Neil deGrasse Tyson Should Be An Essential Figure To The Young Black Community

Neil deGrasse Tyson Should Be An Essential Figure To The Young Black Community

He'll make us "reach for the stars."

Throughout the late 19th and mid 20th century, African American scientists were at the pinnacle of their craft. By 1876, Physicist Edward Bouchet became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from an American Institution at Yale. George Washington Carver was born a slave and died as one of the most innovative scientists of his generation, making over 300 products from Peanut Crops. Marie Maynard Daly earned her Doctorate in Chemistry as the First African American woman to do so and Alice Ball was almost certain she found the standard treatment for Leprosy.

Unfortunately, many of these accomplished scientists go unheard of in many public schools here in the United States, especially those who have students in which the majority are African American. Washington Carver is noted in many school events during Black History Month, including a presentation of him I did in Davison Avenue Intermediate School over a decade ago.

However, a majority of the notable African American figures mentioned during that presentation within the moss-covered brick walls of our gym were civil rights leaders, understandably and respectively. As a 7-year-old blooming biologist, however, I needed another famous mentor that looked just like me. Someone who can change the world of science and bring more African American boys like me into the sciences.

Cue Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The current director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center, Tyson has seeped his way into pop culture with books such as "Origins," "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" and hosted shows "StarTalk" and "Cosmos." He even featured in rapper Logic's "AfricAryaN" track as "God." Tyson is reaching audiences a majority of scientists can't seem to reach: the average nonscientist and young black boys who want to better themselves with opportunities they were never given before.

He allowed me to believe in myself and pursue biology.

He makes astrophysics.... actually enjoyable.

Many of the world's most famous scientists and their respective mentors in history weren't African American at all. Charles Darwin, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, and James Watson were (and are) absolutely brilliant in their respective fields and I look up to all of them with high regard.

However, no man has as much a chance on influencing the black youth into pursuing the sciences as Tyson does. He made me believe that being an African American male scientist in this generation is still possible, and could possibly influence more boys like me to just "shoot for the stars."

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.


1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten

Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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Coping With The Loss Of A Passion

It's hard to get it back once you lose it.


In college, time to focus on passions seems limited. The homework, essays, group projects, and exams are never-ending.

In high school, I took my free time for granted. I was dancing four hours four nights a week, but I wasn't constantly stressed. I had time to focus on my passion, which is dance.

In college, I am a part of an amazing dance club. But I don't get to compete, take technique classes, or be with the team I was with since I was 8 years old. Now, I receive videos of my team from home's amazing performances, and it aches a bit. I am so proud and happy for their growth but jealous that they have more years than I do. It is nearly impossible to find technique classes at college to take with no car, little free time, and barely any money. I miss my team, I miss my dance teachers and choreographers, and I miss competitions, but most of all, I miss the person I was when I had the opportunity to pursue my passion several hours a week.

My passion will always be there, and I do get to pursue dance on a smaller scale with some amazing dancers in college, but I am coping with the fact that I will never do another competition with my team again, I will never be able to dance with them again, and I will never be able to learn from my dance teachers again. It's a hard loss, one that I think about every day.

To anyone who still has the opportunities to pursue their passions to the fullest extent, you are lucky. Not everyone gets the chance to keep up with their sport, passion, or activity that they dedicated all of their time to in high school. Don't take a single second of it for granted, and remember why you are doing what you are doing. Take time to reflect on why you love it so much, how it makes you feel, and how you can express yourself during it. Whatever this passion or activity is, make every second count.

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