Should Diddy’s Son Give Back His 54k Scholarship? I Wanna Know Why School Cost So Much!

Ya gotta love America and the constant mind tricks she plays on an increasingly uninformed, 30 second sound bite, dumbed down, non-critical thinking society.. We see our collective lack of awareness playing out around the son of Sean P-Diddy Combs and his son Justin Combs who was just awarded a an athletic scholarship worth 54 thousand dollars.

When the story first surfaced it was framed simplistically, Justin, the son of a rich rap mogul worth half a billion dollars has just accepted a scholarship to a school that is ‘struggling financially‘. The narrative points out that in recent years tuition has damn near tripled with more fee hikes on the way…On top of that, Governor Jerry Brown is pushing for more massive educations cuts.

Justin Combs who was famously given an expensive 300k Maybach car on his 16th birthday from his dad is now being depicted as the poster child for rich kids stealing from the poor…He’s being criticized for taking a scholarship he earned.

Diddy who has never been shy at flaunting his wealth is also seen as an evil villan who should ante up and ‘pay his fair share’..The popular narrative has led to headlines reading; Taxpayers Want Justin to Give Back His Scholarship..juxtaposed with images of students marching demanding lower tuition..

Justin and his dad Diddy shouldn’t be the poster child for tax payer angst

Understandably many have jumped on this story in reaction to Diddy and Justin. Some have framed this as an attack on Hip Hop or an attack on rich Black men and there’s no doubt there’s some of that going on. Others have viewed this as an attack on student athletes.. I’m sure there’s some of that as well..

But really at the end of the day all this is just a smoke screen to distract everyone from the real problems at hand, which is the systemic attacks and massive defunding over the past 5 years of what was once deemed one of the best and most efficient higher public education systems in the world..

Many have focused on Justin’s scholarship instead of asking how and why did we have a tripling of tuition in the past 5 years? What was behind that?Why does it cost 54 thousand dollars to go to school? Many saw that figure and didn’t bat an eye, that’s how far gone we are….

When I went to school, I was paying 200-500 per semester, 15-20 years later tuition easily eclipse 12k, not including housing or other expenses. This doesn’t include the 6% fee hike coming down the pipe, which may double mid-semester if the Millionaires Tax doesn’t pass in the November elections

Is Diddy and his son the cause of the UC system being financial unstable  or some rich banker types sitting on the UC Board of Regents looking to gut and privatize the UC system? Let’s talk about that..

A bit of background.. 40 years ago Cali came up with what was known as the Master Plan for Education with the goal of making education accessible to what they anticipated would be a surging population caused by baby boomers having kids. Under this plan came three major university / college systems including; the University of California, UC system,which is home to UCLA where Justin received his scholarship. UC has 10 campuses throughout the state..Next we have Cal State University system.. CSU which has 23 campuses including San Francisco State where I teach..And lastly we have the California Community College system CCCS which has over 100 campuses around the state..

Combined these 3 systems serve more than 3 million students and for decades set the standard for public higher education.This Master Plan for Education was crafted so that all Cali residents no matter their income could attend college, hence these schools were either free or very low-cost to attend. How and why did that change is the question at hand?

It’s interesting to note that some of the rich banker/CEO types who sit on the Board of Regents have been pushing to gut the UC system and raise tuition even though they went to UC for free.. How ironic is that?  Forget Justin Combs, let’s talk about some of them. For example, take real estate baron and UC Regent, Richard Blum, whose company Blum Capital Partners is worth 7-8 billion dollars. What Diddy has is pennies compared to him.

Blum who is the husband to US Senator Diane Feinstein, is one of those regents who attended UC for free, but now is leading the charge to raise tuition and privatize the UC system. If thats not bad enough he’s come under fire because of all the money he and his firm have made by investments he has had UC make to companies he and his firm own or have a controlling interest..You can get a quick summary of that HERE .

You can also peep the in depth investigative reports about how Blum and his companies have profited off of UC pensions HERE ….

Conflict of interest doesn’t even began to describe what Blum’s about, but that’s been all but ignored by many of the same folks who wanna go on and on about Diddy’s son. One might suggest that if Justin Combs should give back scholarship because his father has more than enough money to pay, then perhaps Richard Blum should refrain from making any more investments that have ties to UC, because with a company worth 7 billion, he has more than enough money.. How much more does he need to make?

There would be no outcry over Justin’s scholarship if folks doing the crying looked at the half a billion dollars spent on renovating Cal’s football stadium. It’s the most expensive renovation in college history and sadly that stadium still sits on a major earthquake faultline..We all should be asking, who in the UC system or on the Board of Regents benefited from that? Certainly not the students who marched, protested and even sat in trees for almost a year to try and stop the rebuilding of that stadium..

While this stadium was still being built and struggling to raise additional money for its completion,  the Board of Regents proposed to raise tuition almost a whooping 80% over the next 2-3 years.. This outraged students and led to huge protests throughout the UC system..Where thousands of students led walkouts, teach-ins and marches etc.. The first glimpse many around the country got of these protests was last fall when they saw disturbing footage of peaceful students being peppered sprayed at UC Davis and police beating peaceful students at Cal

Sadly as these students were getting peppered sprayed and beaten up you heard some of the pundits who are now attacking Combs, implying the students who were protesting were lazy bums who needed to get a job.

Is Justin Combs and his father Diddy the culprit here? Not by a long shot..That young man earned an athletic scholarship. I’d rather have the medias focus on guys like Richard Blum and his Board of Regent 1% cohorts.. Yeah I know it’s not sexy and easily packaged, but that’s where the money really is..

I’d rather we focus on the Millionaires Tax of 2012 which will help turn back some of the budget shortfall impacting the UC system. Let’s talk about all the big banks that have lined up to oppose it. Perhaps they’re upset about losing out on some of the trillion plus dollars students wind owing in school tuition loans..

Should Justin give back the money? Only if Richard Blum and his fellow Regents give back the obscene money they made off of UC and they resign from the regents.. At that point we can call it even Steven.

written by Davey D





Trials of a Hip Hop Educator: Promoting Proper Education in Our Communities

Trials of a Hip Hop Educator: Promoting Proper Education in Our Communities

By Bro. Tony Muhammad

Now let me tell you folks just exactly what I mean

The way they try to lower, the black man’s self esteem

Put us in their schools and I call em mental graves

When they teach us bout ourselves, all we learn that we were slaves 

It amazes me that it was almost 18 years ago that Grand Puba of the legendary Hip Hop group Brand Nubian uttered these lyrics in the song Proper Education.  Despite the growth in the development of Black, Latino, Native American, Asian and other cultural history curricula throughout the country, if we take a look at the current state of education and how it affects our youth, we can safely say that we are in the same state that we were back then, if not worse.  Yes, there are now classes in high schools all throughout the country that have been developed specifically for the instruction of African and African American History, Latin American History, etc.  Yet, we have truly not experienced significant advances in the overall consciousness of our communities.  The youth and hence grown adults continue to confuse or lack even the vague notions of critical recent events in our history (i.e. Confusing The Civil Rights Movement and The Civil War because they both contain the word “civil” and The March on Washington with The Million Man March because they both took place in the nation’s capital).  In truth, those of us that are most aware of this problem are no longer in a position where we can simply blame the system for not properly teaching our true history in a public school setting because we have even taken for granted the value of teaching our history itself.  The process very intricately involves the cultivation and nourishment of the self-esteem of our youth of color, but it is not merely limited to this.  KRS-One put it best 22 years ago in the song You Must Learn: 

I believe that if you’re teaching history

Filled with straight up facts no mystery

Teach the student what needs to be taught

‘Cause Black and White kids both take shorts

When one doesn’t know about the other ones’ culture

Ignorance swoops down like a vulture 

Emphatically, as a Social Studies educator who has made the decision to play a role in shaping young minds in an inner-city public high school for over 10 years, I will say that we can no longer expect the system to do for us what we can do for ourselves and our local communities.  Signs of this critical hour are found in the manner in which cultural curricula is treated in two principle states that play a strong role in the development of textbooks; Texas and Florida. (and a host of other websites including and recently ran an article entitled “Texas Board Of Education Declare Hip Hop Is Not A Cultural Movement.”  In the article it states that Members of the Texas State Board of Education have given preliminary approval to eliminate significant areas of the curriculum pertaining to Civil Rights and global politics and replace them with “conservative historical figures and beliefs.”  These conservative forces also “approved to have a sociological focus on institutional racism and its presence in American society banned from the books,” in addition to removing references to important Latino contributions throughout history – this is in a state that contains over 8.9 million Latinos (roughly 37% of the population).  In addition, Hip Hop History which is filled with many stories of personalities playing integral roles in working to eliminate violence in communities by way of the arts will also be deleted from the curriculum.  A final vote on this measure will take place sometime in May after conscientious voices in the community have had the opportunity to voice their opinions.  What I will say in short about this is that what the Texas School Board is attempting to do is eliminate any ray of light from the past that may serve to inspire the hope for change in the lives of poor Black, Latino and even White youth.  By eliminating such critical elements of history from the curriculum is contributing to factors that will land more of our youth in Texas in prison. 

In Florida, African and African American History is a state mandate which requires school systems throughout the state to implement it throughout the curriculum. While it has been a state law since the early 1990s, the mandate and the seat that oversees its implementation has continued to be unfunded by the state and it has been proven time and time again that there is no true penalty for school systems that are not in accords with its guidelines.  In February I had the opportunity to be the only educator present at a meeting between curriculum specialists representing three of the largest school districts in Florida, which are regarded as “exemplary” in their implementation of African and African American History; Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade.  I was invited because of my work in reforming the African American Voices Curriculum for Miami-Dade County.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how the three school districts can work together so that we can more successfully educate students in the area of African and African American History. 

While engaged in this dialogue, there was an attempt on the part of two White curriculum specialists from Broward to derail the focus of the meeting and turn it into a plead for more funding from the state for the purpose of increasing professional development for teachers.  I commented in response that while more funding is definitely needed, ultimately “Enthusiasm is not determined by funding.”  I said in the presence of a state education official in that very room that if the state has not adequately funded the African and African American History mandate as of yet, it is not going to be doing it in these troubled economic times. 

The state of Florida has proven that it does not really consider the African and African American History mandate a priority, but rather keeps it as a law as an attempt to keep conscientious voices quiet.  I proposed as a strategy instead to scope out enthusiastic teachers in schools throughout the three counties to become advocates not just to teach classes in Black History, but to transform the whole school culture through programs oriented in Black History.  The two White curriculum specialists interrupted me and accused me of proposing a “pep rallying” agenda.  I closed the meeting by saying that the need for proper implementation of Black History goes far beyond teaching a class and goes far beyond mere pep rallying around its content, but in essence, it is about instilling a sense of responsibility in the hearts and minds of the youth that it is being taught to so that they can become effective community leaders when they grow up and are in a position to give back and serve the community.  In truth, it has been Black people in the history of this country (and I will also say this world) that have been the prime catalysts for change and inspiring change whenever it has been deemed necessary for a change to take place.  If Black History (and really any history) is not taken and put to heart in this manner, we end up ineffective in what we seek to accomplish educationally. 

As educators that hold certified degrees in the field as well as those among us that do not hold certified degrees in the field, the solution does not lie fully in state educational mandates, but in the level of responsibility that we are willing to fill our hearts with and the level of sacrifice we are willing to commit to in providing service to our communities, especially in respects to the next generations that are coming up under us.  The process must involve proper role modeling and a thorough teaching of our true history, for, as Marcus Garvey put it himself “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”  In truth, no school systems have any real power to determine what knowledge is best for our youth to learn for their growth and development.  As conscientious communities we hold that right! 

As a note, while the work that will be required to impact a significant change in consciousness a reality may entail much volunteerism, let us bear in mind that no good work is ever left unrewarded.  Our first reward comes in the form of us actually witnessing the transformative effect of our work.  If worked in a proper way through networking and the pooling of our resources, it will guarantee opportunities that will garner further success for many of us. 

More discussion on this very soon through the will of God! 

Tony Muhammad teaches Social Studies at an inner-city high school in Miami and is currently involved in The MIA (Music Is Alive) Campaign for the development of the National Hip Hop Day of Service on August 11th .  Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference.  He is also a member of Difference Makers, Inc. and FLASC (Florida Africana Studies Consortium). 

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NY Oil Steps Up, Helps Boost Self Confidence Teaches Youngsters How to Flow

NY based rapper NYOIL  has decided to stop talking about the problems and start working toward solving  them. In recent weeks , he has gathered up anumber of neighborhood youth and started putting on events for them specifically to boost their self esteem..He’s been taking the youngsters on outings and trying to be positive force in their lives. In this video below..NY Oil is shown teaching  12 yr old Lady Bree some flow drills as she works up to getting on the upcoming project. Its a beautiful thing..

NY Oil noted; “See no matter how old or young if you aint fire you can’t touch the track!!”

See how HipHop is being passed down to save the culture.. as it SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE a long time ago. Props to NY Oil..

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