Brooklyn ‘outlier’ makes big impression: ‘I’m a 17-year-old black American who refuses to go woke’

A 17-year-old black student from New York has made a splash for breaking the “woke” mold.

Daniel Idfresne describes himself in his autobiographical editorial for the New York Post as an “outlier.”  Originally from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York that was “made famous by Jay-Z,” Idfresne feels that many would be quick to judge him for just that information alone.

“Given that brief biography, perhaps you’d assume that I’m a Black Lives Matter slogan-chanting, capitalism-chastising teen activist. Or that I’m an at-risk youth, destined for dropping out or incarceration,” he wrote. “You’d be wrong on both counts.”

Idfresne is both a Christian and a conservative, and has employment after school, by his own proud admission.  He feels that these things make him an outlier for young men of his background. He certainly felt exposed to social justice propaganda but describes his “inoculation” against it in various stages in his piece.

He describes the first “shot” as coming from his devout parents, both Haitian immigrants who run a Baptist church in their neighborhood. His parents were strict, at first not allowing any TV at all until weekends, and later on, relenting as long as his homework was done. A clear emphasis on education is apparent in the way he describes their parenting, and at first, he wasn’t even allowed to play sports (they later relented and he played on a soccer team).

Another dose was seeing the third world when his parents took him with them to Haiti to build a church. It was hard not to appreciate America’s grandeur when surrounded by so much poverty and despair, as he recounted in one poignant scene.

“You cannot deny the privileges of being American when you see Haitian children weep over new shoes we deem uncool,” he wrote.

The next step in his “inoculation” came from his education at a Leadership Prep Ocean Hill Charter School, where he went between the first and eighth grades. In an atmosphere of gang violence that is rampant in Brownsville, Brooklyn, students were still expected to wear uniforms, sit up straight, and pay attention. Like most kids, he and his friends hated the discipline, yet looking back he realizes the good it did him.

“There are those who admonish charter schools for their hardcore discipline — and my friends and I had plenty of complaints. In retrospect, I realize how lucky we were,” he noted.

Another key treatment was one history teacher’s office hours at Brooklyn Tech, which Idfresne describes as a “genuine ‘safe space'” where students could actually debate ideas in something like real discourse. Some of the attendees helped him to see through the warped lenses of the left.

“Beneficiaries of ‘white privilege’ shared stories of their parents’ struggles when immigrating to the United States. One of them is my friend Julia, who talked of the abject poverty her parents endured upon their arrival from the Soviet Union,”  he wrote.

Idfresne was baffled by the “groupthink” that his peers were immersed in when COVID-19 and BLM riots hit the country. From that same history teacher encouraging genuine ideological debate, Idfresne discovered thinkers against the woke narrative like Stephen Hicks, Richard Tarnas, Peter Robinson, and Jordan Peterson. His favorite of all though? Thomas Sowell, one of the foremost capitalist economists and author of “Basic Economics.”

What Idfresne has learned from all this is that the left’s notions of “justice” and “equality” are anything but:

“When acceptance is the highest value, when avoiding condemnation online is worth more than the truth, the truth will be swiftly discarded. Online likes, followers and reputation — weak, empty values — dominate the teenage world because teenagers are not being taught alternative ones by the culture or, often, by the adults in their lives. They — we — are not being given the tools to answer the questions that really matter: What is truth? What is justice? And what is the purpose of life?”

 

Fundamentally, perceiving the reality behind the ideological dogma is a matter of perceiving truth itself, and truth is not subjective.

“My generation’s been told that truth or justice are merely assertions of power,” Idfresne wrote. “Except here’s the thing: The square root of 64 is 8, the Moon is nearly 239,000 miles from the Earth, and you do not need to believe in God to see that goodwill is a force for positive change. Believing in that is the ultimate immunization against nihilism.”

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