Night Life

Most would recommend Beale Street if one was looking to have a good time on a Saturday night. I can remember  rushing my twenty-first birthday to come so I could get on  Beale. It was the talk of the town and seemed like the best thing going besides a club atmosphere. Twenty-one came  and Beale Street became my Saturday night ritual. I knew that my Saturday night would consist of laughter, drinking, dancing, fighting, police, strippers…you saw it all on Beale Street. The older Ii got the less attractive Beale on Saturday night was for me. In class we discussed Beale at its many phases since it has existed and I was surprised to learn some of those facts. For as long as I can remember Beale Street has been a tourist attraction by day and the “turn up” spot by night. We analyzed Beale at different points in time such as early twentieth century, mid-century, and post-king assassination which  showed that as time progressed the idea of Beale Street became less favorable. I never would’ve though that Beale Street was nothing more than an open public “juke joint” and to learn about its growth from being looked upon as being the “Harlem of the South” to being demolished and born again was astonishing. The state in which Beale Street became after the assassination of Dr. King is more of the Beale that Street that I can relate to. Over the years, so many things have happened on Beale Street whether it happened in a club, in the alley ways located on Beale, or trouble that has occurred while on Beale and it followed the individuals home. Due to the increase of crime, curfews and strict stipulations regarding behavior and age have been put into place by city council officers and law enforcement. These efforts were  to try and prevent crime and I also think in many ways to keep down on the public embarrassment.  As we discussed in class, Beale Street really took a turn in the late ninety’s and early twenty-first century. Beale lost its prestigious value and for many it has become a eyesore for some of the residents that live here in the city. Memphis city leaders made decisions in prior years to demolish certain aspects of Beale Street but later reconsidered their actions and put efforts in to place to try and rebuild Beale Street  to resemble the “old Beale Street”. The city could put up lavish blues clubs and some of the finest dinning places but had Beale Street lost its prestige? I don’t believe there is anyone that would share the same opinions about Beale Street and what it has or has not taken away from the city of Memphis. The one thing that is agreed upon is the historical impact Beale Street has had on this city. Even today, people travel from all around the world to visit Beale Street and many other historical monuments that Memphis has. Beale Street is the heart of our city and for that reason it will forever thrive and always receive efforts from council leaders and willing residents to make it better and better.

Sociology of the South Blog post

One of the many things that I enjoy about “my south” involves  finding entertainment for my family of six without having to spend money!  I am in love with Tom Lee park and I think it’s an awesome place for families to have  family moments, relax, spend quality time, and not to mention…enjoying the great view! The park is a city park and its located immediate west of downtown Memphis, Tennessee, overlooking the Mississippi River, the shores of Arkansas on the opposite side, and the beautiful condominiums. I found out that this park was named after an African American by the name of Tom Lee who saved the lives of 32 passengers of a sinking steamboat in 1925.  In my opinion, this park is where it’s at!! The park holds several events like the annual Memphis in May celebration, which is a month long event that is split into different events. The Beale Street Music Festival which is an event that showcases a mix of local and national music acts. World Championship Barbeque Contest, and the Sunset Symphony that consists of a night of classical music.  People come from all over to enjoy the different activities that are given at this park every year.  This is my idea of an “astonishing south”!

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Let Me Explain!

Living in a city where music refuses to die! I feel like singing the down home blues right now for our city and the lack of knowledge people have about some of the new changes in the school system here in the Memphis area. In order for the students to grow they will need positive reinforcement, mind challenging work, and the support of the community. That is why lowering the grading scale cannot be the only answer and is not the only change being made.

Positive reinforcement is important and will work if you give a child more encouraging words like great job, keep up the good work.  It will make him or her want to do better in their school work. In the Whitney Achievement School the children receive a paper check at the end of the week and on Friday they get to spend their earnings at the school’s bookstore or pay their way to future school field trips. This is preparing the children for the real world outside of class because at a job after working so many hours you in return receive a check for your hard work.  Each teacher has an iPod with a list of their student name with an app that connects all teachers to that child’s behavior in that grade; moreover, like on a job, for a different action money can be deducted from your check.  The children can lose money for a host of thing as well.

For example, if a child leaves their homework at home he or she will lose a dollar off of their paycheck. If a child is not dress in the correct uniform then a dollar will be taken as well. In order for the children to not lose focus of the main point, which is encouragement, no more than five dollar will be deducted per day. This is to try and keep more positive outlook than negative.

Then aside from lowering the grade scale the school has implement two hours of nothing but reading. They have added more subjects to the curriculum. Exposing them to more knowledge then before and they also have added classes that they call support classes.

Another change aside from lowering the grading scale the school has extended the school-hours. This is for two reasons: the first reason, is to keep the children in a positive environment to keep them for negative activities like gangs, stealing, and hanging on corners and the second one; is to introduce them to different things like band, choir, kickboxing, and Zumba and many more activities. Finally, stop putting all the responsibility on the school!  It starts at home. It takes a village to raise one child so get involved and volunteer your time and money. The most selfish thing people can do is turn their back on the problem that the school system is having because those same children will be the next doctors, lawyers, nurses, and congressmen and women they will service their parents and teachers in old age.

In a city where resources for attracting industry, such as low wages, low tax rates, and cheap natural resources, that have benefited private investors, often at the expense of investments in public service. This change is an upgrade to our children because clearly there has been more value added to their life, so before judging these changes, we need to check their price tags because our children clearly have been removed from the clearance rack!


The Way I See Memphis!!!!!

Being born in Memphis was sort of a privilege as a child because I would hear all about this amazing historical stuff. For example, I would hear about Memphis being the place for music, and how Elvis lived here. Also, as a child I would travel to my grandmother’s house, and she lived so close to Elvis Presley’s home. That is pretty cool to know because everyone loves Elvis Presley! Back then I thought Wow! I wonder how many people would love to be so close to this man’s house. B.B. King is another Memphian that would come up, and this is exciting for the African American community because of how they were treated in the South. Being a child I just thought I lived in the bet place on earth. My mom told me a story on how the Jackson 5 performed on a building for them as children. She would also talk about how nice and pretty Memphis was, and how things were different when she was growing up. I would have loved to grow up in Memphis in those times as my mom because she shared many great memories of Memphis; and that is something I won’t be able to do with my son as much. I say that because as a child we had a few more activities in the city, but still not enough to “brag” about. However, the way I felt as a child changed as I got older and started traveling. I’ve been to so many different cities across the US and I must say “Memphis is not the place to live.” Of course it is cheaper, but the school system is horrible. I have a 6 year old son, and I want the best for him, including his education. I also want him to be able to enjoy his childhood, and there is not much in Memphis for children to enjoy. For instance, after going to the movies, the zoo, the park, and skating, what else is there to do? I will tell you… NOTHING!!! It is quite easy for someone who has never left the city of Memphis to say it’s a great place to live; but I totally have to disagree. I think it is more to life than Memphis, TN. Don’t mistake me when I say it’s not hell on wheels, but it is definitely not a place to have lots of fun. When I began to travel, I would visit these cool places such as beautiful beaches, viewing mountains, big, beautiful malls with stores women love, nice creative restaurants, and so much more. Many people down talk Atlanta, GA, even though some of the people remind me of Memphians, I have fun there. Atlanta has so much to offer.  Dallas has so much to offer as well, and I know because I lived there for a long time. In contrary, while on the subject of the way I see Memphis, the job market sucks. Many college graduates leave when they earn their degrees because of the Memphis unemployment rate. The proof of the job market is so obvious because whenever I look at the news they are discussing the issue. When I graduate from The University of Memphis, I am on the first train out of here! Many of us don’t like to face the truth, but hey, Memphis is not what’s happening! The majority of my family lives in Texas, and they remind me almost every day how boring it is in Memphis. When the holidays come around, I travel to Texas to be with my family because they will not come to Memphis. As I stated before, Memphis was a great place in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, but now it is a real bore. I would much rather not stay here once I earn my degree this spring. To sum up my opinion, I may see Memphis in a different way for many Memphians, but it is THE WAY I SEE MEMPHIS!!!

Why Are African Americans in Their Position in Society?

What is race? Why do we as human beings have to be placed in certain categories even though we are all human? I all go back to money. Most people do not know that race is socially constructed. As we were growing up, we were taught that different races have a huge biological difference; which is not true. According to history, America’s structure was built on different racist acts. When you set a structure for something that is the way it is going to continue to be. Slavery is a perfect example. During slavery many African American lives were destroyed which made it hard for them to create wealth for their descendants. I feel like this is something everyone should know and understand. What people fail to realize is that everything that happened during slavery happens in today’s society, modern day slavery is what I like to call it. I always figured that we had modern day slavery but I did not know how closely related it is to the older days. Back then when slavery was legal, black women were forced to sleep with multiple men. Now in society we see black women sleeping with multiple men, I feel like that is all the black society knows. I also feel like blacks have been hearing stereotypes about themselves so much that they have started to believe it is true and act it out. As we all can see, blacks have not assimilated and I do not think we will ever assimilate. Today we mostly see institutional racism instead of individual racism, which is something most people don’t see. It’s all about seeing the strange in the familiar. People look to the media for everything. The different stereotypes have been proven wrong in many cases. This should teach a lot of people how to not believe everything they see on TV or what they hear because that feed more into stereotypes. People should start researching on their own. One of the biggest mistakes in the African American communities is that most do not learn from history. Growing up as a young black woman and having freedom to go to whatever college I want to go was not the way life use to be. I feel like if people knew their history more and learn from it, then the world would be a little better than it is today. So many people take things for granted that should be cherished.

Platinum VS Gold

Much musical success has risen from the streets of Memphis. Music from Memphis has a distinct richness that comes from within the lyrics. It is more than just songs and beats it is a feeling that comes over us when listening to the song; where the dialect speaks of the real struggles that real people are facing. This creates a connection to the audience that is made directly through the artist who has lived it and is putting their personal passion into the creation of the music. The artist communicates the song in such a strong way with everything from the lyrics, to the tone of their voice making the music come alive and helping the audience bond with the song and the artist. The richness of the verses and link to the people are what bring many artists up from the trenches gaining them recognition outside of Memphis leading to their success.

The artists speak from the heart because they have lived through the rough times and know what it is like to have to grind through the struggles of a blue collar low income lifestyle. Once gained success some artists lose their true identity from Memphis and forget what how the city and their life within it made them who they are, while others do not forget the struggles of their past and the difficulties of what they came up from. “Hustle and Flow” demonstrated being connected to Memphis and portrayed the concepts through the use of Platinum and Gold. Those who gained success and lost touch with their roots where seen as “Platinum” and those who remained intact with their past and struggles as “Gold”.  In the movie Platinum is represented by Skinny Black and how his success drove him to become “too good” for the city, while Gold is represented by Djay and his crew whose success is driven by the difficulties and struggles of their life in Memphis.

Artists from bluff city need to be “Gold”, they need to embrace Memphis and be grateful for how the city has historically changed music by forming its own styles of Blues, Rock Roll, Hip Hop, and Rap. With changes is social status and lifestyle of becoming famous it is easy to become “Platinum” and forget about Memphis and the negative stigmas that lie there. But artists must not forget how their tie to Memphis has made them unique and is what holds the key to their success.  If it wasn’t for Memphis and their experiences in the city, their achievements would not be nearly the same.

Southern Economy

It seems like the whole country is coming out of an economical struggle finally yet the South is still at the bottom of the map. New York or Los Angelus of course still has plenty of options to thrive economically, depression or not. The Southern states, with more land than we know what to do with, can not recover as long as the real estate market stays in a constant struggle. Also minimum wage seems to be a joke as well. No one can successfully live in the United States of America with these disrespectful wages paid to the hard working majority body of the citizens. The upper class slaves the poverty stricken or near-poverty stricken people of America. They work us to further pad their pockets and bank accounts full of millions and billions of dollars and pay each worker a mere sixteen thousand to eighteen thousand a year. That barely allows the person to eat or much less afford a decent means of transportation to go back and make the rich upper class corporations. With the majority of the South being a rural area and extremely high populated cities not found often down here, jobs are rare to find in a town that does not need many resources as a high populated metropolis. We do not need sixty Starbucks to employ people in the towns. We do not need four times the amount of fast food restaurants to employ people. We do not need as many teachers, police officers, firemen, paramedics, doctors, or even Wal-Mart employees. You get the idea, the population in the majority of the southern states does not need as much catering to or resources provided nor do we have the capital to invest in all of those perks. Our economy is going to continue to struggle as long as more people are born in the South and less people have job oppurtunities. The government “shutdown” today lays even more people off of their positions which furthers the unemployment rate currently. It seems likes the direct basics and fundamentals of our country known today needs a change. The South should also be invigorated with money from the hot spot cities. We just are not provided a money earning opportunity in Memphis. Even after college you have to move somewhere else to earn a living in this cold world. Memphis is supposed to be a larger city in the South of the United States and we are one of the poorest economically in the country. The South tends to get overlooked due to them thinking we love the simplicity of open land and farms. Not true for everyone and they deserve the same opportunities as everyone else. The small cities in the South are just stuck where they are with no income and scarce resources. Poverty is real in the South and as long as the rich stay rich in this country then all of the working class will continue to be screwed until something changes. We do not want to continue to be enslaved by money that we never keep a dime of in the South.

Sorority Segregation

Recently I heard about an incident at the University of Alabama that seriously got my blood boiling. Allegations were made  towards  several of the school’s Panhellenic sororities , claiming that they were systematically excluding two African American women from becoming members. According to many accounts, these women were perfect candidates; having great grades, tons of high school involvement, and both came from very good families. Somehow though, these two women did not receive a bid (invitation) to any of the sixteen Panhellenic sororities on campus, making it incredibly obvious that they were excluded because of the color of their skin. As a member of one of the chapters targeted in these allegations, I almost feel responsible for the blatant racism that happened at The University of Alabama. When I first learned that my chapter, who I have always held to such a high standard and whose Purpose I try to live out everyday, was a part of this I was speechless. I became even more detested the more I thought about it. How is this type of racists exclusion still happening? I have seen how recruitment works, if the African American PNM (potential new member) was well liked by the women in the chapter her scores would have reflected that and with her GPA and high school involvement, it sounds to me that this girl would have been a shoe-in. According to various sources, the alumna tinkered with the girls’ scores to ensure that they would not be asked back the following night. My heart is broken for all of the women involved in this terrible incident. For the chapter members who obviously missed out on gaining an incredible new sister and who have been failed by the leaders of their respective organizations, my heart is broken. For the two amazing women who were not given a chance to become part a PanHellenic organization because of the color of their skin, my heart is broken. For the advisors and alumna who acted like complete baffoons and who are clearly blinded by undeserved hatred for people who are different, my heart is broken. I can only hope that swift and immediate action has been taken by the chapter’s national headquarters to somewhat remedy this situation, however I am not entirely certain how you could fix something like this. Involvement in a PanHellenic sorority is so much more than wearing letters and going to parties, it is about becoming a better woman and doing good in the world. It is supposed to be an environment that fosters love, sisterhood, morality, and justice. This incident not only makes the University of Alabama look bad, but it does a complete disservice to sorority women everywhere. I wish more than anything that I could say with confidence that Alabama chapter of my sorority was completely innocent, but I can not on my good conscious do that. Racism is still very alive in the south and its clear that it is not going anywhere anytime soon. I just hope that the two African American women that were involved do amazing things with their lives, make the women who excluded them feel like the idiots that they are.

Growing Older in Memphis

Like many I grew up hearing mostly negative things about living in Memphis, I was often too nervous to speak out against the naysayers. It only grew worse in high school, always hearing classmates say things like “I can not wait to leave this city”, and “after I graduate I am never coming back here.” I on the other hand never felt this way, I grew up in a house where a University of Memphis flag hung right outside our front door and the Cooper-Young festival was a annual tradition. I loved the city as a kid and teenager. When time to apply to colleges came around it was a no-brainier for me, I wanted to go to Memphis. Everyone else around me felt quite the opposite. It was not until my later years in college that I noticed a sudden change in most people’s attitudes towards our hometown, they very suddenly became huge fans of the city and things in it. While I believe a huge part of the new fan base for the city was based largely on the recent success of the local professional basketball team, it became apparent that other reasons lingered.

While Memphis has its obvious down falls, it has accumulated a large number of positive aspects as well. These positive aspects being the post-graduate options for young people fresh out of college. The first aspect is the number of graduate school programs that have sprouted in Memphis over the years and made quit the name for themselves. The Humphrey’s School of Law being located downtown and climbing the later in rankings is not only attracting kids to stay or return home for further schooling but it also attracts students from out of state to come and live in Memphis.  The University of Tennessee Health and Science center has multiple programs that are ranked in the top twenty-five in the nation and do an amazing job getting top students from all around to attend school. Finally the University of Memphis’ program for Speech Pathology and Audiology is ranked in the top fifteen in the nation and is a huge reason the University got to leave the death trap that is the C-USA. As we all know you have an extremely high chance of living in the city that you attended graduate school in (Or at least near by) especially if you attend law school. After all, the connections you make will most like with people in the school’s area. So we can thank these post-grad programs for retaining  young people who will improve the city socially and economically.

Another huge benefit of moving or moving back the the Bluff city is the low cost of living. Chances are that most kids that are freshly graduated are not rolling in the dough. Which makes living in Memphis a fantastic option for young people. Forbes Magazine had Memphis in the top ten place to live for young working  men and women due to the low cost of living and job opportunities. Anything that can reduce debt and make paying new bills easier is a great thing in my humble opinion. Also, with the young and vibrant community growing the the midtown area it is not hard for young people to find a part of town they would love to live. Midtown, specifically the Cooper-Young area and grown and now provide young Memphians attractive places to eat, shop, and spend their late nights.

So it is really no surprise that most of my high school friends and changed their tune about living in the blue collar town. It is quite humorous to see them all end up back in their home town, and then actually enjoy it. I would love to be that guy who gets to say I told you so and that I have loved this city longer than any of you, but lets be honest, not one likes that guy. It is a great sign that young college graduates are filling the city and allowing it grow in multiple aspects.

This Great City

Growing up in Memphis, I always heard my classmates and friends say they could not wait until they were old enough to get out of Memphis. They saw, and a lot of them still do see, Memphis as a dead-end city that people get stuck in and can never leave. To them, Memphis was likened to going to jail, doing your time, and finally being released. That after high school graduation they were released from their bonds and able to leave this city in search of something bigger or better. I guess they just didn’t see the all the great things that have happened and are happening in this city. They chose to focus on the bad that is constantly finding its way into the news instead of looking past this grim facade to see the good that we Memphians can claim. If I could address all of my friends from years past that I have known and seen leave this city I would have a few things to tell them.

We were at one time the center of music here in the South. Beale Street was the epicenter of black culture during the early 20th century. In class we were told it was described at the time as the Harlem of the South. Though it was a majority of blacks that frequented Beale, whites found their way down their too. Stax Records and Sun Studios, some of the biggest and most famous recording labels in music history were founded and based out of Memphis. People like Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam and Dave, and Booker T. & the M.G’s all got their starts here in Memphis. In our present, Memphis is the home of many major companies and hospitals. The Med is located here as well as St. Jude. The Regional Medical Center at Memphis is one of the best trauma centers in this area, and also has a great neonatal care ward. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is also located here in Memphis. It is the leading research facility in the fight against childhood cancer and also provides a place for children to come to get treatment for free. Memphis is also home to Federal Express. This is arguably the biggest logistics company in America and its base of operations is located here in Memphis. FedEx also just so happens to be created and founded by a Memphian, Fred Smith.

Above I went into a few of the things that have shaped and continue to shape Memphis today. In addition to these things we also have many other companies, museums, and landmarks that have put Memphis on the map. Like we discussed in class, Memphis will never be an Atlanta, Los Angeles, or New York but we shouldn’t aspire to be like those cities either. We are Memphis and that should be good enough for all of us. Instead of trying to play catch-up with these other cities and trying to be and emulate what they already are, we should focus on perfecting what we already have and focus on getting our great history as this underdog city out there. Their are a lot of great things going on here in Memphis in the present and I feel like if people were able to see the great things they wouldn’t be so prone to leave and settle in other cities like Atlanta. We need to work on retaining native Memphians so that we can shed our under-dog label and become a city with the same prestige as those afore mentioned cities.