From One Monarch To 2,003 Others
In response to Mr. Amaral I say this...
While I was on campus we had a teacher by the name of Mrs. Dorothy Mullen and she ran a class called METV. We were all under the impression that this was a kickback kind of class until we got in there and realized there was an abundance of work to do and this little black woman would crack the whip harder than a 6'5 250 lb. linebacker if you didn't do what was asked of you.
Mrs. Mullen would've asked Stephen Curry to come to Mt. Eden and made us interview him. She would've insisted that we ask him questions pertaining to education (i.e. what kind of grades he had, what his favorite subject was (and why), why he chose the college he went to and she would've made sure we had him say a word to the student body regarding the importance of education whether you go on to play basketball or not). That's the kind of teacher she was and that is what she instilled in us. You never allow what someone does for a living to supercede the type of person they are and you take what you can from every individual and mold yourself into the person you can be. None of us who were on camera daily were expected to be Dennis Richmond (KTVU Fox 2 for those who aren't familiar), but we could take what we learned each day in that class and use it to grow. I know I am not the only one who did that...and still does.
Hello Monarchs. My name is Rahsaan Bakari Lewis and I am a graduate of Mt. Eden (Class of 1995). Normally I would refrain from penning and open letter to the students like I am doing now, but this is a special case. Much has been made of a letter directed to the reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors that was created by a teacher (and former classmate Matt Amaral). Mr. Amaral showed a genuine concern for the students, as well as the message that may follow if Steph Curry were to visit Mt. Eden. He is coming from a place that I cannot as I am not a teacher. I am not on the campus on a daily basis and I cannot say that I personally know any member of the student body. The extent of my relationship with my alma mater is a recent meeting with the principal, football game or two and a very close friend of mine who you used to be a teacher at the school. Nonetheless, I keep my ear to the ground and am pretty aware of the (major) goings at the school.
In response to the aforementioned letter, (another former classmate) Charlton Jimerson wrote his own letter directed to Mr. Amaral. In it he acknowledged the passion that was displayed, the sense of caring that comes from him being a teacher and the overall concern that there is a chance the wrong message could be sent, but he also cautioned him of the latter. Chewy, as Charlton is affectionately known to many of us, wanted to remind Matt that we (meaning us all) should not ever discourage any student, child and/or young person from dreaming. Moreover, we should refrain from telling them anything is out of reach. If they want it, it is out there for them to get it. In addition to being an alumni, Chewy also played Major League Baseball. He reached the highest level of his chosen profession. He is proof positive anything can happen and like Matt Amaral he is coming from a place I cannot for I am not a Major League Baseball player.
That is why I am taking the time to write this letter to you, my fellow Monarchs. I am coming from a place neither Mr. Amaral or Mr. Jimerson are coming from. I am coming from the one place no one wants to go to, but everyone will visit one way or another: THE MORTUARY!! I have seen, and will continue to see many young men and women the same age as many of you who did not dream and ended up on the wrong side of a nightmare. I have seen many a young man and young woman stare at a casket containing the shell of a family member or friend and not understand that the next time they are there it will be for their own funeral.
You better dream. Whatever it is you want to be, DREAM IT. Take the steps to make it happen. No, your reality may not involve an NBA MVP, a home run off of Roger Clemens (I see you, Chewy), or even being a teacher and giving back to the very place from whence you came (shout out to Matt), but you can still be successful in your chosen endeavor. I shall call out no names but there are Mt. Eden graduates who work closely with the fire department, make the news happen every night, star on Broadway, perform in well known musicals, etc. If you want a job in sports, but may not have the talent to be an athlete you can always do well in school, go to college and get into the front office. Have you ever heard of Del Demps?
Find your niche in life and you go after it with the same veracity that you do on the basketball court in P.E., or in the classroom. You must understand that it is you who controls your next move. It is not Stephen Curry, it is not Mr. Amaral and it is not Charlton Jimerson. It is not even me. It is you. There are so may things in this world for you young men and women to be successful at that you needn't fight over it. Share it with your classmate and push one another to be the best at what you do.
Mr. Amaral was right when he mentioned to Stephen Curry that these students aren't going to be able to do some things. THEY CAN'T FAIL!!
The definition of a Monarch is as follows:
- 1. One who reigns over a state or territory, usually for life and by hereditary right, especially.
You reign over this area by virtue of the fact that you are neither a Farmer or a Lancer. You run this territory and you shall do so with dignity, honor and pride. Once you graduate you are a Monarch for life and it is your hereditary right to hold your head high and show those that come behind you that Monarchs are anything we want to be. As I have tried to pass that on to you, others passed it on to me. The two things I carry with me no matter where I go are Oakland, CA and Mt. Eden High School. I have no problem saying I am a Monarch and I want those who came before me to be proud of what I carry on, much the same as I want to be proud of you for the same reason. Whether you walk in front of a class, walk into a batters box, put your police uniform on, represent your client, make music, play a role, see patients in your practice, etc., be the best at it because that is what Monarchs do.
In closing, be not dismayed by anything you have read in the last few days. Mr. Amaral is a fine teacher who truly cares about you as students and only wants the best for you. Chewy knows you have it in you and wants you to dream big and go after ANY and all goals you wish to accomplish because you cannot achieve anything if you aren't even willing to try. I simply want you to remember that you are a Monarch and you have no choice but to succeed because this is the foundation on which the school is built and it shall stay that way forever.
Rahsaan Bakari Lewis ('95)