Short Notes: Asking the Right Questions

Short Notes 4 Comments

Michael Corleone

A few notes as usual:

0. I have a new e-mail for this blog. The blog’s gotten so big as far as the communication I’m getting from some of you, I had no choice. It’s all about growth. Feel free to shoot me any tips, comments, or suggestions through the e-mail in the sidebar. Just don’t spam me, please.

1. Still bumpin’ that Janet album, Discipline. My new favorite song on there is “So Much Betta.” I’ve also redeveloped an appreciation for Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt.

2. I do a mean impression of Squidward.

3. The Firefox developers really need to improve its English dictionary. Even the word “Firefox” is coming up as an error when I type it in this box.

4. I just bought a new book entitled The Freedom Manifesto, by Tom Hodgkinson, which seems to align with my non-fiction / self-help / history inclinations, though currently I have a good 25 books and 14 CDs on cue and a book outline I haven’t opened up since early January. More on that later.

5. This week, I’m focusing completely on education in my blogs. I got a couple of barn burners, I believe …

6. So here’s another confession:

If you don’t ask me the right question, then you’ll never get the right answer. I’ve become more aware of my difficulty with just rambling on about myself, no matter how difficult or trying my life becomes. On my blog, I’m a totally different person, able to spout verbs and nouns about damn near everything. In real life, though, the right question usually leads to a good answer, and then we can have good and honest conversation. What essentially makes a good question is what we expect from our kids: the truth. The more explicit the question is, the better I can answer the question. As cool as inference is, it doesn’t come close to clarity.

7. Oh yeah, by the way, I performed on Friday for my grade’s Dominican Independence Day / Black History Month Celebration. More on that later, but for your enjoyment, here’s the poem I read. I got my Michael Corleone on for this one.

“I Am”

I am the man
I am the promise of previous generations to make the world better
I am the stage performer, the fan, and the audience
I am the math teacher who teaches more than math
I am fresher than the freshest sneakers out
Without a doubt,
I’m the guy parents confuse for just speaking one language
When I speak two
¿El habla español?
Si, yo soy el maestro de tu hijo o hija en el quinto piso
Yo existo en mi propio mundo
And I am el rey of everything I see
From Brooklyn to Queens
I am the orgullo of all my people
El poderoso del barrio
The remembrance of 50 million people who look like me
Crossing the Atlantic on ships not meant for real people
But didn’t quite make it
I am stronger than the fiercest chains strapped to my wrists
Faster than the dogs chasing me
Brighter than the dark skin I lay in
I am the man, so I’m not kidding
I am the rock in the roll of the melody in your guitar
The soul in your body dancing to the rhythm
And the sole of your shoes holding the millions of people who protest
For people like you
To sit here in front of me
Tapping with your feet to a hip-hop reggaeton beat
I am the first me
The superstar who once traded stories with Jesus, Malcolm X, and Biggie
With Hector Lavoe, Juan Luis Guerra, and Che Guevara
With Dolores Huerta, Sojourner Truth, and Celia Cruz
I am a salsa, merengue, bachata swinging
Rapping, beat-boxing, mathematics teaching,
Jazz, funk, samba, African dance, iPod listening
Coaching, writing, child inspiring
Winning, graduating, Penny Harvesting
Well-dressed, well-spoken, but still very much hood
Soul man
I am not your n-word or Spanish cuss word
Reminding you of how people want to treat you
I am a man
And you?
You are the future I hope I’ll be proud to promise to the next audience …

jose, who will eventually answer all those memes out there …

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. Pre_k

    well I have to agree the content of answers given is usually based on the questions asked. people asking vague questions usually get a literal glare and F-U flung in their direction, unless we are speaking on philosophies and metaphysics and such.

    for the record Jay-Z’s reasonable doubt is about the only thing i will listen to.. but that is just my personal bias.

    I guess i am finished commenting but you already know that it was a nice poem, just hoping everybody got the message…

    piece and blessings.

  2. luzmaria

    WOW!!!! It is extremely powerful. What was the response to your poem? Did your kids ask you questions?

    I love the last line, “You are the future I hope I’ll be proud to promise to the next audience …”

    It captures so much of what you do for your kids on a daily basis.

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