A key focus of my blog is General Education. Many people have to decide whether or not to further their educations. Today it’s a particularly important decisions as the cost of education has become costly. What are some reasons to further your education? The following contributed post is entitled, 5 Reasons To Further Your Education.
If you’re considering starting your education but you’re unsure if it’s the right decision for you, you have definitely come to the right place. With so many things to consider before you get started, you need to be sure you’re making the best possible decision for you. Whether that’s moving to a new city or studying online, finding your ‘why’ is important. With that in mind, here are 5 reasons to further your education:
– It Can Help Further Your Career
If you’re looking to further your career and feel as though you can’t move any further unless you further your education, a degree may be the next best step. Whilst often education isn’t vital to progress, having that extra bit of knowledge and theory to put behind your experience can go a long way. In some cases, jobs will ask for you to have a minimum of an Undergraduate Degree in order to apply. For more information when it comes to applying for jobs, you can visit this site here.
– You Could Increase Your Earning Potential
One of the great things about getting a degree and furthering your career is that you automatically increase your earning potential. Although it may not happen straight away, getting a degree and furthering your education is a clear indicator to your current and future employers that you need a pay rise as not only are your skills more in demand, but you will also be able to back them up with theories and studies.
– You Can Learn From Absolutely Anywhere
If you’re looking to study for your Undergraduate or Master’s degree but you don’t want to uproot your entire life in order to do so, you may want to consider doing an online degree. Not only will you be able to work from the comfort of your own home, but you’ll be able to work in your own time too. This means that you will be able to fit your degree in around both your professional and private life. For more information on studying online for degrees such as a Masters in TESOL online, you can visit this site here.
– You Can Learn New And Transferable Skills
Another great thing about furthering your education is that you can learn transferable skills. To put it simply, these are skills that you can take with you no matter what job you go into. Whether you’re gaining report writing skills or improving your skills when it comes to giving presentations, there are lots of things that can be transferred across hundreds of different industry. To find out more about the key life skills you learn whilst studying, you can visit this site here.
– You Can Meet New People
Finally, another incredible aspect of furthering your education is that you will meet lots of new people. It is often said that the people that you meet whilst you’re studying are people that will become your friends for years to come, especially as you have to go through some incredibly stressful times together. Make the most out of it, speak to everyone and make some amazing new friends.
Are you considering furthering your education? What benefits could it bring to you? Let me know in the comments section below?
A key focus of my blog is General Education and Current Events. Though often overlooked, our military veterans are essential to the privileges and freedoms we enjoy here in the United States. As such, the right thing to do is to honour them, and take care of them as best we can when their service is over. The following contributed post is entitled, Why We Should Be Honouring Our Veterans.
While it’s great that we have a Veteran’s Day to honour our veterans, why is it just the one day? What about the other 364 days of the year? Are they not veterans then? Should we not honour them and be thankful for them every day?
Veterans are expected to go back to civilian life dealing with the mental and physical disabilities they got from their time in the service. There are a lot of people who do try to help them by making care packages for soldiers overseas and helping the veterans in their community. It is because of veterans that we can sit here today with no restrictions on what we can write or say.
Of the 21.4 million Veterans in the USA, still, six-per cent remain unemployed after they leave the service. 3.2 million soldiers have had to leave because of a service-connected disability and a quarter of million veterans enter the civilian world each year. They can fill in a VA form 21-4142 and hopefully get some disability benefits, but is that enough? We all know what happens to a football or basketball star after a career-ending injury, but do we know what happens to our heroes? It is our responsibility as a country to make a gesture of thanks, to remember those who served for us and asked nothing in return. Living under a flag that represents the freedoms so many others across the world are forsaken would be impossible without them.
Thanks to veterans, we are able to fight for the rights of waiters and bar staff and whether they deserve $15 an hour or not and how that will affect our economy.
Because of veterans, our children are able to play outside, and all they have to worry about is whether they can stay up late or have ice cream for dinner.
Sometimes our veterans have no one. We need to support them as far too often they are alone and find it too tough to get through the hard times. Too many good lives are lost because of this.
We need to look out for our veterans because far too many of them are sleeping on the streets while we sleep in our warm beds. They are not seen for the true heroes they are, and our children don’t realise that these people on the streets are the ones they should be looking up to and not down on.
Without support, society will continue to sweep veterans under the carpet as it is easier to hide them than to actually do something to help them, so we must support our veterans.
Most importantly, we need to look out for our veterans because they have been looking out for us our entire lives, and it is the least we can do.
“Me, Jody, Shino and Fat Jack were all inseparable – we were always together. I wanted to see them do as well as, or better, than me or anybody else.”
This is the conclusion of my two-part interview with Niagara Falls LaSalle High School basketball legend, Carlos Bradberry. In part one, Carlos discussed his background, how he started playing basketball, and how he became one of the legendary point guards in the LaSalle basketball dynasty. In part two we talk about his senior year at LaSalle where he led the Explorers to Glens Falls, his college career, and then life after basketball.
The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Section VI basketball, carefully assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Section V and VI playoff programs by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones. Other pictures were generously shared by Carlos himself, and his Head Coach at LaSalle Senior High School, Pat Monti. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.
Anwar Dunbar: After the season-ending loss to Greece-Athena your junior season, what was your mentality going into your senior year? Was it, ‘Glens Falls or bust?’
Carlos Bradberry: Yes, it was Glens Falls or bust. There was no other thought in our minds besides getting to Glens Falls. We weren’t thinking about local teams. Our biggest rival was Niagara Falls Senior High School, and everybody thought it was a huge game. It wasn’t for us at that time. Our whole goal was Glens Falls from day one.
AD: Well, I recall you guys having one shocker against Kenmore West in league play.
CB: It was almost two. They played us really close in the sectionals too. They were a good team. They had Rob Fitchlee, Shawn Bryan and Joe Thomas – they were stacked. I think we played them three times that year, and I’d say that all three games were close and none of them were blow outs. They were really good!
AD: Well you know that was the big story and it was like, ‘LaSalle lost!’ So, it sounds like they were legitimately talented, and you guys didn’t just overlook them.
CB: No. They were loaded. They would’ve gone to Glens Falls almost any other year. They ended our win streak. St. Joe’s had a ‘monster’ win streak of their own with Eric Eberz and Jeff Muszynski. Kenmore West ended theirs as well – both in the same year. That was Dick Harvey’s team.
AD: I was watching the 1993 Class B-1 sectional final between Amherst and Kenmore East once again at Alumni Arena. Towards the end of that game, you guys walked in as a group and sat right in front of me. I was thinking to myself, ‘Oh boy. LaSalle is here!’ Just as that game was ending, you got up in a business-like fashion and went on to defeat Hamburg and the rest is history.
So, your team beat Kenmore West in the Class A semifinal 61-51 and beat Hamburg 61-42 in the Class A final to win Section VI yet again. Did you feel confident matching up with Section V’s McQuaid? That game was at Rochester War Memorial Arena. Aside from losing Shino Ellis and Willie Cole, you basically returned with the same core group with the addition of Tim Winn.
CB: I’d say confident, but for me leery. My last memory of McQuaid was going out there and getting ‘stomped’ a few years earlier. I wondered how good these guys were and I knew that they had a big guy. I think his name was Jay Wandtke or something like that and he was 6’6” or 6’7”. Obviously, he wasn’t on John Wallace’s level, but I was thinking they had a big guy and I wondered how we were going to match up.
AD: So, it did end up being a close game. The Buffalo News reported that Todd hit a last second late shot and –.
CB: Yes. Todd hit a huge shot from the elbow to give us the 46-45 win.
AD: And you guys advanced to the Final Four in Glens Falls where you matched up with Hempstead from Long Island. You lost a close game to them, 70-67. What was it like getting there? Was it, ‘We’re here,’ and you were happy to just do that or –.
CB: No, we wanted to win. It was huge for us to get there, but as soon as we won that McQuaid game, our focus was, ‘Man you know what, let’s go down there and win this thing!’ I’d never heard of Hempstead before, but I’d always heard about how good Mount Vernon was. Our mentality was to go down there and beat Mount Vernon or whomever we were going to play. All of us were beyond happy to get to Glens Falls, but we weren’t settling for that.
AD: Obviously you want to win the whole thing, but the way it ended, were you satisfied with your senior season?
CB: I was satisfied, but I hate to lose so that last game wore on me for a long time. I probably sat there for a week or two and thought of every play I could’ve done differently. I still remember it to this day. We lost by three points and I missed five or six free throws. I said to myself, ‘If I’d made those six free throws, we would have won the game!’
For me it was bitter-sweet because we got there and showed well, but I thought we could have gone one step further. What made it worse was, I think Hempstead either won or had a very close game with Mount Vernon. I thought we could’ve been the state champs if I’d played a little bit better.
CB: I think we just came out and got into a hole. I think we feared their size and played zone against them. We didn’t really think they could shoot it, but they came out and shot it in the first half. We eventually went to our ‘pressure’ defense and they started turning the ball over left and right. Looking at them warmup, how athletic they were, and how quick they looked, that was one team I can say that I was intimidated by. But man, once we started playing and we got through that lull where they jumped on us, I thought from that point we could win. I thought they had some Division I players and some good guards, but I thought as a team we were better.
AD: Before we move on, how did Coach Monti pick his captains? Was it his best two players? Was it his most senior players?
CB: I’m pretty sure it was always upperclassmen. It wasn’t a team vote or anything. In my freshman year I want to say that it was Milo Small and Duke Davis, who were seniors. Sophomore year it probably fell to Modie, Scotty Rose and my brother. It was always your junior and senior guys who’d been through it. In my junior year I was a Co-Captain with Shino.
AD: Who was Co-Captain with you in your senior year?
CB: I believe it was myself, Chris Frank and maybe Curtis Ralands.
AD: When we played you guys in the 1991 Festival of Lights Tournament, I remember you consistently ‘slashing’ to the basket. What was your game like by the time you graduated from LaSalle?
CB: I spent a lot of time over the summer shooting and I came back as a ‘respectable’ three-point shooter. I was hitting a couple of threes every game, so I was mixing it in more than my junior year when I was just getting to the basket. I knew for me I wanted to play at the college level. It was funny because we would go down to the YMCA and we used to have these unbelievable runs on Saturdays with guys who were in their 30s and 40s. I’d go to the basket every play and they would just ‘hammer’ me. They’d say, ‘Listen, you’re not going to be able to get to the basket on everybody! You’re going to have to learn how to shoot!’ Those guys had a point and it made you get in the gym and work on your jump shot.
AD: Do you remember what your best game was?
CB: One of the games that sticks out was against Lockport. It was probably my junior year. We were down 10-12 points in the third or fourth quarter of a sectional game. We were going to lose and that was huge because we hadn’t lost a game up to that point. They had a guy on their team named Calvin Shellman who was really good. I scored 17 of out of 30 points in the fourth quarter to help us come back and beat them. That’s probably the game that sticks out to me in high school, just off the top of my head.
Also, a game against Niagara Falls in my sophomore year sticks out. Modie had an ankle injury and no one thought we could win without him. I was scared out of my mind because Modie was our guy. I played shooting guard that season, but I had to play point guard in that game. It was a low scoring, tight game. I went to the free throw line with zero seconds on the clock and hit two free throws with all the Niagara Falls High School fans lined up under the basket to win the game. It was crazy because they stormed the court and thought they won the game. Then the court had to be cleared and I had to shoot two free throws with no one else on the court.
AD: Based upon the way that the players were brought up and the way Coach Monti ran the team, it sounds like your teams had good ‘chemistry’ together, and that you guys were a pretty tight group.
CB: The majority of us were always together doing something. It’s funny now because you see some kids and teams that are really disconnected. We were sort of like a family. There were always four guys over my house, or I was always over someone else’s house – nine out of your 11 guys were doing something together.
AD:Tim said that he was over at your place playing video games regularly. It’s strange. I don’t know if it’s organic, but on some teams if no one explains it to you, you don’t realize that chemistry off the court is important as well.
CB: It’s huge! It makes you trust people. It makes you like people more. It makes you want to make something happen for that next guy and they become more than just some guy you’re playing basketball with for two hours a day. They’re almost like you brother or your cousin. Me, Jody, Shino and Fat Jack were all inseparable – we were always together. I wanted to see them do as well as, or better, than me or anybody else.
AD: You said it was yourself, Jody, Shino and who else?
CB: It was me, Jody, and Fat Jack – Tim. (“Fat Jack” as we called him).
AD: Why did you guys call him Fat Jack?
CB: Oh, that’s his name. Everybody knows him as Fat Jack. If somebody calls him Tim, it’s rare. If you’re around Niagara Falls or Buffalo, he’s Fat Jack. That’s been his name since he was younger which was funny because he was the skinniest kid growing up. But those were the guys. Obviously, Shino is a year older than me, so he graduated a year earlier; and Curtis, obviously. That was our other guy. It was crazy how we were all close.
AD: Was there anyone you looked particularly forward to playing against?
CB: Definitely, Calvin Shellman. He was younger than me by a year and played at Lockport, but he was amazing. I don’t know if you remember Anthony Scott from Grand Island. He went on to play football at the University at Buffalo (UB). He was the biggest trash talker in Western New York, so I looked forward to playing against him. We were friends, but those were two of the guys who I looked forward to playing against.
Eric Eberz, from St. Joe’s, was a guy I looked forward to playing against, but never got to play against him in high school. We used to play on some ‘travel’ teams together, and we always used to talk about who was better between St. Joe’s and LaSalle. However, we never got a chance to play each other. So probably, it was those three guys.
AD: Now the Buffalo News captured how fierce the Niagara Falls High School-LaSalle rivalry was and your team owned it for the most part. I read in one of the clippings that at one point a fight broke out. What was the most surprising thing you saw when you played at LaSalle? Was it the fight? Was is someone getting cut? Was it playing against John Wallace? Was it something else?
CB: The rivalry with Niagara Falls was different than anything. A lot of things stuck out. You had hundreds of people outside the gym who couldn’t get in. You had guys looking through windows to try to watch games. That’s something you didn’t see every day around Western New York. Even though we had good crowds, that game was just different. To us it was crazy because we felt like we were never going to lose to Niagara Falls High School.
We had the confidence. We knew the guys and we played against them every day, so we knew we were the better team; but when you got into that environment it was just nuts. It was people on top of people. People stand on the baseline, and it sort of made a lot of the games ugly. We probably didn’t play some our best ‘LaSalle’ games, because at that point you hear everybody in the town screaming and yelling your name. and everyone was trying to make a name for themselves. That’s what sticks out – those Niagara Falls High School games for sure.
AD: Does that mean that during those games, you guys ‘freelanced’ a little bit more and broke from the structure?
CB: Yeah, and I’m sure that Coach Monti would agree. I don’t think he was happy with some of those games. Some of them were ugly and they were the one game out of the year where we didn’t follow the game plan to a ‘T’. The one we played during my sophomore year – that’s when we had Duke and Milo. Niagara Falls High School complained that we always played in our home gym just because it was so much bigger and could accommodate more fans. And they had a right to complain. Their coach at the time kept complaining and we finally played at Niagara Falls High School which is another one of the more meaningful games that sticks out.
We went there, and this was a team with Willie Cauley, who was unbelievably talented. We walked into their gym – the little ‘box’ that they had, and it was supposed to be a close game. We ended up beating them by 40 points. We just ran our offense to the T – everything we did was perfect and after that, they never asked to play there again. It was crazy.
AD:Coach Monti did say that their teams were bigger and more talented, but you guys still owned the rivalry/series.
CB: They were always bigger and had a few better athletes. Willie Cauley was on their team all our years and he was the best player on the court talent-wise every year. It was amazing.
AD: What kind of student were you when you were at LaSalle? It sounds like Coach Monti kept a tight rein on how his players performed in the classroom.
CB: There were progress reports every week that you had to turn in – even when it wasn’t basketball season.
AD: Really? Wow.
CB: You had to be on top of your grades and it wasn’t just your 65s, getting by and passing classes – it was basically to your ability. If you were a 70s kid, Coach Monti expected you to get 70s. If you were an 80s kid, he expected you to get 80s. I was an ‘80s kid’ in high school. I know Jody was a 90s kid and if he had brought in 80s, Coach Monti probably wouldn’t have been happy – do you know what I mean? There wasn’t one grade that everyone had to get. He knew what kids were capable of and that’s what he expected you to get.
AD: When did the colleges start recruiting you?
CB: I was a ‘late bloomer’ – it was the end of my junior year and really it coincided with the start of AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball. Mickey Walker used to run “Upstate Basketball” which was basically an AAU team. He took me on my first few tournaments going from my junior to my senior year. That’s when I really started to get interest from some schools.
I wasn’t heavily recruited. I had around seven interested schools. Most of them were from going out just that little time in the summer with Mickey. I know Fat Jack (Tim Winn) ended up playing later for him as AAU kept getting bigger and bigger. So basically, it was more the middle of eleventh grade.
CB: Locally it was Canisius College, where John Beilein coached, that showed me the most interest from day one. St. Bonaventure recruited me, but they didn’t make me an offer, and that’s where I wanted to go locally. I probably wasn’t an Atlantic 10 Conference-level kid, though I didn’t know it at the time.
I was more of a MAAC- level kid, which included both Niagara University and Canisius College. There were some teams from outside the MAAC like Marist and Maryland-Eastern Shore. Canisius and Marist were probably the earliest in terms of recruiting me.
CB: This is a great story as well. I loved Canisius, Coach Beilein and Coach McDonald who is now a local Head Coach at Daemen College, but I was young, and I was waiting for that big school to come, which was never coming. It was getting late, and Canisius had been recruiting me for my whole eleventh and twelfth grade years and I think it was around the time of the Final Four.
I talked to another one of the coaches and he said, ‘Hey, we’ve got another guy on hold for the whole year. You’re our No. 1 guy,’ but they wanted me to give them a commitment and it was halftime of that Final Four game and I kept going back and forth on them. I called Coach McDonald after the Final Four game the next day because I was going to go to Canisius. I told them, ‘Hey, how is everything going?’ He said, ‘We really didn’t think we were going to hear from you, so we signed another point guard.’ At that point they said, ‘Your offer is still here. We want you here,’ but then I called Niagara a minute later and just told them I was coming there.
And the other thing – the sticking point for me, which was just being young and dumb, was that Canisius had a good senior point guard that I knew I was going to have to play behind named Dana “Binky” Johnson. Coach Beilein let you know, ‘You’re going to come in and you’re going to learn as a freshman. You’re going to play under him, but we’re going to groom you to be our next point guard!’ Niagara University had just lost their point guard – a kid named Lloyd Walker and they told me, ‘Hey, you can come here and start right away!’
So that’s where I was torn. As a young kid all you want to hear is that you’re going to go to a college and start right away. So, while my heart sort of knew that Canisius was the right place and I loved Canisius, Niagara came into the picture later. With a coach coming and telling me that I would start my freshman year – I just went with it.
It was funny because guys like Coach Monti – he wouldn’t tell me what to do, but he told me, ‘Hey I think Canisius is a good fit for you.’ My Dad also said Canisius was a great fit and I thought it was a great fit too. It’s just that when you’re a kid turning 18 years old, you just want to play, and you don’t think about all the other stuff involved. I ended up leaving Niagara, but I loved the time that I was there and the guys I played with were great. I don’t regret anything about the way that it worked.
AD: Well, hey man, after talking to Jason Rowe and Tim Winn, it sounds like there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of things to consider when kids are getting recruited. Playing time was one thing you described as important, in addition to how much the schools seem to want you, while also recruiting other players at your position.
CB: Yes, it’s confusing especially for a kid – you sort of want someone to make that decision for you. My Dad told me what he wanted, but he said, ‘Listen, you’ve got to make this decision on your own! I’ll tell you what I think, but you’ve got to make your own decision!’ Sometimes when you’re 17 and 18, you’re not going to make the right decision.
AD: When you went to New Hampshire, you were obviously with another coaching staff. Were there major differences in playing at New Hampshire versus playing at Niagara?
CB: Oh yeah! It was just a whole different approach. I’m not saying one was better than the other, but it was two different systems. One was ‘night’ and one was ‘day’. It’s tough because I had a to sit out a year and when you sit out, you get ‘rusty’ because you don’t really play. You practice, but you don’t play in games for a whole year, and then you come in and you’re in a whole different system. It was a different role than I ever had to play before when I ended up at New Hampshire.
AD: Were you playing the ‘point guard’ position, or did you slide over to ‘shooting guard’?
CB: I played the point guard position at both Niagara and New Hampshire. At Niagara you’re young and dumb. You’re playing in front of your hometown and friends are telling you stuff. At Niagara I had a ‘long leash’ as a freshman and as a sophomore, but maybe I wasn’t doing as well as people thought I was as I wasn’t putting the numbers up. I thought I could and should be doing more so I wound up leaving and going to New Hampshire where the coach was more of a ‘You’re going to be more of a guy to set up our offense and get us into this spot,’’ -type of guy. I learned how to play it in two years and I don’t regret going there either.
CB: No. At Niagara University we were young. We would have been good if everyone had stayed. In my freshman year, we brought in seven freshman which was nuts. Three or four them ended up starting. I think if we could have stayed together until our junior year, we would’ve had a special group at Niagara, but four of the seven ended up leaving. At New Hampshire we just weren’t a very good team. The America East was just a really tough conference and we were a few games under 0.500, so we never got the chance to go to the NCAA Tournament.
CB: Yep. Malik Rose was Drexel’s big man and he was a ‘monster’, but yes, it was tough conference.
AD: Well, you know coincidentally, the first time I ever saw Malik Rose play was the opening round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament when Drexel matched up against John Wallace’s Syracuse team. What did you major in?
CB: Social Work.
AD: Did you have any aspirations of playing professional basketball the way Tim Winn and Jason Rowe did?
CB: No, I had no aspirations to play overseas at all. Nothing interested me about going to another country to play ball.
AD: Is Social Work what you got into once you graduated?
CB: No, I came back and started working in the school system in the Department of Special Education. Unless you get a Master’s Degree, you’re not making too much money in Social Work. My wife is also in the school system and it’s good for our family – to work for the school district and to have our kids come through it. We always have an eye on them and it’s been great.
AD: Okay, well I guess this is a good transition into your kids. We’re Facebook friends now and it looks like your son is following in your footsteps. Did you have expectations for him and put the ball in his hands as a baby? How did he start playing?
CB: So, Jalen is my middle child and he’s a ‘basketball nut’. He played in his first tournament at six years old, and he’s been playing ever since. I’ve got a daughter who is older. She was never really into sports. My younger son never really got into it. My things is that you can’t make kids do something or put them in something they don’t really want to do. My middle one just picked up on it early and loved it.
AD: I saw the video footage of you working him out, and I saw that you took him out to Syracuse for a camp I believe. Are you ‘hands off’ father, or are you ‘hands on’ and coaching him all the time?
CB: Well (laughing), I had an AAU team for years and I had the chance to coach a lot of really good kids who are mostly now juniors and sophomores in high school. I started the team probably when our kids were around fifth grade and I coached a group of really good kids from Niagara Falls and Buffalo. You know what, when you get to a certain point, you’ve got to let go of coaching your own kid, being the Head Coach and doing the whole thing.
My goal was to let that go once he became a freshman which was last year and have him go play for a bigger program that’s not a local program and not me coaching him. So, this last year he started playing with the “Albany City Rocks” which is our only Nike-sponsored team in the state other than teams in New York City. So, he started playing with those guys.
AD: And it looks like Jalen is playing for Niagara Falls High School?
AD: Does he know how good you were? Has he heard the legends of Coach Pat Monti, the LaSalle Explorers, Eric Gore, Michael Starks and the ten-year dynasty?
CB: He hears about it and I wouldn’t say that I’m hands off. We were in the gym just before you called. I’ll get him in and do his workouts. I’m basically his ‘rebounding machine’ – I’ll run around and chase his balls for him. I’ll do that, but other than that, at this point you want to get him around other people. He’s older and it’s time for me to turn it over to somebody else.
AD: On Monday, I saw you say that you had a game. Was that him playing or do you still play?
CB: For Niagara Falls High School, I’m going to be an assistant coach. A couple of kids are coming from Jalen’s old school and it’s good that we got them in a league so that they can start to mix in with the other players and get a feel for each other. Hopefully when November comes, everybody will know each other a little bit better. I was previously an Assistant Coach at Niagara Falls High School and I took a couple of years off when Jalen started middle school.
AD: Okay, Carlos, we’re almost done. I can see from Facebook that you still literally eat, sleep and breathe the game, and I see you frequently posting about today’s players, their skill level, and what kids don’t know how to do. How has the game changed since the early 1990s when we were out there playing? Is the game more about shooting like Steph Curry and the Warriors? What are you seeing? Are the kids less tough?
CB: It’s funny, because I get into arguments with guys about this because I say that I know that if I was in high school right now, with the same skill level I had in high school, I would’ve never been a Division I player today. These kids are so skilled at a young age now that it’s unbelievable. So, when I say that to the older guys and they start talking about Jordan and Bird – yeah, pros are pros – pros are going to be unbelievable – they’re all skilled and they’re all great.
I tell guys that, to me, this generation is so much more skilled than ours. Now the flipside, and I’ll probably get a knock for this, I think our generation was intellectually more ahead of these guys. I think so much time gets spent today on skill work and one-on-one training that it doesn’t translate into ‘team’ basketball. You’re individually always working with a trainer, working on your handle, and working on your shot. You’re working on all of these individual skills, whereas back in the day we were just playing, so we just learned how to play the game a little bit better.
So, I think they’re more skilled. They’re way stronger than we were – the athleticism is just ridiculous across the board and that’ my take on it. The younger kids’ skill level is just ridiculous compared to what we were back in the day.
CB: And just watching my son and other kids – we have a lot of other kids who are amazing. You go to some of these events and you have younger and older kids. I can tell you right now that we weren’t playing against kids that were doing some of the stuff these kids are doing now.
AD: In terms of athleticism and dunking?
CB: I’m talking about skill set. You’ve got 6’9” guys who can handle the ball like point guards. The post-game isn’t seen anymore, which I think is a bad sign, but I just think individual skills are way higher than they were back when we played in high school. I look at the teams we played on, the guys I played with, myself included – I couldn’t do half the stuff I see ninth and tenth graders doing now.
AD: Where were you when you heard LaSalle was going to be demolished and how did you feel about it?
CB: Ah man. When was that, 2000? I was back here from New Hampshire and I was devastated just because LaSalle was so much more than a basketball team. It was like a family and I don’t mean just your basketball guys. It was a family in terms of your friends and the people you grew up with. LaSalle was a tight knit school. There wasn’t much violence or fights or all that crazy stuff going on. When you heard that it was breaking up, you felt like things were going to change. I’m not just talking about basketball, but in general; it was just something that I felt was bad for our city.
AD: So, aside from the LaSalle basketball dynasty going away, has there been an effect on the city?
CB: When you’re relating it to sports, I look at it as having a negative effect. It’s funny, because every year you hear parents, friends and people who have issues and say, ‘Hey there’s a lot of favoritism going on at this high school because our kid didn’t make the team, or this kid didn’t make that team!’ They don’t realize that you combined these two schools (LaSalle and Niagara Falls Senior High Schools) so you used to have 24-26 spots, and now you can only grab 12 kids.
I think it has taken away from our kids from an athletic standpoint where you have a lot of kids walking around that high school now that are really good at some sports, but unfortunately, there are 12 guys better than them. Do you know what I mean? I think it’s just negatively impacted it in that way and I thought just having the option of two different schools was something that gave a lot of kids more options and a better chance than they have now.
AD: Okay. For any youngster aspiring to play basketball or to achieve any other life goal, what advice would you give them?
CB: The first one is that you must have the books over everything. Being from Buffalo and up in the Falls, you see so much talent wasted because kids aren’t there academically. There are a million stories of guys who didn’t get out (of the neighborhood) and were amazing in any sport, and my thing is that education must be first. You’ve got to get that education and you’ve got to work hard in the classroom.
Then obviously, with the sports part, you can’t cheat it. There are those rare guys who are born good at something, but you can’t cheat the process. You’ve got to get into the gym, and you’ve got to work at it. It’s a grind and you’ve got to be in there really working at whatever your goal is almost daily now. And really those are it. I think we’ve had a lot of guys from around here go off to college and play and it shows that if you really put your time in and you do your work in the classroom, you can get out of here.
AD: Is there anything you would change about your playing days?
CB: My playing days? No, nothing at all.
AD: Well, Carlos, unless you have any other comments or stories, we are at the end. I really appreciate this. One thing that will be evident from my interviews with you, Tim and Coach Monti, is that while you guys were the team that everyone was trying to beat, I developed a lot of respect for LaSalle basketball and what you all accomplished. I’ll also try to catch a Niagara Falls High School game when I’m back there over the Holidays.
CB: Okay, great, thanks.
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site or add the link to RSS feed to your feedreader. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, “Big Discussions76”. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.
The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key focus is General Education. We know that everyone learns and processes information differently. When looking to incorporate new information into your life, it’s important to know how to effectively do this for yourself. This also important for educators to know. The following contributed post is therefore entitled, How Do You Learn Best?
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Learning is something we all do every single day, and quite possibly, we’re learning all hours of the day. But there are some of us out there who have distinct learning styles, and that’s what we want to explore today. After all, the more you know about the way you take in and retain information, the better you’re going to be at helping yourself grow. So here’s just a couple of the main learning styles we know of, and what helps foster them.
Whether you like using an online source and all of its capabilities, or you prefer a good old text book and some highlighters, you’ve got a way to learn no one else has. (Source)
Are You a Practical Person?
Being a practical person means you like to have a hands on approach to whatever it is you’re learning, whether it be how to use a chainsaw or cooking up an eggy storm in the kitchen. You’re not just someone who can sit by and watch as someone else does it; you need to be involved, because it’s just how you learn best.
And there’s plenty of ways for you to foster a learning style like this. But one of the best ways is to invest in experience days! And this covers all sorts: things like learning how to drive a race car, or flying a plane.
Do You Need More Freedom Away From a Classroom?
A classroom can be a very strict setting. It’s one few of us actually thrive in, and as a result, there’s been quite a few ways to make a lecture hall seem a lot more interesting in the modern day and age.
We now have tablets we can take into a class with us, with all kinds of apps to keep us entertained as we learn. Or we can skip the class altogether, and still get the benefits! You can now choose to learn online, and consider the benefits between campus led and online programs at sites like Online Degrees.
Do You Need Someone Else Present?
A lot of us like to have someone around us when we’re trying to learn something, seeing as that person can help keep us on track, and we can collaborate with them when we’re not feeling too hot about the subject at hand.
So, you may be a bit of inattentive learner, but that’s perfectly OK! There’s plenty of ways someone like you can get to know the contents of a course you’re following – you can use fidget toys to keep yourself still, or you can doodle the information in your notebook, just to make the presentation a bit more creative. Or you can choose to use others to help keep you on track – making yourself beholden to someone else, whether because you promised them a presentation by the end of the week or because you’re meant to be going out tomorrow, is a great way to foster your focus.
One of the focuses of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and my most central principle is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. While we tend to think of clinical medicine as strictly a ‘Healthcare Profession’, its foundations are rooted in the Basic Sciences. Medical Doctors/Physicians are likewise scientists who specialize in patient care and healing sicknesses.
I recently met Dr. Cedric Bright in person through a mutual acquaintance at a family gathering. I’d heard of him through conversation, and I think I’d previously seen him before, as he was among the many physicians on Twitter using the ‘hashtag’ ‘#BlackMenInMedicine’. It turns out that Dr. Bright, the Associate Dean of Admissions at the East Carolina University School of Medicine , coincidentally knew Dr. Qiunn Capers, IV, whom I first saw using the hashtag.
At the gathering, Dr. Bright eagerly answered the questions of numerous medical school hopefuls who were in attendance. As they asked him questions, he in turn asked them questions about their preparation, their academic performance, standardized test scores, experiences in clinics and overall ambitions. At the recommendation of the host of the gathering, I listened in on Dr. Bright’s discussions and was fascinated by what he had to say.
With my blog having both education and a science focuses, and with me also knowing many medical school hopefuls, I seized the opportunity to ask Dr. Bright for an interview and he agreed. In the following interview with Dr. Cedric Bright, we discuss his background, his path into medical school and his career, and finally the current landscape of medical education – specifically what medical schools are looking for in prospects. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.
Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for the opportunity to interview you, Dr. Bright. Medical school has long been the destination for many undergraduates, and many people will love to hear what you have to say about what the journey towards practicing medicine entails. With that, can you talk briefly about yourself? Where are you from? What got you interested in medicine?
Cedric Bright: I’m originally from Winston-Salem, NC. I grew up there and attended a private boarding school. My parents were both public school teachers and believed in trying to give me and my brother every advantage we could have to be the best that we could be. They were of the ilk where, ‘This generation needs to do better than the last generation,’ and my parents made sacrifices for us so that we could go to private boarding schools.
AD: So, let’s go back to the beginning of your journey. Your parents – were they science teachers or were they teaching other subjects?
CB: They were general public school teachers. My father taught math and science in middle school, and my mother taught second grade in elementary school.
AD: What inspired you to become a medical doctor? Did you have a mentor in medicine? Also, are you the first medical doctor in your family?
CB: I’ll tell you that I’m not the first doctor in my family, but I also never met the person who was. He is a distant cousin on my grandmother’s side. I don’t recall hearing stories of him, though I’ve seen pictures. In terms of myself, my father being an educator brought home books for me and my brother to read. It was a series describing what doctors, nurses, engineers, fireman, police, etc., “do”. After reading those books, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, and my brother wanted to be an engineer. Fast forward 20 years, he’s become an engineer. Fast forward 25 years, I’ve become a doctor.
AD: During your journey, were there any challenges in your undergraduate studies or throughout medical school itself? Or were you a ‘straight A’ student where the road was all set for you?
CB: I was nowhere near a straight A student, but I was a hard worker. My parents put me in some courses that taught me how to study. In doing so, they helped me with my concentration. I probably would’ve been diagnosed as “Attention Deficit Disorder” (ADHD). I still have lot of ADHD tendencies now in my old life.
I learned techniques on how to manage my thoughts, my ability to focus, and even with that I had some academic difficulties. I learned how to use the system – how to ask for help – how to not be afraid to admit that I didn’t know something. I learned how to visit teachers during their office hours, and how to spend time after class working on things. I learned how to ask my colleagues who were willing to help – all those types of things.
I did reasonably well in high school. I particularly did well in Chemistry; my teacher was my football coach. I was quite fond of him and he helped me understand Chemistry very well, such that I did very well in it in college.
I did quite well my freshman year in college. Subsequently, I had the ‘sophomore slump’. I pledged a fraternity the spring semester of my freshman year, and I came back and ‘acted’ that fraternity the first semester of my sophomore year, and my grades summarily crashed. At that same point in time, I decided that I didn’t like Biology anymore and I didn’t want to do Chemistry. I decided that there must be something else that I could major in. Low and behold I’d taken some courses in Film because I’d been interested in it, and so I decided that I’d major in it.
AD: Oh, interesting.
CB: My Pre-Med Advisor said, ‘You don’t have to major in a science to go to medical school,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to take you at your word on that!’ So, I ended up majoring in Film (Semiotics), and what it taught me was how to understand non-verbal communication, understanding how the body moves and when a person’s body is or isn’t reflective of their verbal statements. Being able to interpret my patients better, I think that helped me in the long-term.
CB: So, I pulled my grades up my next two years after my sophomore year, and I think that’s why I got into medical school. My grade point average (GPA) wasn’t great – it was less than a 3.0 and I’ll leave it at that. I had to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) three times to get a score that would at least get me noticed. I think the final score that I got was a 27. I only applied to two medical schools and I got into the UNC, which was crazy.
After getting in, I was advised to do a summer program and I’m grateful that I was. It surrounded me with like-minded individuals. The first thing I tell young people today is to make sure you do some type of summer program to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. They become your colleagues of the future.
CB: The program also helped me to understand the difference between undergraduate-level and graduate-level studying. Had I not done the program, I’m sure that I would’ve had more academic difficulty during my first year.
AD: So, you’re referring to the complexity of thought and….
CB: And the amount of time you must put into it. For instance, I was used to studying maybe an hour or two a day, and then ‘cramming’ towards the end and still being able to get a good grade. You can’t do that in medical school. In medical school you must put in four to five hours every day. You must put in six to eight hours on the weekend – it’s a ‘grind’ and you must get used to that grind. You have to become disciplined and not fall prey to the ‘Jedi-Mind Tricks’ that your classmates would throw on you by saying that they spent the whole weekend hiking the Appalachians. They might have hiked a mile, but they spent the rest of the time studying. They want you to think they didn’t. So learn not to fall for the Jedi-Mind Tricks. Everyone is working hard in medical school.
CB: Let me finish this point. I prayed before I got into medical school. I said, ‘Lord, don’t let get into medical school if I’m not going to graduate!’ So, when I got in, that took a load off me because I knew that I’d prayed and that he’d answered my prayers and I knew that I would graduate. The question then became how. I’d done the summer program, but my first semester of medical school, seemingly on every test I was one to two points above passing and I wasn’t ‘killing’ it by any means.
I was the last man on the totem pole probably every time and on every test. At the end of my first semester, I passed three of my courses, but I failed one by less than a half a point. So, I ended up having to remediate that course during the summer, but after coming back from the Christmas break, I realized that I couldn’t do the same work that I’d been doing and working the same way. I had to change my study habits.
For the most part, I’d studied with one of my frat brothers. It worked well, but it didn’t work well enough. So I said let me branch out and see if I can study with some other people. So I started studying with some other people who didn’t look like me and I started finding ways in which they studied that reminded me of the study programs my father had put me in back in the day. I started re-utilizing those study techniques and suddenly, I began to thrive. I had to make an adjustment and go back to a study technique that really helped me out when I was younger, and it turned out to be the elixir that I needed in medical school.
From that point on in my second year, I moved into a house with six to seven other medical students. Each night we’d study until about 10 to 10:30 at night and we’d come out to the common area of this house and have this massive ‘Quiz Bowl’. The whole point of the Quiz Bowl was for me to take the most esoteric fact that I knew and try to stump them, and for them to take the most esoteric fact that they knew and try to stump me.
Now here’s the key Dr. Dunbar. If I stumped them, I had to teach them. And if they stumped me, they had to teach me. The effect of that was that by the time we got to the exam, we’d asked so many questions of each other from so many different perspectives that there weren’t too many questions on the exam that we hadn’t already discussed. So like a ‘rising tide’, we all did very well. What that speaks to is how you work in medical school to get the ‘volume’. It’s not aptitude that impedes people’s progress in medical school, it’s dealing with the volume.
It’s kind of like trying to eat an elephant. If you’ve got one person trying to eat an elephant, it takes a long time to do it. But if you’ve got seven to eight people trying to eat the elephant with everyone describing what they’re biting and how it tastes, the texture of it, you get to know the whole elephant, but you just ate a part of it. Does that make sense to you, sir?
CB: So that’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned about approaching large volumes of work. If you approached it first being responsible for taking care of your own individual preparation and coming together and working with other individuals who have put in their own individual preparation, you can work very effectively as a group. But it first starts with individual preparation.
AD: Okay, so there’s a component there that requires individual preparation and then there’s a teamwork component there.
CB: That’s correct. The individual preparation gets you to 50%, but that team component gets you to 90%.
AD: That makes sense. When I first got to graduate school, I was used to working by myself, and I discovered that I couldn’t do that and get the grades that I needed. Just quickly, which fraternity did you pledge?
AD: In term of my next question, you discussed this at the gathering where we met, and it really resonated with me. When I was an undergraduate student at Johnson C. Smith University in the late-1990s, many of us pondered practicing medicine, but few of us thoroughly understood what it took to get into medical school. Aside from the academic credentials, what are some of the personal qualities aspiring medical students need to be successful and, in general, what are you all looking for? I remember you saying that you want them to have touched patients before.
CB: That’s true. We want to see that you’ve had a journey of learning about the didactics and the science component, yes, but also about the humanity – doing volunteer service for people less fortunate than yourself. This helps you to understand the social determinants and sometimes the behavioral determinants of health, and how they manifest themselves in our community.
We want you to have spent some time doing some type of hands on patient care, whether its learning how to take blood pressure, learning how to take vital signs in the doctor’s office, or being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and helping to triage patients and get them to the emergency room. Or it could be just driving an ambulance to take people to their regular hospital visits, being a nurse, or being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) doing the hands-on dirty work in the hospital. Lastly, it could be being a pharmacy tech spending time working in a pharmacy where people are coming in asking questions about their medications. And helping them understand the side effects, and reactions from other drugs and things of that nature or being a hospice volunteer to helping people with end of life issues.
These are the types of things we’re looking for hands-on wise. There are a lot of smart people in the world, but there’s a difference between being smart and having intelligence. We’re looking for more intelligent people than we are smart people. Smart people know how to answer questions. They can get a question right all the time, but they don’t know how to talk to people. They don’t know how to deal with the ‘human component’. Intelligence is knowing what you know and being able to apply it to the people in front of you at the right time, for the right person, for the right reasons.
AD: Now in that same vein, if I recall correctly, in terms of determining why students want to attend medical school, you’re not looking for canned, ‘cookie cutter’ answers. You want to hear some depth to their answers, right?
CB: Yes. The ‘depth’ comes in multiple ways. For example, when someone writes about their experiences, I don’t care so much about what they did, I want to know how it made them feel. I want them to be able to share with me if there was a significance that changed their view of death if they worked in a hospice; how they think the healthcare system works as the ‘donut hole’ as it goes to prescription drugs.
I want them to be able to share if they know the significance of how nurses are so overworked and have too many patients, such that a CNA becomes so very important; how to take care of people in the hospital, or how to take care of people in the clinic as a medical assistant. Why (what was your motivation)? What did you feel? What did you observe? What did you learn? That’s more important to me than what you did.
AD: So, this is my last question. The landscape of medical education and medical school, has it changed since you were a student yourself? We have a lot of technology now. People communicate differently. I’m sure the actual medical approaches have changed. Can you talk about how things have changed from then to now?
CB: I think when I was coming through, we didn’t have as many imaging tests and diagnostic procedures, so our touch to the patient became more important. Doing the appropriate physical exam was enough for you to come to a diagnosis. You didn’t have to have an X-ray. You didn’t have to have a ‘CT’, because if you did your exam right, you knew what your exam told you. Now we depend too much on technology to tell us what’s wrong with a person, and it doesn’t always equate to us finding the right answers on how to take care of people.
I also think that our technology and having to ‘keyboard’ so much on these electronic records takes us away from the human touch – the humanity of medicine which is the one-on-one conversation with our patients because we’re too busy ‘charting’. Our eyes don’t meet enough. Patients wait months to come see a doctor, not watch a doctor type. Seeing a doctor means we have eye-to-eye contact and we talk as two human beings intimately in one setting, and I think that’s becoming a lost art in medicine. Doctors are under time crunches to see more patients and to make the same amount of money, or to make more money.
AD: I think that rolls into my last two questions. I know that every student is different, but on average, what are the major learning points for the medical students when they come in, because I imagine that these are all very bright individuals. What are the main things they must learn? Is it what you described for yourself? Or is it something else?
CB: I think the main thing they need to learn is that it’s not their aptitude that’s going to determine their altitude, it’s their attitude. If they come in with the right attitude of wanting to learn, and sacrifice whatever it takes to learn, and not come in with the attitude of, ‘I’m not doing this or, I’m not doing that’. That just doesn’t work in medicine. They also must learn how to deal with failure. The thing about medicine as with all walks of life, Dr. Dunbar, is that we all fall down. There’s no shame in falling down and we shouldn’t fall apart the first time we fail.
But what we should do is learn from the mistakes that we’ve made. Learn from what has occurred, grow and move forward, and get back up. I like to say that there’s no shame in falling down. There is shame in laying there. And don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that their life is perfect. All that is, is a mask. We all fall down. We all have imperfections. We all fall short of the glory.
AD: My high school basketball coach used to tell us that exact same thing about attitude and altitude. My last question is going to be a little more global. Under the Obama Administration, we had the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and now that’s kind of been stripped down. In terms of the medical field itself, do we still have enough doctors? Is it still a thriving field?
CB: It’s very much a thriving field, and there will always be a need for doctors. I wholeheartedly believe in that. Artificial Intelligence will never be able to replace doctors, because they don’t have the touch. There’s more than enough need for physicians and, in many places, we’ve said there’s going to be a shortage of physicians in the future. That’s because we have areas where more physicians are passing away than physicians are being made.
The ‘Baby Boomers’ are probably a third of our physicians that we have in the workforce and they’re retiring at a rate of almost 1,000 every month. So, we’re going into a crisis of having more physicians retiring than those who are graduating. It’s a very interesting dichotomy and the American Association of Medical Colleges has been preparing different reports to show that. I was actually looking at one the other day.
The bottom line is that there’s a two-fold problem. We’re not making enough doctors and doctors are retiring, or we have enough doctors and there’s a maldistribution of doctors. Some would argue that theory. We have enough doctors, but all of our doctors want to practice where there are other doctors. But in actuality, we may need to redistribute them so that they practice in other areas that are rural and have less physicians in that area.
AD: Well, Dr. Bright that’s all the questions that I have. Thank you for your time and for sharing your path and knowledge and expertise about the medical field. A lot of people will benefit from this, and I look forward to doing it again.
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed it, you might also enjoy:
If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.
The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and two of its key focuses are Career Discussions and Health/Wellness. Not everyone enters the world with the proper tools for success. If you’re falling short in a given area, and want to reach the next level, it’s important to know which steps to take. The following contributed post is entitled, Simple Ways To Better Yourself.
Everybody in the world wants to be the best version of themselves – that’s a given. When we’re younger, we all think about how our lives are going to turn out. We think about how our personal lives are going to be and how our work is going to go. Some people out there have been switched on from the get-go and don’t need any extra push to help them reach their goals. There is a group out there, however, who have entered the real world and haven’t exactly hit the heights they imagine – for one reason or another.
If you feel that you’re currently in this category, then don’t worry. Self-improvement is a hefty process, but there aren’t too many distressing factors that go into it. Let’s talk about a few ways people can improve themselves significantly.
Being a more organized person will improve anyone’s life in pretty much every aspect. Think about it: if you don’t have a plan or a routine, you’re just going along with whatever task you have next – and that could lead to a big piled-up mess. If you add structure to your life and keep yourself disciplined, it’ll keep you balanced.
Face Your Flaws
Being able to recognize that you’re a flawed person is one of the most underrated skills in the human psyche. If you’re unable to realize where your issues lie, then you may take a huge hit on your confidence once someone outdoes you in a specific piece of work or life. Being able to notice that you’re not able to do something is also helpful as you can get the help needed from others. A great leader knows how to take the backseat for a while.
You may feel you have plateaued in your current adventure. Perhaps a way of better yourself you would be to unlock skills in your arsenal that have been previously shut away. Maybe you feel like you’re better suited to a completely different type of job? Why not do something you’ve always wanted to do? If you’ve always been interested in the aviation world, then you could join a professional pilot program and see if you flourish in something that you’ll enjoy. Keeping things fresh is a good way to progress in life.
Exercise More And Eat Better
Living life with an inactive body and a terrible diet will only increase your sluggishness approach towards everything in life and make you more stressed. Making sure you keep active will naturally give you more of a boost. Eating the right foods will aid this boost, too. Drinking a lot of water will help your body and mind out also as dehydration is a significant cause of frustration.
Finally, we’ll talk about the idea of viewing things more positively. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but being able to shut out the negative thoughts will improve your life a lot. You will be able to pick out the good bits in everything and lead a happier life – leading to a more optimistic approach to new challenges and opportunities.
“Even though it was 1968, a period of unrest for many blacks throughout the country, Great-grandmother – like the blue-veined crowd that she was proud to belong to – seemed, at times, to be totally divorced from the black anxiety and misery that we saw on TV news and in the papers.”
Every now and then I’ll venture into something social and political. I’ve been wanting to write something about ‘class’ in the black community for a while now, and Black History Month 2019 has finally presented me the opportunity to do so. Before I jump in, I want to acknowledge Rom Wills, a writer in the “Negro Manosphere” and a YouTube content creator who teaches black men about dating and becoming better versions of ourselves. I can personally say that ‘Uncle’ Rom and his content have been critical in evolution, in terms of manhood, and he’s helped me to better understand my journey – past, present and future. If you’re a black man, and you still feel lost in the dating world and in life in general, I recommend Uncle Rom’s content.
In his YouTube content, Rom Wills is very outspoken about the black community not acknowledging the role of ‘social class’ in dating and mating where it plays a major role, particularly in our bigger cities. He eloquently discusses what attracts black men and women together and why in some instances, some couples who don’t look like they should be together end up doing so. He also discusses why some men and women pass over each other – potentially good mates, specifically to get to together with someone in their social class. He emphasizes men having some sort of vision, like us getting in the gym and getting our bodies right, and the concepts of ‘select’ and ‘non-select’ men.
I first became aware of social class in high school in my hometown of Buffalo, NY. Every spring, one of our black newspapers, the Buffalo Criterion or the Challenger, presented the ‘Debutantes’ and the ‘Cotillions’. The Debutantes were young ladies in high school, usually juniors and seniors. They were associated with one of the black sororities – probably “Alpha Kappa Alpha”. The ladies were all dressed in black dresses and took lovely solo head shots and were presented as a group on the front page. One year, one of the girls was a classmate. There was also a formal event where these girls were ‘presented’ to the world.
I first heard of the term Cotillion in high school as well. I had a friend who played on the Varsity basketball team with me when we were sophomores. He stopped playing in our junior year, and a little while later, he went on and on about some of the other guys in his Cotillion when we were at a party. They were doing a ‘step routine’ of some sort, showing they were also affiliated with a ‘Black Greek’ organization. I think he later pledged “Phi Beta Sigma”.
There were two Black Greeks in my family. My eldest cousin who in Georgia pledged the sorority “Sigma Gamma Rho”, and my father was a member of one of the more prominent fraternities which is kept anonymous for everyone’s privacy. I interestingly have very little memory of him being active in his fraternity or regularly interacting with his ‘frat’ brothers. Later I found that there were reasons for this. I also later found out that this Black Greek world was in fact its own world within Black America.
Lawrence Otis Graham’s Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper-class periodically pops up in my writings. I read Member of The Club one summer, and then seeing him one night on Tavis Smiley’s show on BET debating Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, was a seminal moment for me. Highly criticized for celebrating America’s black upper-class. I It was an important work for me personally because it let those of us who didn’t grow up in that class know that it existed – something, as a black person, you encounter and must reconcile in cities like Washington, DC, where I now reside. These people were born into the upper-class through generational wealth and inheritances, while others climbed there through digging and sacrificing.
While the book discusses the afore mentioned black fraternities and sororities, it also describes other clubs, groups and organizations within this upper-class such as Jack and Jill, The Boule, and The Links. The book also points out that being in the black upper-class isn’t simply a matter a of having money, as the ‘black elite’ don’t necessarily accept ‘new money’ celebrity athletes and entertainers into their circles. Instead, there was a cultural aspect to their lives where individuals had to go to the ‘right’ schools and be a part of right clubs and families to be accepted. It might sound like a bit much to the outsider, but I find it all fascinating.
Why is this important? Well, as I discussed in my previous piece entitled, Who should or shouldn’t be in the African American History Museum?, there are numerous real divisions within the black race which are often overlooked. One of the big ones is social class. If you weren’t in the right circles in smaller cities like Buffalo, you didn’t really know debutantes and cotillions existed, or the opportunities offered through participation in them. Since ascending in education and living in Washington, DC where the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference takes place every year, and attending the affluent church that I attend, you can see the delineations in social class.
And as Rom Wills, whom I discussed above states, you often see it in the dating arena. Men and women in some instances pick each other based upon their educational and social pedigrees and backgrounds. Likewise, if you’re not from those types of families with certain types of training, it’s important to understand how to socially mingle and carry yourself in certain circles when those instances arise.
I’m going to close this by saying that I didn’t really have a concept of ‘economic class’ until my brother commented amongst our friends when we were younger that we were ‘lower middle class’. Economic class is typically delineated by household income, healthcare and overall quality of life. Both my parents were college educated, worked and I grew up in a house as opposed to the housing projects. We weren’t poor, but we also weren’t rich either and this does influence social class.
All of this is interesting to me because it suggests that we’re all different, despite being grouped together based upon skin color. It also explains much of what we see now in terms of variability in our personal natures, how we navigate the world, available opportunities for advancement and political agendas. We’re seeing many of these class divisions bubble to the surface now in politics. That said, skin color does factor in as well, and once you throw ‘Colorism’ into this discussion, this all gets further complicated.
What’s also fascinating is we aren’t restricted by our social or economic class and don’t necessarily stay in them. There are instances where individuals in the upper-social classes have affinities for individuals in the lower classes in terms of dating and friendships. Also, individuals who have ascended into higher economic classes in terms of salary may still have the behavioral inclinations and vices from those in the lower-classes.
In writing this post, I am in no way complaining about my upbringing as I’m very grateful for it. One cousin recently actually told me that both my brother and myself had ‘privilege’ that she didn’t have growing up. Again, keep in mind that we weren’t rich, and we were raised by a single parent most of the year. The take home message here is that there are also delineations in privilege within a race even though we tend to think of privilege solely in terms of white vs. black.
The opening quote for this piece came from chapter one of Our Kind of People – a fitting opening to this piece. I’m going to close by saying that social and economic class are real dynamics that affect everything from our quality of life, to dating/mating, to politics. These are just some of my thoughts on class. It’s something that I think we need to pay more attention to and acknowledge, and the sooner we do, I think the better off we’ll be.
The original title for this piece was, A Black History Month discussion about race in the black community. I shortened it because this a discussion that shouldn’t be restricted to one month. I want to thank Rom Wills and another YouTube content creator named “Black Gnostics Speaks” for their work, and for helping many of us who needed the teaching to become better and wiser men. Many of us didn’t understand the roles of social and economic class in our lives aside from the contexts of color, racism and prejudice.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:
If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. I’ve recently started a YouTube channel, so please visit me at Big Discussions76. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.
“The white man ain’t the devil I promise, you want to see the devil, take a look at Clarence Thomas…….”
My second piece for Black History Month 2019 may emotionally ‘trigger’ some people, but once again, it’s a question worth asking and it falls under my principles of “Creative” and “Critical” thought. If you have a reaction, please respectfully leave a comment below and share your thoughts after you’ve read this piece. I got the idea to write this blog post shortly after my piece entitled,Whose job is it to teach Black History? The seeds for it were sewn one to two years ago though, shortly after the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture was opened in Washington, DC.
I was perusing social media one day, Twitter perhaps, when a group discussed whether figures like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should have a place in the new museum. Dr. Ben Carson’s name may have come up too. It was an excellent and thought-provoking question. I can’t recall if anyone in that discussion felt that Justice Thomas deserved a place in the museum, but I can tell you that most people vehemently felt that he didn’t. I chose to simply be a ‘fly on the wall’ – like someone slipping into a college seminar, standing in the back momentarily and then stepping out after getting the gist of the discussion. The consensus in this group gave a fascinating insight into what being ‘black’ means in the United States in 2019.
Who should be in the National Museum of African American History and Culture and who shouldn’t? That depends on how complete you want history to be. What’s incredibly clear in 2019 is that while we as black people may be seen as one homogenous group by other races and ethnicities, we clearly aren’t. How do we differ? Well just pick the way that you want to slice us up.
Starting with politics, there are liberal blacks, conservative blacks, and independent blacks. There are black people who believe in Jesus Christ and who regularly attend some form of church, and there are black people who believe in Allah and worship at mosques. There are Black Jews and Hebrew Israelites. There are also atheists.
In terms of social class, there are ‘Old Guard’ upper-class black people. There are also middle- and lower-class black people. All three groups have distinct values and opinions of the other classes. There are numerous books just on class; two that come to mind are Our Kind of People, by Lawrence Otis Graham, and Code of The Streets, by Elijah Anderson.
You have ‘bougie’ black people, and ‘street’ black people. There are other black people don’t fall into either extreme, but instead lay somewhere in the middle. In the black ‘zeitgeist’, many of us, myself included, consider ourselves to be ‘other’.
Back to my original question, who should and shouldn’t be in the new African American History Museum? Of the many distinctions in the previous paragraph, the most polarizing may be that of liberal and conservative. Since the Civil Rights Era, the Democratic party has in large part been the party for black people. Right now, we’re seeing a bit of a shift in the landscape, but traditionally that’s how it’s been since I’ve been alive.
Likewise, the Republican party has been the party of racists who are perceived to not care anything about black people. We’re slowly seeing a shift there as well. In any case, any black person who has associated with the Republican party has been seen as being against the race and something ‘other’ than black.
Regarding the two figures I mentioned earlier in this piece, President George H.W. Bush’s filling of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s seat with Clarence Thomas was a seen as a blatant slap in the face not only on Justice Marshall’s legacy, but also towards black people in general. Dr. Ben Carson’s participation in the Trump administration has all but erased his brilliant career as a neurosurgeon, and his miraculous emergence from poverty in inner-city Detroit – to liberal black people that is.
I’ve only visited the new African American History Museum once since it’s opening, and I only got halfway through it. If you plan on going, I’d recommend planning to make multiple trips. Both Justice Thomas and Dr. Carson are in there which I think is the right thing to do. To not have them in there is to give an incomplete historical account. But that’s just me, and I don’t believe we should all think the same way as described in my piece about ‘Cooning’.
Your opinion about whether they and others like them should be in there will depend on whether you still consider them to be a part of the black race. That leads to the question of whether a person’s political affiliation and core beliefs dictates their level of blackness. I personally don’t think it does, but I’m just one person, and as of now, I’m not making decisions about whose history gets told in that museum.
The opening quote for this piece is a lyric from one hip hop artist KRS-One’s tracks. I think it’s from his self-titled album, or maybe “Return of the Boom-Bap”. I opened my last black history last piece with a rap lyric and decided to do it again. As mentioned in that piece, while our parents thought it was just noise, hip hop/rap music in the 1980s and 90s had many, many social and political messages. I personally learned a lot of black history from some of the artists.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:
If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.
The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two key focuses are Career Discussions and General Education. A very valuable and lesser known skill when you start a business or when you get out into the professional world, is the ability to multi-task or manage multiple projects at once. The following contributed post discusses this and is entitled, Managing More Than One Project.
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As a project manager, you are going to face numerous challenges throughout your career. Often, managing one project can be challenging and stressful enough. However, when you add even more projects to the mix, the stresses and strains only multiply. Managing a number of different projects at the same time can most definitely be a challenge. However, if you follow the advice provided below, you should find it a lot easier.
Embrace project management training – There is only one place to begin, and this is with project management training. Project management courses today are designed to equip you with all of the knowledge, strategies, and technologies required to deal with any challenge that comes your way, from remote team management to handling numerous projects at once. It does not matter how long you have been in this career, a refresher course could be just the thing you need to be able to manage multiple projects at once.
Keep distractions to a minimum – It is vital to keep distractions to a minimum at all times, but this is even more so the case when you are managing numerous projects at once. You can use tools like this calendar for HR professionals to assist. There are lots of things that can get in the way of your working day. This includes ad hoc tasks, non-strategic meetings, idle conversation, and emails that are not related to the projects you are working on. Ask yourself: is this task something that is contributing to the bigger picture/meeting the project objectives? If not, it is likely that you are simply wasting your time. To cut down on these sorts of activities, you should make sure you only have meetings when essential, use a centralised scheduling process, and schedule breaks throughout the working day.
Improve communication – Communication is critical to the success of any project, and it is even more pivotal when you are working on more than one project at the same time. You must have a robust communication channel and strategy in place for all team members. Efficient communication regarding new developments, changes, and such like, are a necessity, as they are likely to impact the implementation of the project. A group collaboration tool will come in very useful here, but you need to make sure that everyone is using the software appropriately and effectively. It is a good idea to get your team members to provide a status update of every task they are working on per day. This will ensure that everyone is aware of the project status and that all team members are on the same page. It also makes it easy for you to have an overview of each project so you know exactly where each project is.
Hopefully, you now feel more prepared for managing numerous projects at once. While this can seem incredibly daunting, there is no need to stress. Follow the advice that has been given, and you should find it a lot easier to keep on top of everything.
The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and two key focuses are Career Discussions and General Education. A skill that’s very important today is the ability to give presentations. Many professionals make it out into the workforce without learning how to give quality presentations. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Avoiding Death By PowerPoint: 5 Presentation Mistakes To Avoid.
Want to avoid boring your audience to death during your next work PowerPoint presentation? Here are a few common mistakes to avoid in order to keep your presentation engaging.
Breaking the 10-20-30 rule
There is a rule that governs the practice of PowerPoint presentations – it was established by Guy Kawasaki and it is known as The 10-20-30 Rule. This rule states that if you want to keep your presentation engaging you should never include more than 10 slides, never go on for longer than 20 minutes and never use a font size less than 30. This helps to keep things short and snappy so that you never overstay your welcome. Unless you’ve been specifically asked to give a longer presentation or to use more slides, try not to break this rule.
Using generic templates and stock images
Many PowerPoint templates are overly familiar to the point that they are distracting. If you want to maintain a unique feel, you’re probably best off not using PowerPoint at all. There are many other presentation platforms that are worth trying out – many of these come with interesting themes to download as found at this list of The 70 Best Free Google Slides Themes Of 2019.
On top of generic presentation templates, avoid using stock images as these too can dull-ify your presentation. Rather than using the same cliched images of employees shaking hands, use images that offer interesting metaphors or images that help to tell a story.
Reading directly off the slides
Any slides you use should be treated as prompts or additional information – they should not be treated as a script. By reading the slides, not only are you not looking at the audience but you’re telling information that they can read themselves (in which case, you’d be better off sending an email). Focus your attention on your audience and try to rehearse what you’re going to say without having to read anything (you can have notes, but you should use these as pointers and similarly not use them as a script). Having to speak to audience can be scary, but it will help you to connect to them and get them interested.
Failing to connect on an emotional level
Some presentations can be a little too heavy handed when it comes to facts and figures. The emotional connection can then get lost and your audience will start to feel that they’re been given a long-winded report. Try to connect on an emotional level by sharing stories and giving relatable information. For example, if you’re giving a seminar on conserving energy in the home, don’t just reel of figures but make people aware of the benefit this will have on their lives and the planet.
Losing track of the presentation’s purpose
Some presentations can end up going off-topic. It’s important to remember the key objective of your presentation and to answer any questions that you raised at the beginning. Your audience will zone out if they feel the presentation has lost its sense of purpose, so don’t get side-tracked.