During some free time in class, several students were grouped around a classroom computer. They had finished their work and so I rewarded them by allowing them to do whatever they want. It's a nice and easy system that works. "Make time to waste time" - something I believe in and preach.
As I walked around collecting papers and tidying up my classroom, I noticed my students looking up Illuminati articles, researching Illuminati symbols and reading articles and gossip columns that accuse incredibly rich and influential people like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna of being part of the Illuminati and plotting to establish a New World Order.
Conspiracy theories. As a Pakistani-American, I am pretty sick of them.
I chose to ignore their idiotic conversation and instead resorted to checking my e-mail at my desk. As I skimmed through my inbox, I couldn't help but overhear, "Yo, you heard? I looked this nigga up on Google the otha day and read shit bout him on Wall Street. He be in that Illuminati joint my nigga. Plottin' the New World Order. Yo Mista got bread." Heads turned. They were looking at me.
I immediately took a shit on their theory by actually explaining what the Illuminati believed in and stood for. This conversation opened up a discussion in which I learned that my students erroneously believed the Freemasons and the Illuminati are the same group. Dammit! That means we need another Nicholas Cage in which he solves puzzles all over the country in order to explain the difference. We can't let that happen.
The students grew silent when I brought up the fact that a lot of conspiracy theorists, rappers and wanna-be rappers rapping about the Illuminati had no clue what the Illuminati were until the Hollywood movie Angels and Demons starring Tom Hanks came out (based on Dan Brown's book) in 2009. I later did my own research online (and watched some YouTube clips) and realized that it's now popular to associate any powerful figure (in particular, one that is a minority in the U.S.) as a member of the modern Illuminati.
How sad. How sad is it that we have to justify our own failures, mistakes, and lack of success by accusing others of being part of some larger group with power. This logic makes being where ever you are in life okay and thus we are able to feel better about ourselves. It's like when you're playing a sport and the opposing them wins. Sometimes, your natural reaction is to justify your defeat by thinking or saying, "Well, yeah but they had John Doe on their team. Without John Doe playing, we would've won." Bullshit.
Jay-Z himself has laughingly denied all Illuminati accusations, saying, "It may sound a little arrogant, but I just think people can’t handle when somebody else is successful. Something has gotta be wrong; you gotta be down with some higher power. And I guess when someone else is successful, it makes you feel like maybe you’re a failure. So it can’t be you, it has to be some other force."
I sat there staring his quote and thought about what my kids said. I thought about how they behave and what shapes them and came to the conclusion that an engaging classroom conversation in class is simply not enough to convince the majority of the students at my school. A shift in thinking on a larger scale was needed.
I decided to play into the Illuminati accusation. Over a span of a few days, I incorporated various Illuminati symbols into my classroom and my school website. Some of the symbols are pretty understated, and others are more blatant, like the pyramid taped on the ground directly where I normally stand and teach.
|It's watching you.|
You're welcome kids.