Short Notes: A Tortoise, A Hare, and The Human Condition

Short Notes 6 Comments

Denzel Washington as Malcolm X

It isn’t that I’m a hater, because I am, but sometimes I observe things that I would just love to point out.

1. I hate when someone calls themselves The Black [insert cultural icon here]. The Black Barbie, Madonna, Al Pacino, Brad Pitt, Joe Schmoe, or whoever the hell else everyone wants to emulate really annoys the shizzel out of me. As prevalent as imitators are out there, we need to start investing in the idea of self. Even if these people are only doing it for promotional purposes or maybe as self-aggrandizing, it never works out. Ask the NBA how well marketing Kobe as the next Michael Jordan worked. Mattafac, ask them why MJ himself criticized the league for always trying to make comparisons of the new players with the old ones, and why it’s hurting their new stars’ images.

2. I’m not feeling all these ripoffs of Stuff White People Like. I might be the only Black (or Latino) blogger with a substantial readership who hasn’t mentioned SWPL, and here’s why: it’s already too pop. The Internet’s a funny thing in that, as soon as something gets hot, it gets hotter than things ordinarily should. And I ain’t mad at SWPL at all; to the contrary, I think it’s a sarcastic and self-deprecating on the part of the originator. Yet, I think the types of white people he’s talking about are also the types who find something cool about the Lower East Side now, but 10 years wouldn’t be caught dead or alive in the area, so I’m sure you see what I mean. :: puts on suspect face::

3. I just watched Malcolm X, the movie with Denzel Washington in his should-have-been-Oscar-winning Oscar-nominated role as Malcolm. I always find myself marveling at the power of that movie, and the message it still holds for us decades later. What bothers me is that many people (especially our own) found too many inaccuracies in the film for them to enjoy the film. After tearing up at the end of the movie for a good 5 minutes, I thought to myself, “If not Spike Lee, then who? If not Denzel, then who? If not this film, then what?” If people want the real facts, they can read the autobiography; it’s that simple. I thought it was very well done.

4. During my post-observation, the administrator mentioned how the kids idolize me and think of me as a father figure. I keep telling you all how humbled I am about this kind of reaction because I never had a consistent enough father to know what a father’s supposed to do, but now I’m learning. My role as an inspiration to some of these kids 0ften makes me look at the rest of the world with a critical and discerning eye. I can especially see that with my gentlemen. Just from my general observations, and being around their neighborhood long enough, they don’t see many younger men doing anything besides advertising parties, playing some sport, playing some girl, and / or hustlin’. Hence, I take my role as a teacher a little more seriously than most. More on this later on in the week.

5. I was walking through Union Square with a friend of mine, when we saw a huge pile of garbage in front of a local supermarket. A month or two before, I saw some Freegans, who rummage through the garbage to protest the economic food cycle or whatever have you, all up in the garbage. After explaining this to Kika, my friend, I quipped “The only logical next step is cannibalism. If we’re going to kill people senselessly, let’s at least use them for food resources.” We have a sick sense of humor. We kept going at it, ’till I said, “And they’ll complain about how much land we could be saving by eating people instead.”

She replies, ” … Yeah, it’s the funeral industrial complex! Holding us down!”

Insane laughter through 14th St. ensues.

5. Dude, David Patterson is the new governor of New York. I won’t make light of the more socially ostensible parts of his person (his Blackness and blindness), but I gotta say that there couldn’t have been a better script written. This is almost like Guess Who’s Coming To Govern? I saw his first speech since Spitzer resigned, and this looks promising, but here’s hoping the huge deficit facing this state isn’t attributed to him, and that people don’t hold his rather liberal politics against him too much. We’ll see how it plays out.

jose, who didn’t know Michael Jordan (who likes to stay apolitical) and a slew of other Black celebrities helped sponsor the movie Malcolm X, and is also happy that Kobe Bryant and Greg Oden are speaking up politically …

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 6

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  2. J. Dakar

    Man, I was thinking about how people like to call themselves the black whatever just the other day…but now I cannot think what spurred the thought.

    Still haven’t seen Malcolm X…definitely need to add that to my queue.

    I fully understand how you feel about your students; I’m sure your students know how blessed they are to have a teacher who cares.

    Hope all is well.

    Peace and blessings,
    J.

  3. Shelly

    Hi Jose,

    As you know I have the greatest respect and love for Malcolm and what he achieved and taught us in his short life… the movie does great justice to that. I can’t watch it too often because I am a MESS for days afterwards with emotion and tears and whatnot. I think it ranks amongst the greatest work that both Denzel and Spike Lee have ever done. The fact that Denzel was snubbed at the Oscars still irks me terribly to this day grrrrrr!

    Also, I have heard about this Freegan thing and whilst I admire the ethos behind it, I am not convinced by the efficacy of bin radidng as a means of encouraging chnage in todays consumer obsessed culture…

  4. LuzMaria

    “If people want the real facts, they can read the autobiography; it’s that simple.” Mr. V. you don’t mince words. Are you suggesting this film is not a primary source? I agree with you. The movie was a great way to capture certain components of the life of an inspirational figure to many, but it is the written word which can help us understand his essence. Como siempre, excelente!!!!!

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