Lupe Fiasco takes on Chicago schools

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.”

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  • Even though he could have saved his words for a better time I liked how he didn’t sugar coat anything. I graduated from my city’s public schools which like Chicago isn’t good. It kind of sad, moving on and going to college and being nagged about things you should have learned in high school. It makes you feel less than the other students who went to private schools or just schools in the suburbs. This is a problem in many cities.

  • “…blahs don’t mean nothing” sums it up.
    Congrats grads!

  • The Other Jess

    The public school system is necessary and has produced some shining stars. Michelle Obama went through the public school system in Chicago. So did I, and Im doing quite well for myself.

    Lupe Fiasco is a perfect example of the problem of having idiot rappers speak on important topics. Nuff said.

    • lhoskins

      he is such a joke. he is so full himself being a black man. there is nothing special about you being born black and male. get over yourself.

    • The Other Jess

      He’s an idiot and he completely insulted that graduating class of students.