Monday, September 29, 2008

The Video Is Up!

The video of the band playing The Raiders March is up here:

You can vote every day. The winner will be announced during College Gameday on October 11.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In today's Daily Reveille, the school paper, there was the following article:

Auburn fan, don’t call me ‘nigger’

Johanathan Brooks

Sports Contributor

Print this article

Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008

Updated: Thursday, September 25, 2008

I had my fourth away game experience when I went to Auburn, Ala., to see LSU play this past weekend.

It was a good time, and I list Auburn as one of my favorite college gameday experiences. But one bad apple left a sour taste in my mouth.

Nearly everyone was gracious in welcoming me to the city and hoped I enjoyed myself, but one guy thought he’d be bold enough to actually call me the “n-word.”

I’ll admit, I don’t have high regards for the state that tried to force Rosa Parks to the back of a bus, forced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to march from Selma to Montgomery so people like my grandparents could have their basic civil rights and had a governor who defied the Alabama National Guard by refusing to let blacks enter the state’s largest college.

But with all that negative history, I never expected to be told to “Move out of the way, nigger” while lining up outside the stadium to get in.

The instance reminded me of a quote by my favorite comedian, Dave Chappelle:

“Have you ever had something happen that was so racist that you didn’t even get mad? You was like, ‘God damn that was racist!’”

That’s exactly how it felt. I didn’t even have the capacity to respond because I was caught so off guard.

To top things off, this wasn’t the first instance of racism I’ve had to deal with while trying to enjoy a football game.

I had the unfortunate experience of driving to Oxford, Miss., in 2007.

Aside from Oxford being where fun goes to die, I had to see dozens of confederate flags and listen to men sing “Dixie.”

I respect other schools’ traditions no matter how backward or racist I perceive them to be, so that didn’t bother me.

What bothered me was a grown man asking me when I was let out of prison to come see the game as if — just because I’m black — I’ve committed enough crimes by the age of 20 to warrant serving hard time.

I’ve only had one run-in with the law, and it was for speeding.

Maybe I’ve been sheltered growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta, but I honestly can’t recall an instance when an “adult” picked on me because of my race.

It was only these two idiots coming to see teams — ironically enough — comprised mostly of people who look like me.

My other two away trips saw no instances of bigotry. For that, I’d like to thank the lovely people of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Tulane fans in New Orleans.

In 2008 — a year that has seen a black man leading most national polls to become the next president — there are still people ignorant enough to try to offend me because I don’t have to tan and my hair is a coarser texture. And I think it’s ridiculous.

I don’t really care if people hate me. But if you are going to, at least have a real reason.

Don’t hate me because I’m black.

Hate me because I’m a national champion, and you aren’t.

That article serves well for me to discuss the second big difference that I have noticed between home and LSU (as I knew would probably be a difference in some form). Racism. I figured before I even came here that I would probably hear of/encounter some situations regarding this. LSU is in Louisiana, which is part of the Deep South.

The book I had to read over the summer before my senior year of high school, The Blind Side, is a book about Michael Oher, a football player for Ole Miss from the Memphis area, and his high school football career and college recruitment (sidenote, he was being recruited by Nick Saban who at the time was the coach for LSU. Nick Saban promised him that he would not leave LSU, and then he left LSU for the Miami Dolphins. Now Nick Saban is coaching again in the SEC, now at Alabama. Needless to say, there are a lot of negative and hard feelings towards Saban. It is going to be one interesting game when Alabama comes to play here on November 8, when it will be Nick Saban's first time back in Tiger Stadium since suddenly departing LSU). Anyways, in the book, there are portions that do show how there are still some remaining racist attitudes in the deep south. I was not shocked when I have observed the racist feelings that sometimes surface in some people at times.

I heard a story about how a New Orleans police chief said that any white person driving in a black neighborhood would be pulled over, and vice versa, any black person driving in a white neighborhood would be pulled over, and he said "If you don't like it and complain, we'll stop. An you can get robbed."

Now, the Oakton, the high school I went to, is considered in Fairfax County as being "the rich white school." This is because the school demographics are somewhat like this: 70% white, 20% asian, 10% hispanic, black, others. In the band program, there was an average of about 2-3 black kids in the program all four years I was there. Yes, this shows that even up in Northern Virginia, there are some areas that are still somewhat "segregated" in a sorts, it is not as bad as still is down here in some ways. As well, I never encountered any actual situations regarding racism while I was at Oakton.

Down here at LSU, it is different. And I'm sure its similar all across the deep south, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia. This also goes to show that although the civil rights movement occured almost 50 years ago now, there is still a LONG way to go before racism is eliminated. I honestly don't think it will ever completley happen, because there is always going to be one group that thinks they are elitist over another group in some form or another. Its a part of human nature.

I belive that this could also be a deciding factor in the November election in the swing state of Virginia. A large part of southern Virginia is comprised of blacks. However, a large portion of them do not typically vote in elections. The fact that Barack Obama is running as the Democratic candidate could change this and push Virginia over the edge. It will probably be interesting to see how the voting in this years election compares to that of past years, especially in states like Virginia and those in the deep south. There is a new factor that has not been in past presidential elections. We'll see how things go.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Vote for LSU

Last Wednesday evening, the Tiger Band had a recording session with ESPN. We are a part of a competition with 6 other bands as a part of the release of the new Indiana Jones movie. The winning band will recieve $25,000. If LSU wins, the money will go to our new band hall. You can go to the following website to vote every day until the winner is announced on College Gameday on October 11 (which there is a good chance the featured game will be LSU-Florida):

So go to that website and please vote for the LSU band! The videos of all the bands will be up on September 29.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fairfax County #2?

I was just checking my e-mail and looking at some of the news stories that were showing on Netscape, and one of the stories was a listing of the top 10 richest counties in the country. Five of those 10 counties are in the Washington DC metro area. Prince William County ranked #9, Montgomery #7, Howard #3, Fairfax County, where we live, #2, and Loudoun ranked as the richest county nation wide. Seeing that really hit home how I live in such a well-off community.

For my MUED 1700 class, we are being assigned a reading partner at a local elementary school. We are being assigned a child who is behind where they are supposed to be in reading standards according to a test that they will be taking this week (they would have taken the test last week, but the East Baton Rouge schools had two full weeks off due to Gustav). It will then be my job to help this child improve their reading skills over the course of weekly meetings for about 8 or 9 weeks. When the person in charge of registering us for the program came and talked to our class, she was talking about how much of an impact we will be making in some childs life and how these children really need the help. She cited some statistics, and the one that is most prevalent in my mind right now is that the fact that about 40% of adults in East Baton Rouge parish are illiterate, meaning they have lower than a 3rd grade reading level. I'll say taht again, a third grade reading level. To most of us that seems really easy, but for such a large area, for 40% of adults to not be able to read at that level is truly staggering. That means that a large number of children also do not have parents who are able to help them with reading. For a large number of households, they either have no books or very few, usually being a phone book, maybe a Bible, and maybe a magazine. At my house, everywhere you look you will see books. I would say it would be safe to say that about 1/3-1/2 of the wall space at our house in Fairfax is covered with bookshelves and books or have books piled on the floor in front of it.

Seeing where Fairfax County was earlier just helped me realize even more than I already did, how much of a completly different community I am down here at LSU than I was up in Fairfax. I am truly thankful that I have such a loving and caring family that is there for me and how I have been able to grow up in such great environments for education. It is truly amazing how much a large difference ther is just in our nation alone, I can only imagine what it is like in some other countires in Africa, South and Central America, and the Carribean. There are other big differences between Fairfax and Baton Rouge that I will be writing about in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Pentagon

My dorm, Jackson Hall, is in the "Pentagon" on the LSU campus. The Pentagon consists of four dorms, Jackson, Taylor, Beauregard, and Lejune. At the bottom of the Pentagon is a smaller building with a small mini-mart in it and a place to do laundry. Each dorm in the Pentagon is not like your typical dorm, where everyone is on "floors" with an RA for every floor, or for sections of floors for larger buildings. Instead, the Pentagon dorms are divided into 5 "stacks." A "stack" is a stairwell 3 floors high, with 4 rooms and a bathroom on each floor. On the first floor, one room is a storage/maintanence room, and on the second floor, one of the rooms is a kitchen, where floor (or in this case, "stack") meetings are held. There is one RA for each stack. It is a different living environment from your typical dorm with a long hallway with 20-40 people in the hallway. There are 27 people in each stack, plus the one RA.

The Pentagon also provides a great social atmosphere. In the center of all the buildings (obviously, in a Pentagon shape) is a courtyard with a number of picnic tables and barbeque grills. At just about any point in time, rain or shine, you will probably be able to find people outside in the courtyard at these picnic table. The courtyard provides a great place to be able to meet people outside just your stack, meeting people from the other buildings. After classes, when the sun is going down and it is getting cooler, all the tables get filled with groups of people gathering together. Even on Monday in the rain, there was still a group at one of the picnic tables. People come out no matter what the weather is. All the other dorms on campus don't have anything close to resembling the Pentagon courtyard. Broussard, right next to the Pentagon has a small courtyard outside the TV/Pool room, but it isn't nearly as large. It also doesn't have as many people in it at any given point in time. People can almost always be found in the courtyard late into the night, usually until at least 1AM, sometimes later. When we didn't have classes, some people were out until 4AM or later. I have classes starting at 8:30 and 7:30, so I obviously wouldn't be able to do that and be able to function well the next day. After a couple days of staying up past 1AM, I would probably end up falling asleep in my 7:30 math class.

Even though the dorm rooms themselves in the Pentagon dorms are probably the worst on campus, being small and crowded (3 to a room for most people, except for some of the girls in some stacks), the social atmosphere in the Pentagon is much more enjoyable than that for other dorms on campus.