feminism Archives - The Jose Vilson



A few short notes:


“My dreams is vivid, work hard to live it.”

The Notorious B.I.G. in Shaq’s “You Can’t Stop The Reign”

*** photo courtesy of Chattanooga Times Free Press ***

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No Church In The Wild

by Jose Vilson on June 3, 2012

in Jose

Last week, Kanye West and Jay-Z premiered their video for “No Church In The Wild,” their incendiary song about rebellion in the forms of ideas and laws. Watching the video, one gets remnants of the protests happening from Wall Street and Portland to Italy and China. Activists once again get a morsel of thought from The Throne, vividly depicting open anarchy versus totalitarian rule.

Just one problem: there were no women.

At least as far as the eye could see. The whole video looked like a battle amongst men, yet the lack of women jarred me for the simple fact that any of the big revolutions / riots we’ve had in this country involved women as active participants. Originally, I didn’t notice because my privilege and perspective gave me blinders. For one, Jay and Kanye are obviously two of my favorite rap artists, contradictions and all, so I’m likely to defend their actions because they’re a reflection of me and anyone else who considers themselves a fan. Secondly, I’m a man, and, despite my best efforts to do so, I don’t always recognize the privileges I have as a man in this patriarchy.

But at least I admit it and try to tackle it to the best of my abilities. That might also be because I too have a few labels of my own that put me in a disadvantage against the mainstream. Being Black / Latino and having a poor man’s mentality, I get what it’s like when the dominant don’t get why I’m angry when my very valid point gets ostracized, ignored, or “othered.” I could just as easily curse out and hurt those who benefit from this structure much the way women hip-hop fans can to Kanye and Jay.

But to what end? You can’t change people’s hearts and minds by going after their person.

That’s how I feel when people who should know better act extra rude to others. In the 21st century, as with any, I envision activists speaking truth to power by drawing the line between personal attacks and making valid points. What we often miss about the great orators of the last century or so isn’t their taglines or their emotions, but the valid reasons behind what they believe. Points sting more, which is probably why they’re called points to begin with. If what you say has no substance, then it won’t hold up, and if it won’t hold up, then it won’t get active.

And if it doesn’t get active, then … what really makes people an activist?

Now, during some of these conversations, I was told that now is not the time for pleasantries. I agree, but there’s a sharp difference between “hey, how are you?” and “you’re a sellout.” That’s never going to get anyone who you want listening to listen, and also, it makes you open to sharp criticism in your own right. Plus, just speaking up won’t do anything. We need pointed action, and a coalition of people who, despite their differences, have a belief in making fundamental changes to what’s happening in this country. The language around it can’t just sound like you’re talking to the person that already knows, but also to the one that wants to find out.

I know that once I put this out there, the conversations may get heated once more, but that’s just it. I don’t need to be the hero. Speaking truth to power often means telling your own allies about the piece of lumber in their eyes. I’m still working on my own pick.

Jose, who was definitely talking about last week’s #SOSChat …

p.s. – I’m not referring to the entirety of the participants. Just those that made things far too personal. -shrugs-

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Paulo Freire

Here’s the question from @kandeezie:

How does a particular perspective (e.g. Feminism, Anti-Racism, Critical Pedagogy) critique the functioning of schooling in society?

My answer?

Well, any perspective you take, whether revolutionary or not, changes what your definition of schooling should be. I don’t know many who like education as is. If you’re a feminist, you wonder about the perpetual patriarchal reinforcement through the explorers and thinkers model. Anti-racism? Exclusion of colored history except in “model minority” form. Critical Pedagogy? Lack of  real inquiry.

Unfortunately, our ed systems are built to create thinkers and doers for a select few. How they think depends on the pedagogue in front of them. On a macro scale, those in poor (and not necessarily urban) communities are pushed to get kids to read, write, and do basic math except for about a 10th who eventually show the promise of an American illusion. Those in wealthy communities are asked to question, but sometimes in the confines of the status quo, where they are the chosen ones.

That’s why critical pedagogy in the light of Paulo Freire is so … critical. He implores pedagogues to consider an alternative where we simultaneously break the cycle of an education done to them and reprogram people into questioning that which they learn in all their subjects. He pushes us to gain control in an anti-establishment format and then lose control to the peoples’ true will. In theory, it might sound hypocritical, but in practice, it’s exactly what that doctor ordered.

The history of education is such that it implicitly creates divisions in a winners / losers model. Those that win the wars often write the history books we learn from. That’s why as children, we’re kept from the facts about the slave labor and rebellion movements for the 500 or so years of the Western Hemisphere’s history. Imagine if kids knew that in 1804, Black slaves actually rebelled against their slave masters and creates their own nation with the premise of independence. Imagine if kids saw more photos of Latinos and Asians standing alongside Blacks and Whites during the Civil Rights Movement instead of isolating the races present in that movement to African-Americans. Imagine if they knew that women were the backbone to indigenous cultures throughout the Americas, and that Columbus didn’t discover anything … and got credit for it anyways.

The worst part is that there are well-meaning adults standing in front of them who know these facts, but with the push for knowing minutiae that we can answer on bubble sheets and less on critical thought, education becomes muddled. Then again, we have strong pockets of the spirit of Freire living right here in this country. We have teachers willing to engage students, and let them ask the questions that lead to the aforementioned answers. We have administrators who protect their schools from the insidious nature of present social studies textbooks. We have allies who want kids to have strong foundations in their core subjects, but take those and ask as loudly as possible why things are as they are.

They just don’t speak too much about it. Yes, more ironies in play.

We need more questions, because the answers we have right now simply aren’t working. If we get kids to ask questions now, they’ll find some answers, hopefully in time for either of us to see it. This sort of function can only happen in the very places reformers are attacking now: public schools. We the people control those domains.

Let’s ask them what’s going on.

Jose, who has a #LoveForPublicEd …