I Don’t Write For Your F**king Approval [Channeling Kobe Bryant]

Jose Vilson Interviews, Jose

Here is another recent interview with Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski and yours truly. The piece never made it into Yahoo!, but he e-mailed it to me anyways.

The scene here is the usual: arguments abound about the future of education, the rank and file teachers jump into their political slots for the election year, millionaires and billionaires covertly endorse the candidates malleable enough to shift their well intentioned opinions to right of center ones, and the apolitical stand to the side nesting into educational technology and other cursory vernacular. With so few that voice their opinions at this high level of frankness and transparency, Vilson can live with the snippy comebacks, the tokenism of inclusion (or the ignorance of exclusion) from top lists and acknowledgments, the general lack of positivity amongst colleagues, and the covert hate thrown in his direction by colleagues who don’t get it. Amongst friends, he rarely mentions these things. Just don’t remind him of what I just reminded you.

“I don’t give a [expletive] what you say,” Vilson told me yesterday. “If I go out there and write a nice story where no one shares it or comments, people say, ‘Vilson choked, or Vilson is x for whatever the [expletive] in critical situations.’ Well, [expletive] you!”

“Because I don’t write for your f**king approval. I write for my own love and enjoyment of the blog. And to tell the story that no one else has the cojones to tell. Most of the time, when people feel the pressure, they’re worried about what others might say about them, or do to them. I don’t have that fear, and it enables me to forget bad pieces and write harder and write about my life so candidly.”

Deep down, Vilson does recognize it. Not because the side commentary weighs him down, but because it’s the heat under his palms. Compared to his contemporaries, he doesn’t write as much in his eponymous blog as others do, but he averages enough words in a post to compensate and then some. Seven years he’s been asked to do his job at a high level, and seven years he’s grown into the professional we know today, out of sheer hard work, listening more than he’s said, and enough resolve to fight through the toughest moments in his career. He doesn’t think he’s above reproach, but nine times out of ten, he’s able to brush the dirt off his proverbial shoulder.

“And maybe that’s what separates me from a lot of people: I can laugh at myself when people think I’m doing nothing, whereas most people might feel really insecure or nervous about the next one, or pissed off and hold that anger for the next list or whatever have you. I can find the entertainment and humor in it.”

Let me write, Vilson seems to say. Piss me off, don’t include people of color in your circles. Speak ill of kids you’re supposed to care about, and he jumps right into the melee. Tell him he’s not a classroom teacher and the next rhyme he writes might be about you. He prefers discussions that get fiery without getting personal, factual without getting tedious, rhythmic without getting argumentative. He says he laughs when he lets others have the last word because he’ll wait long enough for the truth to reveal itself.

“The fallout from disagreement is always something that makes some writers hesitant,” Vilson said. “They’re thinking about their legacies, their reputations, their connections  to high-profile people, and often, their agendas.”

Anyway, f**k them. No hesitancy here. No fear of the miss. It is a liberating feeling, and it’s where he forever wants to live.

Jose, who heavily borrowed from Adrian Wojnarowski for this satirical piece …