Senior year: Grad school prospects

My entire philosophic interests include European thought ( medieval and renaissance), American pragmatism and African American philosophy.

So, as I prepare for the next step in my academic career, I would like to share my top nine options for grad school with you.

1. University of Oregon
2. Loyola Chicago
3. Loyola Marymount (Los Angeles)
4. DePaul University
5. Fordham University (NY)
6. Univeristy of California, Santa-Cruz
7. Univeristy of Ottawa (Canada)
8. University of Guelph (Canada)
9. Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome)

Stay-tuned as I continue to narrow my decision.

Blessings!

A “changing riptide” needs to happen on Capitol Hill concerning Immigration Policy

The film Undocumented directed by Professor Marco Williams deeply resonated with me long after I viewed the documentary. This film shines a bright illuminating light on the ongoing national crisis of immigration. According to the Department of Homeland Security, as of 2011, reports have shown that over eleven million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States. To many, this maybe an alarming statistic to digest. However, this occurrence does not surprise me. The underlying motivation behind these migrants to pack of everything they know and leave their home country for the United States is rather simple. They hope to discover a better life for themselves – a life of destiny and promise. Given that America is often attributed to being the “Great Melting Pot”, I believe that everyone should have the just and fair right to equally pursue the American Dream given they pose no imminent threat to national security. To my dismay, most Americans commonly use dehumanizing language in which they characterize immigrants. Whenever debasing terms like “alien”, “job-stealers” or “illegal” are used openly within society, it inherently undermines the essence of what it means to be human. No human should be described as illegal. Rather, all human beings share the universal nature of being rational autonomous beings and that should be given the utmost respect. This documentary strongly hints at these principal ideals and much more. For one, it illustrates the high number of deaths which occur in the desert after migrants have crossed the border. Great sums of American citizens, including myself before watching this film, are fully unaware of this matter. Prof. Williams carefully captures this broad American sentiment as the “Invisible death.” Undoubtedly, the documentary harps on the multitude of unnerving deaths of Mexican migrants and this is no secret. Although these people trekked miles upon miles in anticipation of a better way of life to the U.S., the American dream hopelessly died with them as they succumbed to the unforgiving elements of nature. Thus, the freedom they so much desired was ultimately carried away in a body bag.

With the state of today’s immigration policy, Pres. Barack Obama declared “We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea—the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That’s why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here…The future is ours to win. But to get there, we cannot stand still” (whitehouse.gov). Surely, I agree with Pres. Obama’s view that each human being has a right to happiness in creating who they want to be in the future. Nevertheless, one should not lose sight and allow himself to get caught up in this smoky rhetoric. I want to be clear that I am critical of the United States government when it comes to matters of immigration. I believe they are not doing enough for undocumented immigrants. It is the same politics as usual on Capitol Hill – more talk and little to no action. Politicians are always the first to line up and express what they will do to tackle immigration. But truthfully, all they harp on is policy – to strengthen our borders and protect American citizens from the “illegal trespassers.” It is reiterated countlessly. In reality, as Americans, we tend to strike blame on these undocumented migrants for distorting the natural order of things in America. This is honestly the world we live in and it is time for a “changing riptide” to happen in Washington DC in regard to the enactment of proper and just immigration law. As politicians continue to sit back in their cozy chairs in Congress and turn a blind eye, hundreds upon hundreds of undocumented immigrants will continue to die in their search for hope at the border. With this in mind, I would like to present my solution on how immigration law could be improved in the United States.

Necessarily, an evolution in immigration policy is needed in Washington today. First, these migrants not only come with the thought of American freedoms in mind, but more importantly, they are victims of failed institutions in their homeland. If it rests in the economy, education, healthcare, etc., these institutions are in a catastrophic state which is hopelessly failing to meet the needs of its citizens. I know the issue is much more complex than what I make it out to be, but the United States should form better relations with neighboring Latin-American countries to better ensure that those institutions are improved in so the people would not feel so compelled to jump the United States border. Second, the United States must somehow find a way to lessen the time one has to wait to attain a visa. Some of the undocumented are forced to wait up to twenty years until they can be issued legal status. Fairly, these people cannot wait two decades in order to see their loved ones. Thus, this issue must be resolved. Third, the United States government is not giving its full financial backing to more public institutions that seek to rescue and save the undocumented. Though private organizations are in place to assist, it would be instrumental to have more government supported programs similar to the Coalition of Human Rights.

This documentary has made me much more aware of this foreboding crisis in the United States we call immigration. Truly, the amount of unnecessary death happening at our borders must come to an end. America needs to wake up and realize this. In light of the film, one central question comes to mind: At what point is the United States morally responsible for the number of migrant deaths? Answering this question would require further discussion and would suffice for another paper topic. But for now, immigration law needs to be changed as such that freedom is not carried away as an empty vessel in a body bag.   

What are we to make of “Democracy”

 A few days ago, my Humanities teacher from High School relayed a column to me by Thomas Sowell entitled “Middle East Democracy.”  I initially found the title mild but, after reading it, I was impacted by it.  I thank him for bringing this piece to my attention. Without further adieu, I will offer my reflection upon it . His take on Democracy in the Middle East is a view that more Americans should begin to realize. The conception of democracy does not necessarily entail freedom. However, this is the popular belief of our nation. To the populace, a democracy is praised for its values rooted in liberalism and the ideas of Locke and Rousseau. I agree with Sowell in raising the question: why is it automatically assumed freedom is a precondition in democracy. As bad as we want to believe this is true, it is not the case. I liked how Sowell worked in examples from the antebellum South and women’s rights. Though American citizens believed themselves to be free, blacks were not treated as so. America has, as W.E.B. Dubois put it, lived in a state of “double-mindedness.”

To make this idea clear, I will use the the equality clause provided in the United States Constitution which says to the essence of all men by nature are created equal and are endowned by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. If we take this phrase literally, then all men regardless of race or culture are thereby equal. But this was not the case. It is vital to realize that the Constititution was authored by priveledged white men. By no means did they want to allow blacks individual rights. To me, Dubois had it right. In this outlook, the Constitution vowed rights for all. But in the same vein, blacks were “shut off” from these rights. Moreover, the instinctive notion is that America is a land where individuals are ultimately able to fulfill their potential and live out their freedom in however they see fit. This was the intended meaning of the Constitution. I take this notion with a grain of salt. French thinker Simone De Beuvoir introduced the idea of the “Other.” The “Other” is one whose agency is truncated and unable to fulfill his/her own potential due to the institution of slavery, patriarchy or what have you. This Other could be the woman, the slave, the black man. In America, some were free and some were not.

So, how can we view America in the very angelic terms of freedom we attribute to it when it has been covered by the dark cloud of oppression? Thus, I argue America has been “double-minded” in allowing freedom for some, but not all. Under this view, America is not a land of the free. It is not the precious city on hill we all make it out to be. Where freedom reigns, opression does also. I think this question over what then is freedom is equally important to ponder just as it is to know what is democracy? In philosohy, it is truly central to get at the meaning of words and what they mean before we allocate connotations to them. The exact opposite has been done and Sowell points to this. Popular belief has written off  Democracy as a natural good which entails freedom. Rather, in my belief, we should take a step back and define our terms before we go touting these traits to other nations. Pres. Obama should take note, in my opinon.

 Best!

The Steady Fire which Burns within Me

As I openly engaged with like-minded passionate students of philosphy like myself, one major lesson abounded after attending a Philosophy conference at Creighton University this past weekend. Conversing with other philosophy students not only revealed my lack of knowledge in areas of philosophy, but because of this lack of knowledge, it has contagiously sparked an unceasing fire within me with a leading motivation to know more and unwrap philosophies/philosophers that have been hidden from myself for so long. This “fire” has captured me and I see no end in sight. I am not sure what occured, but I feel as though a revelation has struck me. A type of revelation that has revealed what my calling within the study of Philosophy might be. For some time now, I have pondered where philosophy will ultimately lead me and when will I find which area I am truly interested in. But this weekend, that calling hit me like a ton of bricks. That calling is to study African American Philosophy. As a young black man, studying the philosophy behind my cultural heritage is of upmost importance to me and I wish to pursue it. Sadly, African-American philosophy is one of the more under-developed fields under the “umbrella” of philosophy as a whole. I seek to embrace this branch of philosophy as my study. Moreover, philosophy is typically seen as a “white man’s” discipline. I want to change that perception to the best of my ability. In my eyes it is not only the Aristotles; the Immanuel Kants; and the Martin Heideggars of the world worthy of study, but it is the Ralph Ellisons; the William Fontaines; and the W.E.B. Dubois’ of the world that purely make the multicultural world we live in unique and grand.