Walk With Your Chin Up, Young Man - The Jose Vilson

Walk With Your Chin Up, Young Man

October 12, 2009



Sometime last year, a young weary teacher walked through a still leaf-laden path along the projects in his neighborhood. Exhausted after a long day and a subsequent pair of naps on the trains he needs to take to and from work, sore from his feet up, and generally in need of a welcoming seat and some food, this young man seemed to drag his book bag along with the rest of his worries rather well. While his knees certainly didn’t buckle from under him, his brow furled and his chin almost touched his collarbone.

Suddenly, a man yelled out something indiscernible. It caught the man unaware, but he knew it came from the clutter of old Black men smoking and playing checkers on the small park benches.

“Walk with your chin up, young man!”

The teacher proceeded to do so with a smirk, but with a realization of what the elder man was asking him to do. He was asking him to be proud of himself, to look up even when the going gets rough, to respect and love life for everything that it has to offer.

“Life is too short to be looking down, man.”


Jose, who hopes you walk with your chin up …

This post was written by...

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.

For more about me, read here.

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