Bridging the gap

Stuckey, Andre



Andre Stuckey Word Count: 4,000 Bridging the Gap In order to bridge the differences that seperates us we must first find the similarities that unites us by advocating, and promoting the social, cultural and technological advances we've made as a society, and making sure all people and areas are equally apart of this process. Case in point, in 1998 I moved to New York City to live with a family member shortly after dropping out of University of California at Berkeley. After a brief stint living with this family member I decided to move but because I didnt want to follow house rules, instead focusing my attention on extensive partying, living the "street life" and engaging in gang activities for money reasons. I eventually moved in with a girlfriend who lived in a hotel, on W. 47th Street, in between 8th and 9th Avenue called the Sherman Hotel (still there!) in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan, known for extensive illegal activities At this stage in my life, I had totally abandoned my academic and career goals, in exchange for the instant gratification of the street life, and the fast times, illegal pleasures, adrenaline rush, and limited responsibilities that come with it. It was during this time that I was introduced to certain drug dealers, and my drug dealing, and illegal activities career began as I sold drugs in and around the area, as well as another "spot" uptown on W. 116th Street. In Harlem, where I also spent alot of time partying and living the street life. Their is a huge park on W. 116th Street called Morningside Park which seperates Harlem from the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan. Morningside Heights is a college district home to an Ivy League school called Columbia University, home to mostly white, and "foreign" upper middle class privileged students and staff, while Harlem is home to one of the oldest and largest African American communities in the country. page 3 of 31 Back in the 1970's and 80's, Morningside Park did not have a strong police presence at night, despite being open to the public 24 hours a day and having a million blind spots!!!! As a result numerous assaults, robberies and rapes were reported by college students and staff. Prior to this time, Harlem had always been seen as a place to avoid for Columbia students and staff due to high crime and the perception that they were not welcome because of social and cultural differences even though many of these same students "secretly" snuck into Harlem for drugs or entertainment reasons. Morningside Park, which has been there since the early 1800's and since the early 1900's has been regarded as the (great!) borderline of the cultural and social conflict between Morningside Heights and Harlem. Historically, Morningside Park has been one of the only places where these two "worlds" (well said) crossed paths in a pre-social media era. With the increase in crime in the 1970's and 80's throughout the cit[y] page 4 of 31 as well as in Morningside Park, curfews were placed on many of the city's park, including Morningside Park. However, these curfews were not enforced because the city at that time was going through economic crisis, bankruptcy and could not afford the cost of policing most of its parks (excellent juxtaposition!) The nightly news coverage of the upswing in crime acros the city especially in the African and Latino communities reinforced the fears of residents in neighborhoods like Morningside Heights, while the lack of educational, social, and economical equality in neighborhoods like Harlem created hostilities and resentment toward whites in the city. A combination of these factors lead to an increase in the social and cultural divide in the city. (New ¶?*) Because of its rich cultural and entertainment history, Harlem has always been an attractive entertainment option for upper middle class whites, but because of social an cultural pressures they felt they had to "sneak" into page 5 of 31 Harlem to prevent from being seen as sympathetic to the "black" cause. In 1998, me and a few of my "Hells Kitchen" and "Harlem" drug associates sold "soft" drugs in Morningside Park consisting mainly of marijuana and ecstas[y] pills. A small but significant amount of our customers and transactions came from Columbia students and staff. During this period of time I got to know quite a few Columbia students and to a lesser degree staff as well, who probably thought I went there because of my frequenc[y] in the area as well as my mannerism, which at first glance you do not not associate with being "threatening" or a "street thug." During these interactions I was surprised at how many of these students and staff had an open mind as to how they wanted to approach blacks, mainly because they (the whites or blacks?) either did not have regular access to conversations with blacks in the cities or areas they were from or they were rebeling against the page 6 of 31 "false consensus bias" that plagues those communities, or they were intrigued by now living in New York City, which (Well said! Good points!) is the "melting pot" of the world and completely crushes the false consensus bias theory. False consensus bias is the assumption that we share the same views and beliefs Their was a nice essay written by Sean Blanda called "The Other Side Is Not Dumb" in which he focuses on the fact that the best way to overcome false [consensus?] (Nice intro/frame) bias is by recognizing opposite views, beliefs and culture In "The Other Side is Not Dumb," Sean Blanda states in par[t:] "But we won't truly progress as individuals until we make an honest effort to understand those that are not like us. And you wont convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don't respect their position and opinions" (Blanda 216, 217) (Great connection/explanations) In the pre-social media era, the only way poor blacks and upper middle class whites could have meaningful page 7 of 31 access to each other was through some form of "illegal" or "secret" activity in which each side basically had to "sneak" into the "other's" world to prevent unnecessary drama and this opens the door to indirect exploitation on both side. (*New ¶?) I had several short-term relationships with women who went to Columbia that lasted anywhere from an "one-night stand" to a "weekend hookup" to a "several months fling" in which we pretended to care about each other and our backgrounds only to invalidate that with our actions due to the fear of being portrayed as the "different one" within our social peer group. As great a city as New York City is, the level of social exploitation in that city, especially pre-social media, is unlike any other city in this world, although, the social exploitation goes both ways I've hooked up with several woman only because they had money, and I've had woman hook up with me because I page 8 of 31 had access to drugs or for their own personal selfish reasons. Most or all of these types of relationships ended up fizzling out once it implicated and/or jeopardized both sides' social platform. For example when I used to take a white girlfriend to any "spot" in Harlem, in those days, it would be routine (How could you stay "true" to the voice & cut out the cuss?) to hear "Why you fucking with that white bitch she must got money" or "Dont bring her around here like that" or "Watch how you handle her, it's only a matter of time before she flips on you, they still not over the O.J. thing". Most of these comments came from black women but there were some of my "homies" who did not trust "white girls and didnt want them around because they felt they had the greatest potential to "snitch" to the police any tim[e] they witnessed or thought they were witnessing someth[ing] illegal. (*New ¶?) On the other end of the spectrum, there were countless times I was taken to social gatherings on or off campus in which I was the only black in the room page 9 of 31 or spot and I would hear "She's only with him because she feels sorry for him" or He must know Jay Z or one of them rich rappers or something" or "She's only with him because she wants to be seen with a black guy". This last comment always struck me as odd because of my skin complexion and the fact that in a city as diverse as New York City it would be hard to distinguish what race I am, at first glance. Another comment I used to hear was "She's only with him because she's never been with a black guy, she's only experimenting". Each time one of these comments was made (on both sides of the spectrum) we would be quick to jump to the other's defense but now that I look back it probably was not done with sincerity, and we always ended up caving to the pressure of our social class and friends Sean Blanda suggests: (Nice!) (Yes!) "It signals that we'd much rather show our friends that we're like them, than try to understand those who are not" (215) page 10 of 31 (How could you bridge or connect the two quotes?) "In a Letter from a Birmingham Jail" by Martin Luther King, J[r.] he states: "History is the long and tragic story of the fac[t] that priviledged groups seldom give up their priviledges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture but, as Reinhold Niebhur has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals" Now that I look back on it, every relationship I've been in with a woman who was in a different social (and racial?) class as me, in which we had to meet each other's world we (Wow. Well said. An experience so many share!) always came away with the feeling that it was better to leave things as they were instead of getting reprimanded by our own for letting what is foreign or strange into their mindset. page 11 of 31 The late 1990's and early 2000's was really a positive turning point in how black, Latino, Asian, Native American and white youth interacted with each other as social, cultural and technological advances in the form of the rise of social media, the rise of the hip hop and rap culture, the decline in crime in the inner cities and the growing popularity with sports (which always provides a good platform for racial harmony). (Today?) Alot of people feel the election of Donald Trump has created racial tensions and hostilities in this country. these fears, while true, only provide some of the reasons why Donald trump was elected. the problem in this country is that rural America is not historically, a place where "minorities" migrate or live, and as a (True!) result these rural communities are easily manipulated by people like Donald trump who reinforces their false-consensus bias mentality and their views that their voices are not being heard, which is perfectly page 12 of 31 illustrated in Robert Leonardo's essay "Why America Voted for trump" which was first published on January 5, 2017. Just look at who voted for Trump and you will see he dominated the "rural" vote, and the way the electoral college is set up, it made his election a sure bet. Despite the above fact, the United States population continue[s] to become more diverse than ever as more people move into urban metropolitan areas, leaving more and more rural areas abandoned, where their voices and concerns are becoming more and more unheard, while feeling left behind in the social, cultural and technological advances and developments going on in this country. In Robert Leonardo's essay he states; in part: "Who are these rural, red-county people who brought Mr. Trump into power?..... Political analysts have talked about how ignorance, racism, sexism, nationalism, Islamophobia, economic disenfranchisement and the page 13 of 31 decline of the middle class contributed to the popularity (Indent) of Mr. Trump in rural America. But this misses the deeper cultural factors that shape the thinking of the conservatives who live there" (, 280). Blacks and other minorities tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic, so when they feel their voices are not being heard they tend to continue to vote Democratic. On the other side of the spectrum rural America tends to vote overwhelmingly Republican, so when they feel their voices are not being heard they tend to vote overwhelming Republican. Eventually, as the United States population continues to grow and as the "minority population" becomes the majority, the advantages that the conservative rural areas bring to the electora[l] college system will be weakened. The political leaders in these conservative rural areas realize this which is why they are riding this Donald Trump wave for as long as possible, because they feel once he is page 14 of 31 out of office their false consensus beliefs will be damaged and will not be able to manifest in the way that they want. (1) Its worth noting that Donald Trump is actually doing less for these rural areas than Barack Obama. (New ¶?) In order to bridge the differences that seperate us we must first find the similarities (keep!) that unite us by advocating and promoting the social, cultural and technological advances we've made as a society, and making sure all people and areas are equally apart of this process. (Connect this better - tie explicitly to what you wrote above about rural Am. & Trump) ? 125 Street is in the heart of Harlem and is widely regarded as the "Black" Broadway, home to the Apollo theatre, the Cotton Club, Sylvia's restaurant and other social hotspots. In 2009 while walking down 125th street I was surprised at the large number of whites not only walking down the street but also living in Harlem. Some Black leaders fear a gentrification plan is occurring as residents are being priced out of their (homes?) page 15 of 31 (Could stop @ end of this page...) African Americans make up about 70% of Harlem, while Latinos make up about 25%, and whites about 5% in a neighborhood that prior to the 1990's was 100% black since around the 1910's. (What conclusion do you come to about this? Or how does it connect to thesis?) I guess 70% can be a little alarming which brings us to the question (Great question!) "When does integration jeopardize cultural identity, heritage and customs?" Can we truly unite as a human race if a limit is placed on the level of integration we seek in all ethnic communities?" Whatever the case may be the cultural richness of Harlem continue as the social, cultura[l] and technological advances of our society continues to (Nice!) thrive. We must divise a strategy to make sure rural America feels apart of these advances. It is onl[y] as we develop others that we permanently succeed. We must be the change we wish in the world but we still have a ways to go. (*New ¶?) Social exploitation is an issue that furthers the social divide in this page 16 of 31 country. At the end of 2009, I got released from Clinton State Prison which is the most violent state prison in New York. Upon my release I got a job at a restaurant called the Pump Energy Health Food Restaurant on Pearl Stre[et] in the Wall Street District of Manhattan in New York City While working there I was faced with the realization that their still is a great social and economic divide in this country despite recent success. Every morning while getting off at the "Wall Street" subway station and walking up to the street level exit I was met with the sight of an old black man shining the shoes of rich white men, Wall Street types. As I looked in disappointment I realized that this old Black man had a donation bucket in front of him with just quarters and one dollar bills in it, while simultaneously being as he was verbally harasse[d] by these white men. Till this day, it angers angrys me to (Yes - sad image!) even think about that daily site while walking to page 17 of 31 work. (*New ¶?) While working in the "Pump Energy" restaurant I witnessed even more social exploitation. Most of the customers (about 90%) were rich "Wall Street types" enjoying their lunch breaks, while most of the restaurant worker were poor minorities working hard for "crumbs". My primary job duties were to cook and provide home delivery to customers. On numerous occasions I was presented with job opportunities from several of these "Wall Street types" (both female and males) that would have been morally and ethnically disrespectful had I accepted the job. For example, my supervisor Nicole (who was the owner's daughter) introduced me to an old white, but, rich woman who had a job opportunity for me, which I decline to go into detail about, but I'll give you a hint its similar to what a male escort provides for woman but it involved more "extreme" things. At the moment this job opportunity was presented to me I thought page 18 of 31 to myself (How could you say this w/out the cuss?) "What the fuck am I being sold or something what the fuck is this about?" Did my supervisor Nicole mean any harm, probably not!!!!? She probably thought she was presenting me with an opportunity to make my financial situation better especially considering I was fresh out of prison, but the reality is that the social exploitation in New York City and other cities across the country is alarming and getting worse, especially among immigrants workers. There is still alot of work to be done to make (PBSP Facility B, Unit 3) our society a more equally balanced social class. In order to bridge the differences that seperates us we must first find the similarities that unites us by advocating and promoting the social, (how would these [h]elp w/ [s]ocial exploitation?) cultural and technological (PBSP Facility B, Unit 3) advances we've made as a society and making sure all people and areas are equally apart of this process. (Or you could end it here!) page 19 of 31 (I know & can see the connection to your thesis... how could you strengthen that pgs. 19-30?) From 1998 to 2009, my illegal activities lead me back and forth to Rikers Island, which is New York City's notorious city jail. During one of my unfortunate trips to Rikers Island I was housed in its disciplinary "S.H.U." known as "the Bing." "The Bing" is a 23 hour disciplinary lock-up facility where the so-called, worst of the worst, on Rikers Island are housed. Gang activity brought me to "the Bing" in 2003. During this time I was first introduced to civil law by a law library clerk named Mr. Johnson who worked in "the Bing." At this (PBSP Facility B, Unit 3) time I learned how to file civil action lawsuits and my civil law litigation career began. In 2004, I was transferred to the infamous Attica State Prison where I continued to engage in active gang activity, (see attachments No: 2 + 3) as my once promising academic and intellectual potential was completely put on hold. My self-destructive path eventually lead me back and forth to the S.H.U. in some of the page 20 of 31 worst prisons in New York State, from Rikers Island to Sing Sing, to Clinton and then back to Attica State Prisons. In 2008, while in Attica I discovered that my ways of thinking in regards to other prisoners and the penal system were all wrong. I came across several (what could you take out here that doesn't directly support your thesis?) prisoners who were in Attica during the infamous 1971 uprising that killed over 40 prisoners and prison staff. They taught me the importance of fighting for proletarian justice which is an end to the system that perpetuates the destructive cycle that imprisonment represents. (*New ¶?) every rebellion is a battle in a continuous struggle waged on a intellectual level. When material conditions for resistance are ripe positive resistance will occur not just in the penal system but in society as a whole, which I expect will happen during the 2020 presidential election. As I seek positive change to the corrupt and oppressive prison page 21 of 31 system, I fully understand my strength and weaknesses as I unite with the progressive community on the outside to provide assistance especially with the media to help shed light to the inhumane conditions and the federal civil rights abuses we are forced to live under (This is [illegible] point but how could you more fully connect this to your thesis?) I now understand that in order to fully make a change in the struggle to fight the oppressive machine we know as the trump administration and the state and federal penal systems Political actions should be organized, disciplined and guided by advanced political theory. I now fight for restorative justice for the state incarcerated prison class, as the powers that be, seem to be, not receptive to either the positive changes with our lives or not satisfied by our actions of restoring humanity to a place or a people where their is little. This is something I am constantly confronted with, as I walk this California maximum security prison. page 22 of 31 Alot of my time is centered around me preparing for my eventual release from prison in 2020, and my goal of becoming a top notch screenwriter, director and producer, as I pursue numerous entrepreneur businesses. It is the role of the state and federal courts to (How could you connect this back to your thesis?) protect our basic human rights by which we satisfy such basic yearning of the human spirit. The need for identi[ty] and self-respect are more compelling in the dehumanizing prison environment. If one wishes to know the principles, morals and ethics of its state all one (Yes!) needs to do is visit inside its prisons. There their you will find the moral and ethics standards of the peopl[e] of that state. Despite my high I.Q. level, I'm far from perfect. A life spent making mistakes is not (Excellent point!) only more honorable but more useful than a life spen[t] doing nothing. page 23 of 31 In September of 2009, I was released from the Clinton state prison (see attachment #1). 30 days following my release I got a job at a health food restaurant called the Pump Energy Food Restaurant, located in the Wall Street District of Manhattan. I also found a cheap apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, which like Harlem, is predominately an African-American community. Bedford-Stuyvesant is approximately 95% black, and like Harlem is a very vibrant community. Bedford-Stuyvesant is very self-segregating, where most of its residents rarely leave the community and one will rarely see a white perso[n.] Bedford-Stuyvesant is also home to one of the largest Arab an[d] Muslim communities, who blend in perfectly with the African Americans in the community. In the middle of Bedford-Stuyvesant is Fulton Avenue where one of the largest Muslim Mosques is located, and is also the epi-center of this very vibrant community where stores page 24 of 31 and restaurants stay open 24 hours a day. I eventually relocated to the East New York section of Brooklyn where I was able to find a cheaper but larger apartment. East New York, like Bedford-Stuyvesant, is predominately Black, but it does have a sizable Puerto Rican community as well. While living in Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York, I could help but notice how much comfortable and happier people are when they self-segregate, while (Right.) having the opportunity and means to be self-succient in a thriving economy. In Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York most of the clothing stores, restaurants, corner liquor stores, thrift shops, churches, community centers and neighborhood clinics are owned by Blacks or Arabs in the community. (*New ¶?) I actually dont have a problem with self-segregating as long as that self-segregating community has equal access to quality health care, public transportation infrastructures, restaurants, clothing stores page 25 of 31 libraries, community centers, parks and everything else needed to form a vibrant community. A self-segregating thriving community enhances cultural identity and customs as long as self-segregating communities have equal access to opportunities that other communities have that are thriving it reduces the possibility of resentment and (Great point!) hatred towards other races and social groups. Races tend to revert to situations where they can be in (Nice) "safe spaces", "culture fit" and systems that are personalized are highly desirable. In today's society I actually think people can live in self-segregating communitie[s] and still reap the benefits of social and cultural (True!) integration via the ever-growing presence of social media. Only on social media can a low-income black youth have access to conversations with an upper middle class white youth in England or France, or with a low-income youth in India or China, or anywhere in the world. page 26 of 31 My views regarding the internet are not shared with everybody. In 2017, an essay titled "Why America is Self-Segregating" was written by Danah Boyd. Danah Boyd views regarding the internet greatly conflict with mine, when she states in part: "Exposing people to content that challenges their perspective doesnt actually make them more empathetic to those values and perspectives. To the contrary, it polarizes them. What makes people willing to hear difference is knowing and trusting people whose worldview differs from their own exposure to content cannot make-up for self-segregat[ion]" (Danah Boyd, 227) (Well done!) I disagree with Danah Boyd's argument in part, because, the internet can be whatever a person wants it to be if you use social media with an open mind you will reap the benefits of why social media was created which is to broaden peoples perspectives and worldview page 27 of 31 by providing a platform for people of all race and cultures to have access to each other for conversation Do people use social media for evil purposes... Of course as with everything in life theres a good and bad element to social media, but the "pros" of social media outweigh its "cons". Danah Boyd made a great point that I agree with when she says: "If we want to develop a healthy democracy, we need a diverse and highly connected social fabric. This requires creating contexts in which the American public voluntarily struggles with the challenges of diversity to build bonds that will (How could you connect this back?) last a lifetime." (Danah Boyd, 228) I am now setting the stage for a long-term mass political struggle involving prison reform support networks legal and academic scholars (including past, present instructors) and social media influencers. page 28 of 31 One of the major roadblocks to effective prison reform is excessive sentences and federal civil rights violations occurring in state and federal prisons. I have settled numerous lawsuits since first being introduced to civil law litigation in 2003, while on Rikers Island. (See attachments # 4 + 5) I currently have a civil action lawsuit against the trump administration and President Donald Trump in particular. My claim against Donald Trump involves the following facts: (Wow!) "Donald Trumps actions of introducing and signing into law several fiscal budgets that reduced federal funding for numerous United States Department of Justice accounts, including the F.B.I. and state and local law enforceme[nt] assistance, while shutting down the government set in motion a series of events that he should have known would cause federal civil rights violations to the plaintiff and those similarly situation". (see attachment #6 thru #20) page 29 of 31 The adverse and psychological effects that excessive sentence and federal civil rights abuses have on the mind is enormous, including insomnia, depression, irrational anger and lethargy. Despite the research and scientific evidence of the (Have you experience these? What effects have you experienced?) psychological effect of excessive sentences and federal civil rights abuses, the state and federal prisons systems continue to overlook its psychological impact, in order to cause damage and to disrupt the inmate population. Depending on the inmate's character, an excessive sentence and inhumane conditions can ultimately alter a person's social behavior, temperament, concentration and ability to cope with stress, thereby diminishing his chance of a fruitful existence outside of prison as well as long term change to one's mental and physical health. The penal system does not allow for weakness, so the anxiety and stress levels that bottles up inside the minds of the incarcerated majority keeps them constantly page 30 of 31 on the verge of emotional (PBSP Facility B, Unit 3) collapse. The long term effects of an excessive sentence, federal civil right abuses and inhumane conditions are irreparable. Warehousing and silencing any segment of a population is a bad, fear-based practice. In order for democracy to function it is important to hear from every segment of its population, even those disenfranchised by crime. (*New ¶?) I truly admire and look up to those that help to shine light on excessive sentences, federal civil rights abuses and inhumane (Very concise & well written!) conditions, while equipping us with the tools to reall[y] fight and overcome the effects they have. Nelson Mandela once said "A man's will doesnt cease (Yes!) from a minor setback but rather strives for a greater comeback. A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

Author: Stuckey, Andre

Author Location: California

Date: June 5, 2020

Genre: Essay

Extent: 30 pages

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