect for Cohen as an entertainer, who makes his living through mean-spirited humor often done at the expense of people’s good nature to be nice to his character personalities. If he was poking fun at the stereotype of Asian men, as opposed to actually making fun of Asian men, then I would be seriously surprised, given all of his past films and roles, but this piece will focus on Chris Rock.

Overall, I thought the joke was lame, unoriginal, cliché, and way below his talent. If you are still making jokes about Asians being good at math and Jewish people being good with money, you seriously need to come up with some new and original material. Those jokes need to be buried, along with Asians being bad drivers. I am not completely against ethnic jokes, even if they are told my someone not of that race and ethnicity, as long as it is not meant to be mean-spirited and hurtful, which comedy can be. It all has to do with the context in how it is presented. For example, Rock did a great job presenting this same subject in a skit he did back in 1993, when he was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live.

In this skit Rock points out that positive stereotypes associated with other races are still much better than the negative stereotypes often associated with black people, as he states:

That’s not racist. I would trade being good with money and very smart for big-lipped, dancing, stealing, watermelon-eating person any day, all right. Very smart, I pray for the day they say that about black people. I would love to hear a guy go “alright, you’re cheating on a test, cheat off the black guy” Good with money, I would love to hear somebody go “oh those blacks are so good with cash”. I would love to hear a guy go “hey, got me a n*gg*r accountant, haha”.

Of course, he fails to mention stereotypes of black people that could be considered positive, such as being good in sports or being able to sing, but that could also be because he values intellect and being financially savvy over other attributes. He has an ongoing routine, where he criticizes certain elements of the black community for “Keeping it Real”, or “Keeping it Real Dumb”, as he calls it.

Furthermore, if you go back to the context of the joke from this original SNL skit, he is pretty much telling us to stop complaining about trivial issues like this, which is what he is also trying to point out in this skit with the three children and even in his opening monologue, which I will discuss later. He finishes the joke by telling the audience to “just tweet about it on your phone that was probably also made by these kids”, which brought on another wave of outrage.

As wrong as that may sound to many, making jokes about child labor, let us not deny that it does exist. That phone you own is probably made from child labor, as are the clothes you are wearing. Who are we fooling? When my students used to complain about how much homework they had and how much they had to study, I used to respond, “Well, at least you are not working in a sweatshop like many kids your age in other countries.” Maybe I got away with it more because I was Asian, especially when a large number of my students were also Asian, but this is a reality that we are dealing with in this world. It is funny that people are more outraged over the joke than the actual existence of child labor, but I guess it is easier to rant over a racist joke you saw on TV and express it on social media, or even spend time blogging about it, than to actually do something about the issue child labor itself.

In the opening monologue, he jokes about black people in the 60s not caring about whether any black actors/actresses were nominated for the Oscars because their “grandmother is hanging from a tree”. A lot of people within the black community were offended by the joke, due to its sensitive nature. They accused him of “conducting a minstrel show to get some cheap laughs from a predominantly white audience”. I, myself, found it funny, as did other members of the black community, and thought that he made a really good point. Comedy is about pushing boundaries and taking chances. Sometimes it works; other times it does not, such as that awkward moment with Stacy Dash. Yes, it is a shame that the Oscars continue to snub talented actors and actresses of color, but I am not going to waste all of my time on this, when there are more important concerns, and that is exactly how I feel about this joke with the three Asians kids. There are more important issues for Asians to be concerned about.

Is it wrong that Asians continue to be the butt of jokes? Yes, but I am not going to lose sleep over it, either. Maybe, if we focus on more important issues, more trivial issues like being the butt of jokes on an award show might decrease, too, as the mainstream media realize that we are a force to be reckoned with. I also remember laughing at Polish jokes, when I was a kid in elementary school. Ten years later I would laugh at blonde jokes in high school and college, which were sometimes recycled Polish jokes. I now realize how wrong that was, and now we live in a society, where either of these types of jokes are not considered acceptable. Hopefully, the same will occur with jokes about Asians, hopefully sooner than later, when society, as a whole, realizes that you just don’t go there. In the meantime, I have more important things to worry about.

Follow me on Twitter: @ichiou1


Fixing the C Train

Transit equity is a social justice issue. The quality of service that residents in Midtown, Upper East Side or Grammercy receive should be equitable to what residents in other neighborhoods in the rest of the city receive. After all, public transportation is such a vital part of our lives. Sadly, we know that this is far from the truth. The quality of C train service has been an issue that affects many Upper Manhattan residents, as well as residents in Central Brooklyn, as riders continue to complain about its substandard service. Here is a piece that I had written with a fellow Uptown transit justice advocate as one way we can improve service for this often forgotten train line.

Fixing the C Train
Written By:
Flora Ichiou Huang and Louis Bailey,
Members of Transit Riders Action Committee (TRAC)

The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s most recent preliminary budget for 2016 revealed that its promised delivery of the new R179 cars that were supposed to arrive in 2017 will be delayed another five years. This means that C Train riders should not expect these new trains until 2022, causing us to continue to rely on the old R32 cars that C Train riders have been accustomed to for years, a train car that was considered “cutting edge” during the World’s Fair of 1964. These older cars are much more likely to break down. According to the Straphangers’ Campaign, the C train breaks down every 66,382 miles, compared to an average of 141,202 miles for all New York City Subway lines. However, this is really not our worst concern as C Train riders of upper Manhattan; our concern has always been how infrequently this train runs, on top of it breaking down often, too.


According to the Straphangers’ Campaign’s line rating, the C train ranks 16th out of 19th out of all train lines, making it worth $1.50 per ride, compared to the $2.75 base fare we pay. While riders are more likely to get a seat, probably because people are avoiding the line if they can, and it is much cleaner than other lines, the wait time in between trains is around 10 minutes during rush hour. Compare this with the 1 train, which is scheduled to run three to four minutes in between trains during rush hour. The C Train runs 2% above average in terms of being on schedule, compared to other trains, because it is already scheduled to run less frequently than other trains. For many Uptown commuters it is faster to take the Uptown 1 to 168th Street to catch the A downtown, instead of taking the downtown C to 145th or 125th to catch the A or D downtown trains.

An MTA employee once explained to us that because the C runs in conjunction with the B, E, and A (downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn) trains, there is not as much of a need for as many C trains. That is great for people who live from 135th to Hoyt-Schermerhorn, but what about the rest of us? Is it a coincidence that these are all low-income, black and brown communities affected by this?

Some Uptown residents, but not all, have the 1 train to rely on as an alternative, which gets very crowded, if it does not run more frequently than three to four minutes per train. Could it be that people take the 1 train to avoid the C? This is similar to the way some people who live near St. Nicholas and 181st Street still take the A to avoid dealing with those elevators in that station, another transit issue we have worked on for years. Unfortunately, the people of Central Brooklyn, mainly Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant, do not have that option. The 2,5 trains is quite a distance, if you live near Fulton Street. The same goes for those who live near the 163rd Street station.

What is our solution as members of Transit Riders Action Committee (TRAC), a transit advocacy group of Northern Manhattan? Just as the 4, 5 and 6 lines have express and local trains often noted by diamonds and circles, respectively, when they are in the Bronx, we are proposing that the same could be done for the A trains. The A line currently separates into three tracks when it reaches 80th Street in Queens: Ozone Park, Far Rockaway, and Rockaway Park. One of these three trains could be made into a local train for stops north of 145th in upper Manhattan and past Hoyt-Schermerhorn in Brooklyn. We are talking about an 11-stop difference for only one out of three A trains that run, which will probably have little inconvenience for most people while giving others a much needed relief by having another option other than the C train.

This solution may not solve the problem with the C Trains cars breaking down more frequently, but it may at least resolve the issue of those of us who rely on the C complaining about how infrequently it runs, when the C trains are actually working. This may also help relieve some crowding on the 1 train, which also seems to break down frequently, too, while helping the C Train shed its reputation as one of the worst trains in the New York City Transit system. Of course, this might mean that C train riders might not get a seat as often, if more people ride it, but that is a small price to pay, if it means more frequent service. After all, it is a local train.

*A few edits were made to this original blog post after the Straphangers Campaign updated their line ratings. Also, many of you may have realized that the MTA has not returned many of the old R32 train cars back to the C line, even though it is way past the summer months. The R32 train cars are usually take out of the C line during the summer months to prevent breakdown due to the hot weather. – October 25,2015

*Flora Ichiou Huang is an active member of WE ACT for Environmental Justice (WE ACT) and long-time resident of Washington Heights. She was one of the founding members of the Transit Riders Action Committee (TRAC), a project of WE ACT to fight for better public transportation in Northern Manhattan. As a TRAC member, she had the opportunity to attend the TRPT conference in October 2011, a meeting of transit equity advocates all throughout the nation, which was held at the Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles. Prior to her involvement with TRAC, she has been a strong advocate for better public transportation, as well as other social justice issues in Northern Manhattan. She was also a member of Communities United for Transportation Equity (COMMUTE), a project of the Pratt Center to develop of coalition of organizations who have come together to advocate for investment of public transportation in low-income, inadequately served communities.

*Louis Bailey also started out as an active TRAC member who spent a great deal of his time helping to convert the M60 bus line into a Select Bus Service bus, an issue that the original founding members of TRAC decided was one of the most pressing issues for Northern Manhattan riders, the slowness of the crosstown busses along 125th Street. He is currently a staff member of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, where he continues to advocate for transit equity and other environmental justice issues that affect the community. As someone who was born and raised in Harlem, these issues are important to him.

The Palestinian Hip Hop Scene

Hip hop is not dead; it lives in Palestine, reads a popular t-shirt

Early last year I came across an article from Al-Monitor, a Middle Eastern publication, focused on the best of Palestinian hip hop in 2013 and what was to come for Palestinian hip hop in 2014. This same article is also available on the The Palestine Center’s Website, which is how I found it. This article was actually what inspired me to write my curriculum, Hip Hop as a Vehicle for Social Change.

I had heard a great deal about the rise of hip hop music in the Middle East, as well as in the Middle Eastern and South Asian communities of Europe. As a Gen X-er who grew up on hip hop music from its roots, I am one of those who complain that the hip hop music we hear today is no longer socially and politically conscious with the exception of maybe a few artists. We lament about how there are no longer artists and groups, such as Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, X-Clan, and Paris, and that hip hop music in the U.S. has taken a downturn ever since it has become commercialized. As a teenager, I looked up to rappers such as MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and Hurricane G, and I groan, when I see some of the female rappers now, although I have recently gotten into Awkafina. The hip hop music we listened to made us think and question the system and the status quo. However, I had heard a great deal about this kind of hip hop thriving in the Arab, Turkish, South Asian, and African communities of Europe and even the Middle East itself. This article from Al Monitor brought it all to life.

It makes a lot of sense that hip hop music is thriving in many of these communities in Europe. I never bought into the idea of Europe being this socialist utopia that many American liberals paint it as. The reality is that there are many communities within Europe, where immigrants continue to feel disconnected, marginalized and disenfranchised, and those are the conditions that allow hip hop music to thrive in many communities. The same conditions felt by the people of the South Bronx during the 1970s, which is when hip hop emerged, are not that much different than the conditions felt by the people in the Moroccan and Algerian communities of Paris, the Turkish Communities of Berlin or the Palestinian communities of London, who have also been able to use this art form as their voice. I became introduced to rappers like Abdallah in France, highlighted in my previous piece, and Lowkey in the United Kingdom. Hip hop has gained so much traction in these communities that many intelligence agencies are now spying on them, suspicious that they might be involved in radical Islam that may lead to terrorism.

It is not a surprise that the Middle East would be another region, where hip hop music has thrived, particularly the occupied Palestinian territories. Rappers like Tamer Nafar, otherwise known as the godfather of Palestinian hip hop, who hails from the rap group, Dam, continue to educate the public about the state of things in Palestine, with songs such as Bab-Al-Shams, where he talks about a village where residents were forced out by the Israeli government, and the former residents are now trying to reclaim the village, as they hold a wedding at that site. Even some of Nafar’s more lighthearted songs like “Super Lancer” with fellow rapper Murad Abdo Ahmad, a homage to Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow”, are filled with social and political commentary: “You spent eight years to be a doctor; one wrong look, and you will see a thousand doctors in a second”… “I am your own product, so don’t throw it on me”.

Tamer Nafar has also begun rapping in English. Here is a somewhat comical and satirical song, where he pokes fun at Scarlett Johansson for her continued decision to endorse Soda Stream, despite pressure from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement. Nafar is now mentoring a new generation of hip hop artists, but as he states, “We are not doing this to make them musicians but to give them their childhood back.”

Another rising star in the Palestinian hip hop scene is 17 year-old rapper, Hoss Basha, who hails from the city of Nazareth. In addition to recording songs, the young and talented artist also goes to school and works at his brother’s car wash business after his classes. In his album “Made in Safafri” he gives listeners an understanding of how tough life is in his neighborhood in Nazareth, reminiscent of much of the hip hop music that used to exist in the 1990s. (Yes, the city of Nazareth is one of the most impoverished, drug-infested and crime ridden cities in Israel.) However, Hoss Basha has made it known that he plans to rise above it all. “I see that my community is in deep, and I don’t want to be connected to that. I want to change that,” says the young, aspiring artist. Hoss Basha, like many aspiring young Palestinian rappers, have been mentored by 29 year-old producer, Anan Ksym.

This is the power of hip hop music. It has the ability to connect to young people who feel the disconnected, disenfranchised and marginalized, particularly young men who have felt that they have been cast away by society. Just as hip hop had resonated in the inner-city communities in the United States, a new generation of hip hop artists throughout the world have also adopted this art form who also feel the same struggle. It is not a surprise that as residents in Ferguson were protesting the police shooting death of Michael Brown last summer, Palestinians in Gaza, dealing with their own Israeli air strikes, were tweeting to the people of Ferguson about how to avoid and deal with the harmful effects of the tear gas being sprayed on them by riot police while also showing their solidarity, another piece that I had written about. Months later a delegate of community activists and artists from the Ferguson protests went to visit the occupied Palestinian territories of Israel, where, once again, they were connected through hip hop music. Music and art have the power to connect, transform, and affect change, and this is a perfect example.

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*This piece is part of a curriculum that I had developed called “Hip Hop as a Vehicle for Social Change”. If you are interested in learning more about this curriculum, you can view it here. I have just been invited to present this curriculum at an international education conference, where I have the opportunity to discuss how I developed this curriculum and how it can be implemented in the classroom to some of the brightest and most dedicated educators from all over the world, including many educators from the Middle East. This conference is being organized by an NGO that I have been a member of for almost 15 years. I managed to crowd fund enough to cover room, board and registration fee and have now started a new crowd funding campaign to finance the airfare. If you are interested in supporting innovative curriculum that challenges the mind and connects with the most difficult to reach students, feel free to make a contribution, so I can reach out to more educators at this conference.

The Palestinian-Ferguson Connection

In the summer of 2014 two of the largest news stories were the protests in Ferguson, Missouri over the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer and the Israeli Air Strikes in Gaza. Because of the digital age these two communities found themselves connected in a way that no one would ever think of. Young people in the occupied Palestinian territories, who heard about what was going on in Ferguson, began tweeting to the protesters in Ferguson about how to avoid tear gas. Some advice included washing it off with milk or cola and running against the wind to keep calm and making sure not to rub on one’s eyes. Another Palestinian tweeted to not keep a distance from the police because it is much more difficult for the police to spray tear gas on them.

These two communities were thousands of miles apart but had shared experiences, and because of the power of social media, they were able to connect with each other. As one Palestinian tweeted: The oppressed stand with the Oppressed. #Palestine stands with #Ferguson.

Another Palestinian Tweeted: Dear #Ferguson The Tear Gas used against you was probably tested on us first by Israel. No worries, Stay Strong. Love #Palestine. Another Palestinian tweeted that the tear gas used against the people of Ferguson was made in the U.S., used against Palestinians by Israel, and now used against their own people: Made in USA teargas canister was shot at us a few days ago in #Palestine by Israel, now they are used in #Ferguson.

Many Americans involved in the #Black Lives Matter movement, particularly the people of Ferguson, Mo. finding out about this, responded with appreciation and support. The fact that people in Gaza were showing solidarity helped them realize even more that they were both dealing with similar struggles. This bond between Palestinians protesting the Israeli occupation and the residents of Ferguson protesting the treatment by police grew further.

In December 2014/January 2015 black journalists, community organizers, and artists involved in much of the civil action in Ferguson went on a 10-day tour to visit the Occupied Palestinian territories and Israel so that leaders within the social movement in Ferguson could experience the effects of the Israeli occupation. Similarly, many of the Palestinians who had met with these community activists from Ferguson cited being influenced and inspired by the American Civil Rights movement. “As a Palestinian who has learned a great deal about struggle, movement, militancy and liberation from African Americans in the US, I dreamt of the day where I could bring that power back to my people in Palestine. This trip is a part of that process.”, said Abuznaid, legal and policy director of Dream Defenders, who organized this trip.

Members of the delegate even engaged in a demonstration of solidarity in Nazareth in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which was started by Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) 10 years ago. A video of this Solidarity Demonstration can be seen on Vimeo. Demonstrators chanted the famous line heard throughout police brutality protests here in the U.S., #Black Lives Matter, as they also cried out their support for the people of Palestine.

Another unifying force between these two groups was hip hop music, proving that music and art are truly one of the universal languages of the world. One of the members of the American delegation was St. Louis-based rapper, Tef Poe, who stated that his experience to be able to connect with Palestinians in the occupied territories through hip hop music was the best day of his life. “A refugee camp with a bunch of people fighting for their lives and using hip hop to lift their spirits and spark the minds of the children and break down gender barriers between young girls and boys,” Tef posted to Facebook. “I spent a day with these ppl .. Most amazing day of my life. Thanks be to the Most the struggle is beautiful.” Palestinian hip hop artists such as the group DAM, the group that Tamer Nafar is part of, also tweeted their support to the protestors in Ferguson back in August 2014, so the support was certainly reciprocal.

This is not surprising, as the art form of hip hop was first created in the South Bronx during the 1970s amidst struggle, so it makes so much sense that another group of people who could identify with similar types of struggle would also be drawn to this same art form and adopt it as theirs, too. Music and art have the ability to unite people who are in the struggle, while also being  able to collectively affect change.

Follow me on Twitter: @ichiou1

*This piece is part of a curriculum that I had developed called “Hip Hop as a Vehicle for Social Change”. If you are interested in learning more about this curriculum, you can view it here. I have just been invited to present this curriculum at an international education conference, where I have the opportunity to discuss how I developed this curriculum and how it can be implemented in the classroom to some of the brightest and most dedicated educators from all over the world, including many educators from the Middle East. This conference is being organized by an NGO that I have been a member of for almost 15 years. I have managed to crowd fund enough to cover room, board, and registration fee and have now started a new crowd funding campaign to finance the airfare. If you are interested in supporting innovative curriculum that challenges the mind and connects with some of the most difficult to reach students, feel free to make a contribution, so I am able to reach out to other educators at this conference.

The Rapper who Dared to Challenge the Status Quo: #jenepasuischarlie

On January 7, 2015 France faced one of the bloodiest attacks in modern history, in which gun men went into the controversial magazine publication Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people, including two police officers who responded to the shooting. The magazine was often criticized for its controversial covers and cartoons that many deemed to be offensive, particularly to Islam. News of this tragic story spread throughout the country and the world, outraged by this senseless act of violence.

Charlie Hebdo became the new symbol for freedom of speech, sparking the Twitter Hash tag campaign, #jesuischarlie. A free speech rally even took place the weekend after, where many international leaders attended, except President Obama, who was criticized for not doing so. However, not everyone was getting swept up by this new Twitter wave and support for free speech at every cost.

While many condemned the heinous crime, they also did not want to put the controversial magazine on a pedestal either. Here is a piece about the subject by Max Fisher. Political cartoonist, Gary Trudeau, also gave his thoughts recently during his acceptance speech for the George Polk Career Award. Much of Charlie Hebdo’s content was seen as more crude and vulgar than satirical. At that same time an Arab-French rapper named Abdallah took it one step further. Prior to this incident, he was known for rapping in a Santa Claus suit in a mall.

Abdallah decided to take one of Charlie Hebdo’s very offensive magazine covers and turn the tables around to give supporters of Charlie Hebdo a taste of their own medicine. During the deadly massacre in Egypt, where over 1,000 supporters of ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, were shot point blank by the Egyptian military in 2013, Charlie Hebdo released an issue of their magazine with a cover that read, « Le Coran c’est de la merde ça n’arrête pas les balles », which translates as: The Koran is sh*t. It cannot stop bullets. Abdallah posted a picture of that same cover on his Facebook page, but included in his post, « Charlie Hebdo c’est de la merde, ça n’arrête pas les balles«, which translates as: Charlie Hebdo is sh*t. It cannot stop bullets.

Immediately, Aballah was attacked for his tasteless humor after a tragedy such as this. Exposing the French public and the media for their own hypocrisy, Abdallah gave his own response in a very long Facebook post, as he continued to get berated by the French public for his actions. He admitted that his joke was crude and tasteless, but that was exactly his point. When the original cover about the massacre in Egypt came out, those who were offended were told to “just get over it”, and if they are offended, then they can fight “words with words”. Well, that is exactly what the young rapper did. Abdallah challenged the French public and media to understand that freedom of speech is a right, but there is also responsibility that comes with it, too. A copy of his response can be found here, which was included in an article from a French Hip Hop Web site.

A translated version of this article is included below:

Abdallah towels criticism! Abdallah is a rapper who has “buzz” for Christmas rapping dressed as Santa Claus in a shopping center. But he also made ​​a “bad buzz” after the attacks in Charlie Hebdo disseminating a caricature of Charlie Hebdo on which one can see an imam with a Koran in their hands that says “The Koran is shit. It cannot stop bullets “ Abdallah accompanied his post on Facebook with the issue photograph of a magazine cover and wrote “Charlie Hebdo is sh*t, it cannot not stop the bullets “.

Abdallah was keen to explain to his post! – Abdallah justified his actions in a very long Facebook post: 


So there … I really can’t comprehend anything more. Why do you put in all your statements? Why so much hate? What? This is my last publication of this effect that makes you outraged? Okay. Let us put things in order.

Yesterday I published one of the famous covers of Charlie Hebdo who made so much controversy, taking their slogan in order to modify two miserable words. Even formulation. Even humor. This is called satire, ladies and gentlemen, and that’s exactly what Charlie Hebdo practiced. I am even sure that the unfortunate victims are laughing, reading my publication where they are. So, why do I not have the right to make EXACTLY the same joke they? What? Anyone have the monopoly of humor? Oh, I forgot! I hear you answer me: “Because it is a drama and do not laugh with death!”. Oh … We do not laugh with death? But the cartoon in question, Charlie Hebdo was talking about the massacre of 1150 (1150) people in Egypt! What? All human lives, do they not have the same value? So explain to me why I cannot do the same damn f*cking joke? Why are you shocked? 

Wait … I think I know … Maybe it’s nothing logical, nothing consistent. It is purely emotional. In fact, as I understand it, it does not happen in the brain … but at heart level. My joke hurt you. I see where you’re coming from … This is exactly where I wanted to take you …

Actually, I agree with you. My joke was horrible. Indecent and offensive. Besides, can we really say that it was a joke? It was rather a bunch of vomit and hate. And I take this opportunity to apologize because it made ​​me, myself, deeply hurt that I published it yesterday. But it was for a good cause … Because you see, I think there are 3 types of humor:  There are those who laugh at everything. There are those who laugh at anything. And then there are those who laugh at all but with RESPECT. I belong to the third category of people. You see, my friends, there is a fine line between freedom of expression and freedom to insult or humiliate someone. A line that I was clearly out last night. Now I have to tell you something … 

You see this feeling of stabbing in the heart that you felt yesterday by reading my publication? Your fellow Muslims felt EXACTLY the same thing by taking the subway every day and seeing plastered everywhere: “The Koran is sh*t! “. They felt humiliated. They may not have said it out of modesty, but we need you to know: For a Muslim, his prophets are dearer to his heart, more than his father or his mother! We cannot agree with that! We can debate! We can laugh! But in mutual respect. So let me ask you a question: Where is the respect when drawing a prophet on all fours on a bed? Would you have agreed with your mother? Finally, I do not know, it might be funny … The humor is relative. Dignity is not.

Believe me, freedom of expression as ABSOLUTE is an illusion. It is a lie that you were sold. Look, even your best friend, you can treat as “motherfucker” and “nozzle”, but you never allow yourself to say “your mother is a bitch.” Why? Because there are limits. Which ones? Those of decency. And even if you have no relationship with his mother, would you do this to hurt him? It’s instinctive. It is a primitive reflex in humans. This is called “Shame”. Amount to be stripped back to the animal stage. Just like those who kill innocent people. Know this, we can go very far in humor, but the carry is something natural. It is the absolute freedom of expression that is not.

Finally, I’ll tell you a little story. As you all know, I do not hide it, I’m a big fan of Dieudonné. When I went to see his famous show “The Wall” at a time we see him urinating against the Wailing Wall. You know, at this point, I subconsciously looked down. I did not find it funny. I found it indecent. I think on this one, it had exceeded the fine line I was talking about …  Say no to terrorism. Laugh together. Laugh even over each other. But do it with respect for each other. For it is in compliance with our differences. That is the key to living together.

Feel free to tag all the people who have taken my evil publication yesterday and explain my approach. Thank you for sharing this most massive message and making it possible because I believe that much of the Muslim voice was not heard on January 7, 2015. Muslims are doubly victims. Charlie Hebdo. And their assassins …


*Available:  http://rap2tess.fr/news/abdallah-reagit-au-drame-de-charlie-hebdo.html#hgIGeI21UUHTOT5z.99

Follow me on Twitter: @ichiou1

For more interesting information like this, about the role of hip hop in politics and the course of modern history, check out a curriculum that I had developed last year called Hip Hop as a Vehicle for Social Change. I have been approved to present this curriculum to a group of educators from all over the world at an international education conference. This professional development workshop will allow me to expand my outreach to a more global audience, but in a more personal setting. This conference is being organized by an NGO I have been a member of for almost 15 years. I have crowd funded enough to cover room, board and registration fee and have started a new crowd funding campaign to cover the arifare. If you are interested in supporting innovative curriculum that challenges the mind and connects to the most difficult to reach students, feel free to make a contribution, so I can reach out to more educators at this conference. You can do so here.