life Archives - The Jose Vilson


Colossal Collisions

by Jose Vilson on May 26, 2008

in Jose

I went with my girlfriend a week ago to the American Museum of Natural History near Central Park (NYC), mainly to watch the movie Colossal Collisions with the voice of Robert Redford (wondrous, really). and it just got me to thinking about our place on this Earth. For all that we clutter our lives with, the politics, debates, bills, social life, anger, hate, and yes, even love and / or lack thereof, we also forget how really infinitesimally small we are compared to the rest of the universe, and even the galaxy. Thus, it’s imperative for us to also keep everything in perspective, even whilst the universe changes all around us.

I think of this today in light of my cousin’s mother’s death. Though I don’t believe I’ve ever actually met her mother, my heart sank when I heard the tragic news. Death is as serious as it gets for us, and what’s more, my cousin came to celebrate life (a birthday) rather than death. This cousin’s been like a sister to me, and to know that this long-time struggle with her mother’s health has come to this, hurts hard. It’s put my own relationship with my mother in perspective, with the tension we’ve had. In light of this recent death, the overall feelings for my mother is that I love her; none of our clashes can compare to that understanding.

Something Robert Redford said caught my attention somewhere between me wondering how they put this production together, and that’s the fact we look at all the major collisions that have happened in our universe, some insignificant and routine while others looked disastrous and cataclysmic. Yet, these collisions also produced Earth, and the Moon, and the universe around us, creating beauty and life all around us. Maybe we can take something away from the much larger celestial beings, as we too clash and burn, and how often, even when it seems the stars above us seem distant, they’re just like us in our rudimentary behaviors.

jose, who often theorizes on humans’ gravitational pull …

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The Eraser

by Jose Vilson on March 6, 2008

in Jose

Thom Yorke

“The more you try to erase me
The more, the more
The more that I appear
Oh the more, the more
The more you try the eraser
The more, the more
The more that you appear …”- Thom Yorke, “The Eraser,” later sampled by CRS (Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, and Pharrell) in “Us Placers”

I try to never ever talk about my place of employ. It makes sense because, despite the lack of consistency with my kids, I’m pleased in general with how things have shaped up recently, and am always happy with the communication between my co-teachers and I (at least the main ones). However, I can’t help but feel some sort of empathy when I hear of someone who tries their hardest to maintain a sense of self while everyone around them tries to crush that identity. In other words, what’s with all the hating?

There’s the light sort of hating I usually engage in with my friends, throwing soft jabs at one another just for fun. That’s all well and good, because it’s necessary to bring that sort of levity into any amicable relationship. As long as there’s no sense that one is trying to alpha dog the other, or mortify the other person completely, then that’s fair game. There’s also the case of the teacher like me, who hates on his kids all the time, simply because I really want to see them do better. I need to keep them humble and critically thinking about various aspects of their lives, and not just the math on their sheets. Again, these are rules of engagement.

However, there’s also the sort of hating where people really try to bring you down for no apparent reason other than to further some selfish agenda, even if the first person’s trying to better the collective. I’m always amazed at the stories some of my fellow teachers tell me. Some of the anecdotes I hear compare readily to stories you hear from war veterans and seafarers. Stories of mutiny, tyranny, incompetence, and betrayal make me think that this world really is on a downhill slope on skates with no protective gear.

Granted, some people exaggerate. For instance, all those little twits on MySpace who generate hatred towards them because it’s the only way for them to get messages / page hits / friends in general and thus garner the attention and hate they so desire (versus let’s say, apathy) don’t count. Others still deserve to be hated on for the dumb trends they start like a Paris Hilton, a Cam’ron (no pink on my person), or political figures like Clarence Thomas, or a Condoleeza Rice, considered amongst the worst race traitors of all time.

But within that realm lie people who don’t deserve some of these peoples’ spew. Hypothetically speaking, if another teacher decided to discredit my teaching skills simply for my physical appearance, my skin color, or my perceived accent (it’s not that strong at all), then I might have to get gangsta up in the place. If someone decided to try and tell me how to do my job when I’m more qualified, have more years of experience, have more degrees, garnered a better reputation, and don’t have a scuff on my record whereas the hater does, then I’d have a hard time biting my tongue. Even when times call for a more professional attitude, sometimes I agree that we need to show people we can step out of that realm so they won’t get too close to our person.

It’s like the more they try to erase you, the more you appear, and the more they use the eraser, they more they show their true colors. The sweetest part of it all comes when, after all the defamation and derision, you’re left standing on the heap of their rotting defenses, the sweetest aftertaste in a dish best served cold.

jose, who is definitely nervous about the state math test, but did as well as he could with what he had …

p.s. – Carnival of Education, EduWonks is the sponsor … 


All She Could See Was Her Mama’s Eyes

by Jose Vilson on February 12, 2008

in Jose


No one knows my struggle, they only see the trouble
Not knowin it’s hard to carry on when no one loves you
Picture me inside the misery of poverty
No man alive has ever witnessed struggles I survived
Prayin’ hard for better days, promise to hold on …

Now that part of “Thug Mansion” by 2Pac feat. Nas and J. Phoenix is the only tune that replays every time I see her. At first, I thought she was as dopey as some of the other students in her class. She rarely participated, and her attention lied elsewhere, and I was a bit frustrated with her progress or lack thereof in my class. She didn’t have any points of entry where she and I could have a good conversation about something other than math, as I seem to have had with my other students. Yet, in my eternal optimism, I decided to move her to the front.

Since then, she’s been doing very well for me, even more recently opening up and scratching on the 90 she’ll soon earn when she steps it up on her participation. Her writing is more meaty, and her math skills have shined brighter. This might even be the case in her other classes. She’s grown a little taller, too, almost eclipsing my own height, and for a girl her age, that might make others around her nervous …

… and it does …

She’s constantly picked on. People start problems with her for no reason. People diss her for her height, making rumors up about her body odor (of which I’m not aware) or her lack of girly qualities, whatever that means. At first, I tried to monitor how she handled it. Her demeanor doesn’t give anything away, so there was no sense in prying since there were no inherent “symptoms” of any social problems. Then, her other teacher read an excerpt of a poem she wrote, and my heart dropped.

For the first time since I was in 5th grade, I was privy to someone who seriously considered committing suicide. While suicide attempts have even become eerily viral, many of these pronounced wishes never come to fruition. With this girl, though, I knew she was serious. And I knew because I know of someone who wanted to commit suicide, too, back in that grade. The signs were there: honest and brutal poetry, anti-socialism, concentration on school to detach oneself from their problems, and problems concerning their parents.

If the teacher doesn’t do the right thing and refer the student but also speak to the child directly about their observations, then the student becomes a victim of his or her own suicidal thoughts. In many underrepresented communities, suicide is thoroughly looked down upon as a selfish and cowardly act. Nevermind that suicide is really a call for help, and the last resort in a list of options the person had in their cry for love. So I fear for the girl, knowing that the parents might blame the suicide on her and not on the circumstances that led to her feeling like there was no way out.

In this day and age, when people quip about committing suicide sarcastically or really just as a teenage hyperbolic social indicator, it takes an awful lot of understanding and listening to know who will commit suicide. And I fear for her, since when I look into her downtrodden and detached eyes, I …

… I see me …

jose, mr. v, and all the other entities I’ve assumed over the last few decades …


The Politics of Access

February 11, 2008 Jose

All the popular blogs are doing it.From: What Privileges Do You Have? – based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. (If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.) 1. […]

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Not About My Salary, But More About My Reality

February 2, 2008 Jose

Am I sure I want to make this kind of leap? Why leave the confined of a blog where I amassed what feels like thousands of comments (100+ comments in my “Fuck Bush” post alone)? 300+ subscribers? almost 5 years of blogging? Tons of forwards, friends, and acquaintances And I was able to start some […]

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The Rumors Are True

January 24, 2008 Jose

It is my birthday. More on that later.

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