Education, Rebellion, and Hope

Coming Soon to PBS: Kadhir Rajagopal was a former university student of Victor Rios. Kadhir’s family was of the “untouchable” caste in southern India before they moved to the south side of Chicago where Kadhir was raised. He uses algebra, Tupac and his father to discuss the relationship between education and rebellion and inspire his students to build faith in themselves.

AIRED: December 20, 2019 | 0:04:36

Okay, so, he was my professor,

Dr. Rios, right?

And I'm a teacher today because of him.

But let me tell you about how I started.

My background is my folks are called the Black Untouchables.

They're from South India, right?

Everybody expects them

to not be able to get a job.

Not be able to go to school.

Not be able to do anything with their life.

How y'all doing?

So I was raised out on South Side of Chicago.

It was kind of similar to Watts.

Basically, we were told,

"You're all not supposed to finish high school,

that we were not supposed to make it.

You all feel me?

So one thing my dad always told me,

"You have to live and die as a rebel.

"Don't live and die as a victim.

"Don't live and die as a victim of

"what people tell you you're supposed to be."

Oh, I'm from Compton so I got to be a thug.

Or, you know, I went to this school, so that means I have to drop out.

You got to be a rebel sometimes, you know?

Tupac said

"The most dangerous weapon

is an educated brother or sister," which means all of us.

So the most dangerous weapon

against a system that's trying to mess with you

is to be an educated brother or sister.

Okay so, the class

they say that fails the most number of kids is algebra,

especially for people of color.

Black, Latino, students in low income communities.

Algebra is the killer. Straight up.

If you don't pass algebra by ninth grade,

they say you're likely going to drop out.

I mean, algebra ain't no joke.

After today, after just oing a few problems,

you all gonna gain confidence

that every one of you can succeed in this beast call math.

-Are we gonna do math really?

-All right, here we go.

X is like a dog.

He don't like anybody on his block.

All right? So when you solve for x

you're trying to get x by what?

-Itself. -By itself.

The 2 has got to run to the other side.

If you cross the bridge, you get the opposite of your side.

Let's go to you. What's the opposite of positive?

-Negative. -So if positive becomes negative

what's 8 minus 2, man?

-Uh, 4. -X equals?

-6 -Ah we're family.

We've gotta keep it positive.

You're smart. You own math. Math ain't nothing.

-Let me go to you. What's your name?


-She's going to solve a problem. Show her some respect.

Here we go. What number leaves the block?

-4. -The 4.

The positive is a positive and becomes what?

-Negative. -Negative 24 minus 4 is?

-20 -20. How do I get rid of the 2?

-Divide it by 2. -Divide it by 2. X equals?

-10 -10. Give her a hand.

-Is anybody lost? We're good? Okay.

Who's going to step up to the plate and do this problem?

-I don't know how to do this, man.

-That's right. Get rid of that 3, man. You got it, man.

-X is gone. This goes right here.

-What number leaves x in the block, man? The block is hot.

-The 5. -That's right. Yeah.

So what does x equal? -X equals 1.

-Circle it, man. That's right, man.

-I'm gonna be famous one day.

-Dr. William Fabian. Imagine! Damn!

-That's right. You're good? How about you?

You're getting it? How about you? You got it?

How about you?

-There be teachers who be just so boring

and you just zone out, you can't pay attention.

And you made it interesting, like

"Oh, okay I'll write this, this is how you do it?

"Nothing. I got it down." You know?

-Like, you were inspiring us.

I needed a teacher like that in high school.

It should be normal that somebody says you're smart.

It should be normal that somebody says you're gonna do good, man.

You know what?

But unfortunately, for a lot of these young people, it's not.

This is the age where

young people are in the make it or break it mode.

We're either going to have them

ollow the path and take care of business,

or lose them to the system.


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