How Boston Catholic schools fail their black students
For many teens, getting up in the morning for school—sometimes even before the sun comes up—is a hard task. That task is even harder when you attend a school where most of the students do not look like you or share your cultural identity or live in the same neighborhood as you.
 No one should have to feel isolated just because your parents want to send you to the best school they can afford. Going to a predominantly white school is not easy. You can’t relate to anything except the basic things every teen knows, such as social media or current rap songs on the radio. 
Throughout the years, I have found it strange that throughout the whole month of February, nobody—including the students and administrators—cares to recognize black history in any way. I know that for most students at my school, that may not be a big deal, but it would  benefit them as well because black history is American history. The majority are being deprived from this historical standpoint. 
Another hard task about going to a predominantly white school is finding  balance between the polar opposite worlds of home and school. When I go to school, I feel like I am in a totally different world because coming from Boston, the things that are important to me aren’t the same as the things important to my classmates. People are constantly getting shot in the city and the students in the suburbs and private schools couldn’t care less, but when someone dies in their community the world is supposed to stop.  It is definitely a cultural shock to go to school in this environment.
Luckily, I have the most loving and supportive parents who get me through the good and bad times. When I get down, I get back up because what is the point of listening to people say stereotypical things that you know aren’t true? Yes, I know that is easier said than done. Over time, you come to learn that high school doesn't last forever and the storm will pass.
Two Boston teens who go to predominantly white schools have a similar experience to mine. Unfortunately, their experiences were so terrible they would like to remain unnamed. My sources agreed on one thing: they are treated unfairly every day, and nobody cares to even ask if they are okay. People constantly say disgusting phrases to them, such as, “Why do you exist?” “Go back to Africa,” and “Go back to the jungle, you monkey.” On top of that, these two teens and I have all experienced the everyday use of the n-word. While only some students actually use the term as a direct insult, many people use the word in casual conversation, most likely due to its heavy presence in rap music. These students don’t understand that the term is still offensive even when it isn’t intended as a racial slur. It’s truly awful that all we want is to get a decent education without being afraid of what people are going to say. 
Kyler Sumter, a current Boston University student who wrote an article for about her experience as a person of color in a predominately white institution, says her experience in college with racial slurs was “uncomfortable.” One experience stood out to her in particular, when a “sexist, racist, homophobic guy” said some awful comments. When the people in one of her clubs were playing an icebreaker game where they had to say their least favorite crayon colors, he apparently said “N-word Black.”
In every school, there is the good, the bad and the ugly, but it is your personal experience that makes your high school experience what it is. Ask other kids of color about their experiences, and depending on the predominantly white school they attend, it could be better or worse. That is why perspective matters. From my perspective, no situation is perfect, but being more culturally aware would be a great place to start. It wouldn’t take much. Maybe if we had cultural clubs, acknowledged African-American history month, and talked about the histories of minorities’ cultures in class, our schools would be a more comfortable environment for everyone. 

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At the beginning of the summer, a wave of violence in the neighborhood of Roxbury appeared, withthree fatal shootings and one fatal stabbing in the first few weeks of July alone. When we see violence in our community, it is important to think about the causes, impacts and potential solutions for our neighborhood. 
At the start of 2016, major crime in Boston fell to a 10-year low, the Boston Globe reported. However, Universal Hub reported 26 recorded murders in 2017 through the end of July, 7 of those occurring in Roxbury. After an all-time low, is the homicide rate heading back up? How can this happen in Beantown?
Even though poverty is a huge cause of crime, gentrification is playing a role, too. Boston is currently one of the most gentrified cities in the country. Gentrification is the process of renovating and improving a neighborhood due to influx of upper-middle class affluence. Many of Boston’s projects, housing areas and ghettos are slowly changing as residents are displaced, causing violence to spill over into other neighborhoods. 
In Roxbury, gentrification caused in part by encroachment of Northeastern University is forcing long-time residents out and shifting crime patterns in and around the neighborhood. With over 20,000 residents, Roxbury is the third poorest neighbourhood in Boston, with the poverty level at 34.92%. 
How do residents feel about what’s going on in their neighborhood? One local Roxbury teen, who would like to remain anonymous, has been in the streets since he was 13, and his dad was locked behind bars when he was young. “I lived with my mom for my whole life,” he said. “The reason I started hustling and really being in this was to support my moms. I was tired of having nothing.” 
This source thinks that these crimes are happening because of all the poverty. He claims that people have to eat and they’re going to do what they have to do. He thinks Roxbury is the main place for this violence because of all of its gangs.
This is the mind of a person who’s actually going through this. Poverty, violence and murder—it’s all a cycle that Roxbury residents have been dealing with for decades. Although poverty plays a huge role in the violence, gentrification is making it worse. 
People who used to live in Roxbury are being priced out and moving to neighboring cities like Lynn and Brockton, where rent is cheaper. With these people getting pushed out of their original residence, the chance of crime overflowing into these neighborhoods rises. 
15-year-old Naysha Feliz from Brockton thinks the crime going on in Roxbury is getting out of hand.“It’s making the streets unsafe for not just adults, but for kids,” she claims. Feliz feels her neighborhood is already bad as it is, and Boston’s gentrification will cause crime in Brockton to skyrocket. 
As an honor roll student, Feliz believes that for crime to just appear from a city away and affect her everyday life is unacceptable. Many of these people have dreams and goals they want to achieve, and crime is a major setback.
“I want the community of Roxbury to turn into somewhere people don’t have to be worried to walk out the house, where they can  walk outside unharmed,” she says.
Feliz feels as if there aren’t enough opportunities for kids in their small neighborhood. She thinks too many of the kids are getting involved in violence at a young age, and there needs to be a way out for them. 
Many people talk about these problems, but not enough talk about what we need to do to find the solution. We need to make our city a better place, and it all starts in the community.
Thaddeus Miles, Director of Public Safety at MassHousing, grew up in an all-black community in Virginia. To reduce crime in our communities, he believes we should focus on families and their situations. “We spend a great deal of resources on the kids, but not enough on the family unit,” he said. 
Miles believes Boston’s crime can truly stop and the city can find peace. “We, as people of color in urban neighborhoods, need to address the many positive aspects of our community along with its various challenges,” he said. 
Although crime in our neighborhoods is all too visible, I know we, the people, can make this all end and bring peace to our urban neighborhoods.

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Dorchester has an incredibly bad reputation for crime and violence in its borders. The WCVB reported that in the first half of 2017, there were 151 shootings in Boston. Among those, 20 of Boston's 23 homicides have taken place in just three neighborhoods — Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, according to the Boston Globe. Although crime in Boston is at a two-decade low, the numbers are still higher than anyone would like to feel safe in their neighborhood, let alone their own home. 
Crime affects different people in a variety of different ways. Dorchester locals, from long-time residents to teenagers, shared their experiences with crime and violence in Dorchester’s borders. 
Lieutenant Detective Luis A. Cruz grew up in Roxbury and Mission Hill, graduated from Jamaica Plain High School in 1983, and went on to graduate from Northeastern University and Suffolk Law School. Growing up in Mission Hill, Cruz said drugs were a major problem, but unlike most people, it affected him in a positive way. “I felt that I could make a difference in my community by becoming a police officer in my neighborhood,” Cruz said. However, financial struggles also played a role. “The main reason I became a police officer was to pay off my tuition,” he said. 
Marquis Otero, 19 years old, spent seventeen years living in Dorchester. Otero said he has not felt affected by crime in his neighborhood. “Growing up there was always crime in Dorchester, but it was never once a hindrance to my everyday life,” he said. He believes crime in Dorchester doesn’t affect how he acts in his neighborhood and that he doesn’t believe it is dangerous despite the crime rate. 
Jahai Still-Brodie, 16 years old, has lived in the Roxbury/Dorchester area for the last twelve years. He described the impact that crime has had on his life. “I can't walk certain ways home at night because of the crime that happens. During the summer time, I don't go out a lot around my house. I usually go to a different neighborhood.” Like Otero, Still-Brodie said crime doesn’t affect the way he acts in Dorchester. He hasn’t been physically harmed, but has been stopped by gang members mistaking him for being part of a rival gang.
For Cruz, Otero and Still-Brodie, all are aware of the crime in Dorchester and although they have never been physically harmed, they have all had moments that have rattled them in one way or another. Even if people don’t show it, confrontations like the one Still-Brodie has been in can stay with a person and affect them mentally. Crime doesn’t always affect someone physically, but also mentally and emotionally. That is the part that isn’t seen as much and can impact a person the most. 

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From Downtown Crossing to the Massachusetts State House, these common Boston destinations are so overrated. Instead, beat the tourist crowds and visit these hidden gems recommended by a local Bostonian. Save yourself some time and money as these are all free to enjoy and easily accessible via the MBTA.

The Berlin Wall
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German government has donated a handful of segments of the wall to different cities throughout the world. Lucky for us, Boston has two of them. One is in the JFK Library, but if you are not fond of the idea of paying the hefty admissions ticket of $10, the second location might be more appealing. The public garden, free to enjoy, offers a brief glance at history that left the world quaking.
How to get there: 1 Education Street, Cambridge, 02141
MBTA: Green line at Science Park Station

Graffiti Alley
Often looked down upon as a taboo form of art, the urban “Graffiti Alley” is nestled between a bar and a retail space in Central Square. When walking through this alley, it definitely turns heads. Nicknamed “Kaleidoscope Alley,” transparent colored glass from above refracts light that displays on the pavement below, complementing the wall graffiti of local artists. 
How to get there: The intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Pearl Street
MBTA: Red line at Central Station

Piers Park 
One cannot fully appreciate the beauty of something unless they step back and admire the masterpiece. At Piers Park, you can view our ravishing city from across the Boston Harbor. Stand on fresh grass as you gaze at our city that gently dips into the horizon, causing a slight reflection. The sight is unlike any other.
How to get there: 95 Marginal Street, Boston, MA 02128
MBTA: Blue line at Maverick Station

Highland Park
Resembling a Disney castle, this tower rests upon a hill in the middle of Roxbury -- a place you would least expect to find it. Hidden amidst thick foliage, the park itself is a hidden gem, perfect for sitting and enjoying a nice book. It is so hidden, in fact, that it is not even listed on Google Maps. Satisfy your inner child and visit this medieval-styled architecture.
Where: From the intersection of Columbus Ave. and Cedar St., turn up the hill at Fort Ave. 
MBTA: Orange line at Roxbury Crossing Station

Norman B. Leventhal Park
Within the Financial District is a relatively small park that provides a tranquil setting enjoyed by young teens and corporate professionals alike. This quaint setting is perfect to soak in the rays or stop and smell the roses. It provides a nice escape, while still in the proximity of the bijou shops nearby.
Where: 50 Federal Street, Boston, MA 02110
MBTA: Orange or red line at Downtown Crossing Station

Boston Anthenæm
This hidden gem is often overshadowed by its more extravagant counterparts such as the Boston Public Library in Copley. Resembling a Harry Potter platform with 10½ numbering on the bright red welcoming doors, the inside of the library is magnificent. The architecture mirrors that of a chateau, with grand pillars and bookshelves that reach two stories high. Although a large portion of the library is available to the public, other wings remain only accessible to paying members. This experience definitely provides insight on how the more affluent class lives.
Where: 10 ½ Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108
MBTA: Orange or red line at Downtown Crossing Station

Rooftop Garden
Quietly hidden from street view lies an oasis above the concrete jungle. This rooftop garden sits nearly five stories high, offering views of the bustling city below for a great escape from the stress that accompanies the city life. At such an elevated height, this garden gives an unobstructed view of the the scenic skyline while basking in the flora of the garden. 
Where: 90 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02142. The garden is on the top floor of the parking garage.
MBTA: Red line at Kendall/MIT Station

Skinniest House in New England
Built out of spite by a brother who wished to block his sibling’s view, the ‘Skinny House’ is narrow yet has a grand presence. Settled between two brick colonial style houses, this pale green house is sure to stand out. Along the Freedom Trail, it marks a historical pinpoint on the colonial setting that once engulfed this city.
Where: 44 Hull Street, Boston, MA 02113
MBTA: Green line or orange line at North Station 

Kelleher Rose Garden 
Those fond of the intrinsic beauty of nature will surely enjoy this hidden gem. This garden is the epitome of sweet desire, which explains why many newlyweds choose to join in matrimony amidst the fragrant aroma of the budding roses. Despite many paying a hefty price tag to hold this as their wedding venue, it is free to visit for passersby. 
Where: 73 Park Street, Boston, MA 02215
MBTA: Green line at Northeastern Station

Madonna Queen of the Universe Shrine
Come for the statue; stay for the view. The journey itself is half the fun as you trek up some stairs nestled between thick foliage from the trees along the side. As you walk up, the roar of an airplane’s turbine signify its departure or arrival, adding excitement. Up at the Shrine, a 180 degree view lays atop the hill as the treat for your journey including the Logan International Airport and the view of Boston. As I look upon the airport below, it makes me ponder what else lies out there, beyond this city we call home.
Where: 120-150 Orient Ave., Boston, MA 02128
MBTA: Blue line at Orient Heights Station 
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Every time I sit on the sleek seats of the 28 bus that heads towards Ruggles Station, I pass the Northeastern University dining hall. With its spotless windows and seemingly comfortable red furniture, the dining hall at any given time is either a bustle of smiling faces or a small coalition of concentrated ones.  
Northeastern reflects a level of prestigiousness that makes it distinct from other colleges and universities. With a 28 percent admissions rate coupled with rigorous academics and a “diverse” campus, it is among the more selective universities in the country. However, walking across the street presents a different picture. 
When you walk across the street, you come across a housing development made entirely of bricks, piled up on top of each other like Legos. The very presence of these apartments are inherently paradoxical to the pristine image Northeastern projects. Here, the truth becomes clear—24.6 percent of the young people who live in the neighborhood of Roxbury live in poverty according to research done by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in March of 2014. The location of Northeastern University also presents a problem. To any person with a WiFi connection: If you look up Northeastern, the school’s website states that NU is located simply in Boston, not Roxbury. 
When you put a microscope on NU and Roxbury,  an insidious truth about where we live comes to light. These two places are near each other, but might as well be universes apart.
The looming question is: How did we get here?
I spoke with Marisa Luz, Campus Engagement Coordinator for Northeastern Crossing. Northeastern Crossing is an organization that specializes in curating relationships between Northeastern University and the neighborhood of Roxbury. A native of Roxbury, she described the neighborhood she once grew up in as “a very vibrant community.”
A graduate of Northeastern, she described her alma mater as a place that was very active in the community and afforded her a set of experiences that she still carries with her to this day. When asked about how the expansion of Northeastern has affected the local community, she addressed the fact that some people might feel encroached by the expansion of the university. She told me that the big beautiful campus that Northeastern has become known for wasn't always like this. She said that when she attended Northeastern 20 years ago, it was a commuter school, and they only had a few buildings while the rest of the land was made up of parking lots.
I went to do more research on this subject, and I found a disturbing trend. According to Northeastern’s own college catalogs, tuition in 1985 was $11,538.50. Considering that there were a myriad of scholarships available (115), a Northeastern education was something a middle class person could afford. However, by 2005, tuition shot up to an expensive $39,902. The scholarships that they offered in 1985 practically disappeared—by 2005, only five scholarships were  available, four of which were merit-based. 
For a lot of people that live in Boston, a Northeastern education is practically out of reach. That sentiment is especially true for the people of Roxbury. Even though Northeastern Crossing has programs such as Afro Flow Yoga and regular meetings addressing the community's concerns about the university, how much does impact does it really have on the community? It's of my opinion that it doesn't bridge the divide that much because even though the community voices its concern about the university expanding, these expensive structures end up being built anyway. Northeastern is prioritizing the wrong things. They are much more concerned with their college rankings than improving the quality of the education that's being offered. This comes at a hefty price: they are trying to become prestigious while isolating people who could really benefit from their education. The ironic thing is Northeastern created the problem that it is hoping to solve with Northeastern Crossing.

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