Denzel Washington as Melvin Tolson, The Great Debaters

Speak Your Truth

Jose 5 Comments

Denzel Washington as Melvin Tolson, <i>The Great Debaters</i>

Denzel Washington as Melvin Tolson, The Great Debaters

Today, in the middle of the labor union’s “demonstration” near City Hall, NYC, I had a thought: “Is standing here freezing my ass off looking at a big TV screen of something that’s happening a few blocks away while packed like sardines against other protesters really the sort of demonstration we want to hold?” After all, the cops herded us in like rats in a maze. Told us, “You demonstrating? Right in here,” smiling all along, not knowing what they had in store for us: a caged existence.

I mean, many of us were happy to be there, and excited to have our collective voice heard. At the same time, I practically yelled out a coño because a) they packed us in like sardines and b) when we protested that we wanted to get out by any means possible, they told us “You can’t leave.” Excuse me? What do you mean we can’t leave? When I heard that, I immediately said, “Like rats in a cage.” And just like rats in a cage, we started to find crevices from which to escape our bondage: gaps in the barricades, jumping over the metal encasings, and almost tearing those things down. Eventually, one benevolent cop released us from our bondage.

But isn’t that what they wanted all along? It’s like my girl mentioned, they’re almost taunting us the way they had us in there. “OK, we’ll allow you to have your peaceful demonstration, but we’re going to lock you in, and fit you in the tightest spaces possible to discourage you from ever doing this again.” Good job.

Yet, the problem is, just like other enterprising animals, we humans adapt rather quickly to our environments. As such, we who desire some cutbacks on the cutbacks, those of us looking for better health care, better public transportation, better education resources, and better living conditions for the poor and working need to develop better systems of protest. Obviously, it starts with developing a voice, so vociferous, the people will wish our physical protests back.

They can take our signs, try to play mind games, and have us stand in their designated areas, but if we speak that truth daily, the one that makes one’s blood boil and brings vigor to someone’s otherwise mundane existence, the lifeblood of true human motivation, we can eradicate the souls swallowed by this gutless system.

What? You thought I was going to lie?

Jose, who tends to speak that truth often enough …

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.

Jose VilsonSpeak Your Truth

Comments 5

  1. James Vilson

    Freedom of speech and of expression, right? Only, as you indictaed José, in “their” controled environment and terms. We may have won a few battles, but the “war” is far from over. Why do we even need to protest? because those in charge of the “system” still think that we are supposed to swallow whatever they throw our way. How dare we disagree? (ha!) So,”they” want to make sure hat process (protesting/objecting) is as uncomfortable as possible. “Fight the Power”- Public Enemy….Then again it just my opinion, I could be wrong.

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  3. Jonathan

    As we take space, assert rights, claim victories…
    And as we succeed…
    They will ok those rights, that space, those victories…
    But within the narrowest definition, the most constricted interpretation, possible.

    It is, in a sense, our job to claim the space, force them to define the pen, ourselves to overflow the pen…

    And in that sense we were playing our part, and setting a watermark to pass next time.

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