nyc Archives - The Jose Vilson


Powerman Can't Catch a Cab Either

Yesterday, I reflected on the state of our country in a July 4th special on this blog. About 18 hours later, I got the best example of the state of our country’s views about each other with a couple of waves of the finger. We watched the fireworks explode from Weehawken, NJ, sitting together watching as many colors in the sky as there were watching amongst us. After the half-hour spectacle, we drove home very late at night (why they would close any roads near any of Manhattan’s bridges is beyond me). I asked our friends to leave us close to our houses since they had a much longer trip home than I did.

Soon after our friends dropped us off on the Upper West Side, I waved for a taxi to take me home. My index finger waved high enough that any of the empty taxis could have picked me up. I blinked when the first one passed me, I giggled when the second one did, and by the fourth, I let out a full-out belly laugh. The discrimination was so absurd that I’ve learned to expect it. This was only accented by the third taxi in this caravan, who looked at this smiling Black man in the corner and waved me a middle finger before speeding down the street. I was in shock, but stood there undeterred.

The sixth taxi pulled up to the corner, and the driver was a Haitian man who humored my tale about his pseudo-compatriots. So much of what we understand about race breaks down after seeing an example where a man who is similarly colored as all those drivers couldn’t get a taxi until it was a man with other similar features. It’s easy for me to categorize all of those men AND all the previous men who happened to have similar cultures into one category and call them all prejudiced. But that would discount all the friends I’ve made who also share those features and that skin color.

Race is so much more complex than the physical. It’s a set of experiences and notions we start developing about each others’ lifestyles and cultures. Who knows what would have happened if I was wearing a polo shirt instead of a jersey and a red shirt? Would I have been given the cursory finger salute? Who knows?

What I do know is that the jersey I was wearing had the letters USA emblazoned on a red, white, and blue shirt. I wonder if Patrick Ewing would have caught a cab or would he have to wait for the same one I did after representing this America.

Jose, who has a virtual keynote he would like you to attend tomorrow morning.

p.s. – I wish I could do what PowerMan did …



Stop and Frisk Policy

I can’t say I’ve ever been stopped and frisked yet, though I’ve accumulated my fair amount of “treatment” from other entities in NYC. I can say that we need to start asking the right questions, like why police find it OK to shoot 40+ shots anytime they’re even in neighborhoods with high concentrations of people of color. Even with the shifts in population, the discriminatory practices won’t seize. One might ask, “Are these ‘type’ of people prone to violence and crime?” The better question to ask is: “Why will more new prisons be built than schools?” or “Why are the stop and frisks more proportional to the population we have in NYC?”

The New York Times does a masterful job in showing you what many of us have known along. Here’s hoping this not only answers some of the questions we have, but also changes the wrong questions to right ones.

Jose, who doesn’t think everyone’s asking these questions enough …


Remember how in the Time Out NY Mag, I called Mayor Bloomberg out for being on every damn list I’ve read. From TONY’s 41 to Esquire’s 75. No problem. For better or worse, he’s New York City’s mayor and I harbor no hate for his hustle.

However, I’m really not feeling his policies.

I completely disagree with the massive overdevelopment of NYC, the rent hikes, the infiltration of KIPP and charter schools and the corporatization of public schools, and the latest coup de grâce, a referendum to keep voters from having any say as to whether he gets to run for a thid term.

But it’s like I’ve said: NYC is Rome. It’s the Empire City in the Empire State, the Capital’s Capital, and now, we have our benevolent dictator. Or even plutocrat. His money’s his muscle so few people have the courage to stand against him when he really only sees NYC as his blue chip and not as a city with actual people living in it. And not all of them have tons of money either.

Yet, and even still, I wouldn’t wish the same fate of Julius Caesar to Bloomberg. I can disagree without being disagreeable. I’m just not so sure some of my other colleagues will be as good-natured.

jose, who’s taking a cooler approach to everything …


Without Scum, There Are Still Yuppies

October 9, 2008 Jose

A short note on yuppies: Yes we get it. Young Urban Professionals. Upward mobility for (mostly) young white people wanting the best of everything. We get it: yuppies are more Wall Street conscious while hipsters are more charity conscious. We get it: they’re often the most biggest investors in urban art forms, including rap, slam […]

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About That Time Out New York Interview

October 6, 2008 Jose

I thought I’d let you in on a little secret. Time Out New York magazine recently came out with the New York 40, a collection of 40 people who emblemize New York City in all its corporate, liberal, and sleek-grit glory. Everyone from Tina Fey and Derek Jeter to Jay-Z and Liev Schreiber showed up […]

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I Am A Community Organizer: The Genesis

September 8, 2008 Jose

This morning, on my doorknob, I got a flyer from some group detailing the negative aspects of Daniel Squadron, a young man who’s running for New York State Senate, representing Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. The whole Lower East Side has been abuzz with community activism and political stationing, not so much about the presidential candidate […]

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Paved With Gold

August 26, 2008 Jose

What do you believe in? This question always comes to me whenever I hit historical sites like Ellis Island, an island that symbolizes the immigration of millions of people’s hopes and dreams but also desperation and pain. I couldn’t overlook the trials they had to endure before they even arrived here, having to raise money […]

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