Monday, May 5, 2014

From Dr. Muhammad Ahmad: Black Edstats you can use

Black EDSTATS You Can Use:


BLACKOUT: Number of Black Students Accepted at the University of California, Berkeley Drops

Black Berkely students in 2010 protest racist policies in the
University of California System.
A silent protest held by the UC Berkeley black community in response to the acts that occurred at UCSD in February 2010.
April 29, 2014-

In the same week that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld state-imposed bans on race-sensitive admissions at public universities, the University of California system released data on acceptance rates for Black and other minorities students. In 1996, voters in California enacted a ban on the consideration of race in university admissions decisions. Earlier this year an effort to end the ban in the state legislature was shelved after objections were raised by the Asian-American community.

African Americans make up nearly 7 percent of the California population but are only 4.2 percent of all students from California admitted to the Class of 2018 at the nine undergraduate campuses in the system. This is an identical percentage from a year ago.

At the flagship campus of the University of California at Berkeley, 287 African American students from California were admitted to the freshman class, compared to 333 a year ago. Blacks make up 3.4 percent of all admitted students to the first-year class from California. A year ago, African Americans made up 3.6 percent of all students admitted to the entering class from California.

If we include students from out of state, 392 African Americans were admitted to the Class of 2018. This is down from 417 a year ago. African Americans are 3.2 percent of all admitted students to the freshman class, compared to 3.5 percent a year ago.

Berkely today: the Struggle Continues....

Suburban NY Student Picks Yale Among All 8 Ivies




MASTIC BEACH, N.Y. (AP) — Kwasi Enin is taking his brains to Yale.

In a move usually reserved for highly-recruited athletes, a suburban New York high school student who was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools announced Wednesday before a phalanx of national media cameras that he has decided to be a member of Yale University's Class of 2018.

He explained he had been thinking about Yale, but the clincher was a campus visit last week.

"I met geniuses from all across the world and everyone there was so friendly and inviting and the residential college system there is just wonderful for each student," the 17-year-old Shirley resident told reporters.

Enin, whose parents emigrated from Ghana in the 1980s, attracted national attention this spring after being accepted at all eight Ivies plus several New York state colleges. He made a cameo appearance on the "Late Show With David Letterman," and his accomplishment was the topic of a jibe during "Saturday Night Live's" Weekend Update segment.

On his application essay to the Ivy League schools, the Long Island teenager wrote passionately about his love for music, although his intention is to someday go to medical school and become a physician.

"Whenever I perform, whether as a bassist in Men's Doo Wop Group or as a violinist in a Chamber Ensemble, I become immersed in the conversations between performers and the audience," he said in the essay. "As I become lost in these conversations, I create blissful memories in which I am truly part of my community's culture and eventually its history."

He noted at Wednesday's press conference that he sensed that passion would be sated at Yale.

"I believe that their deep appreciation and love for music, like I have, was very critical for me deciding to go there," he told reporters.

Enin was joined at the press conference by his parents, Ebenezer and Doreen Enin, and his 14-year-old sister, Adwoa.

Ebenezer Enin said he and his wife have encouraged both of their children to excel in the classroom.

"I believe you can do better than him," he said he told his daughter.

Enin scored 2,250 out of 2,400 on his SAT. He was also accepted at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.

Brown V Board of Education 60 years Later...

Dear Friend of Rethinking Schools:

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark Supreme Court decision that called for the end of segregation in public schools.

Sadly, as we wrote in our special issue 10 years ago, we have not come far enough toward this goal. And in many ways we have slid backward.

Here are some fine articles from our archives that will help us examine where we've been and what we have left to do in our classrooms, neighborhoods, and society.

Brown 50 Years Later by the editors of Rethinking Schools
Why our society must work harder than ever to achieve the goals of equality and justice that drove the Civil Rights Movement.

Warriors Don't Cry: Brown Comes to Little Rock, by Linda Christensen
A role play exercise brings Melba Pattillo Beals' classic book about the Little Rock Nine to life for students.

Teaching Brown in Tuscaloosa, by Alison Schmitke
Learning about their community's civil rights history inspires students to action.

Distorting the Civil Rights Legacy by Barbara Miner
How school-voucher supporters misuse the lessons of segregation to push their agenda.

Our Grandparents' Civil Rights Era by Willow McCormick
Second graders ask grandparents to write about their experiences during the Civil Rights Movement. The letters bring surprising wisdom— and some thought-provoking issues—to the classroom.

It all started with these Kansas children....

These articles are free for our subscribers. Subscribe today to gain access.*

"Brown Kids Can't Be in Our Club" by Rita Tenorio
How to effectively raise issues of race with young children.

Trayvon Martin and My Students: Writing toward justice by Linda Christensen
President Obama's speech about the Zimmerman acquittal in Trayvon Martin's murder—and Cornel West's response—are rich sources for students learning how to analyze, evaluate, and critique.

Schools More Separate: Consequences of a Decade of Resegregation, by Gary Orfield

Reflections from a 'Deseg Baby' by Linda Mizell
Growing up in the segregated South meant listening to conversations about Brown and desegregation -- and hearing African Americans express some views you might not expect.

*All subscribers enjoy access to our online archives. If you have a subscription, but are not sure how to activate your online account, please call customer service at 1-800-669-4192.

Kris Collett
Outreach/Marketing Director


Condoleezza Rice backs out of Rutgers commencement

From Associated Press

FILE - In this March 15, 2014 file photo, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice peaks at the California Republican Party 2014 Spring Convention in Burlingame, Calif. Rice has decided against delivering the commencement address at Rutgers University following protests by some faculty and students over her role in the Iraq War. Rice said in a statement Saturday, May 3, 2014 that she informed Rutgers President Robert Barchi that she was declining the invitation. She said her involvement had "become a distraction for the university community" at a "time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families." (AP Photo - Ben Margot)

May 03, 2014


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has backed out of delivering the commencement address at Rutgers University following protests by some faculty and students over her role in the Iraq War.

Rice said in a statement Saturday that she informed Rutgers President Robert Barchi that she was declining the invitation to speak at the graduation.

"Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families," Rice said. "Rutgers' invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time."

The school's board of governors had voted to pay $35,000 to the former secretary of state under President George W. Bush and national security adviser for her appearance at the May 18 ceremony. Rutgers was also planning to bestow Rice with an honorary doctorate.

But some students and faculty at New Jersey's flagship university had protested, staging sit-ins and saying Rice bore some responsibility for the Iraq War as a member of the Bush administration. Barchi and other school leaders had resisted the calls to disinvite Rice, saying the university welcomes open discourse on controversial topics.

The news of Rice's decision came a day after Barchi spoke with students protesting Rice's planned speech and told them the board of governors would not rescind its invitation.

In her statement, Rice defended her record, saying that she was honored to serve her country and that she had "defended America's belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas." But she said she didn't want to detract from the spirit of the commencement ceremony.

Barchi said Saturday in a statement that Rutgers stands "fully behind the invitation" it issued to Rice. But he said school officials respect her decision.

"Now is the time to focus on our commencement, a day to celebrate the accomplishments and promising futures of our graduates," Barchi said.

The university said it would provide details in the coming days on who would replace Rice as commencement speaker. She is now a professor of political science at Stanford University.


On the Brink in Brownsville

MAY 1, 2014 -

Shamir, center, at a playground at the Brownsville Houses. His friends, from left, are Nymo, Keston, Camron and Jeremiah. 
Credit Brenda Ann Kenneally for The New York Times

In a typical game of skelly, two children flick homemade plastic pucks into numbered squares drawn on the asphalt. It’s a quaint and simple contest — a mix between shooting marbles and playing shuffleboard — that New Yorkers have played for generations. On warm days in Brownsville, Brooklyn, when there is no school, teenage boys pour out of the housing projects to play. It’s a curious thing to see, boys their age, with the freedom to roam, so captivated by this elementary pastime. But there they sit, with new tattoos on their arms and new hair on their faces, channeling their energy into their fingers and thumbs.

There is not much else to do. Brownsville is just eight miles east of Manhattan’s southern tip — the Freedom Tower shimmers beyond the housing projects. But it can feel like a different city. Brownsville is one of New York’s poorest neighborhoods, with nearly 40 percent of people living below the poverty line. It has been that way for decades, even as lawmakers tried one anti-poverty program after another. Nearly half of those 16 and older are not in the labor force; thousands more are looking for work and unable to find it. A steady barrage of violence punctuates their idle hours. There were 72 shootings last year and 15 murders — in an area spanning about two square miles that many people never leave.

For the kids there, each day brings a chase for adventure through the neighborhood’s housing developments, which they see as a network of playgrounds. They walk to the playgrounds at the Van Dyke Houses. They walk to the playgrounds near the Langston Hughes Houses. They walk to the playgrounds at the Seth Low Houses. Along the way, the boys — and it is almost always boys — pass friends they have known forever, picking some up, dropping some off, asking each, “Where you going?” The subtext is clear: If there is something happening that is better than this, I want to know.

Among the walkers last summer was a 15-year-old named Shamir, who made the rounds with such abandon that his parents seldom knew where he was. He moved out of their apartment in July, after he and his older stepbrother got into a blowup over clothes (Shamir had sworn that he did not wear his stepbrother’s new shirt, until his stepbrother saw him wearing it in a photo on Facebook), and moved into an apartment with another of his brothers. The move took him from an area on the outer edge of Brownsville, where his parents had moved from the Van Dyke Houses, back to the heart of the projects, where he spent most of his childhood. There he woke up when he pleased, drank when he wanted and took girls back to his room when he could (after lots of flirting on Facebook).

Shamir liked watching playground fights, trading blows himself and running back and forth in the melees. Early in the summer, he fought a boy near the track in front of the elementary school. (“Remember that day, bro, when we had that brawl right here?” he told a friend later. “I had him under the car. Like, literally under the car.”) Another time, his group of friends beat up a boy on the other side of the neighborhood. The fights were part of a territorial feud, not over money or drugs but simply turf — one handful of housing developments versus another. A few years ago, one of Shamir’s friends was killed by boys from the rival group. Shamir said the killing was the first — the one that hardened the once-friendly rivalry — but wiser people with longer memories know better.

What comes after skelly does not look good. The boys’ immediate hope is to make life better by finding something to do to cut their boredom or by buying things — like Michael Jordan sneakers — that will win them admiration. A deeper yearning is to escape the neighborhood altogether. But both short-term and long-term goals require cash, which is in short supply.

Shamir has more than most. Both of his parents work and live in a nice apartment outside public housing. In the first two months of the summer, he had a part-time job that he got through the city. He also had a brother who made it out of the neighborhood looking out for him. Still, Shamir was far from content. He couldn’t seem to keep himself from testing danger in the projects, teetering between kids who had already committed serious crimes and people like his brother who made it out. At his age, both paths were still possible, but Brownsville’s darker corners suck up all but the most exceptional boys.

The skelly court closest to where Shamir lived over the summer was on a black expanse the size of a football field, with no cover from the sun. Cracks in the asphalt snaked 50 yards in one direction toward boys playing basketball and in another toward the handball court, where every day the same old man played opponents half his age. The entire area, which everyone calls 284 Park, or simply the 284, was a starting point for Shamir on his daily searches for stuff to do.

One August afternoon, he watched a group of friends play skelly. Two boys ran off toward the convenience store to steal the caps of milk jugs, which they used to make pucks for the game. They would leave the milk behind. Shamir called out after them, “Y’all is going to jaaaail,” before turning his attention back to the game. Eventually, he broke off with his friend, TyTy, and walked toward the playgrounds at the Van Dyke Houses, which everyone calls the South Side.

Shamir is about 5-foot-7, with sharp shoulders and a narrow frame. He has a soft face with thick eyebrows and a small gap in his front teeth. He asserts himself by talking, filling up empty moments by telling stories and cracking jokes — his mouth twisted into a smirk. It’s only when he’s quiet that he seems vulnerable. He is the youngest boy in a large family that is spread across several apartments in Brownsville; he has more half siblings from different mothers than he can quickly recall. His father works nights in a group home for men recently released from prison, and his stepmother prepares taxes. His mother died when he was young. Shamir seldom spoke of his family, with the exception of his brother Sonnie, who no longer lived in the neighborhood but had taken on the task of trying to guide him. Sonnie introduced me to Shamir and arranged for us to spend time together, because he wanted to expose his brother to an outsider, and he wanted an outsider to see in.

Shamir at home with his friends Tommy, left, and Jay, center.
Credit Brenda Ann Kenneally for The New York Times

The 284 and South Side playgrounds are connected by Mother Gaston Boulevard, a main drag where cops patrol and drunks make a clamor. The stroll from one to the other is itself a diversion, and Shamir and TyTy had a rambling conversation as they walked. “My friend got shot right there,” Shamir said in front of one building. “He got shot in his head.” Near another building he remembered a friend who was shot in his side. “Every time he laughs, he says it hurts.”

They passed police officers questioning a man, and Shamir remembered the time he was almost arrested, when he and TyTy were caught hopping a subway turnstile.

“TyTy! That day, boy, I could’ve ran, but I came back for you,” Shamir yelled.

“What day?” TyTy asked. TyTy and Shamir grew up in the same building, one floor apart. TyTy is more pensive than Shamir but still risible.

“We were by the train,” Shamir said. “And the cop came out.”

TyTy laughed. “He seen both of us,” he said. “He was gonna come get your ass and come back for me.” The officer cuffed them both before releasing them with a warning. “It was crazy, boy,” Shamir said.

More than anything they talked about fashion. “Aight, so who you think is the swaggiest in the game right now?” Shamir asked, prompting a long discussion of the best-dressed rappers.

“Name three people. No, name four people.” They ticked off several candidates, including Jim Jones, who Shamir said owned every designer belt in every color, including expensive ones by Hermès. Shamir said Hermès sells its belt buckles separately from its belts.

“The real Hermès, you have to buy the ‘H’ and the belt,” he said. “That’s like a stack and some change.”

TyTy asked, “You gotta buy the ‘H’ separate from the belt?”

“Go in the store, and they’ll show you that. And it come in some box.”

“The Hermès box,” TyTy said.

“Nobody in Brownsville is paying a thousand dollars and change for a belt,” Shamir said. “If you scam, it shouldn’t be a problem. But other than that, no.”

Scamming means depositing phony checks and then withdrawing the money the bank releases before the checks clear; you could usually make at least a couple of hundred dollars that way — and sometimes a couple of thousand. Shamir was one of the few who had a part-time job. He worked two or three mornings a week for the first two months of summer, doing paperwork at a day care center. He finished early enough in the day to hit the streets with his friends, often in a new pair of sneakers that cost him half his biweekly paycheck of $320.

After a few hours of walking, they ended up back at the skelly courts where they started. The temperature had dropped, an evening breeze blew and a light rain began to fall. They found shelter under some scaffolding across the street, and a few climbed the long steel tubes. They laughed and recited rap lyrics in unison, and a rainbow appeared above the elevated tracks.

(“Yo, I’m going to the end!” one said.) There was a hint of magic in the moment, not just because of the rainbow, but because of the simple pleasure they found in one another’s company.

The day was capped with a visit from a guy from the neighborhood called Wavey, who at 21 was a little older than the rest and whose mere presence brought excitement. Wavey is an amateur sketch comic who creates edgy skits and posts them on YouTube. He hopes to be among those the Internet propels to fame and riches. For a skit that Wavey filmed that day called “The ‘Hood Has Talent,” he wore a fake mustache and pretended to be a TV reporter interviewing a local hustler — the talent. Shamir’s friend, Siyah, an undersize 13-year-old, played the hustler. Among his many skills was dancing on the subway for spare change, which Siyah re-enacted for the camera and some boys near the Langston Hughes Houses. His dance moves were an explosion of knees and elbows, and after he finished, Shamir watched them again and again in slow motion on the camera’s viewfinder, until he was doubled over, cracking up.

Gerald Nelson is the police chief who supervises Brooklyn North, the area that includes Brownsville. With some pride, Nelson calls his command the most challenging in the city, in large part because of the crime in Brownsville, which he attributes overwhelmingly to boys and men between the ages of 15 and 25. He said the Police Department’s law-enforcement strategy was focused mostly on monitoring and disrupting the loosely affiliated groups of boys, or crews, as they call them, using social media, because the crews like to brag about their exploits on Facebook. Nelson distinguishes between boys he calls “young stallions,” who are at “that age” with hormones raging, toeing the line between right and wrong, and boys who at 14 or 15 have already been arrested several times for serious crimes. The department lets the young stallions roam, offering what access it can to outreach and mentoring programs. Nelson devotes much of his resources to the others. “If you didn’t see police contact, and you didn’t see stop-and-frisk, and you didn’t see them being collared, believe it or not, you are following the good kids,” Nelson said.

But being a good kid in Brownsville does not bring the same promise as being a good kid in other places. Nelson describes a neighborhood that is improving — crime is down 71 percent over the last two decades — and in that context, a kid like Shamir, who has not fallen into the system, is a symbol of progress. Still, he seemed adrift. Whenever I asked him what he wanted in the future, his answer was swift and certain: “To make it out of the hood. Get up out of here.” Yet he said he had no idea how to do that, even with his parents’ apartment outside the projects that he could call home.

Shamir’s older brother Sonnie, who is 33, made it out, and he was around Shamir’s age when he did. He eventually went to college and worked as a bank manager before establishing himself as a touring rap artist. Now he has an apartment in the suburbs.

Sonnie played in the same parks as Shamir, but in the ‘90s, when the drug trade in Brownsville was at its height. When he was 9 or 10, a man interrupted his skelly game and told him and his friends to run along. “He said it in a nice manner, like he was about to serve hot dogs and hamburgers or something,” Sonnie recalled. Instead, the man shot another man and walked off.

Sonnie has nostalgia for that time, even though there was more crime, because at least the violence was predictable; people were fighting over something — drug money — not fighting over nothing. To some extent, the drug dealers contained the collateral damage. They could still be heroes. They parked their cars on the street that runs along 284 Park in a display of their riches. It was the era of Mazda Millenias and Mitsubishi Diamantes. “You see people who have chains, cars or money or always come through with pretty girls, and you see the way everybody acts when this person comes around, and you’re like, ‘Oh, I want that,’ ” Sonnie said. “Because it’s a good feeling.”

He saved his allowance for months to buy a gold chain and gold fronts for his teeth. He used some of his money from a part-time job to buy marijuana that he sold at a profit to buy sneakers. But he also left the neighborhood every chance he got, for math and chess tournaments and basketball games, following the lead of his mother, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees while working office jobs. He was the overachiever among his friends. “I was pretty much into the whole school thing,” he said.

When he was 15, his best friend stole a safe belonging to his best friend’s uncle. “He was like, ‘We’re going to buy sneakers every week!’ ” The uncle threatened to kill his nephew and all of his friends, including Sonnie, so Sonnie’s best friend killed the uncle. “For my mom, that was the last straw,” he said. She sent him to Virginia to live with his grandmother.

Shamir at the Brownsville Houses.
Credit Brenda Ann Kenneally for The New York Times

His main advice for Shamir is to leave the neighborhood at every opportunity. But Shamir is not as academically inclined as Sonnie. And when their grandmother offered to move Shamir down to Virginia, he did not like the idea. “It’s boring down there,” Shamir said. “I ain’t got time for that.”

On a hot day late in August, a group of boys gathered around a game of dice at 284 Park. Two played while a dozen others watched the mind-numbing routine: Blow on the dice, shake them and toss them, count your luck, exchange crumpled dollar bills and repeat. Shamir sat there on a bench with his face propped up on both hands, his gaze some place far off.

“You know what I want?” one boy broke in. “I want a whole bunch of shoe boxes straight up the wall like in the movies. And it be sneakers in the boxes. And they pull that one box, and the boxes don’t fall.” There was a hollow bounce of a ball over at the handball court. Farther off, the chime of an ice-cream truck. A police helicopter cut the air overhead.

They argued for several minutes about whether Gucci makes designer belts for children before Shamir walked off with his friend Keston on the usual pilgrimage toward the South Side.

“Yo, we didn’t get into it with Tilden in a mad long time,” Shamir said.

Keston, a somber boy with an air of forced confidence, agreed: “That’s what I’m saying. Our day be feeling mad boring.”

The Tilden Houses were just blocks from where they were walking, but their borders marked enemy territory. The boys who lived there, along with the boys living in the Marcus Garvey Houses, called themselves the Hood Starz. Shamir and his friends from the Langston Hughes Houses, the Seth Low Houses, the Brownsville Houses and the Van Dyke Houses called themselves the Wave Gang.

“Hell yeah,” Shamir said to Keston. “We were having those good brawls.”

“That’s a fact,” Keston said. “When you’re running back and forth, that is mad fun.”

Vincent Mattos, who for years organized basketball tournaments in the 284 and who knows most of the kids in the neighborhood, attributes much of the drama to boredom. “They sitting on they block with nothing else to do,” he said. “We done played skelly. We done played enough ball.” Most of the recreation centers in the neighborhood were closed during the summer; the one closest to where Shamir lived allowed kids from certain developments to enter only at certain times to try to avoid conflict, and more often than not, it was also closed. There is one place, the Brownsville Recreation Center, with its indoor pool, performance space and gym, that people point to as an example of good things happening in the community. But it’s on the other side of rival territory.

“That’s like a different world,” Mattos said. “They worry about the come-home. They in the gym, and somebody out of the other crew calls and says, ‘Let’s get him before he gets back to the projects side.’ ”

On their walk, Shamir and Keston started telling each other about dreams they’d had recently. Shamir said that in his dream, two boys from the Tilden Houses shared a meal with him in his apartment, a thought that astounded him. “I had a dream, too,” Keston said, so excited that he stumbled over his words. “I had a dream that everybody over here was linked up. We was going to the beach one day. We was in Tilden riding bikes. They ran up to me and said, ‘What up, bro?’ And I was like, ‘What the hell?’ ”

Dusk was approaching when they reached the edge of the South Side, and the shadows of the Van Dyke Houses leaned over the playground. Dozens of kids darted around in swarms. Shamir and Keston each paid a dollar for a frozen dessert. On a bench inside the park, a group of kids was handling a pellet gun that one took from an older sibling. It looked real.

“Why you bring that outside, boy?” Shamir asked, alarmed. “You’re supposed to bring it out when we beef with Tilden.” Then a call rang out across the playground, and all of the kids seemed to know at once that something worth seeing was happening. Over there? . . . Who? . . . Tina? . . . What she say? . . . Fight? Keston knew it was about him. And it had nothing to do with Tilden.

Tina was Keston’s ex-girlfriend. She sat at a concrete table across the park with a box of pizza and an orange soda, steely and quiet, even as a mass of noisy kids surrounded her. The news that attracted their attention was puerile: Tina said — or everyone thought she said — that Keston has a small penis. Fighting words.

Shamir took a seat on a table where he could see. Behind him, kids fanned out like spectators in an amphitheater, aiming their camera phones and egging on Keston and Tina, who circled each other in a swirl of nervousness and bravado.

The possibility that violence could spill out toward the mothers peering over baby strollers or the old ladies resting on benches did not quell what was becoming an electrified mob. Nor did the fact that the main attraction pitted one of the huskiest boys in the neighborhood against a girl. The fight was the most thrilling thing to happen in a long bore of a day.

Keston stood with his thumb inside the elastic waistband of his basketball shorts, threatening to yank down his pants and prove his manhood. “There are babies over here,” someone warned. Keston quickly decided that he would hit Tina rather than expose himself, and Tina, not much smaller than him in a camouflage T-shirt, stood there, planted, chin up and out, daring him to try.

“Punch me in my face,” she yelled, wagging her finger. “You really think I’m scared? Punch me in my face.” Keston bit his bottom lip, rocked between his heels and toes and clapped his hands.

Shamir, who was providing a running commentary, yelled, “Yo, he is gonna rock her!” Eventually a boy called Kool-Aid pushed the confrontation to its climax when he started counting backward from 10. Everyone joined in. “Ten, nine, eight. . . . “

Keston punched Tina when the countdown reached one. It was a powerful blow. Tina staggered for a few seconds and then ran after Keston swinging. But she was outmatched. Keston grabbed her face and hit her there several more times. When Tina tried to retreat, he stomped after her, flailing, and the crowd followed, ecstatic. After about a minute of madness, Tina walked out of the park. She did not appear injured.

After the fight, kids jumped up and down, cursing, laughing. “Yo, I got the best footage,” a boy called out. No one called the cops, and no cops walked by on patrol. Activity in the rest of park continued without disruption, as if the fight had not happened. The old ladies did not lift their noses from their books.

As the dust settled, Shamir sat at a park table with boys called Fifty and Snagz. These two held forth like wise men, explaining the ugliness we had all just seen, while Shamir mostly listened, a bit out of his depth.

“This is the realest hood, though,” Fifty said. “Van Dyke. Because this is the biggest project in Brownsville. It’s three parks in Van Dyke.”

“You got other places that’s live wires,” he said, naming housing developments. “Tilden is just a war zone.” He said the police could not stop the violence. “They already did what they can do. It’s never going to stop.”

Snagz said, “They growing up from little kids, and it keeps going.”

“From generation to generation to generation,” Fifty said.

I asked them if boys in the neighborhood often hit girls. “That was just one,” Fifty replied. “Times him by 37,000.” Shamir added casually that “girls get slapped every day.” The playgrounds were a place where watching a friend beat up a girl, brawling with the Tilden boys and playing a good game of skelly were all on the same level. And the boys accepted each as they came.

‘When you young, you love violence. ... When everybody gets older, they just start wanting to get money.’

Snagz said: “It’s crazy. When you young, you love violence. But as soon as you get older, start growing into your adult years, you get tired of that. I’m tired. I’m just trying to get money. When everybody gets older, they just start wanting to get money.” Snagz was 16.

Tina walked back into the park with her parents. Again there was a feeling that something bad was about to happen. “They ‘bout to beat you up,” Fifty sang in falsetto, elated. Keston, who had been pacing in a daze, refused to run.

Tina walked up to Keston swinging a knife. She scratched the surface of his skin, and his blood began to trickle. Tina’s mother approached next as if she was going to chastise Keston, but instead she sprayed him in the face with pepper spray. Tina’s family walked quickly to their car and sped off. Keston spent the next half an hour shirtless, leaning over the playground’s rainbow sprinkler, flushing his eyes and spitting. His older sister came to the park in a fury and threatened to send someone after Tina’s mother.

Shamir decided he had seen enough for the day and headed to his apartment to take a nap. “Yo, come wake me up,” he said to one of his friends. “Keep beating on the door if I don’t come right away.”

Mattos told me that in his estimation, there are a few different types of kids on the streets. There are the good kids, who are pulled into fights simply because of where they live. There are the ones he calls the generals (“the ones that are most boasty”), who are usually surrounded by a group of followers. “We try to redirect their generalship,” Mattos said. And there are the boys like Shamir, whom Mattos calls batteries. A battery is a kid who charges up another to do what he himself would not do. “He’s putting a battery in this person’s back,” Mattos said.

A few days after Keston and Tina fought at the South Side, Shamir and some friends walked by a neighborhood pharmacy where a teenage girl was arguing with her boyfriend on the sidewalk, and the boys goaded the boyfriend into slapping her.

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