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‘The Ethnic Tip’ Quotes Page 1 of 2

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Ethnic Tip

117. The Ethnic Tip

Aired January 14, 1991

After Will petitions the school to introduce a Black history class, Aunt Vivian volunteers to teach the students.

Quote from Vivian

Vivian: Why did you want a course in Black history in the first place?
Will: Because I'm interested in it.
Vivian: Are you really?
Will: Of course.
Vivian: Well, you didn't seem too happy about all the work I was giving you. I mean, weren't you the one who said if you were interested in something, you would study hard?
Will: Aunt Viv, I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X three times.
Vivian: And that makes you a serious student on Black history?
Will: That's a very important book.
Vivian: Will, baby, you can read that book, you can wear the T-shirts, you can put up the posters, and shout the slogans, but unless you know all the history behind it you're trivializing the entire struggle. Now you started something very good here but it's up to you, baby, to follow through on it.

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Quote from Vivian

Vivian: Black American history, gentlemen from Africa, to slavery, to the present. Now, we've all heard of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King and Booker T. Washington. But Black history includes a lot of people whose names and faces aren't remembered today. Now, how many of you have heard the spirituals sung by the slaves?
Will: [raises hand] Uh, I have.
Vivian: Now listen to this: [sings] Follow the drinking gourd Follow the drinking gourd Follow the drinking gourd For the old man's waitin' for To carry me to freedom
Kellogg: That was pretty cool.
Vivian: Now, what do you suppose the purpose of that song was?
Will: Uh, let me handle this one. For those of you unfamiliar with the spirituals allow me to explain. The slaves used to sing them to keep their spirits up and their minds on God in the face of all the oppression that they suffered.
Vivian: That was very well put, Mr. Smith, but you're wrong.
Will: I beg your pardon?
Vivian: That song was written to be used as a secret code of the Underground Railroad.

Quote from Vivian

Kellogg: Secret code? What do you mean?
Vivian: Well, first of all, can anyone tell me what the Underground Railroad was?
Will: Now, this one I know. The Underground Railroad was a group of people that led the slaves to freedom.
Vivian: And when was it established?
Will: During slavery.
Vivian: Well, that covers about 250 years, Mr. Smith. Care to narrow it down a bit?
Will: What do you mean, right now?
Vivian: Sit down, Mr. Smith. It was established during the 1840s. Harriet Tubman, an ex-slave, was one of the leaders. Now, these gospel songs were actually secret messages sent to tell the runaway slaves how to get to freedom. For example, "the drinking gourd" referred to the Big Dipper. When the slaves sang Follow the Drinking Gourd, that signaled to the runaway slaves to run towards the Big Dipper. Along the route, they would meet with the abolitionist and escape to freedom.
Will: Well, that's what I meant.

Quote from Geoffrey

Hilary: Geoffrey, I'm going on my first job interview at an art gallery and I need some advice. You've been on a lot of job interviews, haven't you?
Geoffrey: Why, yes, Miss Hilary. I've worked my entire life.
Hilary: Really? Why?
Geoffrey: Because I've always been partial to food and shelter.

Quote from Carlton

Will: All right, Carlton, now that we're studying something I know I'm gonna be the star of this class.
Carlton: No, you're not. I am.
Will: What, are you tripping? How do you figure that?
Carlton: Because the teacher's my mommy.

Quote from Will

Will: And the way that you write your "A" shows you're intelligent and playful.
Ashley: Wow, you can tell all that from just my signature?
Will: Yup.
Ashley: That's amazing.
Hilary: Do me, do me!
Will: Sign right there, under Ashley.
Hilary: Okay. So what do you see about me?
Will: Well, the bold vertical strokes show that you're impulsive. The large capital letters show that you're committed. And the little smiley face you use to dot your "l" shows that you got way too much time on your hands.
Hilary: That's all true. Who does it say I'm going to marry?
Will: "Handsome movie star, who will only be happy if you spend obscene amounts of money."
Hilary: You're good.

Quote from Geoffrey

Ashley: Daddy, Will knows how to analyze people's handwriting.
Geoffrey: Yes, he's quite good, sir. One look at my signature and he deduced that I was valiant, ingenious, and have the strength of 10.
Will: Here, let me do yours, Uncle Phil.
Philip: Oh, Will, I don't believe in that nonsense.
Geoffrey: I'd hardly call it nonsense.

Quote from Will

Headmaster: The administration will consider the petition suggesting that we change the school motto to "Bel-Air Academy: Love It "Or Go To Public School." Any other new business?
Will: [raises hand] Uh, Headmaster Armstrong, I have some.
Headmaster: Mr. Smith. Well, this should certainly be fly.
Will: I think the students at this school are being cheated out of a valuable learning experience. I'm talking about Coach Smiley's History class.
Coach Smiley: That's Professor Smiley, Smith. That will be 10 laps.
Headmaster: What's your concern, Mr. Smith?
Will: Well, we learn about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and all them other dudes that wound up on money, but what about Martin Luther King and Crispus Attucks and all the other Black people that made a difference in this country? You know, it's sort of like when there wasn't no pictures of any brothers on the wall.
You know Spike Lee's movie, Do the Right Thing?
Headmaster: I'm sorry, Mr. Smith. The last movie I saw was Dead Poets Society. With the right headmaster that would have been a completely different story.

Quote from Vivian

Kellogg: Could you teach us one of the songs, Professor?
Vivian: Well, here's one called Wade in the Water. Now this song told runaway slaves that the best escape route was along the river. Now, late at night, these songs could be heard coming from slave cabins along the route, guiding the runaways to freedom. [sings] Wade in the water Wade in the water children Wade in the water God's gonna trouble the water [talks] Everybody, join in now.
All: [sing] Wade in the water
Vivian: Come on, now.
All: [sing] Wade in the water children Wade in the water God's gonna trouble the water
Will: [sings] Er-er-er er-er I said wade I didn't say swim I didn't say backstroke I said wade in the water

Quote from Will

Vivian: Will, Carlton, I've been looking for you. I think class went pretty well today, don't you?
Carlton: Yes. Got to go.
Vivian: Just a second. I've got something for you. [Will keeps flirting with the cheerleader] This book will help you with your research paper. It's about the Penn School. Charlotte Forten was one of its first Black teachers and she- Will! Are you listening to me?
Will: Of course. You were talking about the Penn School.
Vivian: What did I say about the Penn School?
Will: It's right around the corner from the Pencil School?

Quote from Will

Will: Yo, G, is Aunt Viv here?
Geoffrey: Yes, she's in the kitchen. Shall l call her?
Will & Carlton: No! She can't know we're here.
Will: Look, G, she hasn't let us watch TV in a week. I'm starting to get withdrawal symptoms, man. My body needs a certain amount of microwaves.

Quote from Will

Philip: Hi, guys. How's that history class coming?
Carlton: Fine.
Will: Yeah. Decent, I guess.
Philip: Hmm. How are you doing with your term papers and your reading assignments and your economic graphs of the cotton industry?
Carlton: Dad, if you don't mind, we'd rather not talk about History class.
Philip: Okay, suit yourself. [sings] Wade in the water Wade in the water children Wade in the water...
Will: Uncle Phil, please.
Philip: If memory serves, this Black history class was your idea.
Will: Yeah, but I didn't know Aunt Viv was gonna teach it. She's driving us crazy. Last night, I had a dream that I went to the prom with Harriet Tubman.

Quote from Vivian

Carlton: Mom, I'm sorry if I wasn't as enthusiastic as the rest of the guys. You're a great teacher. It's just... Well, I hope you don't take this the wrong way... but you made our lives a living nightmare.
Vivian: Now, how did I do that?
Will: Aunt Viv, you ragged me in front of the whole class. You gave us all that extra work and made us do those reports.
Vivian: I didn't hear any complaints from the rest of the class.
Carlton: That's because you were harder on the two us.
Vivian: I'm sorry you felt I was being hard on you but I thought that the two Black students would actually want to get the most out of the course.
Will: I guess we didn't think about it that way.

Quote from Carlton

Ashley: Please, Daddy, it's fun.
Philip: Oh, okay. All right. Where do I sign?
Will: No, Uncle Phil. You deserve a fresh piece of paper. [Will smiles to camera as Uncle Phil signs the document] How about you, Aunt Viv?
Vivian: Sure. Why not?
Carlton: Oh, Will, this is always such a sad moment.
Philip: What is?
Carlton: Getting you and Mom to sign his "Hall of Shame" History exam.
Vivian: History exam?
Carlton: Sorry, Will. Mom, Dad, if it's any consolation, I got an "A" on the test and I must say I found it very easy.

Quote from Carlton

Vivian: Will, what is going on here? You do so well in English and Math. How could you do so poorly in History?
Will: It's not my fault, Aunt Viv. That class is boring.
Philip: Don't give us that, Will.
Will: No, what I meant was- I mean, they don't teach the whole story. We don't learn nothing about the Black people in American history. If they taught that, maybe I'd be more interested and work harder.
Vivian: You know, that's not a bad idea.
Will: It's not?
Philip: It's not?
Carlton: [o.s.] It's not?
Vivian: Carlton, stop eavesdropping!
Carlton: [o.s.] Sorry, Mom.

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