It’s A Must That I Bust Any Mic You Hand To Me

Jose Vilson Education, Jose

I’d like to tell my children, whoever they may be, that I was an activist someday. And by children, I mean the ones I borrow for 10 months a year, but I mean the ones I hope to have in the future, too.

I don’t mean that I’ll be rebel-rousing in my school per se. It’s bad enough I know some of my administrators are reading every word I write carefully. I wouldn’t want them to think I’m trying to start a revolution in our building ::ahem::. In school, as a matter of fact, I tend to maintain a very professional attitude, doing my best to be completely respectful of the students and faculty I encounter on a daily basis. When people ask me for my opinion, I usually give them a blanketed statement that comes straight out some manual on best teaching practices. If not, I give my best opinion, but make it so it’s constructive and non-judgmental.

But when the door closes, I want to give my kids the reality that they may face out there. I want to tell them how the war’s a hoax, how billion-dollar corporations have the gall to help raise gas prices while simultaneously lower wages and cut jobs every quarter, how our president and vice president have no shame whatsoever about their corruption of the US Constitution, how this country’s foundation came at fractionating people who weren’t rich white males, how the world will not look too kindly on children from their neighborhoods, and how they should never forget the struggles where they came from.

The problem with that is: I’ll be labeled a radical.

Oooh. Just the thought that I might impart the documented but often hidden truth to students who often have a distorted vision of the country agitates some to the point that they’ll label me as such. Would I prefer to be downgraded to some title like “liberal” or “anti-war” knowing my past and present thoughts and behavior? My affinity for Rage Against the Machine and Immortal Technique? My protests against NYC budget cuts, against calls to repeal affirmative action, for true immigration reform, and against racist and sexist policies by others on my former campus? My affiliations with activist groups I’ve been a part of, have joined, or will be a part of eventually? My blogroll? Some of the search results that lead people to my interviews and writings? My poetry? Never that.

And I have a hard time looking at people who grew up with similar upbringing to mine and consider themselves moderates. At the risk of sounding belligerent, take a damn side. We can’t sit idly by while so many of us fall down like dominoes in an intricate display of callous tumble design. As much as I like building bridges in the blogosphere and connecting with people who may not necessarily agree with me, I also don’t see any way for me to compromise myself and my ideals, especially with everything I know.

Then I look at my kids, and wonder how much their educational system really values social studies and being informed of current events and history. I wonder how much all these distractions have pulled them away from trying to actually understanding the intricacies of why their cousin’s in jail, why they have a hard time seeing themselves anywhere besides rap videos and the wrong end of a murder story, or why both of their parents have to work at all hours of the day and people still call them lazy.

If trying to find real and ethical answers and solutions to these questions makes me radical, I’ll take that proudly.

jose, who gets the microphone fiend in him every so often …