“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Solomon in proverbs 25:11
African, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Hatian, Irish & Italian
Caucasian and Asian
A melting pot filled with flavor and sazon
All salt and no pepper!
So goes my poem created yesterday at the White Castle on Holmes Street.
Just yesterday I ventured in to technicolor borough of the Bronx in New York City. It is a fascinating land filled with action, sound and bustling. As many of us know, it has a beautiful botanical garden deep in its heart providing the opportunity of respite to all who want to move away from the concrete for a change. Past it is the door to its ‘downtown’ area with Fordham University’s sprawling campus which is also serene and expansive in its own right. It is Jesuit school like the one I graduated from, Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. I am well acquainted with the Jesuit-style of teaching having been raised in a predominantly Jesuit culture back in Puerto RIco’s Jesuit-Catholic enclave in the Guaynabo area in the greater metropolis area of the capital of San Juan. As a young boy I went to catechism on Tuesday’s, which is the equivalent of Sunday school. The idea of focusing service to others is predominant in the Jesuit philosophy, as is actively seeking to empower others holistically. These are obviously great tenents to instruct with.
Now, how does this philosophy stand when an institution of higher learning is smack in the middle of what is a predominantly minority culture with families whom have generally lower incomes? As I skateboarded across the campus not long ago I could not help but notice the stark difference in skin color on either side of the gates.
Common sense tells me that their should be more ethnic equality in the populations both inside the gates and outside. I do not want to alienate people with these thoughts and questions and it is not my objective to point out inequality with the goal of creating animosity. No. Yet, how can it be… nicely… put across that some things are just not right and efforts to rectify them should be taken into consideration? No one needs to be vilified here. Violence should not be perpetrated nor condoned. Respect for all should rule the day and night. The students of this fine university have nothing to do with the manner in which the admissions process is carried out. They are learners. The professors are teachers. The admission policy on the other hand has much to be said for.
If you have walked the blocks in the Bronx you would see that there are people struggling mightily to get by from day to day. The garden of Eden that exists within the gated center of learning simply does not coalesce well with the reality on the ground just inches from the black gates. Pointing out inequality is not my game, but bringing awareness to justice, fomenting smart, peaceable action that is positively disruptive and turns the tables in productive ways for others is. Ironically, it is the Jesuit-tinged philosophy that I picked up at Fairfield University of service to others that empowers the whole person which cemented my inclination to bring awareness and take action just outside Fordham’s gates.
Yesterday, I read my second poem, found above, at a populated intersection found close by the school. I do not seek to anger or humiliate the school’s administration nor bring ire against it. I do seek to apply consciousness and raise questions for their pondering on how they want to carry out business as usual. Promoting the arts and music on radio as they do is fine, yet it says nothing about the ethnic makeup of the feet that walk their campuses.
So the legacy ideas of American champions such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and former President John F. Kennedy remain— What will we do for our country? What will we do to level the playing field for #eachother. I believe, as does a rising tide of others, that we can only rise if we #risetogether.
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