Trust The Progress… er, I Mean “Process”

Ben's Journal, Moderate Proposals, Politics

I have often stated that I am a Progressive. I see a problem, I solve it in a simple way. I repeat. #Progress!

You have often stated that I was an insanely successful juggernaut on the pre-American landscape (I am, of course, paraphrasing…). So, how did I become so successful a Progressive? It came down to two fundamental principles.

Firstly, walk into every room and ask yourself, “how can I make it better?”. This is the staple mentality for any successful Progressive. It implies a concern for the standards of quality in regards to all elements within your vicinity that affect the livelihood of society; both people and environment alike. It also implies a motivation to ensure that those standards are met. It’s not just concern. It’s action.

The other fundamental principle to success is to move with a confidence that borderlines on arrogance. This is the fuel which energizes you. It’s not a comparative, “I’m better than you” mentality. Rather, it’s an understanding that “I am great because I’m trying to improve the lives of all of those around me”. Walk tall because, regardless of how successful your attempt is, you are on the RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY.

“Right Side” of History

That concept, “the right side of history” is not addressed often enough in discourse. It is a nifty mindset that can help you dictate your long-term legacy in the court of public opinion. Any student of history has the ability to predict which side of a conflict will be memorialized because it follows simple guidelines:

  • It tears down an oppressive barrier to a group of people
  • It ensures positive long-term economic effects that benefit the masses, not just a certain group of people
  • It promotes equality amongst the population

Figures throughout history are revered because of their Progressive challenges to oppressive, conservative status-quos:

  • Thomas Jefferson for stating “all men are created equal” and establishing the foundation arguments for separation of church and state
  • George Washington for surrendering his office of Presidency
  • Abraham Lincoln for abolishing slavery
  • Franklin Roosevelt for supporting the working-class
  • Ghandi for fighting British imperialism
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. for challenging segregation

These men are remembered for their moves that would be considered “Progressive” in their time period. They challenged policies and institutions that had been based off of previous rationale and argument. They altered the course of history for humanity. They opened up opportunities for groups that had once been denied those “inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. They are the ones who are taught about in schools. They are regarded as heroes and are quoted and emulated from people on both sides of political ideology. They are remembered because of their PROGRESSIVISM.

Now, I hope reading this list has raised an eye-brow. That is good, because that means that you can identify the irony…

  • The first two men owned hundreds of slaves
  • The middle two men were racist
  • The last two men were misogynistic

These men were not Gods. Not even Demi-Gods. They were flawed. They had prejudices and biases that prevented them from doing more to ensure equality for all. Often, they were at the forefront of one cause, but disappeared into the mob of contemporary public opinion for other issues. As fair as we think it might be to hope for someone who could push the oppressive boundaries in all directions, this concept is, unfortunately, just not realistic. But all it took was to be on the forefront of one cause, to challenge one indoctrinated evil (and then to prevail) for them to move forward the advancement of society. Did they do something exceptional? Yes. Did they do enough? Probably not. But that’s how change in society occurs…

Societal Evolution

Society is always evolving for the better. The progress sometimes can be rapid. Sometimes it can feel like it is crawling at a snail’s pace. But it’s still progressing. It is a valuable reminder for Progressives. Because progress implies change, it is going to run into resistance each step of the way. Reactionaries, out of fear or anger, will fight back to sabotage progress, either through hindrance or outright reversal. This is the nature of humans! Depending on the conflict, the level of resistance will fluctuate, but it is always guaranteed. That is why any type of progress is still good.

Progress is not easy. It will never provide a clear path. I heard a great story from Daniel Day Lewis, as he played Abraham Lincoln, and it has always resonated with me:

A compass I learnt when I was surveying, it’ll… it’ll point you true north from where your standing, but it’s got no advice about the swamps, deserts and chasms that you’ll encounter along the way. If in pursuit of your destination, you plunge ahead heedless of obstacles, and achieve nothing more than to sink in a swamp, what’s the use of knowing true north?

(Lincoln, 2012)

Compromise

I am a big supporter of COMPROMISE. Throughout negotiations, you will often have to reach compromise. It makes everyone angry. But it also provides a substantial foundation to build upon. You may not be able to fully open the door that shuts you out. However, if you have compromised to get a foot in the door, then it will become less difficult for the next person to come along and provide the effort to open it further.

For example, the Affordable Care Act. It enforces the Progressive belief that all Americans should be protected in affordable healthcare. It did a lot of good in providing accessible healthcare for approximately 20 million people who couldn’t afford it before. However, there are issues with the bill. Because of the process for a bill to become a law, the ACA was altered and changed to cater to hundreds of members of Congress. Some wanted the ACA to go farther to ensure free healthcare. Most wanted it to do waaaaaay less. The end result was a compromised bill that was complicated and inefficient in many ways. Does it need to be revised? Absolutely. However, it finally ensured that Federal government was going to ensure that poor people had access to healthcare… THAT’S PROGRESS! Down the line, it will hopefully become more efficient. But in the meantime, it is a huge accomplishment for Progressives.

This is not to say that you should settle for minimal progress. It is a constant struggle that will always leave you desiring for more to be done. Humanity will provide you with the most stubborn of opponents in your crusade… always. So you must understand that it is a process. As Progressives, you need to TRUST THE PROCESS, and keep fighting for your desired goals.

America’s Team Part 3 – Not Boston

Ben's Journal, Moderate Proposals

There are plenty of arguments that can be made as to why America’s team is really the Patriots. Rebels fighting the British. Tea Party. Sons of Liberty. Hometown of John Adams and me, Ben Franklin. Successful Founders and rich history, indeed!

Nope. Philly prevails. Here’s why:

Boston is important for starting the American rebellion, yes. But the American Revolution starts and finishes in Philadelphia. If we want our image to be a rabble-rousing mob of gun-toting, blue collar workers, then maybe we could consider them… though I guess a lot of America might consider that image very ‘Merican. Not very Enlightened though. Not very Revolutionary… Not like, say, crafting foundational documents which reshape American sociopolitical theory.

Boston’s stock value of American demi-gods is also not as high as one might think… Sorry Patriots of New England. Neither Sam Adams nor John Hancock is significant after they signed the Declaration of Independence. They were NOT helpful in creating the new Republic after the war. Hell, they didn’t really help after starting the war. They were men built for tearing down, and terrible for building up. The just gradually faded away in to local political oblivion.

So the Sons of Liberty don’t help Boston. What else can they claim?

Boston doesn’t get to claim me – Ben Franklin – either. Yes, I was born in Boston. My parents are buried in Boston. I went to school and learned my printing trade in Boston. Boston Enlightened me. But I could not stand the Puritans. If I had stayed in New England, I would have been run out of town, or jailed, for my dismissal of religious fanaticism. I left Boston and I never looked back.

I came to Philadelphia and I made that town. I conceived most of the Progressive and Enlightened institutions established in that city. Philly is my child. Ask any parent: if they had to choose between their own parent or their own child, they would always claim loyalty first, and foremost, to their child. The city, in return, made my success, my fame, my legacy. So my loyalties shifted to Philadelphia. I am connected to that Philadelphia more than I am to Boston.

So, of the Boston characters, there is only John Adams left…

Cool? Forgive me if I don’t roll out the red carpet for that one. Sorry, Boston. Your historical credentials are top-tier…

But Philly is America’s hometown.

Chapter 2 – Riddlin’

Life and Times of the Philly O.G., Rap

First song = HUGE SUCCESS

My kids didn’t realize I could keep a rhythm or write rhymes… but then again, the bar was set pretty low. I could have written half as much and rapped reeeeeeally slow and they STILL would have enjoyed it. Not much is expected of us, TEACHERS, when it comes to creativity. So, I could have gone full blown “Dr. Seuss” and they would have gone nuts.

Did they understand everything I said? Nope. In fact I had to follow-up with them afterwards that I had, in fact, called them out. I had some difficulty with a few of the vocabulary words so I forcefully (and unpoetic as all Hell…) inserted them into latter bars of the rap.

Did they learn all of the words? Wellllll…. sort of. In hindsight, you should not perform a study guide Vocab Rap on THE DAY OF THE TEST… allowing the students no chance to actually study… oops!

Oh yea, they also didn’t believe that I was really Ben Franklin. In fact, they didn’t even notice the name drop in the first place. When I repeated the line (an equivalent to explaining a joke…) they figured it was my rap name. They definitely do not believe that I am actually Ben Franklin. Oh well! I guess that makes sense since YOU don’t either…

On the plus side, they really liked that line: “So sophisticated I made Rick Ross say, ‘Huh!?’”… so that’s a win!!!!

I got all of my students’ attention. Some of them accepted my challenge. For Vocabulary Unit 2, they were ready to throw down. “Quiz Day” would be renamed “The Thunderdome”.

Now, I would LOVE to say that they spent every hour working on their own vocabulary raps. That would’ve been LOVELY. Instead, I got them to work on it twice in their study-hall… over the course of 4 weeks. And that was only after I extorted them about EXTRA CREDIT. (It got them to write, so don’t judge me.) The IRONY was that they would walk over to me in study-hall to ask if they were using vocabulary words correctly in otherwise slang-filled rhymes:

“You ugly f— punk, your face a abomination…”

OR

“It’s so adventitious that your booty so circuitous…”

AND

“Yo, Nonymous, your synonymous with a hippopotamus…”

(No vocab in this one, it’s just my favorite…)

I knew then what I was getting myself into. I needed to reset the expectations about the INOFFENSIVE lyric clause. There could be none. So that I didn’t lose control of my classes. They needed to be respectful to each other as well as to me. Otherwise, we would not continue with it. In reality, I just didn’t want to get into trouble…

… but I also knew I needed to still come at their necks pretty badly. (Translation: I was going to figuratively demolish them through ridicule). The second OG RULE is: “You attack them once, shame on you. You attack them twice, period.” I came right back at them. I was swinging away with each bar, casting aside all takers.

There was benefit of using all of the vocabulary words in the rap. All of my insults took on a heightened sense of sophistication… making it even more condescending, yet sounding less so.

Plus I kept it fast paced with lots of complex-sounding, multiple-syllable words… it’s a doozy to spit in one take…

The night before the quiz, I created my Power Point. I went to bed early and woke up early. I read an excellent section from a biography of Henry Clay and fried up two eggs with pork roll on the side. I put on another sophisticated “teacher” outfit and I headed to school.

Summer had rolled into fall. The emerald leaves had faded into a rusted auburn that was only a few shades from my hair color. I popped on my head phones and marched.

My Pandora station this time? Birdman…

“Riddlin” Lyrics

(VOCABULARY words in bold*)

My skill so ill, it’ll kill all ages,

You best be courageous, ‘cause my spits is contagious

It’s so advantageous, not ADVENTITIOUS

That I made an assignment where I get to murder you (Biscuits!)

You’re sitting there simmering, miserably COMMISERATING,

You’re anger’s FERMENTATING into straight ABOMINATING

You’ll sit here PECULATING all the rhymes that I’m creating,

I ain’t speculating by sayin’ that your cheaply imitating,

Never duplicating, though unknowingly EXPIATING

Yo, you’re rapping my vocab, that’s INADVERTENT ACCULTURATIN’

You’ve done what I wanted, so congrats! I win!

I got you studyin’, and I win the crown again

Your VITRIOLIC PROCLIVITY’S not giving me remorse,

I told you, “Stop being mean.” I ENJOINED you from this course

But you kids got that attitude, can’t handle your stress,

Your rhymes is TENUOUS, moving your pencil’s strenuous

So trust me, I ain’t afraid that your song gon’ drop,

I got that SANGFROID ‘cause your song gon’ flop

I’m algebraic the way I’m so formulaic, you can’t hold me, though

No equating. Your skill’s NOMINAL, I’m polynomial

My function’s coefficient multiplying to new editions,

I make laws, so watch that CIRCUITOUS SEDITION,

You never should chose to come at me, but you’ll never listen

Next time I say “Wanna go!?” Stick with NONCOMMITTAL indecision

Try to WHEEDLE like a needle, move quick with precision

This’ll EXPEDITE the process, and make for better conditions,

Cause in this game, it’s all about allegiances you makin’

You know how I know that? ‘cause I’m B. Franklin.

Chapter 1 – Moment of Clarity Pt. 2

Life and Times of the Philly O.G.

The Challenge

My kids like to trash talk. So do I. Many of my dialogues with my students in the hallways go like this:

Student: Yo, you’re trash at ball…

Me: Yo, I’m smarter than you…

You know, stuff like that. The only way that I’m going get them interested is if I can get them to feel the need to respond to me. Plus, I AM smarter than them; that’s why I am teaching them.

So if I’m going to write a rap that’s worthy for my students to respond, I needed to follow the Rap Commandments that I had developed:

10 Rap Commandments

  1. No one is better than you. #Fact.
  2. When starting out, sample popular beats. If it’s good enough for Drake, it’s good enough for you.
  3. Address everyone as haters and rivals unless they are on your TEAM. Then they’re Fam.
  4. You came from the bottom. This industry is only for those who struggled and hustled (working hard/doing anything) against the established system and authority in order to get where they are. The more illegal, the better.
  5. Hype yourself up by using metaphors, similes, and hyperboles. It’s quantity OVER quality on this one…
  6. Act and speak like you don’t give a “feck”. In fact, say that you don’t “Give. A. FECK.” just so there’s no confusion.
  7. Briefly allude to at least one physical altercation to establish your toughness.
  8. You are so attractive to the opposite sex that you don’t understand rejection… which, actually, is not good.
  9. Money, Money, Money. No money = No credit. Specifically reference BEN FRANKLIN in any and all songs… in order to directly correlate yourself with economic success. (#BOSS)
  10. When in doubt, drop another F-bomb for MOTHERFECUND emphasis.

With my trusty format, I went about crafting my masterpiece. I chose to use Jay-Z’s “Moment of Clarity”. Immediately in the verse, I identified the conflict as being the cliché “Old School vs. New School” debate. As antagonist, I argued that “new rap” is lazy and shitty. In order to establish my credentials, I addressed a conversation that I had partaken in with Jay-Z. He gave me his blessing to educate the youth with his raps. (#truth) Oh yea! And I incorporated the 20 vocabulary words as well…

Oh, I didn’t reference money in my rap (Commandment #9…). Instead, I finally revealed myself to be Ben Franklin…

I was ready to break the world. The morning of the presentation, I woke up at 4:45 AM; I completed my 30 minutes of reading; And I dressed in my best “Teacher” outfit. As I began the 30 minute walk to school, I popped on my headphones and zoned out to the bass of “Rick Ross” Pandora…

Yea, Rick Ross… Get over it.

With my masterpiece written, I quickly rushed to school. I totally forgot to have a visual presentation for them to read as I rapped! I powered through 30 minutes to create a Power Point slide show. The formula was simple:

  1. Place 2-4 lines of lyrics on a slide
  2. Take a “selfie”
  3. Email the “selfie” to myself
  4. Attach the “selfie” to the slide.
  5. Repeat

Now I was completely prepared. I was ready to deliver my firing shots… and reveal myself to the world.

So here’s the first rap in my autobiographical mixtape…

“Moment of Clarity” Lyrics

Rap is LAME, that’s what people have been saying

DECADENT rappers only wanna make it rain and

Talking bout the bling and LURID things, it’s JADED

SIMULATING lifestyles of the rich and famous

But their words are weak, they better get strong

Every other word I hear is just another F-bomb

It’s so lazy! So I prayed to Jay-Z

Like: Dear Hov I wonder can you save me,

He said, “nah just INTERCEDE, for me

ASSUAGE this situation with a dictionary,

Scare em with your stock of vocabulary

This structured struggle needs moments of clarity,”

So that’s my PREROGATIVE, to EXPOSTULATE

Y’all to save the genre before its too late

So no more INNUENDOS, its time for some straight talk

Dop all the UMBRAGE, don’t be a PROVINCIAL

I taught 50 how to stunt, Meek to be a boss

So sophisticated, I made Rick Ross say “HUH”?

I taught Miley how to twerk!

Such a teacher, I taught Harry Potter how to curse!

Pick the location, I’ll break you down to basics

MERITORIOUS for being so gloriously creative

And I’m back now after my HIATUS

I’m Ben Franklin TRANSCENDING generations

I’m amazing, nothing more to say kid

Switching criticisms into APPROBATIONS

I’m a pro, yo, and now your on probation

Prove that you’re a rapper! Quick! Time’s a-wasting!

Please, nothing lyrically HACKNEYED

Put a COALITION of them words to this beat

I’ll ELICIT all your creativity

With an UNCTUOUS look, I’ll pretend to be beat…

…sike

Chapter 1 – Moment of Clarity Pt. 1

Life and Times of the Philly O.G.

One could argue that the best place to start this story would be at the very beginning of my creation. The moment that I opened my eyes and looked up at my bright eyed scientist creators. But NOPE! I will use later pieces for the necessary exposition…

Rule #1 of story-telling: Give the reader just enough information to understand the current scene, and nothing more.

The real beginning of this story was the day that I chose to incorporate rap into my English class…

It made perfect sense!

Context – Rap in the Classroom

For some context, my students couldn’t quote Shakespeare but they could regurgitate, at will, any lyrics from Kendrick or Meek Mill. Rap incorporated a storytelling style that was FAR more interesting to them than the “classics” ever were. They connected with the cracked “streets” of Philly, not the cobblestone roads of “fair Verona”. I was cool with it; I loved rap!

Who gave a shit that it had foul words!? They were listening to the music anyway… so I might as well create a forum to talk about it.

I used our mutual interest in the art form to help them practice identifying literary elements and devices used by rappers and authors alike. They used them to search for context clues related to unfamiliar slang.

I had them explain to me who they thought won the Jay-Z and Nas beef. They had to, in writing, craft their argument. Assertions were made and were required to be supported by strong quotes (lyrics). Context set up the foundation of the argument and the commentary on the quotes solidified the entire treatise.

It had… mixed results… but the kids definitely were more interested. So I tried to keep rap prevalent in my classroom, even if it was relegated to the occasional “relief lesson” placement.

Rap also gave me an opportunity to create my own content which the students would, ideally, memorize and recite. I’ve seen pre-schoolers not know how to spell their own name but knew how to spell “I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T” thanks to Lil’ Boosie.

Going into the Fall of 2015, I knew I was going to start rapping for my students. I had learned a lot of vocabulary through my own verses when I was younger. It felt like a good approach for my students to learn the vocabulary for the test. But I knew that they wouldn’t just do it. I had to approach it in the only way I knew how. Bribery.

I gave students an extra credit opportunity. If they wrote a “poem” (but I meant “rap”…) using all 20 vocabulary words in the unit, they would receive 2 EXTRA HOMEWORK CREDITS!!!!

… no one cared. No one was going to do it.

So I decided I would

(To be continued…)

Franklin For President – Introduction and FAQs Pt. 2

Life and Times of the Philly O.G.

How is it possible that you are back?

You know… science…

Alright, fine…

“Science”*

I’m sorry. I wish that there was a better answer here… but I really I don’t know how they did it. The scientists – my creators –  explained it to me… and I really tried to focus and learn, I really did… but they lost me at the phrase DNA… (“Seriously, what!?! Deoxy-what?? Oh, it’s my blood? Just say that next time!”)

In other words,  you gotta ask them. I just have no idea.

But here are the basics:

Apparently they took some of my blood from my grave (and cracked the stone in process!) and then they created more of the blood with a “machine” that can replicate blood… annnnnnnd that’s all I can remember.

Seriously, my head hurts just trying to reiterate that… I’m not accustomed to the complexities of your science.

I died a loooooooooooooooooooooong time ago. At least I’m doing a good job going with the flow, though. I mean, can you imagine if it was John Adams that came back to life?? I sure as Hell can. And in my imagination, it’s fucking unbearable!

But I do trust science. You should too! In the end, all that matters is that I, Ben Franklin, have returned to the present-time.

Why didn’t you immediately tell the world that you were “Ben Franklin”?

Let’s be honest. You would NOT have believed me, in the first place. You still don’t!

Secondly, if you think that I’m going to just come back to the present time period and immediately expose myself to the world, then you are NOT thinking.

Do you know how much of a culture shock it is to come back to life 220 years in the future? (You don’t do you? So back off…)

I’m a primitive scientist. Practical genius. A man of logic. Basically I’m in the algebraic category of science. Formulas of arithmetic and x- y- variables. The formulas of simple machines.

Unfortunately, this has no bearing in the present day since we’re in a calculus world. A realm of abstract and advanced equations. The internet and quantum mechanics. That’s above my level.

I died 20 years before the bicycle was invented… so what THE FUCK is a train?!?!

I play checkers. This is chess…

So I took a couple years to get accustomed to the new society. In hind sight, it was a REEEEEEEEEEALLY good call.

So, why did you choose to unveil your true identity right now?

Well, for starters, I felt that 5 years prepared me with a sufficient understanding of society, business, politics, etc…

More importantly, I was really pissed off at the Alexander Hamilton Musical. Was it good? Yes. But on principle, HELL NOPE!

I am already annoyed that I will forever be remembered as being a fat, old, bald guy… and now they aren’t including me in MY OWN DAMN ERA!?!

It was time to respond.

Why did you choose to create a Mixtape as your format?

Shout out to my students. I’ve connected with them through rap. Turns out that is the best format for me. I always liked rhyming and poetic verse when I was young. It was an easy way of adding rhythm, to a music-less life. Rap has been such a nice surprise for me! They like it too. We connected. All I had to do was adjust to the new cultural elements around slang, subject matter, literary devices, and then I was able to kick it with my kids.

Since I had already had the rap background, a mixtape seemed like the appropriate way to respond to a RAP musical. I figured we’d settle this the way that the Founding Fathers had always intended… through an underground mixtape heard by dozens of people.

Okay, but… I’m still not getting it. How is it possible that you are back??

JESUS CHRIIIIIIST! It took less time to convince you of the science behind Jurassic Park…

Just enjoy the damn story!

Franklin For President – Introduction and FAQs Pt. 1

Ben's Journal, Life and Times of the Philly O.G.

Introduction and F.A.Q.s

Hello!

This might feel like a very odd and abstract concept for you to understand… but you are currently having a VERY one-sided conversation with Ben Franklin…

Congratulations!

I understand that you have questions. I’ll answer them shortly. But first let me say:

HEY! I’m back! Not newly back, though. I’ve actually been back for about 5 years now… soooo surprise!

I’m not old. I am 29 years old with a full head of reddish brown hair and a RAGING deficit of attention… wait that was disordered. BUT, I’m feeling crazy healthy and energetic. I got plans. I got goals. And I’m feeling ready to conquer the 21st century the way I dismantled the 18th century… like a total and complete BO$$.

But let’s start with some FAQs:

Where have you been for the past five years???

It was 2012 when I was brought back, thanks to “science”. Science was not being adequately supported and funded so the scientists couldn’t afford to contain me. I had no time to acclimate to my new world. I was responsible for going out to make a living to support myself. They figured that, since every other 24 year old in the country was poor and in debt, I was on relatively equal footing. Their only condition was that, if I became successful and wealthy, I would turn around and use my wealth to fund and support Philadelphia education. I nodded and said, “Deal.” And then I left…

After leaving the science laboratory, I wandered into my old stomping grounds, Olde City, or, as I called it, “Philadelphia”. With no job, no identity, no passport, I needed money fast. Fortunately, I was able to quickly find a job, playing myself.

I stood at my grave, contemplating my future life. The printing trade was out of the question thanks to “computers”. I had no applicable skills or experience to any business in this age. At that somber moment, a big rotund man in a brown colonial suit walk up with bifocals and a mullet… he was portraying Ben Franklin… me. He spoke with a muddled accent which was a pretty shitty impression, honestly… but as I listened to him regurgitate every aphorism and Poor Richards quote, it occurred to me: I could do the same thing he was doing, and make instant cash.

So I began giving tours. I did all types of tours in the city. Bus tours, walking costumed tours, neighborhood walking tours. Ghost tours. Beer tours. I played both “Ben Franklin” and an alias, mild-mannered “Anthony Nonymous” (NAWN-uh-MUSS). I was young, energetic, and… well I loved to learn. I remembered every question that I was unable to answer and would find the answer in my library. I was able to catch up on a lot of history and politics and culture this way… and my notebooks are extensive… like I could make money from my Franklin Notebooks. But I was excellent at tours. Every tour review for me was basically the same: “A. Nonymous is the best tour guide I’ve ever had. Seriously, the best tours come from A. Nonymous!

After a couple years of giving tours, I had made connections with several schools whom I enjoyed working with. One school offered me a position as a substitute teacher. I said, “Of course!” Having mastered the tour industry, I was ready for a new challenge. Teaching students in Philadelphia seemed like a noble cause…

It wasn’t. At least, not substitute teaching. Substitute teaching is not noble. Substitute teaching is battle. It’s no-holds-barred. You walk in and show an ounce of fear, they know it… and they attack. I was NOT ready. I was a building substitute for a whole high school… this meant I didn’t see students enough for them to respect me. Buttttt I still saw them enough for them to remember me and every mistake I made. And I made A LOT of mistakes. To be fair, if I were their age, I would’ve messed with me, too.

I felt like I finally had a noble challenge! I would educate these monsters until they respected and learned from me. It would be foolish to stay in the role of substitute; I needed my own classroom. I applied to schools around the city and was offered a position of senior English teacher at Franklin University Charter High School in Old City Philadelphia. It was FATE. I gladly took the position and spent the last 3 years learning how to teach. Nothing has been better for me to understand the current culture of my city than teaching.

(FAQ Continued Thursday…)

Franklin for President Mixtape – Synopsis

Life and Times of the Philly O.G.

FranklinForPres_Artwork_Web

What is the Mixtape?

I am about to throw a lot of things at you… just get ready, and try to follow me on this.

Synopsis:

Ben Franklin came back to life several years ago in 2011. Due to his severe culture shock, he chose to keep his true identity secret, until he could figure out what the Hell was happening. He initially made money by giving walking tours in Old City Philadelphia. He would talk about his life as well as his personal opinions about some of the other Founding Fathers. And he made a lot of money. People loved his humor and they admired his in-depth knowledge. He didn’t pretend to be Ben Franklin, but he got a lot of Ben Franklins… if you know what I mean? … Money. I mean “money”. Anyway, his reputation grew and he expanded. He was able to earn a position in an Old City high school. That’s right, Benjamin Franklin is a teacher. He became an English teacher under the alias, “A. Nonymous”. Through extensive readings – as well as his experiences as urban high school teacher – he became more connected to the current American society and was happy with his new life until…

… THE RISE OF BOTH THE ALEXANDER HAMILTON MUSICAL AND DONALD TRUMP!!!

Young Ben was appalled! Firstly, how could a story be told about the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention without Franklin!?! Furthermore, how could a walking 1980s-Wall-Street-caricature possibly be good for the image of America??? The country has lost its mind. It was time that some Common Sense was brought back into society!

Young Ben decided that it was time for him to unveil himself to the masses: his students and YOU, the lucky reader. He intends to establish some much needed sanity to present-day pop culture and politics. And he did it in the most “Philly” way he could think of… by dropping a Rap Mixtape. He wrote VOCAB INFUSED HIP-HOP SONGS challenging everyone and everything that could get in his way. When you want complete domination of a city, you need to start out swinging, after all.

In order to provide some context, we, at the “Franklin for President” campaign, have provided entries of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S PRIVATE JOURNAL that correlate with the songs. This way, you can have a mostly thorough understanding of what the Hell is happening!

So if you ever wanted to know what it would be like if Benjamin Franklin came back to life, worked as high school teacher in Philly… on the same block he once worked in a print shop… during the Trump years… well, this is the blog for you!!!

And yes, this shit is corny… cause this shit is poppin‘.

So here it is, the Ben Franklin For President Mixtape…

Volume 1…

The Re-Intro…

Coming tomorrow…

My Promise as a Teacher: I Will Never Forget

Politics

The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind of emotions for many people in the country. Shock. Horror. Anger. Depression. Shame. You know, just your standard stages of mourning…

(It’s a terrible sign when a bunch of teachers are crying after an election, by the way…)

Now, Trump supporters will roll their eyes and say, “Oh you’re just being dramatic. It won’t be that bad. Now is the time to come together as a country and put this vicious campaign behind us,” Don’t get me wrong, I understand that sentiment. I really do. The American political tradition is built on this sense of reconciliation. After a long hard fought political battle, this gesture is what makes us unique and strong. You can see this feeling manifest in the statements made today by President-Elect Donald Trump. He went to the White House and described how “honored” he was to be meeting President Obama. His victory speech, the previous day, was humble and soft-spoken as he stated his intentions to help ALL Americans. His two minions, Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, even stated that they would graciously reconsider bringing criminal charges to Hillary Clinton! So once again, I understand the need and desire to put all of this bad blood behind us in order to mend our wounds and “Make America Great Again”.

Here’s the problem. All of these “genuine” gestures of reconciliation are BULLSHIT. To “let bygones be bygones” is to try to throw back into the closet all of the 2-week old, festering, dirty laundry that came out in this election. This is something I will not do. I have too much integrity to reconcile.

Here is what I WILL do:

As a teacher to a population of African-American and Muslim students, I will explain to my students how Trump won. I will explain to them that most people who voted for him were concerned about losing their jobs and that he was the only one promising to make it better. I will explain to them that only a fraction of the electorate voted for him solely out of a racist agenda. I will talk them down from the cliff as they contemplate all of the ways in which Trump is going to take away their rights. I will urge them to educate themselves and others; to organize their communities and friends; to take political action and peacefully protest for their rights; and to vote. I will do everything in my power to keep them hopeful in the future of our country.

But I will NOT forget everything you said and did, Donald Trump.

I will not forget how you championed a political agenda based on racist, xenophobic rhetoric. I will not forget how you called Mexicans “rapists”. I will not forget how you called on the country to ban Muslims. I will not forget how you spent five years accusing our President of being born in Kenya in order to discredit him. I will not forget how you used these horrible, hate-filled, divisive statements to help get you elected. I do believe that you are not racist, but your white privilege makes you ignorant, nonetheless. The fact that you would knowingly use this type of rhetoric to push your cause forward makes you worse than a racist. At least someone who is racist has principles, as fucked up as they are. I will never forget that you are less principled than a bigot.

I will not forget how you banned several media outlets from covering you because they critiqued and criticized the divisive comments you make. I will never forget how you claimed you would challenge the First Amendment in order to punish our free press if you were elected. I will not forget how you loved to deliver insults but couldn’t handle any in return. I will not forget how you ranted and railed against comedians, politicians, and pundits who made fun of your or challenged you. I will not forget how you often did this on Twitter…. at 3 AM.

I will never forget the misogyny. I will never forget “grab her by the pussy” or the appalling first 30 minutes of the second debate where you shamelessly threw the different accusers of Bill Clinton into Hillary’s face just so you could deflect from your transgressions.

There are too many other things you did to list here, but here’s just a few more things I will not forget:

I will not forget how everyone – media, analysts, and people from your own party/campaign – predicted you would lose because your campaign simply could not, would not, and should not be taken seriously.

I will not forget that my wife, my mother, my sisters, my nieces, and my other female friends and family did not get to see the first woman president become elected because they lost to you.

I will not forget how angry and scared my students have been due to the constant tensions with police. I remember telling them that they needed to vote because they didn’t have a right to complain if they chose not to use their right. On Monday, I reminded them, able to vote for the first time in their lives, to vote on Tuesday.

I will never forget the looks on their faces on Wednesday. The shock. The horror. The dejectedness. This was their first time voting, and the outcome made them question every positive value they had heard about it. 

I WILL NEVER FORGET HOW YOU SCARED MY KIDS. I will never forgive you for this.

So as we move into the next four years, I will be a good citizen. I have spent my adult years worshipping Ben Franklin and trying to create a fresh look at America’s founding through a “Progressively Patriotic” lens. I will respect that you are President through America’s Electoral College, even though you lost the popular vote. I will respect the Office of the President and give you a chance to solve the many problems in the country. But I will not forget everything that you did to make me lose my faith in America’s values.

I will never forget. I cannot forget.