Doctoral Journey: My Big Question?

Inblac boy 1980, I walked on to play football at Eastern Illinois University (EIU).  I was the first in my family’s history to attend higher education. However, I hated my experiences at Eastern and developed a stinging anger about postsecondary institutions.  I was overwhelmed, I lacked so much and quickly suffered psychologically, socially, and academically.   When I prepared to leave Eastern in 1984, I felt like an academic holocaust victim and carried scars for the next 25 years.

In essence, I learned nothing, absolutely nothing.  I learned nothing about life, academics, social skills, nothing.  It was not just  EIU but various factors (i.e., poverty, malcontent) contributed to my nasty adventure.  Because it was all about football, the learning environment for me appeared as some sort of movie set.  In it I was the comedian’ set up man.  Seriously, I lacked everything you could imagine to navigate a predominantly all-white institution.  I was a clown crying days and nights. And another thing, it wasn’t my side of town for a circus.

In 2009, I returned to a predominantly all-white postsecondary institution again.  Losing the comic setup guy’s role, I wanted to get the college thing right this time. I began this new journey because of my self-beliefs.  You see back at Eastern my confidence (i.e., academics) was shot to hell.  I had no sincere beliefs I could learn, none.  Add to that, I lacked any sociocultural connections with family members or peers who attended higher education.  Thus, I was alone, silent on an island, crying like hell.

Although my mother’s verbal persuasion did its best, I needed ‘most knowledgeable others’ in so many areas (e.g., academically, socially, and emotionally).  But no one came, so, I cried myself to sleep for four years at EIU.  Northern Illinois University (NIU) racial landscape is similar to Eastern 30 years ago.  There are mostly white students accompanied by mostly white faculty and staff.  Conversely, it can also be hostile at times for non-white students and faculty.  I however am not a teenager as in 1980; consequently, I possess the confidence and abilities to achieve a specific task (e.g., my dissertation).

Northern Illinois University

downloadI have met tremendous professors and students while at NIU.  Caucasians, African-Americans, Native Americans, Chicano Americans, Asian, and Eastern Europeans.  The dam list can go on forever.  But, the most delightful part was these individuals dispensed their knowledge for the sake of my learning and development.  This NIU journey filled with numerous sociocultural tenets convinced me I was not alone, not this time.  Also, I learned more importantly without outsiders’ support you’re doomed or as Mick would say, ‘You’re F^%$ked’.

I’ve had great relationships with many individuals, but also some poor ones as well.  I want to say this before I forget, one problem that sticks with me is deciding my doctoral topic.  I have changed it several times for numerous reasons. Yet, after speaking with Mick and Sue yesterday, I’m convinced that I’ve made the wrong decision in not studying my passion (e.g., football and academic literacy).  These two women illustrated as many have in the past, the doc journey must be about passion.

Put another way, it must be like something stuck in the crack of your behind you can’t reach.  I mean its eating at you this f*&king problem….you just gotta dig up in your crack regardless of who’s looking.  I HAVE TO GET THIS OUT!!!  Yet, I’m delaying digging in my crack because I’ve made decisions based on outside influences.  Thus, the itch isn’t real because I’m faking perhaps.   I feel like I’m at Eastern Illinois again in the 80’s lacking the self-determination to follow my passion (e.g., student-athletes and literacy).

My ideal doctoral topic?: I believe you know by now (Student-athletes’ literacy development) at the secondary and postsecondary level.  I have a special place for this population, oh by the way, I can read and write for hours on this content.  I’ve yet to come across an article that made me dazed or confused.  Really, I can read about it in my sleep, while jogging, and inside the grip of a Great White Shark. Well, maybe a little over the top with the comment.

Working with other athletic social advocates we can begin to help students-athletes put academics first and sports second.  This can occur, because as we know the argument is becoming public (i.e., Northwestern).  The status quo for student-athletes is changing, I have a chance to present scholarship that hopefully would advance the movement.

My Big Question:  Why Fake A Doctoral Passion?

Boy 1






The Ghetto Worst (2) Tilden H.S. Blue Devils

Tilden High School flickr Zol87

Chicago Tilden High School

I cannot forget entering Dunbar High School in 1976 from the ‘low end’ (i.e. Englewood). I was now attending a school with students who grew up in communities like my uncle and aunt, the nice hoods (i.e., Chatham, Morgan Park, and Kenwood). Yet, I was still dirt poor, one pair of shoes, struggling to keep my slacks up, and wondering what the fuck. I could see a difference in the students; I knew who was poor and who was well off. Growing up in poverty, you possess a keen sense for details, hell your life depended on it. Dunbar Vocational High School was a flagship institution, unlike my community high schools’ Tilden and Englewood for which I refused to enroll in either.

The ‘Bar’ was uppity’.  It was surrounded by condominiums, close to the lake, and minutes from ‘The Loop’. There was plenty of  intra-racial discrimination and prejudices going on at the ‘Bar’. If you were a student not from one of the nice neighborhoods, it was tough.  Presently, ‘Bar’ alums get together pretending these cultural and sociological differences did not exist. Bullshit. Students from the projects and communities like Englewood were treated different. Some of us were poor and from the other side of the tracks. We felt the class divide as other impoverished Blacks had throughout history in America.  Maybe I should have stayed home at Tilden or Englewood.


The High School Riot

My wife Debra is a graduate of Tilden (79) and many ghetto mites from “The Dodge” attended school there. Tilden located 4747 South Union in Bridgeport was the local pub for dropouts, malcontents, and reprobates. It was surrounded by poor Irish trash and dirty cops all too willing to play the contest, “Catch a Nigger Alone Tonight”. From my knowledge, one did not want to hang around Tilden after dark.  Not surprisingly, It was the home of the Daly’s (Mayors of Corrupt Chicago), racists cops, and Irish lads doling out Mick justice on Black students and citizens.  Whites and Blacks did not get alone and violence was a norm.Chicago police photo

Consequently, the violence at Tilden often spilled into the streets.  It was not uncommon to hear on our intercom at John Hope that Tilden was participating in their annual fucking school riot. Even today, I can recall the intercom warning us that Tilden students were marching South on Union street, destination John Hope Middle School.  It was madness, large numbers of Tilden students, Blue and Whites swirling around 55th & Garfield Boulevard, D.T’s in unmarked cars, putting hands on cats not moving fast enough.

This was the 70’s and police brutality was the norm in Black communities, there was no Twitter or cell phones to capture the mayhem.  Somewhat scared and perturbed at the same time, I wondered, what the fuck are the Tilden students mad at our middle school for? What the hell was the problem? More importantly, did our neighbors want to kick our youthful asses? I hated Tilden before then, but now I disliked it even more.  Which is why I was all too willing to rib my friends who attended it.


Till this day, I can recall looking out the window of House 4B at John Hope as police cars and bodies pushed the angry mob on its way. Why the fuck did they come up to John Hope? If a former rioter could contact me and explain the reasoning, I’d appreciate it. Conversely, I hated what I witnessed, mean faces, brutal cops, and frozen school officials. The whole fucking Garfield Boulevard was ablaze with tight-ass slacks, fucked up Afros, and worn out platform shoes. In essence, Black folks just stomping their feet, mad as Hell.  I just don’t know nor understand their reasons.

Presently, I’m still in the dark about this mass aggression, but this form of violence became the norm, sadly. This was one of my neighborhood schools, where nearly most of my rat pack attended, mostly for recreation. Consequently, I never wanted to attend Tilden. I was a Dodge City Ghetto mite, but I wanted to attend the ‘Bar’ because my older brother did. But, boy athletic wise, I wished often I played football at Tilden. I know, my Mighty Men/Women just booted me out the club, but it’s true. I regret not playing with my neighborhood cats on the gridiron. Plus, they won it all in 1979-80. I love my ‘Bar’; Mighty Man through and through.


Tilden Tough

I speculate, John Hope Middle School turned out some of the best talent in athletics. The school encapsulated individuals from the surrounding neighborhoods that could flat-out play football, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, swim, and track. Although, the big schools like the “Bar” CVS or Simeon had nice neighborhoods surrounding their landscapes. Tilden on the other hand, had Bridgeport Irish cats waiting to push an unsuspecting nigger’s cap back after dark. It was no secret, if you couldn’t get in the good schools (e.g., Dunbar, Lindblom, Whitney Young) your shit was stuck at Englewood or Tilden. I never wanted either; so, I went to the ‘Bar’, poor as hell and academically fragile.

The “Bar” was a mixture of uppity ass students and low-end Ghettomites from the South side. Even today, I know uppity ‘Bar’ graduates, well not that uppity, but some still believe someone should be grateful to pull their chair out for them. Tilden on the other hand was bare knuckle Negroes who I played sport with growing up, Tilden had tough individuals from tough surrounding neighborhoods.  Thus it should be no surprise that they field two of the best athletic programs in Illinois at that time.   Male wrestling and football at Tilden was unprecedented, no one could fuck with them on the field or the square.   The Blue Devils stood above all Chicago High Schools and the State of Illinois for that matter in the late 70-80’s.  Fear was there calling card, pain a ready prescription.  Their two teams were made up from the best Englewood and the surrounding Ghettos had to offer…

(Part 2 to be con’t)

On the field or the mat, the “Blue Devils” were fierce and unapologetic competitors. Hmm, let me put it another way, they kicked plenty ass, each team built by two of the best High School coaches CPS produced…In fact, these two teams remain in my opinion one of the best in their era, hands down…from Marcus Bell, Nate “Slick” Cole, and Jamie “Fatdaddy” Barton…to wrestlers Doyle Harris and Tommy Howard. The Blue Devils strangled the life out of all who dare enter the arena…

Tilden Wrestling vs Chicago Public School System (1974-79)

Tilden Football vs South Shore and Julian High School (1979-80)

Coming soon

Hello crack, goodbye innocence

Voting While Black: 4 Reasons We Get It Wrong


First and foremost, I do not believe that the African-American community is monolithic, and I am not generalizing about all persons.

Why Blacks mostly vote in blocs and against their own interest puzzles me. Hence, I thought to blog about it. First, I have no pony in the political process. I vision both (i.e., Republicans, Democrats) purposely inept, greedy, and corporate controlled. With this blog post, I look at African-Americans and their voting in a major metropolitan city (i.e., Chicago). As you well know, Chicago is one the most corrupt municipality in the world, hands down. In the city of big shoulders, most everything is decided by a backroom handshake or payoff, you can’t get anything worthwhile without paying up front. Thus, the city is saturated with cronyism, nepotism, and favoritism at every level of government. Suddenly I feel the need to clean myself with an elephant brush. Yikes!!!

Back to the lesson at hand, the city has a large African-American citizenry; yet some Blacks remain in disadvantage neighborhoods, underemployed or unemployed for the previous three decades. Hence the rub, why do African-Americans vote against their own self-interests and what are some reasons. I thought to put together (4) possible explanations on this phenomenon. This is neither scientific nor empirical research. It’s just something I wondered about. Being a native Chicagoan,  and African-American, I wondered how we got it wrong for so long.

1. Vote Democratic, They Care

African-Americans tend to vote in large blocs mainly behind Democratic candidates, I’m not completely sure why but they do. However, be warned, it is a misnomer that Democratic politicians care more than their Republican cohorts. One reason why Blacks tend to vote exclusively Democratic, I believe the Democratic Party somehow high jacked the civil rights movement and took credit for it. Hence convincing Black people that they care about their progress and welfare, nothing could be further from the truth.  As a reminder, more Republicans voted for the civil rights act than Democrats; also, Republicans supported ending slavery more  than Democrats. In fact, Nixon did more for the civil rights than Senator Kennedy at that time. Again, remember, politicians do things for themselves, then and now. Nevertheless, just take a look at Chicago and follow the money and you’ll clearly see who gets taken care of and who gets thrown under the bus. The Democrats crippled Black communities with large dosages of learned helplessness and “The Savior Syndrome”. I refer to this theory as the lone deliverer waiting patiently on the mountain top waiting to save us. On the other hand, shutting down over 50 Black and Brown neighborhood schools and shifting public money to private entities provides all the evidence one need. We must let go of foolish dreams and become critical thinkers and move away from politicians that work against us.

2. Blinded by Darkness: Blacks Vote by Race

Voting based on skin color is racist at best, and stupid at the very least. Simply because someone shares your phenotype or ethnic culture is not a reason to select him or her to political office. I suggest, most African-Americans in Chicago voted for President Barack Obama based solely on his skin color and the theory of vindication. For example, I’ve spent nearly five decades in Chicago, yet, I never heard of president Obama before his presidency run. Never, and I mean this, I never heard of him, not once. Thus, I did not vote for him. But although he wasn’t vetted the Black community they stormed to the polling booths by the thousands. Yet, not once, investigating who this former nobody was. Even so, this was our time; finally, the intellectually inferior complex will disappear from the consciousness of proverbial White and Black racists. However, we were bamboozled again, as you know, politicians cannot change their strips. Sadly, the president like all politicians followed the corporate money, donations, grants, or church tides while leaving many looking for meaningful employment.

3. Political Illiteracy

I suspect a viable explanation for the continued Democratic support resides in our political illiteracy. As a result, we lack an operational cognitive process that vet and select candidates who support our interests. Not surprisingly, some Blacks don’t pick candidates based on their records but how that candidate makes them feel. For example, in Chicago, the African-American communities helped elect Mayor Rahm Emanuel, why? From all accounts, he has only shown disdain for communities of color people (i.e., Black Americans and Chicano Americans), closing down schools, and stripping poor neighborhoods for gentrification. Yet, he was blindly elected to office because he worked for Barack Obama, now some scream and cry about social and political injustices. Our injustice was providing our blind vote behind the fictional nepotism that some believed that had become a part of. Yes, some imagesBlacks, I would say many, lived vicariously through the president and closed their eyes on this shady character (i.e., Mayor Emanuel). I wonder, how and what did he do to deserve anyone’s vote. In closing, as long as education and critical thinking remain opaque our literacy deficiencies will fail us.

4. African-American Churches: Inactive and Docile

Black churches ineffectiveness is revealed at the polls when a legion of uncritical and enslaved thinkers vote as pastors says so. There is a large percentage of African-Americans affiliated with Christianity, in fact, 83% of Black Americans are of the Christian faith. Thus, being a portion of the 17%, I find some Black churches useless for the liberation of Black folks. In fact, like the Democratic policies that inspire us to say, “Just hold on, don’t push it”, some Black preachers are solely in it for the money. They neither have the courage nor knowledge to challenge parishioners to think and read critically for themselves. Notwithstanding, some churches like political hustlers need sleep walkers who do not question authority. They need and demand blind obedience. Sadly, some African-Americans become socialized into the belief of “Later”.  In essence, they wait on deliverance while scoundrels and crooks get paid now. A warning, if your liberation is in the hands of your oppressors you will never be saved, never.

In short, I have no beef with any institutions or political parties. I look at things and wonder why, and then I write my mind on paper.  This blog post does not condemn politics, religion, or African-Americans, it’s only a loud thought.  Again, I’m amazed at how African-Americans follow a political party to their ultimate marginalization and demise.

The Invisible Dragon

Boy 1