- What is the saddest moment of your life?
- What are you most proud of?
- What do you want people to know about?
- What’s your biggest fear?
- Who has influenced you the most in your life?
|"Who’s influenced you the most in your life?"|
“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
“How has she influenced you?”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”
|"When you live here, you don’t have too many fears. You’ve seen pretty much everything that life can throw at you. When I was nine, I saw a guy get pushed off the roof of that building right there."|
At a time when differences among strangers are more liability than possibility, the likelihood of a young man taking up the invitation to talk by someone who does not look like him, outside of the (theoretically) safe walls of an institutional context like school, seems increasingly rare.
- Would there have been such an outpouring of support – in the form of comments and donations – if Vidal had been older? Didn’t smile?
- What if Vidal had selected someone other than Ms. Lopez as a big influence in his life?
- How have the unsettling ways in which schooling is criticized, under-funded, and legislatively manhandled increased public sympathy for the daily work of educators and the young people with whom they spend their days?
- What impact do the ongoing discussions of #Ferguson, #EricGarner, and #BlackLivesMatter have on how people are seeing/reading/responding to Vidal and to the photo-action project he inspired Brandon Stanton to pursue?
- Did Juno (the Blizzard that could), by keeping many people at home, inadvertently drive the total closer to one million dollars?