Short Notes: Somewhere In The Middle

Jose Vilson Short Notes 11 Comments

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air family

A few notes of interest:

1. Yes, I cleaned up around here. Click refresh, and tell me what happens to that header. Do it a good 7 more and you’ll get your wishes granted ;-).

2. The oddest thing happened on Friday. One minute, my Feedburner says I have 83-93 readers, and the next, I have 299! Sick. What’s more, it goes back down the next day. Weird.

3. Yes, it’s my birthday on Thursday. Fun.

4. Memes that highlight the differences between men and women / Blacks, Whites, Asians, Latinos, etc. / rich and poor in a defensive and divisive way bore me to tears these days. I used to be enthralled by them when I was younger because I was able to contrast my unsophisticated observations about those differences and the ill-conceived notions of roles different people take in those stereotypes. While I agree that some stereotypes come from real research, I’m more ready to believe that those lists along with hack comedians and delusional, angry people make these lists up to reinforce divisions amongst the sexes, races, and classes when we’re really all people.

5. Cloverfield had an awesome preview, but it was an awesomely bad movie. Great effects, and snide social commentary that in some ways, I found interesting, but that ending was abrupt as all hell. Rather than make us think for a second, it made us think to leave. People in the audience laughed about as much as they were scared and grossed out. I wouldn’t watch it again, and I want some of my money back, but if you do watch, prepare for the worst.

6. Yesterday was my boy Omar’s birthday, and whenever we all get together, it’s just a mess of historic proportions. We went to Carmine’s, a popular Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side with family-style dining. Anyways, Kenny, one of the realest dudes and resident ALM (Angry Latino Man), Mike, my homegirl’s boyfriend, and Omar had a heated discussion (some in the restaurant might have called it an argument, but that’s besides the point). Every so often, I’ll interject with an off-beat joke here and there, but last night, I was more good for a hearty, body-aching laugh.

As I’m observing them, I notice that, on their side of the table, Kenny’s sitting on the left, Mike’s on the right, and Omar’s at front and center of the table, appropriate if not ironic. At first, it was pleasant enough, with each side making their points, but then it got really intense, curses being flung across the table and the rest of us caught in the crossfire. I’m all for political conversation, and all the participants brought up awesome points from their side. Yet, what struck me the most was how, after all of that, they’re still friends.

Of course, I was more on Kenny’s side of the argument, even if I was sitting on Mike and Omar’s side of the table. After all, how can anyone at the table argue against poor people when we were all the sons and daughters of immigrants or poor people? We were all the privileged offspring of people who had just enough of the essentials, and for many of our relatives and neighbors, they weren’t lucky or privileged enough to receive a college education and live on a a much better income than minimum wage. It’s easy to dismiss that when we’ve never had to experience that for ourselves.

Not to say that our fathers were anything like Phillip Banks (of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fame), but we sometimes get the Carlton and Hillary effect, where the parents consciously protect their children from knowing about those struggles or the children live incongruously from that reality, concentrating solely on case study of self rather than percentage. Will, the hoodlum he is, often reminded them of the position they’re in and from whence they came, which is why Ashley, the most liberal of the three Banks offspring, turns out the way she does. She was still rich, but she got a better sense of what came before her, and that’s important.

But I’m a socialist by nature, so I’m inclined to this opinion, and I’ve already written my stance on all of those matters, but my opinion doesn’t dismiss their contributions to their families or their people. After all, we still shared our personal lives with each other, and ate from the same dishes. There’s still, inevitably, common threads of human decency that run through all of us at that table, and somewhere in between all of our arguments lied the solution: a huge plate of ice cream with all the fixings. We all sat there for a good 5 minutes, quietly letting the food settle. Mike ate the candle apparently, mistaking it for licorice. Omar and I laughed about stupid MySpace people. Kenny started hating on people. We left the restaurant and all went our separate ways, but we’d see each other again. As it should be.

jose, who can’t stop looking at his theme, and has Pearson and Aaron to thank for the inspiration …

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 11

  1. Frumteacher

    Wow, the new template is amazing. I refreshed and saw all five headers. Did you make all of them yourself? I like how they match your style and choice of topics. Loved the Fresh Prince analogy too.

  2. Alisha9

    I like the new look! – the page is much brighter (if that makes sense), and the look fits your ‘genre’ – for lack of a better descriptive adjective (smile).

    You guys sound like you had a blast – and it is cool to have folks you can disagree with without being disagreeable!

    Happy Birthday Thursday!

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    @ Frum: there are 8. Keep going.

    @ Alisha: thanks. You’re right, we did have a blast. I love having those type of convos, really.

    @ pre_k: socialism is supposedly all the way left, as I’m a socialist and apparently that’s very leftist of me.

  4. Bygbaby

    1. Like the new look!!!
    3. Happy pre-birthday!!!
    5. Cloverfield sucked like ass! I was so mad when I walked out of there. I mean, when he turned back for the boo he dissed, I was lost & ready to go. The ending mad me want to toss my cookies. Poetic Justice was better than that & it was the worst film ever!!!


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  7. LuzMaria

    Cloverfield- well I have to say was a huge disappointment. There were times in which I got dizzy. The ending was such a let down. The previews for this movie were GREAT, teasing its audience. OK-huge let down.

    Good to know that you and your friends can have these conversations about politics and actually disagree with one another. Yet you have managed to remain friends and push back with your political beliefs based on experiences and worldviews.

    First-generation Americans, us, for example have to face many complexities. We are torn between our “American” and “other country” beliefs. Some of our parents never wanted for us to forget our culture, traditions, heritage, language, etc. Other parents embraced this country and simply said to their children, “You are an American.” As our level of education varies, the many opportunities we encounter to see different points-of-view and learn about other factors have an effect on our beliefs and sometimes reshapes our thinking. Interesting post Mr. V.

    I am sure that your group was entertaining to the other patrons of Carmine.

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