Op-Ed

July 30 2022
Love is Like an Airplane
RuQuan Brown

Love is like an airplane. 

Think about it. Who the hell made it possible for us to be up tens of thousands of feet in the air? 

How the f-word am I actually levitating above clouds right now? How are this many people comfortable being up here in a world (seemingly) of their own, making things happen. Theres food, babies, and even wifi above the clouds. Who would’ve known? 

Love is like an airplane. 

Think about it. Who the hell made it possible for us to be in tens of thousands of feet deep in love? 

How the f-word am I actually levitating above my insecurities and letting this person see the true me right now? How are this many people comfortable living in a world of their own, trusting each other and expecting good things. Theres children, families, and villages this deep. Who would’ve known? 

Love is like an airplane because sure we could fall out of the air. Sure we could get hijacked by my mom's unfair expecations of you or by the American Killriculum. But we could also fly above the clouds and make it to our destination safely. Even enjoying the exclusive airport lounges before our flight.
Sure, we could have layovers. But the joy of hearing our overhead luggage roll on the airport floor far outweighs the pain of empty layover time. Love is like an airplane cuz its unbelievable. How the hell are we this many feet up in the air? 

Once you fly for a while

Or

Once you accept love for a while

You’ll know that it’s safe and normal to be in the sky. You’ll enjoy the beauty of lifting the window shade at your highly coveted window seat. You’ll enjoy seeing Black families in First Class. You’ll remember to keep your seatbelt fastened when the seatbelt light is on. You’ll know when its time to return your chair to its upright position.

You'll learn the culture of Love.

Love is the new normal.
Accept it. 
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July 6 2022
Why Most Parents Suck at Parenting
RuQuan Brown

This may come as a surprise to most people, but the truth is most parents are really bad at their jobs. 

Many parents claim that they love their children. But most of those who say that don’t have actions that support the statement.

It’s time to come correct. Don’t tell any more young people you love them if you don’t do the following. 

LISTEN. 

You have to listen to love. Love is about doing whatever it takes to ensure that the soul of your lover is well. Many parents do everything to ensure that the home of their young person, or the library of the young person, or the bank account of the young person, or the closet of the young person, or the athletic performance of the young person is well. But not many parents are doing what it takes to ensure that their young person’s soul is well. (soul is who your child is if you take away their body. This includes their mind, heart, self esteem, goals, past, present, and future)

In fact, less than 45% of Gen Z’ers report that their mental health is in good standing (apa). Outside factors do have an impact but parents are still to blame. I see the repetitive traumas and the deadly doctrine flowing through the streams of social media. Mass media does have a destructive role in the progression of your child’s development. 

But that doesn’t mean its not you too. It surely is. Most of us learn what we know from our parents. Some of my friends have parents who still say things like, “Are you sure you wanna eat that? You’re getting big” or “Shut the hell up and use your brain, stupid” or “How could you let that happen to yourself?” 

It is questions like these that stem from a pool of fear resting in the souls our parents. Our parents are so afraid of white supremacy, aka whiteness, that they are quick to ensure that their young people do whatever necessary to sit at the top of the white power structure. 

Moms and dads: if it killed the true-you to mold yourself into whiteness, how can you inflict this upon your children then say you love them? Actually look yourself in the mirror and ask that question though. Please. For us. Go back and ask it. 

Now, 

You realized that you’ve made a bunch of mistakes. But you’re still loved. We’re gonna give you the grace that you deserve. 

  1. We’ve all f*d up. And we will continue to do that. 
  2. Discuss with yourself and people you trust to get to a better understanding of your choices. 
  3. Apologize to your child by saying, “I apologize for…” and apologize to your child by committing to changing your actions. They deserve that. 

Somebody has to tell you or else you’ll never get better. Stop being offended when your student asks you to do better. That’s what you should do for anyone you love; respond to their ask with gratitude and giving.

But you can only treat your children how you treat yourself. Of course you’re not willing to listen to them. You don’t even listen to yourself.

Please love yourself better moms and dads. That will help you love us better. We deserve nothing less than that from you. And if you don’t love us, we will not require anyone else to love us. And I can’t be sure, but I’d hope you want more for us than that. 

- Your favorite son

sources: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/01/gen-z

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June 30 2022
3 Things That will Happen to you if you don’t Travel
RuQuan Brown

So many of my friends and family tell me that they “Can’t wait to go to Africa one day!” Then i ask, “what are you doing to ensure you get there?” That often leads to an awkward silence or my older family members looking at me like “Stay in your place, young man.” I understand both of those common responses. It’s much easier to dream than to do. Furthermore, many people are under the illusion that they have “time” to wait and do what their heart is encouraging them to do later.  

I’m here to ruin that for you. No you don’t. Stop. Stop believing that tomorrow is promised to you, please. It causes you to live much of your life from the perspective of a deadly lie. Instead, know that time is the greatest resource. Treat it as such. Go and live. 

Now, hopefully you’re more encouraged to make your trip happen. If so, keep reading. What it costs to put it off is not a price that you or I can actually afford. Our soul bank account doesn’t have enough funds in it to pay for not taking advantage of voyage. 

I know, I know. What do i know? I’ve only been in EU for a week. 

But that’s all the time I needed for my world to be forever different. Here are a few of the benefits we gain from traveling.

  1. In a new place, culture is different. Experiencing different cultures gives you the opportunity to become new. For instance, in Paris the civilians are not as loud as in the US. That gives me the courage to lower my voice and speak softer; something that has helped ease my anxiety and helped me connect with more people. We love a growing person. 
  2. Some of the same problems exist in other parts of the world. You may have felt passionate about solving a particular problem in your area like gun violence, homelessness, or alcoholism. Visiting another place can help you to gather research about why those problems exist there or how said place solved the problem. This makes you that much of a better activist because you’ll return home (unless you stay abroad as an expat😆) with so much more applicable wisdom and help. Go you. 
  3. You will notice that people don’t care about the same things that you care about and this may make you change your priorities. It is common for Parisian people to follow up work with a seat at a cafe, drinking wine or beer with friends. This experience is one where people sit outside, gently talking to one another, while enjoying some of the worlds favorite drinks. It’s something that Parisian people do on a daily basis. After seeing this it could cause you to reanalyze what you do with your time. What you do after work, who you do it with, and where. It may encourage you to even ask yourself, “what do i do for me?” Or “why do i put everything off until the weekend?” The rest of the world will make you analyze yourself. Who are you? 

I’m not exactly sure who this applies to, so it was a risk to write it. But I know that you will appreciate wherever you GO because even if you don’t like it, guess what? You still went. 

Finally, travelling isn't just about going to a new place. its about arriving at a new place within yourself. the world is a better place when communities are a culmination of amazing individuals.

Put Love 1st. 
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Mar 11 2022
My PWI v. THE HBCU 
RuQuan Brown

The conversation about what schools our children should attend should be eradicated. Even Black schools carry traditions that are intact at white ones. 

After my last written piece, I Will Write How I Write, many mentors advised that I “take [my] talents to an HBCU.” “Why don’t you just go to Howard,” is what they asked. 

I will not transfer to Howard or any other HBCU because it should not be my responsibility to fight the fight on my own. I would be abandoning my school that offers paid internships overseas, guaranteed financial aid for study abroad for every student, and awesome health insurance. I live in a recently renovated dorm with new furniture, awesome windows to experience nature, a gym to workout in, an art room to paint in, and several piano rooms to practice Stevie Wonder covers. 

I will not leave this hell to go to another one that has more people that look like me. I will only transfer from my PWI if the alumni encouraging me to leave put together their voices, platforms, resources, and influence to encourage their HBCU to give their students the most brilliant experience holistically. I am willing to fight. But I am only willing to fight this fight *together*. 

Together = students, parents, staff, administrators, alumni, states, cities, federal government, and local governments.  

I believe that its time for us, everyone listed above, to make the decision easier for Black students by leveling the playing field at both sects of schools. All the resources that PWIs offer should be available at every HBCU. And every PWI should have cultural competency and inclusive community for Black students. This is only possible, in my opinion, if we:

  1. Create entirely new schools where we can write the plans that include immense resources and strong community. This plan will take the longest but is most sustainable because nobody can take it from us. 
  2. HBCU alumni begin to organize on a larger scale and hold their institutions accountable to giving students true life. Not just tradition and a cultural experience. These institutions already have community, but are missing the resources. 
  3. Black PWI alumni come back to help Black students fight for more cultural competency and inclusivity. These institutions already have the resources, but are missing community,  

True life is a blend of community and resource. We cannot experience life without both: community and resource. 

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Mar 1 2022
I Will Write How I Write, RuQuan Brown

Just like Zora, 


I will write how I write. 

I’m a second year student at Harvard University. I recently sent a text to one of my endearing family members saying, “not happy. I hate school. Too white. I’m not living real life. It’s like I’m committing suicide.” 

My former teacher at Howard University Middle School of Math and Science responded, “This is some deep shit and I think you should write about it and publish your writing online as an outlet.” 

Since it was like she read my mind, I immediately called her and admitted that I haven’t written because my “academic writing” has been turned down so much. Time and time again by Harvard professors and many other instructors my essays, of all genres, have been returned to me as “grammatically incorrect,” or “not enough ‘legitimate’ sources.” It’s ironic that the people who are supposed to teach, inspire, and empower happen to be the people who have discouraged, punished, and put fear into so many students. I am no longer going to allow imposter syndrome to hamper me or us. 

If I had more professors, staff, and classmates like her I wouldn’t feel hopeless at Harvard. She spoke with me for an entire hour reminding me to channel the courage of Zora Neal Hurston and “write how you write.” Zora Neal Hurston is one of the prolific Black writers of the 20th Century. She often maintained her natural language, not assimilating to “Academic English” in her writing.

It’s time that I, too, speak up for myself and others about our experiences at what some consider a top 3 College/University in the world. 

I’m most recently from Washington, DC. In DC I watched my teammate die, witnessed robberies and brawls, and even walked everyday up and down a drug ridden street. I even questioned if I, myself, would make it out of DC alive.

Despite this devastating news, Harvard is much worse. 

Harvard has been extremely oppressive, negligent, and dismissive of Black voices since I received my acceptance letter in March of 2020. It started with white students arguing with Black students about the importance of Black lives. It went to Harvard football players challenging their coaches to do more for Black athletes. It continued to being a part of an extremely small amount of African American students on campus. 

Humans were not made to be absent from their communities. Black students deserve to be heard, felt, and seen. 

I am no longer afraid of dying. 

I am now afraid that due to the heavy, burdensome yoke of Harvard College and it’s ancestors: I am dying.