Black and Hispanic Students at Stuyvesant High School
“I had a lot of friends in my middle school who were just as smart as me, and who I know could be thriving at Stuyvesant if they had known it existed,” said Ms. Nnadi, who was a standout on Stuyvesant’s track team.

It was much the same for Hanna Gebremichael, the daughter of Eritrean immigrants, who found out the test existed three months before taking it — by Googling phrases like “best New York City high schools.”

She crammed practice exams into her schedule and took a test preparation course at the last minute.

“It ended up working out, but a lot of the time it doesn’t, and I can see why,” said Hanna, a 17-year-old senior who grew up in Harlem and on the Upper West Side.

Eugene Thomas, who is now a 19-year-old freshman at Yale, said that when he found out about specialized high schools from his seventh grade classmates, he saved up money from his job as a pharmacy delivery boy to pay for test preparation.

Mr. Thomas, who is black and Puerto Rican and grew up in a housing project in Chelsea, remembered that his tutor gave him a steep discount, in part because he lived with a single mother who is disabled.

Yet even after acing the exam, the students’ moments of triumph were tempered by fears about being one of the few black or Hispanic students at Stuyvesant.

“I remember my mom telling me, ‘You’re going to have to put on your armor every day,’” William said.
march 2019
Stepping Into the Uncanny, Unsettling World of Shen Yun
I felt my forehead. The dances continued, sleeves swirling, skirts rippling. A man came onstage to sing a song in Chinese, which was translated on the screen behind him. “We follow Dafa, the Great Way,” he began, singing about a Creator who saved mankind and made the world anew. “Atheism and evolution are deadly ideas. Modern trends destroy what makes us human,” he sang. At the end of the song, the row of older white people sitting behind me clapped fervently. In the final dance number, a group of Falun Dafa followers, who wore blue and yellow and clutched books of religious teachings, battled for space in a public square with corrupt youth. (Their corruption was evident because they were wearing black, looking at their cell phones, and, in the case of two men, holding hands.) Chairman Mao appeared, and the sky turned black; the city in the digital backdrop was obliterated by an earthquake, then finished off by a Communist tsunami. A red hammer and sickle glowed in the center of the wave. Dazed, I rubbed my eyes and saw a huge, bearded face disappearing in the water.

“Was that . . . ?” I said to my brother, wondering if I needed to go to the hospital.

“Karl Marx?” he said. “Yeah, I think that was a tsunami with the face of Karl Marx.”
march 2019

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