By Jessica Munoz and Gabby Lawson
Editor’s Note: Humans of Manhattan Center is part of our initiative to highlight the diverse people in our school. This month we feature the seniors, Caesar and Kahlil.
He’s one of the difficult ones, continually refusing to let me snap a decent picture of him because he didn’t look “good” enough for the picture. I was forced to capture him off-guard.
Anyway, this human here is Caesar Ramos, 17 years old, and a senior at Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics.
Born December 13th, 1998, he is a Sagittarius. He wasn’t born in the United States but he chose not to specify his country of origin. He has lived in West Harlem for 7 years. I asked Caesar: “Do you wish you could live somewhere else?” He replied, “Doesn’t everyone? Once you’re used to an environment, it’s natural for you to want to experience something outside of your comfort zone. And I want to go far, far away.”
Caesar stands out from the crowd, which seems to be one of his many objectives in life: To NOT be the boy in the background. One look at Caesar and one can take full notice of his piercings: two on his nose, both of his ears, and one in his mouth. He might have more, but I didn’t inquire.
Why piercings then? Since you want to be different.
Caesar: My piercings are not the only things that make me different
I know that, but why piercings? And why is being different so important to you?
Caesar: I don’t want to buy into that socially accepted image that people believe I am supposed to have. I don’t want to look like everyone else. I’d rather draw my own persona and figure out who I am. It’s like paper: everything we do to ourselves is being drawn onto that paper. The point of drawing is to stand out based on your creativity right? And I do stand out (laughs and shrugs).
Originality is important to you? Does that have to do with the way you act too?
Caesar: I want to stand out from all perspectives.
I asked Caesar his three main passions. He listed these: music, being a handyman, and traveling. What surprised me was the fact that our human here likes to fix things. What exactly does he fix? He laughed me off, saying, and I quote, “Can you not.” He did decide to tell me that he does give good advice, but he refused to let me pry any further. But he did talk about music:
Caesar: I’ve set aside time each day to listen to music . I listen to music so often that when I’m not listening to it, I find rhythms in footsteps and doors closing and the sound of traffic. Honestly, music to me is home, a constant. When I play a favorite song, the chaos of the day is made clear.
Music helps me regress. Every song is an old memory that puts me back a few years, a decade, or last week. Memories are safe places because they can’t be altered or erased, and music takes me back. I love the way music can help me zone out and refocus. The way it can put me out of touch with my own body, to the point of grace. I love the way music connects me with my closest friends. The words we’ve never spoken to each other travel over hummed bars of loved tracks.
I love music because it’s never boring, and, like art, is subjective. That’s what makes it interesting. Sound is more ‘offensive’ than visual stimuli, which is why I think certain musical artists have such a bad rap, where a painter or sculptor would be off the hook for a bad portrait or likeness. Music is an accessible art that makes a critic out of everyone. Music was my first love and will be my last (wink).”
Human: Kahlil Francis
Kahlil: I like to rap.
What do you like about rapping?
Kahlil: I like the rhythm. There’s always a deeper meaning in rap. I like to write a lot so I write a lot of poetry.
Do you mind sharing some with me?
Kahlil: Watch me ride through the city slow, windows tinted, listening to n***** spit that kitty flow, I got that gritty flow, my committee grows, I’m more marvelous than a Nick Fury show… S***’s crazy and I don’t know why, cause all I got is me, myself, and I. But I’ve been acting crazy so it’s just myself and me, the holy duality.