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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Stop Discourging Future Teachers

One day, you'll be thankful for us.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?" It seems like this is the question we heard from the time we were able to talk. Our answers started out as whatever movie or action figure was popular that year. I personally was going to be Cinderella and shoot spider webs out of my wrists at the same time. The next phase was spent choosing something that we read about in a book or saw in movies. We were aspiring to be actors, skydivers, and astronauts.

After we realized NASA may not necessarily be interested in every eager 10-year-old, we went through the unknown stage. This chapter of life can last a year or for some, forever. I personally did not have a long “unknown" stage. I knew I was going to be a teacher, more specifically I knew I wanted to do elementary or special education. I come from a family of educators, so it was no surprise that at all the Thanksgiving and Christmas functions I had actually figured it out. The excitement of knowing what to do with the rest of my life quickly grew and then began to dwindle just as fast.


"Well, looks like you'll be broke all your life."

“That's a lot of paperwork."

“If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't choose this."

These are just a few replies I have received. The unfortunate part is that many of those responses were from teachers themselves. I get it, you want to warn and prepare us for the road we are about to go down. I understand the stress it can take because I have been around it. The countless hours of grading, preparing, shopping for the classroom, etc. all takes time. I can understand how it would get tiresome and seem redundant. The feeling a teacher has when the principal schedules yet another faculty meeting to talk an hour on what could've been stated in an email… the frustration they experience when a few students seem uncontrollable… the days they feel inadequate and unseen… the sadness they feel when they realize the student with no supplies comes from a broken home… I think it is safe to say that most teachers are some of the toughest, most compassionate and hardworking people in this world.

Someone has to be brave enough to sacrifice their time with their families to spend time with yours. They have to be willing to provide for the kids that go without and have a passion to spread knowledge to those who will one day be leading this country. This is the reason I encourage others to stop telling us not to go for it.

Stop saying we won't make money because we know. Stop saying we will regret it, because if we are making a difference, then we won't. Stop telling us we are wasting our time, when one day we will be touching hearts.

Tell us to be great, and then wish us good luck. Tell us that our passion to help and guide kids will not go unnoticed. Tell us that we are bold for trying, but do not tell us to change our minds.

Teachers light the path for doctors, police officers, firefighters, politicians, nurses, etc. Teachers are pillars of society. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we seek to change a life or two, so encourage us or sit back and watch us go for it anyways.

Cover Image Credit: Kathryn Huffman

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14 Honest College Things The Class Of 2023 Needs To Know ~Before~ Fall Semester

Sit down, be humble.


To The Class of 2023,

Before you start your college career, please know:

1. Nobody...and I mean nobody gives a shit about your AP Calculus scores.


" I got a 5 in Calc AB AND BC, a 5 in AP Literature, awh but I only got a 4 in AP Chem"

2. THE SAME GOES FOR YOUR SAT/ACT SCORES + nobody will know what you're talking about because they changed the test like 10 times since.


3. College 8 AMs are not the same as your 0 period orchestra class in 12th grade.


4. You're going to get rejected from a lot of clubs and that does not make you a failure.


5. If you do get into your clubs, make sure not to overwhelm or overcommit yourself.

visual representation of what it looks like when you join too many clubs


6. It's OK to realize that you don't want to be pre-med or you want to change majors.


7. There will ALWAYS ALWAYS be someone who's doing better than you at something but that doesn't mean you're behind.


8. "I'm a freshman but sophomore standin-" No, you don't have to clarify that, you'll sound like an asshole.


9. You may get your first ever B-, C+ or even D OR EVEN A W in your life. College is meant to teach you how to cope with failure.


10. Go beyond your comfort zone. Join a theatre club if you're afraid of public speaking. Join an animal rescue club if you're afraid of animals. College is learning more about yourself.


11. Scholarships do exist. APPLY APPLY APPLY.


12. Don't try to brag about all the stuff you did in high school, you'll just sound like a weenie hut jr. scout


13. Understand and be sensitive to the fact that everybody around you has a different experience and story of getting to university.


14. You're going to be exposed to people with different opinions and views, don't fight them. Instead, try to explain your perspective and listen to their reasoning as well.


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