For my capstone I created a professional development series called: Black Boys & Young Men: Liberated, Empowered, Educate. This was done in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia’s office of Students Rights and Responsibilities. This professional development is designed to create an environment where educators are able to have meaningful conversation about how race can affect classroom learning environments as well as talking about a Black student’s individuality and how the challenges they face also affects how they learn. This series serves as a training to help educators (new and experienced) across all fields understand the reality of Black students in their classroom. For this series I had a larger focus on Black boys.
What does being a patriot means to a be full-blooded American patriot? For many, the stereotypical image of American patriot includes a pickup truck with an American flag waving in the wind as he (because it’s usually a white male) trucks down an open highway. Or, it could be dressing up as a Marvel superhero and claiming you are the symbol of freedom. Although tacky and painted with a broad brush, some people who are patriots fit this description.
Looking from the outside in, people see us as a pot of hooting and hollering greasy Americans. To those observing, patriots are always “hoorah hoorah America,” who will defend their countries name no matter what. When it comes to militarism and fighting for your country, what role does patriotism play? A person's’ love for their own country is a beautiful thing, right? The expectation that you would do anything to improve it as a productive member of society. Pay your debt for living in such a place through taxes, and sometimes pay with your life when fighting for freedom. Many of the wars that are fought on U.S. soil have been for freedom. Some examples include the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the War of 1812, and WWII. In no way is Patriotism inherently a bad thing but we do see instances where it is misused in War.
In order to understand something we have to know the history. When America was first being formed, Nathan Hale, a soldier for the continental army, laid down the new America. His last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country”. The relationship between patriotism and can be a very slippery slope. It is most dangerous when it slowly becomes a reason for war instead of serving as a reason to conserve peace.
It is safe to say that it flourishes as deep love for your own country but it can become something more harmful when you introduce means of violence and force. A good example of this is the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. After the terror attacks of 9/11, America has been on the watch for similar instances ever since. The war first established to combat the terror attacks but quickly became about fulfilling a duty: preserving America’s freedom which was in no way threatened. For around twenty years, this was being fought on the basis that those who loved America would be willing to die to protect it. As the US occupied Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places in the middle east, it was evident that al Qaeda controlled the majority of the country. The toxicity of patriotism comes into play because of a lot of what we believed the war was being fought to counter terrorism. But in reality, I would say that it was truly being fought for a democratically controlled government, or at least something relatively close to it. Anything closer to an ideal American for in government would be enough for America. Both sides loved their country dearly as one should. David Noise from Psychology today says, It’s been called the last refuge of scoundrels. “It is undeniably linked to“us-against-them” tribal impulses, rooted in emotion and often impervious to reason. It feeds nationalism and militarism,...” The war fueled by patriotism took nearly twenty years to come to an end and even now, people are confused to why it was fought in the first place.
An integral part that plays into who we are as people is what we take in from the media. We have stations like ABC, FOX, and CNN reporting on the horrors of war and how “our troops are fighting” for our freedom. Not only is it about what the news is reporting, but also who they’re reporting on.
In our current political climate and all of the controversy surrounding government politics, the center of it all has been President Donald Trump. If you tune into a news station, it’s more than likely you will see the President speaking about a new policy that will, “Make America Great Again.” For Trump, part of that work included praising America’s military. “[Trump] famously tried to get the Pentagon to throw a massive parade for Veterans Day, with missiles and tanks and flags rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Tina Nguyen a reporter for The Hive newspaper writes. That parade would reportedly cost 92 million dollars. Of course, other Trump supporters fully supported this idea because their leader thought it was a great idea, but also because they are already conditioned to love the military, that’s what America is all about. True patriotic behavior.
As Americans, we should not continue this culture of blindly following ideas that might leave questioning ourselves or this country. In no way is patriotism a bad thing. It just so happens when left to interpretation, it can easily become dangerous and violent. Treading the line between good and evil is not enough to call our country inherently good if whenever we get into the affairs of others it turns out bad. Patriotism can be molded into what Americans want it to be, to serve whatever purpose for whatever reason. But love for something should never be the reason we go and destroy something else.
For centuries, the interpretation of what it meant to be a man has been altered to fit the time period. Expectations of how they behave, speak, and interact with one another can be whittled down to a formula for what society depicts as the “ideal man.” We set the expectation that men are supposed to be emotionless and strong in all aspects, suppressing their true feelings for fear of scrutiny from their peers. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all young men. Some go against this fabricated normal, but what do can they do? It is through no fault of their own that they do not fit this mold. However, when we compare them there will always be the question, “who’s the better man?”
Young men who are living behind this facade are subject to seeking approval of their masculinity. They are being forced to be someone they are not or don’t want to be so that they can be accepted. We see this in schools and in our outside communities. This causes them to reject their true selves. For many succeeding in life is being able to express who you are and not conforming to the straight path that is given to you that was formed so that you are what society wants you to be. It’s beneficial to be true to yourself in spaces where a monolithic form of masculinity is only accepted because of the fact there are expectations of what a true man is.
During the early stages of adolescent development, we are not fully aware nor do we choose to acknowledge how much influence our surroundings play into our lives. We see them in cartoons, movies, literature, the list goes on. We always see the classic scenario of the damsel in distress and the big macho man saving her. This is a basic claim to an adult looking back on their childhood. It is something that they reflect on and says, “oh yeah…” But as children, we are living our best lives unaware of these outside influences. Leanord Sax, a practicing physician, writes in an article about Masculinity in America, “As a result, many boys today define masculinity negatively: Being a real man means doing things that girls don’t do.” From this, we see that young men as a result of having an idea of a what a man should be, limit themselves to one form of thinking that puts them in direct competition with not only themselves to try and prove that they are masculine enough. But as well as putting themselves in competition with the opposite gender unknowingly destroying the unique sense of self that some value because of its’ important relation to self-identity.
For young men trying to find themselves during this time of confusion, how can we expect them simply put themselves out there but at the same time have them think that who they are isn’t accepted. In the same article “Masculinity in America,” Leanord Sax continues to argue that young boys are, “....reveling in their supposed masculinity but disengaged from the real world.” Looking at it as a young man myself, I see this type of behavior on a daily basis. I remember when there was a time where I was one of those boys who was so worried about being a “man.” But then I realized I was never going to get anywhere if I kept thinking the same way. Looking at this from above, having an out of body reflective experience I saw that my actions, words, thoughts, and habits, were all heavily based on what my males peers deemed fun. Their jokes that were misogynistic and sexist to me seemed normal because that’s what normal guys talk about, right? It wasn’t until later that I realized that the people I surrounded myself than were not helping build my idea of what a real man was. Having the ability to have an honest conversation with myself about what a man was proved to be beneficial in the end. That is what some young men are missing. As they grow up, they have no idea how expansive the concept of a man, and with that comes confusion leading away from the path of acceptance.
These ideals leave our young men short-sighted and lost. We cannot say that these ideas will simply disappear, what we can do however is begin to accept those for who they are not who we want to be. As a society, we need to learn to accept the children for who they are, especially our young men. Dismantling gender roles is the first step, but bringing up the next generation to accept themselves and others is the only we can truly tell kids to be themselves. Masculinity isn’t a formulated thing. You can mold it, shape it however you like. But if we want to produce better men, we have to let children define masculinity for themselves.
Horace Ryans III
I one day hope that in the future, when I reflect in my days in high school, I can say that these were the moments where I truly began to discover myself.
A million thoughts raced through my mind, colliding with each other, one overlapping another, screaming, “pick me, pick me!” a thousand times over. Most of them lost because I’m overwhelmed. Some of them cut in half exploding into white dust and abandoned letters in my head because I can’t grasp on to them quick enough. I miss those thoughts, my best work fragmented into little pieces and tucked away into my mind. And that’s when I first woke up. The only thought that stood out but seemed to be the question that I could focus on, “what am I wearing today?”
“Joggers and a tee shirt sounds about right. I can’t go wrong with that.” I said in my head as I considered and imagined all the correlating colors and outfits I could wear that day. I put on the pants that hugged my ankles so tight they’d leave marks and throw on a solid t-shirt that had been washed one-too many times so you could see the color fading. That’s what I thought was cool and enticing my freshmen year. I was more interested in anything about what people said about my clothes. I more interested in to what they said about the outfit I spent a half hour planning. If the people thought I looked good, then I looked good. I was okay with that. I even had a beanie that I would wear occasionally all to fit the image of who I wanted to be. I broke away from my regularly scheduled haircut on tuesdays because I wanted a part of it to hang out. All to become someone else.
The adoption of this new character was how I spent my freshmen year. High school was a way to remold “Whore-race” into “Horace”. That didn’t stick though, more on that later. It’s no surprise to me now. In elementary school I was surrounded by students that had the same skin color as me, this is how it was; or actually...that’s is how it felt. I gravitated towards the White kids. I don’t know why, but it was easier for me to just talk with them. I would ease my way into their friend groups, everybody wanted a black friend. But, with that came its’ own consequences. To this day, I can still hear my classmates laughing at me, and me thinking they were all laughing with me. Their taunts went a little like, “Horace...haha Whore-race” “Horace you’re a horse” “Horace, you’re basically white.” They said that one so much, it was engraved into my conscious. I believed it.
As a lighter skinned Black kid, I knew that if I said, “Oh, my great-grandfather was white.” They’d believe. They already thought it, so why not just tell them. But I didn’t.No matter how bad I wanted to feed into their assumptions about who I was, I never could build up the courage to lie about my family like that. Claiming to be someone I’m not. Instead I would say, “Yeah, I know.” And I kept it moving no objections and no questions. Up to eighth grade I was the whitest-black guy I knew. I claimed that title with pride even. To me, it was so ridiculous that it was a joke. But that’s who I thought I was.
High School was a fresh start. I could be, whoever I wanted to be. I imagined a Horace who was confident, kind, thoughtful, opinionated, eager, attentive. And I got what I wanted. Except I did all those things, but surrounded by white people. I sat with them at lunch, I hung out with them after school. Anywhere my white friends went, I was there. I began to talk and behave like them. My skin color and my history as a Black slowly erased itself from my mind as I became one of them. Of course it never escaped me that I was Black, I just never cared, I was having fun being someone I wasn’t. I gravitated to them naturally. It was subconscious at that point. I didn't realize I was the only Black friend. I didn’t realize I was the token, the token black friend that is.
If you didn’t already know what that is...it’s when a group of white people have one black friend that is “white on the inside, and black on the outside.” That’s who I was and I was okay with that. I really was. I started to realize though that that’s not who I wanted to be. After a year of listening and observing their conversation, one thing stood out to me: they will never understand what it means to be black. We talked about gentrification, poverty, mass incarceration. Whenever these topic were brought up, it was never a question of “who this affects?” but “why should I care it doesn’t affects me.” I would sit there fuming because they didn’t see it from my point of view, they could never see it from a black man's viewpoint. They were stuck looking through rose colored glass looking in.
I distanced myself from them. At first slowly, but then as their words angered me more and more, I began to sever ties that were being held down by a frayed knot. I don’t regret it. I became the me I am today through understanding why they can’t understand. And I am so okay with that.
• What important things happened during making art the quarter?
Most of my art pieces were inspired by my adoration for seasonal men's fashion. For the first project, the ceiling tile, I think the hardest part is actually deciding what you want to draw because you only get to do one. So I chose a bow tie. To me, the bow tie represents a form of fashion that is old but never dies. After taking a look at for a while I started to realize that the bow tie looks like an hour glass. Which kinda to me represents its' timeliness.
If you choose to take something away from my art work, let it be this. My art represents who I am and what I'm about. I appreciate a good sense of style. I tried to have my art reflect on how much fashions means to me. I'm not the best artist but I know that even if I'm not great, I still was able to express what I love in one way or another.
When I was designing my stamp I first started out with this basic idea of my name. I wanted to just get this done as fast as possible because I’m not the best artist. Eventually I really thought about what’s something that could really represent who I am, as a teenager in high school. My stamp symbolizes how easy it is for me to let people into my life, and how easily they can just walk out hence the open door. I wanted to have the background of the image in black so that it would seem like the image had depth, when you looked into the door it felt like you were actually looking into something. I wanted to create something that could make the viewer seem like they could enter this door with their eyes. I used one point perspective when I was making the door to make it more noticeable. Although it was hard in the beginning, my understanding of positive and negative space in art has grown and I feel comfortable using it in my future drawings.
Currently in art class we are learning about printmaking and negative space. Negative space is when your drawing or carving something into a surface and the scratches and marks on the surface, and the space around the picture is what we call negative space. In my cut out we can see the negative space by looking on the left side of the cut out you can see that the outline of the tree. It helps artist to see in negative space because it can help them see the silhouette of a image and give their eyes “a place to rest” while they figure out what it could mean. Yes, negative space enhances drawings because you can clearly see what the artist was drawing because it really stands out on the canvas.
Printmaking is one of the oldest forms of art. It goes as far as prehistoric times when early roamed the earth. They used rocks and sticks to carve pictures into the walls of caves, and rocks. They also carved them into prehistoric bones. Technically it was created in 3000 BCE with the Sumerians and since then its’ evolved. It’s revolutionary because it’s a very cheap and easy art form so many artist have been starting pick up on this art form. What you do is carve a picture into a surface and then putting ink into the cracks making the image pop out. It is usually made in negative space so you can really see the image/carving.
To me this picture is pleasing. I first saw this picture as the woman individually and then I came across this picture where she’s in a heart with things surrounding her. It feels like all the pictures have lines that lead back to the center image. There a lot of vibrant colors that help everything stand out individually.
My slide was designed off all my general interest and things that make me, me. You’re probably wondering, who is that little fat child in the corner?, That’s Horace from monster squad not really sure why he’s there just a good thing know, ya know.
Under my name you’ll notice a really pretty sunset with a heart around it, don’t focus on that, let’s look at what it says. I’ll give you a moment to read it. I personally believe that if we are nice to each other, it could possibly make someone’s day so much better.
In the two corners you’ll see two pieces of clothing that have the element Holmium which just happens to be Ho on the periodic table. I’d thought I’d implement this to show how even though I’m a 15 year old boy, on the inside I have the mind of a toddler also to show that we’re all kids inside.
I think that if you dress nice and you present yourself nicely, you’ll be respected and you’ll be treated like a professional. That's why I added two pieces of clothing in my slides.
Lastly, there’s a picture of old fashioned pen and paper. I do enjoy writing and those who’ve I actually shared it with, you’d know that I take it very serious and I’m very passionate about it.
Explain your L.A.N. Local Area Network - all the devices on your internet connection. Reflect on what you learned about networks, did you have an OMG moment that you learned something new and interesting? if no Write about what you learned. What would you tell other people that they need to know about having an ISP/Home network?
I learned that a network connects us to the web that is just like a bunch of internet connections connected to each other that connects all of us, it’s crazy.
I learned that our internet service provider could give us free internet but won’t because they suck. I also learned that without internet we would probably be stuck in the stone ages.
Something that some people should know about their ISP is that your service provider has access to their history…..so be careful.