classism Archives - The Jose Vilson


Some Educators Love The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

by Jose Vilson on September 18, 2012

in Jose

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

As a new father, I’ve memorized the theme songs to every Disney Channel show from Little Einsteins to Doc McStuffins. Personally, I’m a fan of Handy Manny and Octonauts, but only because my son smiles so hard at “Creature report! Creature report!” Frankly, I can’t hate on any of the aforementioned shows because I watch them pseudo-religiously.

Even The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has its redeeming qualities. With characters that haven’t changed in decades, the MMCH’s cast has a favorite character for just about everything, and the show’s prompts don’t ask us to think for longer for a few seconds about solutions to the problems posed by their journey in the jungle.

Lot like the education thought leaders I still see the blogosphere.

I mean, after the last time I went after such leaders (and you thought it applied to you), you did all the right things. You highlighted educators of color, went to their schools, and took pictures with as many multicultural kids as possible to prove your worth. You might have favorited my post secretly in one of your social networks, and then whispered to a friend who’s better at these things than you, “So what’s that Jose Vilson guy talking about?” You might have even taken up an issue that gives you an edge like excessive testing and said, “I’m done.”

No, you’re actually not.

Because, like the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, people think that by sticking to the same cast of characters in their circles, they can sanitize their existences from the harsh realities of the -isms. As if discussing educators’ wages isn’t an effect of sexist attitudes towards women. As if furloughing cohorts of teachers in urban and rural school districts doesn’t hurt the already tenuous numbers of Black and Latino educators in classrooms. As if property taxes don’t already skew monies away from our poorest children.

To make matters worse, some education thought leaders may use the words “poverty” and “race” from time to time (because we are post-racial), but their inner circles never ever change. Their comfort zones already barred, guarded, and gates, they rely on the same tools, songs, and dances to make sure they don’t “lose their way.” Even when they do something outside of their own boxes, it’s done in parody, knowing that they’ll jump right back into the format of their 30-minute episodes the minute the gig is up. The episodes start and end with a ritual that assures that no one can have fun in that house.

Only through a TV. Observing through a glass.

That seems to work very well for Mickey’s gang, as well it should. Millions follow it. But we can’t change anything if we operate under the same structures others do. A mousketool, dohickey, or whatchamacallit won’t do it. Coming on the defensive about how many tweeters of color you know before realizing you only know three won’t count (though it cracks me up every time). Conversely, I can’t be the only one to bring it up when it’s happening.

But I still do. Hot dog.

Jose, who speaks to it because it’s necessary.


Savage Inequalities, A Redux

by Jose Vilson on October 14, 2010

in Jose

Jonathan Kozol

I‘d love for people to actually talk about the sorts of things people like Arthur Goldstein and Nancy Flanagan did on Huffington Post and the Washington Post, respectively, when it comes to education. I hate to break it to people across the nation, but poverty hasn’t gone away. At all. In the conversation throughout and about education, words like “assessment,” “quality review,” and “tenure” get thrown around with little regard to the learning conditions of students … outside class. That people think 16 out of the 24 hours a day every child spends out of school (not including holidays and weekends!) don’t merit attention is beyond me. Abject poverty inhibits the learner in ways you can’t always assess, and all this talk about kids making it out sounds myopic and reek of exceptionalism.

In other words, you think just because one or two poor kids make it out of a batch of 10, the other 8 can as well?

You think that hearing gun shots every night promotes positive images for kids? You think who have to wear the same two or three shirts every week care about being seen by anyone? You think kids who have to prioritize between breakfast and dinner care much about their health? You think knowing that police crawl your tight units of space constantly, looking for people that look just like you makes you feel safe? You think hearing your mother screaming for various reasons all night, or your father coming at midnight from work only to get up four hours later tells a kid that this country has an interest in the working class in this country? You think kids who don’t understand why their vision’s so blurry or why they have to take cold showers in the morning look forward to an icy environment where the crux of their learning has everything to do with their mastery of 49 multiple-choice and extended response questions?

Probably not.

People on this blog have tried to tell me that it’s all about hard work and persistence, doesn’t it make you wonder why no one’s bringing up these environmental issues? With the inundation of poor images and a poor mentality, isn’t it interesting how now we’re asked to ignore the issue of classism at a time when the grand majority of Americans who have been labeled “working class” are dipping further into poverty relative to the top 2% of the country? Isn’t the whole function of this ultra-capitalism to ensure that there are as many losers as possible so the winners can keep winning? I haven’t even mentioned race and sex, though if you’re looking at me, you know that’s what I’m thinking about as well.

We’re a people prime for change, but if we think someone else is going to say it for us, we’re fools.

I don’t use poverty as an excuse, but let’s be serious: since so many of you won’t mention poverty, and haven’t even mentioned the name Jonathan Kozol (who I wouldn’t read again until I brought a leather boxing head guard and a cup), I’m going to keep bringing it up just to irritate people, hoping some of you understand that the bright designs of the broadcast on television aren’t the only designs people have on the general populace. Our silence is complacence, and we can say whatever we want here, but in person we better back it up.

Because these inequalities stay savage, 18 years later …