Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reading with Thugs

My next post for Black History Month is more about someone making Black History.  In high school, we all had to read the classics: To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, 1984, Hamlet, Beowulf, and so on and so forth. Like most high school students, you were not excited to read them.  And also like most high students, you did as much as you could to get the gist of the story without actually reading the story.  Some looked for summaries online and others bought the CliffNotes.  But even the CliffNotes could be a bore.  Unless you had one of those teachers that made reading Pride & Prejudice seem like an action movie, 10th grade English was the most dreadful time of your high school years.

The Sparky Sweets Source:thug-notes.com 
Well, there is someone that is making the classics gansta... literally.  I present to you Sparky Sweets, Ph.D.  He is the host of the YouTube series, Thug Notes.  He basically breaks a book down in 3 minutes and then gives you a 2 minute analysis.  And he does all this while wearing a du-rag, chains, tank top, and shorts speaking with street lingo.  And the crazy thing is the videos are surprisingly good!  Don't believe me? Here is just one of his great videos:

Is it just me or did he give To Kill A Mockingbird the most street cred?  After watching most of his videos, he made me want to go on a classical book reading binge.  I was ashamed by this thug that I hadn't read more of these books.  But if I'm being really honest, I wish I had these videos in high school.  Unfortunately, YouTube wasn't a site until 2005 and even then it was mostly videos of people falling and kittens.  So yea, I was stuck having to read Romeo and Juliet on my own and do my best to decipher Shakespearean jargon.

Sparky has said that his initial reasons for making the videos were to bring classic literature to the masses.  He realized that those who were teaching literature were not making it accessible to all but making folks feel they had to step up a social level to appreciate great literature.  He breaks it down as simple as possible and after those 5 minutes there is no reason you shouldn't understand that Of Mice and Men is about how no matter how hard you work your dreams will always be a dream because the rich is always holding you down.  Dang the rich.  

He also helps us realize that those books our teachers tried to make us read were not as boring as we thought.  He explains these books go beyond the plots we read and how they still ring true today.  Dante's Inferno and The Picture of Dorian Gray dive into our fight with sin and purity.  McBeth and Romeo and Juliet tackles fate and asks the question, do we really have control of what happens to us?  Yall thought our teachers were trying to torture us but they were trying to get us to explore deeper truths. 

So support this brotha in his efforts to bring the classics to the hood and be sure to visit Thug Notes on Youtube.  

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