In a ceremony aimed at honoring black male high school grads in Chicago, rapper Lupe Fiasco had some harsh words for the system that educated them: “You have just spent the last . . . 12 years receiving one of the worst educations on earth.”
The Chicago rapper was the keynote speaker at this year’s Mass Black Male Graduation and Transition to Manhood ceremony, which acknowledged young black men from schools across the city. Though he praised the grads for making it out of high school, Fiasco took the Chicago Public School District–which graduated just 39% of its black male students in 2012–to task for failing to educate them properly.
“Congratulations, you have graduated from one of the most terrible, substandard school systems in the entire world,” he told the crowd. “You have just spent the last . . . 12 years receiving one of the worst educations on earth. You are at least four, five steps behind people in other countries that are younger than you.”
Lupe, also product of the Chicago Public Schools, told the young men that while the pomp and circumstance of graduation may feel good, it’s nearly meaningless. Becoming a strong human being, and a respectable man, is what really counts.
“Transition to manhood is the most important thing that’s going on right now. The caps and the gowns and your tassels and your honorary blah blah blahs don’t mean nothing. That’s just dress. That’s just some clothes. Meaningless clothes, too, because they have no real purpose in life. They don’t keep you warm. What do they do? They just represent to someone else that you’ve achieved something. But then when you look back at it, what have you achieved?”
Lupe urged the young men to stay off of Chicago’s dangerous streets, and pledged $100 to each of the 150 graduates.
Before leaving, he added: “For young black men . . . it is one the last things that we have . . . and one of the last things that we can control. Manhood is connected to humanity.”