There is no reason that America, as the world's wealthiest nation, cannot afford to guarantee tuition-free higher education to her people. It's time to cancel all student debt and implement universal higher education.
Ricky believes in the significant cultural and educational value inherent in historically black colleges and universities. As such, we must continue to champion their cause in the years and generations to come.
Ricky believes in an America that heavily prioritizes investing in the minds of her students, one that appeals to the innate talents of America's youth, and not the whims of a standardized test.
America's schools have the potential—and the responsibility—to prepare her children to compete anywhere in the world. There’s no reason why our education system shouldn’t produce American polyglots.
Ricky believes, unequivocally, that complete and unrestricted internet access, in this day and age, is (and should be) a human right, and all human beings are entitled to high-speed internet access from anywhere.
The epidemic of false/misleading news has severely damaged our democracy as we know it, and Ricky believes it is time to establish a new version of the Fairness Doctrine to combat ignorance, once and for all.
Ricky believes in an America that strives for a vibrant education system that educates students to the point of knowledge and enlightenment, not to the demands of a generic standardized test. Ricky understands the reasoning behind why we have leaned so much in this direction, but he disagrees with the idea that this is the only way to determine a student's aptitude.
Today, we are not doing nearly enough to celebrate and cultivate the unique talents of our children, and this poses a serious threat to the future of this country. The seeds we plant today become fruit-bearing trees of tomorrow, and how we cultivate them determine more than just shade, but how the environment continues to flourish for all people.
Ricky believes in an American education system that places an emphasis on stimulating and practical academic environments that restore music, arts, and physical education, for the body must be as stimulated as the mind. Without question, we must make mental health a priority for our young people as they come of age in our public institutions.
Beginning with a Universal Pre-K System, Ricky believes that all students in America ought to be prepared for an ever-changing global society, and this means that they must be well-versed in culinary arts, life sciences, personal finance, time management, entrepreneurship, civics & social studies, and global history.
There was once a time in American culture when college education was publicly championed and promoted among the African American communities of this nation. Television shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin, A Different World, Living Single, and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper all were both subtle and overt in their support for higher education institutions, primarily historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). But then, something changed. Our focus shifted.
Over time, less of an emphasis was placed on the continued building up of our HBCUs, and society (especially Black society) suffered as a result. Ricky believes that the time to reverse this disastrous trend has finally come, and we must reinvest and strengthen our HBCUs all around the United States of America.
In addition to securing tuition/debt-free college education, Ricky vehemently believes that we must continue to invest heavily in the maintenance and funding of these historical institutions, of whom up to twenty percent of African Americans attend to receive college degrees. There is no question about the role HBCUs have played in the academic and social nurturing of young African American students throughout the years.
We must maintain this as a matter of practice.
Let's not be naive. Blacks are subjected to a different experience living here in America. These differences don't magically vanish upon graduating high school.
We have a collective duty to establish academic safe spaces for all people, but especially African Americans who have historically experienced the brunt of socio-economic oppression and violence.
Knowledge is power, and HBCUs have a major role in ushering more African Americans (and many other communities of color) into the American workplace on an even academic footing.
Ricky believes in a system that prepares American children and young adults for a rapidly changing global economy, and one that values the importance of multilingualism.
It should be an established norm for American students to know—in addition to English—Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, Swahili, Arabic, Russian, Hindi, and Portuguese—at about least a conversational level by the time they are of college age. The economic possibilities of this undertaking cannot be understated, as the world continues to grow smaller while our potential grows larger.
We are the only country of its kind in the world where millions of Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, Swahili, Arabic, Russian, Hindi, and Portuguese-speaking people already live, free to live, love, work, and raise a family like anyone else. Ethnic, racial, and linguistic diversity is one of the things that makes America so great.
The skeptic will ask, "where are all the teachers for such an ambitious undertaking?" Indeed, the answer lies in the American people, millions of whom already speak the languages in question in the privacy of their own homes and respective communities. A new education system will put millions more to work.
Both science and faith teach us that the human brain is an incredible organ, and we cannot afford to let it go to waste any longer. There is so much we can learn as a people, and our viability in the global market will significantly improve as a result.
The opportunity lies in our hands. An American workforce capable of speaking multiple languages by default will be able to extend its economic earning potential far beyond borders limited by language, and this will soon become a reality.
As with health care, no American should ever be at the mercy of a profit-driven higher education system. College tuition is simply not affordable anymore, and it has risen exponentially since Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980. Gone are the days when the average working-class individual could tend bar and use that paycheck to fund a debt-free college/graduate education and pay the bills. At the moment, Ricky himself is facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
We have even reached the point now where American students are heading to Europe to study? Why? Because there are at least 44 schools across Europe where Americans can earn their bachelor's degree for free. In fact, public colleges in Germany, Iceland, Norway and Finland are free for residents and international students. Those students also have health care.
This economic injustice cannot stand. Therefore, Ricky believes in universal higher education for all Americans and taxpaying residents. No American citizen or taxpaying resident should ever have to go into debt for the sake of knowledge. With that in mind, Ricky firmly believes in a brand new government bailout—one where every student is bailed out of his/her/their crippling student loan debt and allowed to enter the workforce. It's time to cancel and forgive any and all private and public student loan debt. Not $10k, not $50k, not even $100k. ALL OF IT. PERIOD.
Income should never be a determinant for whether someone has access to a college degree, and there is no reason why Americans and taxpaying residents should enter the workforce with crippling debt. If we can afford to spend trillions of dollars to further prop up the Military Industrial Complex, we can afford to send every American child to college to further equip the country with skills needed to advance in society (at no cost to them or their families).
No American should ever be denied the opportunity to learn critical academic skills, whether it takes place at a university or in a trade school. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and it's time for us to reach our full potential.
Ricky believes in an America that teaches its children equally, no matter what neighborhood they come from. For far too long, we have failed to equip our suburban schools at the same rate as our inner-city schools.
An American student should be able to receive the same high-quality primary form of education, no matter where in the city (or country) they happen to live.
Ricky believes in an America that prides itself on the proper dissemination of accurate news and information. We have seen the disastrous effects of biased and deliberately misleading news reports on the general public.
While educating the American people must be a top priority, we must ensure that the minds of the easily-impressionable must not be led to the slaughterhouse of ignorance. Too much has fallen to the wayside in favor of ratings and corporate capital.
The time has come to reestablish the Fairness Doctrine, abolished by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1987, and to hold organizations claiming to be news outlets to a much higher standard than they are right now.
We cannot continue to allow unsubstantiated political claims to flood America's airwaves without a proper and fair rebuttal, and we have seen how increasingly polarized our political process has become as a result of biased news coverage.
The time has come for our domestic news networks to take responsibility for the divisiveness taking place in our politics. Our news networks must reflect our renewed emphasis on education, and we must replace ratings-driven sensationalism with fact-based news coverage. It's time to make our news networks smart again.
In the name of all that is intellectually honest and fair, Ricky demands a more accountable media that isn't beholden to corporate overlords, instead vowing once more to report that which matters in the world, not just that which is meant to stir emotion for the sake of ratings.
There was once a time when journalism used to mean the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities. These days, cable news and various other outlets have fallen under the vice of capitalism.
Many mainstream cable news networks and various forms of print media have seemingly sacrificed what was once an honorable profession for the sake of ratings. Look at what it's become since 2015, for example.
Due to the amount of free media granted to the absurd, fascism and racism were essentially normalized for the masses, granting hateful political figures upwards of about $2 billion in free media.
America's young minds depend on it.
Ricky strongly supports the doctrine of Net Neutrality, and believes that equal access to the Information Superhighway, as well as corresponding data protection and privacy is a human right. Internet access, as a human right, must be supported by all world governments, and Ricky believes that internet access ought to be a public utility, available for all to use, regardless of income.
The Internet's increasing importance in a rapidly digitized world is evident in its role in the preservation of established rights that are under attack by certain groups, organizations, or even whole governments. There exists a significant intersection between the development and advancement of human rights and the Internet.
The Internet, as we know it, is an indispensable tool of public service. In many ways, the Internet has effectively fused with nature as we know it. Scattered throughout the atmosphere are cellular and satellite signals where television signals once existed. These days, connecting to the Internet in the developed world is as simple as switching on a smartphone of any generation within the last decade.
Human and civil rights became further intertwined with the documentation of civil disobedience. The world grew closer with the international community’s various conventions on human rights. Technology rode its way into the 21st century with the advent of the Internet. The Internet itself became a critical catalyst in the struggle for human rights, and as the world became more globalized, its importance grew along with its advances.
Netizenship and access to the Internet was what helped make the Black Lives Matter movement as we know it possible, providing a platform for Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi to express their grievances about police brutality, racial, and systemic inequality with the government through Twitter, Facebook, and various live streams.
The United Nations, in multiple different instances, made clear the Internet’s role in the development of modern society. It became clear what nations were deprived of as a result of the Internet. It became clear that government restrictions upon Internet access was deemed as a violation in the eyes of the international community. The Internet demonstrated itself as a necessary tool of nation building due to its banking, commerce, education, and public service.
The need for the Internet as a human right necessitates Ricky's proposal of a Universal Internet Accord (UIA), an international agreement that, if drafted and properly implemented, would bring nations together to bring the Internet to the world's most technologically empty areas.
The UIA will, upon proper drafting, consultation, international collaboration, ratification, and subsequent ratification, take the dream of universal Internet access as a human right from an idealist’s dream into a new reality. The Internet’s impact is a real, tangible thing in the modern world. Its importance can no longer be ignored.
Access to the Internet must be established as a universal human right, and the solution, a Universal Internet Accord, combined with the good faith cooperation of the world’s governments and private technology companies will truly bring the world—the whole world, without discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, or income level—into the future.