Howard University can’t catch a break. Maybe they should put a picture of Black Jesus on the wall…it was the only thing that brought some good times to the Evans family.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Tyrone “I Stay Fly” Hankerson, king of the IG stunt gang, is currently being dragged up and down social media timelines because he allegedly embezzled nearly half a million dollars in scholarship funding, which literally and figuratively snatched food, shelter, and education out of the grasps of hundreds of marginalized students.
Mr. Hankerson was not alone; evidently, there were six other employees who were caught up in the scholarship fraud. However, Tyrone in his kitty cat t-shirts and strappy sandals posed in front of cotton candy pink cars in what presumably is Cuba makes the jokes too easy. The dude is walking down the street in what is clearly a professionally posed shot in a fur coat — i.e. some other student’s housing allowance. I guess he never heard the saying that real Gs move in silence?
Anyone attending the illustrious Howard University has probably noticed for some time that the aesthetic doesn’t really match the reputation, and it becomes even more glaring considering the rapid gentrification taking place in the Shaw neighborhood. According to the Washington Post, in 2016, Howard University “celebrated the opening of its first new laboratory building in more than 30 years.” That’s a long time between new infrastructure. And maybe that’s the average? I’m not sure.
What I do know for sure is Morgan State University, on the other side of the beltway, currently has three to four state-of-the-art buildings in different stages of production. Meanwhile, Howard had to condemn two or three buildings earlier this year and shut down whole sections of other buildings as a result of the damage of burst pipes. Since they aren’t building new facilities, how much money y’all think they are investing in renovating their old buildings? It also seems like Howard isn’t investing in accounting systems with checks and balances either. Where is all that endowment money going then?Anyone attending the illustrious Howard University has probably noticed for some time that the aesthetic doesn’t really match the reputation Click To Tweet
Howard University, considered the Harvard of HBCUs (you see how even when we talk about something distinctly Black we have to situate it within the White gaze?), is also the richest HBCU with an endowment of supposedly upwards of $600 million.
While I have all the jokes for Mr. Hankerson and his fur coat (and I’m secretly seething because I don’t have access to travel funds to support my own research) when I really, really think about it, I just feel sad.
Side note — I’m also annoyed by this PWI versus HBCU argument that keeps resurfacing, and as someone who earned two degrees at a PWI, I need all the Blacks putting on for PWIs to stop acting like it was this great and amazing experience. Yes, you did get your financial aid on time with no problems, but then you had to sit in a classroom of White students who mostly didn’t respect you and assumed you were there through affirmative action, not because your intelligence earned your spot in the space. Who wants to fight that battle for four years?
Anyway, HBCUs serve a population of students who simply cannot afford to attend college. According to an article posted in the New Yorker, Howard’s president says, “We’ve got an incoming class with an average G.P.A. of 3.54 and 1210 SAT score…But, when they run the analyses, probably sixty percent of those kids can’t afford to be here.” Frankly, the only people who really care about educating all these smart, Black kids are at HBCUs, which by most accounts, are struggling across the board.I think it’s time that we have a larger conversation about how we can better support our HBCUs. I can’t imagine a world without them, can you? Click To Tweet
So, while Tyrone and his yellow trench coat and sockless loafers were clearly living his best life in these D.C. streets with all the poor kids’ scholarship money, I think it’s time that we have a larger conversation about how we can better support our HBCUs. I can’t imagine a world without them, can you?
Jay-Z, Colin Kaepernick, and Toxic Black Capitalism
Jay-Z’s recent decision to align himself with the NFL has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. And for good reason. Colin Kaepernick has been blackballed by the league for 897 days. With no sign of him returning, despite maintaining a rigorous fitness regime, many are wondering why Jay-Z did not consult Kaepernick before signing on.
Five am workouts five days a week for three long years. Colin Kaepernick has been waiting in the wings since the NFL colluded to bar him from playing amidst player protests. Eric Reid, who stood beside Kaep in solidarity, has been subjected to excessive random drug tests for just as long. As season after season dredges on, Eric says he has no desire to refrain from protesting and has pledged to kneel during the national anthem this year as well. With NFL viewership in steady decline due to boycotts within the Black community, the league has reached out to an unlikely partner to repair their image and boost their ratings, Jay-Z.
A one-time supporter of the national anthem protests that brought awareness to blatant police brutality, Jay-Z has decided that there’s no time like the present to profit from his brother’s struggle. Billionaire rapper Jay-Z has brokered a deal with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The Roc Nation mogul is now positioned to serve as a gatekeeper, deciding who’s worthy to take the stage as a Super Bowl halftime act. As the internet reflects on Jay’s very vocal criticism of the NFL and recent Super Bowl Halftime Show performers, the irony and hypocrisy of this situation is lost on no one.
“Don’t Do This”
When news of Travis Scott’s participation in the 2019 Halftime Show reached Jay-Z’s ears, he was quick to ask the “Sicko Mode” rapper not to perform. Citing the poor treatment of Colin Kaepernick as the league turned a blind eye to police brutality, Jay-Z urged Travis to change his stance. But now, the “4:44” rapper is the one that’s turned the other cheek. Stating, “we’re past the point of kneeling”, Jay has all but embraced the ideals of his peers. Considering this partnership an opportunity to change the beast from the inside, Jay said in a recent interview that “this is the next phase.”
“We forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice. In that case, this is a success. This is the next phase. There [are] two parts of protesting. You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual says, ‘I hear you. What do we do next?”
Ever the capitalist, Jay-Z has turned the ostracism of Kaepernick and scrutiny of Reid into a means of personal profit. While preaching Black solidarity, he cradles the all-mighty dollar. To onlookers, this poses a moral dilemma, but we forget billionaires often lack morals and have questionable ethics. While it is unlikely that Kaepernick will respond with his thoughts on the matter, his longtime girlfriend, Nessa, and Eric Reid have made their thoughts known.
You can’t trust a man who cheated on Beyoncé to make good life choices
Eric Reid took to Twitter yesterday afternoon to chastise Jay-Z for his decision. Stating, “Jay-Z knowingly made a money move with the very people who’ve committed an injustice against Colin and is using social justice to smooth it over with the black community,” Reid says the fight is on. He believes that it is “unjust” that the NFL is now “championing” social justice to cover their own systemic oppression in blackballing his former teammate. What Nessa has to say was much more scathing.
Sharing a video on Instagram of her boyfriend, Colin Kaepernick, training with his ally, former 49er Eric Reid, Nessa included a lengthy statement regarding Jay-Z’s decision.
Knowing that Jay-Z is helping the NFL rebrand itself is disheartening but predictable. After all, he is a prominent figure in the Black community. It was inevitable that the league would reach out to a “respected” rapper to leverage his image to increase viewership. In fact, it’s the same strategy they used when they reached out to Travis Scott. The only difference here is that Jay-Z is well within the ranks of the wealthy, privy to those dubious politics, and versed in the manipulation of exploiting his own community for financial gain.
Do you believe that Jay-Z’s efforts will lead to further dissension in the NFL? Or will his position as a gatekeeper lead to a fitting resolution? Do you think his relationship with Robert Kraft influenced his decision?
Merited Whiteness: Why Chris Cuomo Responded Violently to “Fredo”
Instead of talking about the obvious wrong of comparing “Fredo” to the n-word, let’s discuss merited Whiteness and Cuomo’s response.
While out with his family, Chris Cuomo was accosted by a man who compared him to the Judas Iscariot of the Corleone family, Fredo Corleone. It’s easy to see why Chris would have perceived the sudden hurling of “Fredo” as an insult, who wouldn’t. Fredo was a man out of his depth. He was intelligent, sure. But he lacked the cunning necessary to navigate life in the mafia. Fredo was a soft-hearted, loveable idiot who said more than he should have to the wrong people. His unintentional slight got him in trouble with a community that felt entitled to his allegiance. This is the very same entitlement that possessed a stranger to believe he held the authority to pull Chris Cuomo’s merited whiteness card.
Fredo’s offense in many ways is seen as something lateral to Chris Cuomo’s presence as a journalist at CNN. The child of the 52nd Governor of New York and brother of the current Governor, who is a staunch critic of Republican politicians and their constituents, Chris stands on the wrong side, to some, in a fight for “American Values.” He is outspoken and detached from his beginnings as a political analyst on Fox News. Being the descendant of a family that is only two generations removed from their Tramonti, Campania Italian origins, The Cuomo’s represent a side of American history that is not often discussed, the assimilation of European immigrants to American whiteness.
When Italians began immigrating to the US, they were not looked upon favorably. But like the Irish and members of other European communities, they united in their “othered” state to gain acceptance, overcome their backgrounds, and race toward the American Dream. But the American Dream isn’t a big house with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a dog, it’s whiteness. To be White is to be distinctly American, devoid of cultural attachments and devoted to racial supremacy. But like the Borg, whiteness requires assimilation and shared consciousness. Like their hive-minded chant, Magats would also believe “Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”
For families like the Cuomo’s, who were privileged enough to own a business and accumulate wealth shortly after their arrival, the trajectory to acceptance was higher than most. As Henry Pratt Fairchild said when discussing the bestowed privileges of whiteness to immigrants, “If he proves himself a man, and rises above his station, and acquires wealth, and cleans himself up — very well, we receive him after a generation or two. But at present, he is far beneath us, and the burden of proof rests with him.” So how, after a single generation, did the Cuomo’s ascend their station? By becoming fast friends with the Trump family.
After Mario Cuomo represented Fred Trump in an undisclosed legal matter, their families maintained contact. Golfing trips in Florida and New York, letters filled with flattery, and partnerships that benefitted the Trumps as developers and the Cuomos political ambitions. Beyond the business relationships of the two families, you have to wonder what values they grew to share. Judging by a 2008 remark regarding Barack Obama where Andrew spouted “You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference.” and Chris’ false equivalence of Fredo and the n-word, they share quite a few. Still, you must wonder why “Fredo” would elicit such a response from Chris. Is it because he feels his status demands subordination? Is it because he felt his whiteness was challenged?
Perceiving the use of “Fredo” as an anti-Italian slur, Chris Cuomo found himself feeling as immigrants did upon their arrival to the “land of dreams.” As explored by Maria Elisa Altese, there is a perception that Italian-Americans have forgotten what it is like to be targeted. Chris Cuomo has lived comfortably in the US as a white man, never before having his status challenged. As written by Robert F. Forester, in a country where the distinction between white man and black is intended as a distinction of value… it is no compliment to the Italian to deny him his whiteness, but that actually happens with considerable frequency.” So in his rage, Chris expressed how entitled he felt to the benefits of whiteness, it’s inclusivity, and how no one like him wants to be Black.