Redefining the Labyrinth was a project I began while teaching at a local Memphis High School. With the current uproar about all that is wrong in the Memphis City Schools, I thought it would be interesting to post the work generated by four high school seniors, who are products of a system that everyone assumes is not capable of developing and producing productive students who can compete in this socioeconomic culture. I edited the book and contributed essays to give the book a shape and form, but it was the work of the students that allowed for the completion of this work. The artwork was completed by the student author DeVarius Fisher and the idea to make the name of each chapter an allusion to a song in Hip-Hop was a collaborative effort. I will post each student essay here on the blog. There is also a Question and Answer section in the book. If you would like to purchase a copy click here.
Featured Artist: London Maclin
Life Is Real: The New Civil War of the 21st Century(A Children’s Story)
The nation, our America, is at war… within itself. African Americans are on one side of the battlefield and the whites are on the other. Waiting for a signal to charge, the tension, dislike, and the hate is constantly rising and mounting. The reason for this war like affair is due to the system of standards within this country for different races. Favoritism and special treatment between the races has caused a spilt within the homeland. The races are looking for any kind of weakness that they can invade. Hoping for a way to win, they both plan. In the midst of all this mayhem, the government is silently sitting back, betting on which side is going to win. They send officials to both sides with false information about the other. The battle for jobs, housing, and quality schooling has turned the twenty-first century into a modern day civil war.
Blacks are led to believe that they are below everybody else. They live in ghettos, better known as projects, and make far below the standards of poverty. Many do not finish school and most end up on state welfare. The ones that do make it out are considered very lucky. They find a way to escape their horrible childhoods and never look back.
The average black American is a single parent and struggling to make ends meet. Many seem to blame their problems on the white community. They see 400 plus years of enslavement as the cause of the struggle and demand fair treatment. Movements occur, with angry, young blacks leading the march. They hold rallies and provide information sessions that allow people of color to hear their case. Writing letters to the local chapters of the NAACP and SCLC, they wait to hear back on what they should do. Time passes and they cannot wait any longer; they take things into their own hands. Forgetting the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the later change of Malcolm X, they have evolved into a new millennium twisted version of the Panthers. Taking no prisoners, they charge full steam ahead. With heads filled with anger, hearts filled with broken promises, and lost dreams they declare war.
Whites appear to be living on what society calls “Easy Street”, making money and spending it like there is no tomorrow. Buying houses and stocks on Wall Street, they spend and spend but rarely give back. They tend to drain money out of the economy but expect everyone else to foot the bill. They flaunt money like it grows on trees.
There are also whites who live in the so called “projects” and struggle with their bills. They blame most of their problems on the black community. They gather together and write to their local newspapers, news stations, and to Capitol Hill; hoping they can do something about their problems. While waiting on word from their fellow leaders; many visit meetings that are hosted by groups such as, Skin Heads, Klu Klux Klan, and the Neo-Nazis. The views that they once had are brought to a boiling rage. They are now out for blood. Their movement that was once in play is now a full out war.
The government is watching as the war is waiting to happen. They have heard the pleas and cries of both sides and they have seen the unjust and unequal treatment. How can they stand by and watch the people that have built this nation tear it down?
It all comes down to the prospect of money. The more frustration by blacks and whites, the bigger the penalties imposed. To further this, they send people out to make sure that it happens. Blacks hear one thing from Blacks, and the whites another from Whites. They know the problems that caused this civil war but they refuse to own up to that mistake. It is like they have bought front row seats to a Tyson and Lenox fight and are waiting to see the blood shed. Now there is no backing down or reversing what is done, the final horn sounds and the war and games begun. As things get progressively worse and the dead are tallied, families are torn apart and lives destroyed, all for personal and selfish gain. Money keeps rolling in but the hardest workers never see a penny or a dime of it.
The black and the whites have no idea that they were only pawns in a bigger game. They never knew that they were never going to be helped or saved. The two races were left to die in anger that was falsely fueled. The job, housing, and schooling situation only added to the combustion of anger and hate. It bubbled until it could not hold anymore; bursting at the seams of all that held the nation together. Exposing lies and hidden tales, the truth was out there but the two just could not see. The government just covered it up and started from scratch with another plan.
London Maclin is a soph at Texas Southern University.