Driven: Tyree Barnes

[Originally posted on facebook March1, 2016 at aprox. 10pm]

Tonight I faced one of the fears that haunts every educator!

I received tix to a movie premier from my brother and ESPN sports analystChris Broussard . Super excited, I picked up 6 of my Kappa League members, one by one. On the ride, i was telling them about how I would buy them bowls of popcorn and snax. Prepping them for the content of the movie. And of course, as any educator would, yelling at them for not doing their HW or for not doing it good enough.

Unfortunately, not long after that the realization that every moment in life is precious as the left rear tire of my Mercedes blew out. On Rt 1, in the middle of speeding traffic. . . .

My friends and relatives know that I hate driving. I thinkn it is a waste of valuable time and an accident waiting to happen. However, at that very moment, I became the most calm, safety driven (no pun intended) forward thinking, traffic manipulating parent on the road. All I could think was,

“My boys are back there, and I’m not explaining to their mother’s why they aren’t coming home!”

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We made it to safety! My brother’s from Monupes Maplewood Oranges had my back and came to pick up the boys. They made sure that the boys still got to enjoy their movie and their chance to “turn up on a Tuesday”. My tire is in shreds but my life in order, in tact and purposefully driven.

I aint even mad!

‪#‎GoodKarma‬‪#‎NUPEs‬‪#‎MONUPES‬‪#‎KappaLeague‬‪#‎EducatorsSaveLives‬‪#‎ProtectOurChildren‬

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Newark, a Shitty Place: Tyree Barnes

I would like to start this post off with a quote. In anticipation of many people being more upset with the fact that there is a profane word in the title of this piece given my career, than the fact that it calls many of our homes a shitty place.

“Tell them I’ll remove the curses, If you tell me our schools ‘gon be perfect, When Jena Six don’t exist, tell them that’s when I’ll stop saying Shit [actual word is B****h, but the relevance is Shit]

-Jay Z, “Say Hello” American Gangster

Now that that’s out of the way . . .

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In the last years, there’s been no shortage of negative press concerning the current state of Newark, New Jersey. Plagues by scandal, bitter debates and even fist fights over the rights to children’s education, and the unending murders, drug trade and gang related activity, Newark has become a shitty place!

Not a shitty place in the form of “the worse place to live”, but a shitty place in the same sense as a farmer cultivating his land. All businessmen and men of enterprise understand the competitive advantage of natural resources. If you want to make a lasting mark in any industry, you have to have something that your competition doesn’t. It just happen to be economically beneficial when that thing that you have is a natural resource – something that you have to pay very little, if anything, to prepare it to go to market.

Just as the farmer uses the feces of his farm animals to fertilize and enrich the soil, the current millennial generation has been fertilized and enriched by the struggle of life as a whole. They should be used to fertilize and enrich the soil of society. Newark is a shitty place to live, and the millennials growing up here are the shit!

The millennials of this community have the potential to enrich this city and turn this city into one of the most formidable places on the east coast. The problem is that we largely don’t know how to reach or engage these Millennials.

My  solution? (among the many others) is to simply engage them. I find it rather ironic that the youth of this community grow up in an environment that forces them to make adult decisions and take adult responsibilities, yet we try to teach them children logic. There is an old quote from Benjamin Franklin, in my opinion one of the most intellectual and forward thinking men around at the inception of this country. It reads,

“Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn.”

– Benjamin Franklin

 

We are holding all youth, including the Millennial generation to the standards of effective decision making, but we are not teaching them how to do so. We tell them what they should or should not be doing, but we rarely teach them what to do. To teach them, well we should involve them in the process.

Children grow up going to school, many dreading it day in and day out (I’m a teacher. I know.) Until one day, they are told to go to college if they want to make a comfortable life for themselves. Some do so, others end up feeling lost or unqualified once they find out what it is that they really want to do. Unfortunately, in an economy like the one that we have had in recent years, after they have earned their first degree, they learn that it is not enough to be competitive. So they should return to college, take another loan, and earn an advanced degree. Now, I am certainly not anti-college and I am not anti-formal education either, but I do know that one thing remains true about people and especially about children, what we do when we don’t have to do anything else, is who we are.

“You are who you are when no one is watching”.

 

(This has actually been proven by scientist in experiments dealing with the behavior of matter and molecules but we’ll save that for another conversation.)

My point is, a large part of this population are not doing intellectual or academic work when they are not being pushed to do so. Some of them are creating music. Some of them are creating videos and personalities in search of an alternate reality. Some of them are selling drugs and committing crimes. In all of these cases, these people are doing something that is deeply intrinsic and meaningful to them. It’s something that they find value in. Even the drug dealer. Especially, the drug dealer. Albeit misguided, misdirected and fundamentally wrong, his motivation to create opportunity, belong and provide is tremendous. Even a blind man can see the power in a individual willing to risk his life day in and day out for what he believes. (Dr. King, Malcolm X., JFK the list goes on and on.) Somewhere between the hand to hands, covert meetings and transporting of drugs is the current Malcolm X, JFK and Dr. King. We have yet to find a way to get them to realize that.  Newark is riddled with drugs and people trading it for money. Imagine what a place this would be if we could capitalize on their confidence, brilliance, risk taking abilities and drive for a better life. Imagine if they could develop a sense of purpose conducive and productive to society. Imagine that we could help them, find, cultivate and curate their Genius!

Here’s an idea to start: We should positively engage the youth with the actual happenings in the City of Newark at large by creating A Youth Run News Media. A special place for them, that is connected to the actual happenings of the city.

Here’s how I would do it.

[The rest of this chapter will not be posted. It is indeed written in the book The World Is Yours, soon to be released.]

 

 

 

 

 

#KappaLeague Induction

The Maplewood/ Orange Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., where Tyree Barnes is the Director of the Guide Right / Kappa League, has inducted 7 new members into their leadership training program. Students were inducted through the official ceremonial procedures, then with the tying of the ties and pinning of their Kappa League Pins. Students said that they were most excited about getting to meet and take pictures with the mayor of their town, Mayor Dwayne D. Warren Esq.

Guide Right/ Kappa League is a national service program for the educational and occupational guidance of youth, primarily inspirational and informational in character.

The basic objectives of the Kappa Leadership Development League (known as Kappa League) is:

  • To help youth, especially those of high school graduating classes, in their selection of courses leading to vocations compatible with their aptitudes and personalities.
  • To assist students, while they are training, to get started in the employment, and to progress successfully in they’re chosen fields.
  • To assist parents in the handling of their children by given them the opportunities to talk over their problems with those who know and are successful in their chosen vocations.
  • To afford the less fortunate youths a respite from the drudgery of the streets, through sponsored trips to ball games, zoological garden, museums,theater, and other activities.
  • To inform youth of the values of higher education, assistance available for continued pursuits, scholarship, loans, professional opportunities, and of current labor demands and the trends on the effect of these demands and trends on the labor market.

You can see pictures from the induction below.

 

The World Is Yours!!! Why the younger generation has “The Juice” and what they should do about it!

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpgThe historical social divide of this country as well as the one in our community is one that is no stranger to any of us. This divide was once drawn on the basis of blacks and whites. And although many people would argue that we have made a tremendous stride toward equality, the divide has been redrawn with what seems like permanent marker between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. The rich and the poor. Those that can and those that cannot. The race riots of the past have evolved into the class warfare of today. I do believe that there is something that everyone can do to move this struggle forward, but I think there is a special thing to be done by those of us born in the 80’s and 90’s – us “Millennials“. This is my message to you my peers. Now I do want to be very clear that my message is not a statement encouraging you to take up arms and shoot your way into a new revolution. That won’t work. My statement is not a message of nonviolence and civil disobedience. It’s debatable what change can come from that. But nor is my message a statement of religious organizing for the betterment of the people. In fact, my statement is not a statement at all. It’s a question, “Who’s world is this?”

Famously asked in the form of a rap song in 1994, Nasir Jones, the W.E.B. Du Boise medal recipient at Harvard University, is the author of the question that I pose to you. “Who’s world is this?” This is the question that I would like to pose to you for a better understanding o
f our current situation and hopefully this is the question that leads to a passageway to a better future.
We have been lucky enough to be born in a imperfect time where the war on drugs, has become a code name for the war on poor people. Crack has removed and entire generation of people who should have been our first leaders and confidants – our parents. We have been searching for them ever since. We have been born in an unfortunate time where our national leaders have been shot down publicly, instilling the fear in anyone else that may have the itch to rise up and become a leader. We have been searching for them as well. Our education institutions and community affiliated groups have failed to reach the standard needed to improve the living situations in our environment, and we have been searching for them too. However, in the wake of all of these truths that hold us back, I ask you, “Who’s world is this?”
The next line in Nas’ song states, “The world is yours! The world is yours! It’s Mine, It’s Mine, It’s Mine…” And that is my message to you! (listen to it below)
“The world is yours! It’s Mine!”
In that case, we need to be the ones setting precedence of what should be and what should not be.
With our fortunate births during what has been described as an unfortunate time, there is indeed silver lining. There is a silver lining so bright, it can light the way to the future! That excites me! It can light the way to a future that you and I have the power and potential to design ourselves. There are two more major facts that I would like to mention along side with the ones aforementioned just to prove that the world is yours! (You can read about other released in research from the White House)
The first fact is: Millennials now represent the largest generation in the United States!
The second fact is: Millennials have been shaped by technology! (Facts about millennials)
We have been born in a time where the internet has redefined, re-sized and re-calibrated and redistributed some of the powers in the world. We get news differently. We communicate differently. We research differently. We respond more quickly and we set trends so fast that they often come as accident. The internet and technology has redefined us. Obviously, you already know this, but here’s an interesting thought, “what generation is the most efficient and most educated on the use of this amazing tool? You are! We are!
Those younger than us don’t truly understand the power of the technology and the internet. They will in the future. While on the other side, the older generation has an idea of the potentiality, but that population in large does not know how to manipulate the technology to get the results that they seek. Thanks to us, they will find them in the future as well. This leaves us with the power in the form of technology as long as we are wise enough to use it for creating a better world. So I ask you, with the same voice that Jay Z sampled (for the song Dead Presidents), “Who’s world is this?!”
Every major corporation has a facebook and instagram page. They all search for likes and social media promotion. To an extent, they rely on technology, and follow it because that’s where the people have gone. In reality, the businesses will always go where the people are. How else will they pay the bills? How else could they make their money? These businesses live in a world where they are forced to relying on technology, but do they truly know how to use it? Maybe, maybe not, but I know who does know how to use it. You do! So I ask again, “Who’s world is this?!”
Our gripes and pains are heard and sympathized with by those that are having the same struggle. Pain and hurt has the unfortunate tendency to bring people together. But solely bringing people together that wont create the change that we are hoping to see. There always has to be action. The bringing people together is always the precursor and usually where the revolution ends. As great as the rhetoric of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s was (and I do think that it was great), those words are not the tools that forced change. Those tools where what brought the people together. The cause of change was the actual organizing of the people! When companies started to lose money,  and threats of imprisonment and beatings were no longer strong enough to enforce what the people deemed as unjust laws, people took action. Those actions lead to change.
When “Black Lives Matter” went viral, people started to realize that this was a thing! This was a reality that needed to be addressed on the big stage. However, the only way that it will cause change is that it becomes a conduit of organizing by having a clear mission, a clear vision, clear demands, clear guidelines unanimous across the country. The traction has been enormous and courageous by calling for a Presidential debate hosted by the #BlackLivesMatter network and interrupting presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at a rally in Atlanta, but to no avail. Instead they received some policy ideas from Mrs. Clinton and a consolation prize from the DNC.
“Activists had called on the Democratic National Committee to add an additional presidential debate to its schedule, however both the DNC and the Republican National Committee have said they will not alter their formal debate schedule. Instead, both parties have said they would support the activists hosting a townhall or forum — which would not be a formal debate and the 2016 candidates could participate without fear of repercussion from their parties.” – The Washingon Post
Change comes from the powers that be feeling that they need to change something or that their power is threatened. And the greatest way for people in power to feel threatened is to have a large, united body of people agreeing that policies, actions or strategies need to be changed!
This is where you come in.
Continuing Black Lives Matter beyond just protests and demonstrations and marches to organizing communities, creating economic boycotts and direct involvement with policy decisions creates the change that we all are yearning to see. This goes directly with the fact number one that I mentioned before. Millennials have the largest population in the nation! No democratic process can be successful without our blessing, unless we neglect to participate.
In the mean time, the power and people that are continuing to keep this world and these situations the way that they are, are continuing to work. We need to DO more with the advantages that we have. Technology and people make up most of the world. Our largest competitive advantage is, we are masters of technology and we have the largest population, so I ask you for the last time, “Who’s world is this?”
According to Goldman Sachs “One of the largest generations in history is about to move into its prime spending years. Millennials are poised to reshape the economy; their unique experiences will change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come.”
The world is yours!

OMG! There’s a Dead Kid in My Class! (true story)

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This is an excerpt from my latest book, “Good Karma 2”. It’s from the chapter titled, “Eli-Jah


Kids don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

That quote was shared with me on the very first day that I met the Executive Director at Great Oaks. One day years later, his words proved to be correct.

This day started like any other day. I arrived at the building at about 6:15, and proceeded to print the materials needed for class. At 7 am, just like clockwork, the first students started to come into the building. They had a simple ritual. Grab breakfast, have a seat, take out a book and begin reading silently. For me, the task was to keep them quiet. Admittedly, most days was not a success, but today I didn’t have to do much. Most of them had no interest in talking this morning. I had no idea why.

Something is up or someone is being sneaky, I thought to myself. I didn’t want to approach the situation with negativity but, if there is something that 7th graders love to do, it is talk to each other when they are instructed not to do so.

I didn’t force the issue but I was looking for the reason. I instructed one student to collect the trash and another to dump the milk cartons.

“Alright, everyone stage 3 in the next 10 seconds. Go!”

All of the students moved, but most moved apathetically. My newly formed teacher antennas went on high alert. “some thing up, I know it!”.

We transitioned downstairs. After the students put their belongings in their lockers, we entered the class room and began our Do Now. This was something that we did every day.

One student was missing. I’d like to think that I noticed his absence because my teacher alertness was always at 100%, but in reality he was pretty hard to miss. He’s a pretty big kid. (Most of the kids look more like 10th graders that 7th graders these days.)

“Good morning Rider University!” ( My homeroom is named after my alma mater Rider University) I proclaimed.

“Good Morning Mr. Barnes!” They replied in unison, still apathetic.

I began to introduce my lesson without any direct dealing with whatever issue they were having today. Although I wanted to address the situation, I choose not to. Students all across the country lose months of learning time due to the few minutes that they spend off task daily. I chose to not waste time at this moment. Rider University had a habit of wasting this time. I wasn’t going to open Pandora’s Box just yet.

Walking to my doc cam to reveal today’s lesson to the class, I noticed the missing kid in the hallway. His face was filled with tears. At this point I knew that I would have to open Pandora’s Box. Still, I tried to fight it.

“Are you ok?”

He sniffled and tried to speak, but no words came out.

“What’s the matter?” I asked again more fervently.

“I miss Elijah” he said sobbing.

“Listen. Take 2 minutes, go to the bathroom and clean yourself up. Then come back to class. We’ll talk about it when you get back. Ok?”

I nudged him towards the bathroom. Truthfully speaking, I didn’t know what to do. I was instructing this class, even if they were less than enthusiastic. When he returned to the class I took the gloves off.

“Obviously, there’s something going on. Someone tell me what’s up.” Everyone gazed around the room waiting for someone else to be the voice of reason. (It’s funny how we shape that habit at such a young age) the young lady in the front row was the first to speak up.

“One of our friends died and that’s why er’ body sad and stuff.” She mumbled without even picking her head up.

I took off my suit jacket and say on the desk in the first row, third column. Pandora’s Box was open.

“Before I explain myself to you guys, I want you to realize something. Having to bury a friend who was killed while you’re in 7th grade is not normal. It may happen often and some people might say that it’s normal, but it’s not. Eyes sweltering up as memories of Jah’lil flashed through my mind, I continued.

“I’m honest with you guys. You know I just buried my mother. You know that a year ago my best friend was murdered in the same neighborhood that some of you live in. Dealing with death is not easy. You probably feel like, you don’t want to do anything and that life is all bad. You probably feel like you can’t do anything right now. I know that feeling. I too feel that way, but listen to me when I tell you this and you may not want to hear it but it’s honest: that pain will never go away…”

I paused trying to coach myself on the words that I was breathing to them. (Was I too blunt? I didn’t think so. They’re living in an environment where friends are murdered in the 7th grade. There is no such thing as too blunt.)

“…But you will get better at dealing with it. Every day I wake up, the first thing I think about is my mom, and I know that pain will never go away, but I’ve gotten better at dealing with it; one day at a time. You too will get better at dealing with it. This is an important moment where you’re going to learn to push yourself. You have to keep going! We have to push ourselves to keep each other together. We have to practice being strong, and I am here to help you do just that.”teacher letter

I raised up off the desk and began to put my suit jacket back on.

“That’s why we are going to deal with the pain, we’re not going to quit. We are going to college and we’re going to be successful there. And although we’re hurting on the inside and still in pain, we are still going to do math! You understand?”

“Yes” was the solemn reply.

“Begin reading at top of the page. Let’s get started.”

We continued class. Rider University had never been more focused or attentive as they were that day. I think they knew that I cared.