Chicago to Medford to France to Spain...
Student to Teacher to Poet to Activist...
Where am I now? I feel like it's about that time to ask myself, as I return home from my two month long travel abroad in Europe wrapping up my first year at school. Coming home to friends who've lived new experiences with new people, younger kids growing up to fulfill new roles and find new opportunities it's incredible to see so much transformation. I've been watching the seniors prepare for college and it makes me think about how much has happened this year.
Maybe it's best to set context in order to completely understand this transformation. It may be best to start with where I've been before even beginning to think about where I am now. I feel like I'm listening to Drake's Started From the Bottom as I write this but where is the "here" he refers to in the song for me?
Last summer as I prepared to leave for school, I thought I knew myself well. I had just released my first hip-hop mixtape B.O.N.E.R (Being Ourselves Not Everyone's Robot) and was becoming more serious about my music and poetry. I finished my year attempting to understand myself and the desires of my spirit more completely. I thought this was an incredible period of time that set the standard for my year at Tufts, and I went to Medford ready to begin my life and foster my individuality. I believe that for anyone preparing to go to school this mindset is one that will help make your years successful no matter where you go or what you study. Nuancing my education, and my time at the university to suit my persona and my curiosities was the best decision I made and it allowed me to take full advantage of my time at Tufts from day one.
Starting with the dorm room, I was featured in the Admissions Magazine for a picture of the space I occupied with my roommate Jackson and our hallmates. I brought a Belizean flag, posters of Michael Jordan and of Chicago, speakers, and other pieces of me that let me transform the space into my home. I took advantage of the proximity to the T and went to lectures by some of my favorite authors and hip-hop artists in the surrounding Boston area. I got involved in BlackOut, Tufts PAA, and the hip-hop jazz fusion group Bad & Blue on campus, I took classes on world music, poetry, sociology, philosophy and linguistics. All in all I made my year mine.
But I met a lot of things during my first year at Tufts that changed me and has set me on a new path with a new sight. I had conversations with intellectuals and activists fighting to end oppression in all of its forms. I've learned more about systematic issues of misogyny and sexism and ways to combat and promote gender equality through checks on my male privilege, I've learned more about systematic issues within the education system that manifest themselves on every college campus in rape culture or resource allocation, and i've learned more about systematic issues of racism than I have in my entire life, despite growing up in a city that has example after example of institutionalized racism from the housing segregation to the environmental racism that exists in Chicago. I've grown and have become more mature through my experiences in the past year, and through the conversations I've had with certain members of the Tufts community -- students and faculty -- I have found ways to combat the issues that affect the lives of everyone around me, and all it took to get started was the acknowledgment of the existences of these issues. I have developed a more critical eye that I know won't leave me for I've found myself so deeply invested in my various communities that it feels like an out of body experience. I feel pieces of my soul being transferred to the people around me that need it, that need a spirit to uplift them, that need a voice to guide them through hard times. I can see it manifested in my music and recently I've taken to Youtube with messages on Fighting Gun Violence With Love and Kindness, the result of my time thinking critically at Tufts and the thoughts I have presently about life and living to love everyone around us.
I've been to Talloires, France through the Tufts in Talloires program. There, separated and disconnected from much of my work in the United States, I found the time to breathe and found myself immersed in the literature of French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as well as the poet Victor Hugo. Each bringing a perspective on the role of nature in our lives and the ability to find a perfect happiness through choosing to live simply, escaping the chains of society, and establishing more relationships of hearts and spirit rather than of body to body, show how we can learn to be better and more sentimental human beings. I had conversations with teachers out there about the role of music as a platform for social change, and ways to turn my interests in these social issues into actions.
I've been reading works on topics of racism and race consciousness as well as issues with capitalism and wealth inequality and in Europe, I began to look critically at differences that exist within our societies. I was asked to speak on several occasions to French families about differences in politics and social systems within the US compared to France and while I'm no expert, I've certainly begun to think critically about these topics and shared my personal thoughts. I've been to Madrid in Spain where I could feel a different aura about the people, a more calm and collective spirit that could be seen in the extreme patience and ability to see time as fluid. I didn't see people rushed to anything nor commodifying time as we do so extensively in the United States. I learned in Spain values of giving and living to share that opened and touched my heart in so many ways while also becoming aware of the situation of the African immigrant to the country and the issues of oppression they face everyday they live to avoid deportation in order to better their lives.
I've gone abroad and have learned so much about my home and myself that it's surprising. I've read works from people across so many different fields and backgrounds but have learned the same important lesson about mental strength and the power it has to alter the circumstances around you. In short, liberating your mind is the first step to liberating yourself from anything. It's been hard this year I'm not going to lie. From hurricane, to presidential election, to blizzard, to resignation of a vital faculty resource to my fellow students, it seemed as if my freshman year was packed with events on campus that made this year both special and thought provoking. I've seen the Boston marathon and the aftermath of the entire process and I have seen issues of religious and racial prejudice hit close to campus that have left me in a position that calls for my continued strength and patience. But I've consistently been able to push on, by keeping my thoughts focused on the good that exists, can exist, and needs to exist within our world.
I've been everywhere and back and have further to go but it all has me at this point now, as i'm writing this, of internal peace, happiness, and excitement. I've selected my courses for my majors in American Studies and Sociology and am looking forward to my next year at school to continue growing and reflecting on my position in this world. With the conversations on race in America growing in demand and prominence following the events of the Trayvon Martin case, and the speech delivered by President Obama today, I know that I am in the right place and will be able to help society as a whole onto the right direction. Using my music and my education as fuel, I know that regardless of the physical location, I will be happy in my quest to find justice and peace in this world that seems to have lost so much.
Check Out Things I'm Doing At School:
Bad & Blue --
Fighting Gun Violence With Love & Kindness Pt. 1 --
Pt. 2 --