riot-police

Pre-Blog Action Day: What Can I Do?

Jose 4 Comments

In a revelatory moment in the film The Express, an older Will Davis Jr. and Ernie Davis attend a local NAACP meeting, discussing plans to rally in the South. Just then, Ernie Davis discusses his fears about his political involvement, citing how Will has no understanding of the complex relationship between him and his school, and how Ernie might lose his scholarship and possibly his good standing with the team. Then, in the heat of the moment, Will Davis says, “It’s about more than running a football.”

Profound, and yet, a necessary reminder to those of us “in good standing” with our own jobs. All indications around us show that we have less privacy these days, and that can make us extremely guarded to the point where we don’t want to reaffirm our innermost and passionate beliefs. We could lose our jobs, our livelihood, and any chance of making any real changes. How effective are you if you’re in jail or you don’t have any financial backing?

Then, we also have these conflicts with our ancestors who we aspire to, maybe even without an understanding of the era they came from. The spirit of so many justifiably angry men and women from the past call our names in chorus, hoping we’ll get off our rear ends and rebel-rouse for the myriad of problems afflicting us and the human race. People all across generations, cultures, sexes (and genders), and classes have involved themselves in the struggle for true world peace and harmony. They risked everything from their digits to their lives in the hopes that people like you and me could have privileges they never had.

So do we speak up or sit down?

Prime example: Barack Obama. In my heart of hearts, I believe he does have socialist inclinations, and that’s a good thing, especially since many of our best programs are geared towards the betterment of Americans as a whole (social security, veterans benefits, and public housing come to mind immediately), but I also see that, as a Presidential nominee, he needs to cater to the majority of Americans, and any inkling of “anti-American” rhetoric will be reflected in his chances for the presidency, already a daunting task for a Black man with a Middle Eastern middle name. While I don’t agree with all of his plans, I understand why he approaches his campaigning the way he does. (It’s also why Rev. Wright, for all his credits, was wrong for getting at Barack.)

But the times are different now, too. Would Muhammad Ali have become so radical if he was getting paid millions, getting endorsement deals left and right, and have a publicist for his moves? Would Jim Brown have been as popular if he exposed his views the way he did back in his day and would ESPN actually interview him for more than 45 seconds? Notice that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have taken great political stances lately, but when asked for comment about their respective causes, they end with a broad statement about how they’re basketball players and not politicians (in the hopes that they won’t cross that line).

And that’s just on the surface of a very divisive issue. What can we do? What will we do? Where do you stand on your personal activism?

jose, who continues to blog about his passions …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 4

  1. Hugh O'Donnell

    Believe it or not, Jose, I learned my activist creed from a Walt Disney television mini-series: Davy Crockett, circa mid-1950s.

    Crockett is reputed to have said: “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”

    I think we can remain ethical and true to ourselves, and not jeopardize our jobs and livelihood. What employer is going to risk lawsuits over constitutional rights, especially if our free speech is tempered. True, but tempered.

    It’s the folks who run off at the mouth without regard to the rights of others and plain civil decorum who contaminate their righteous message with inadvertent missteps for which they may be held accountable.

    I’m saying, don’t the message get confused with the delivery. Eschew being outrageous in delivery, but hone the truth in your words so it cannot be mistaken for cause for termination.

    Hugh O’Donnells last blog post..RU Stuck? Task vs. Proficiency

  2. Pingback: The Jose Vilson — Blog Action Day: They’re Not That Much Different

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