Struggling against the system in ourselves: criticism and self-criticism – Komun Academy

Many people are interested in the system of criticism and self-criticism and methods of personality development within the Kurdish liberation movement. The movement’s education is not only a way of accumulating knowledge, but also a practice of liberating personalities that have been shaped and formed by the dominant system of capitalist, patriarchal society. As freedom […]

Source: Struggling against the system in ourselves: criticism and self-criticism – Komun Academy

I’ve been learning a lot from using the “Tekmil” method described in this article in an anti-racist group I’ve been participating in associated with Seattle DSA.  I can definitely attest to the difficulty of being self-critical, and of being critical of the collective work of a group I believe in very strongly.  The more I think over this difficulty, and the difficulty of voicing meaningful self-criticism and group criticism, the more valueable I feel this tool (Tekmil) becoming in breaking down the white supremacy, misogyny, and capitalist mindset that I inhabit.

A People of Color’s History of DSA, Part 1: Socialism, Race, and the Formation of DSA by David Roddy & Alyssa De La Rosa (Sacramento DSA)

One of the most serious and divisive issues facing DSA since its membership explosion is how socialists should approach the issue of race and racism. Numerous pages of online left-wing periodicals, Medium posts, and Facebook threads have poured over the issue, with political positions varying widely from accepting the liberal framework of class and race as separate issues or the old “class struggle first” tendency of leftists to sideline anti-racist struggles. What most of the articles fail to articulate, however, is that DSA did not form after Trump was elected. In fact, this debate has raged within the organization since its founding in 1982.

Source: A People of Color’s History of DSA, Part 1: Socialism, Race, and the Formation of DSA

Anti-racist Action for White Educators

Too often, educators of color are burdened with leading and supporting anti-racist work in schools and districts—perhaps even more so during COVID-19 and this year’s widespread calls for such work. These resources can help white educators and administrators take action now, carry their fair share of this work and ensure they’re in it for the long haul.

Source: Anti-racist Action for White Educators

Teaching Tolerance has been knocking it out of the park with high-quality anti-racist resources that are pretty much classroom-ready for teachers.

AP World History Is Worth Saving

Teachers are pushing back against proposed changes they say would reframe AP World History as Eurocentric. Teaching Tolerance stands with them.

Source: AP World History Is Worth Saving

The College Board, which makes these tests, should be coming out with a response to all of the teachers who have told them what a terrible, dishonest switcheroo this would be.

Also, one argument that I didn’t hear Teaching Tolerance making has to do with other existing AP history courses– namely AP European and US History (and to some extent AP Art History) which between them seem to duplicate most of the material that would be covered in an AP world history course from 1400 to the present.

Why We Are Protesting in Charlotte – The New York Times

Why We Are Protesting in Charlotte


Charlotte, N.C. — Since a police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday afternoon, the ensuing protests have dominated national news. Provocateurs who attacked police officers and looted stores made headlines. Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard joined police officers in riot gear, making the Queen City look like a war zone.

Speaking on the campaign trail in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Donald J. Trump offered a grave assessment: “Our country looks bad to the world, especially when we are supposed to be the world’s leader. How can we lead when we can’t even control our own cities?” Mr. Trump seems to want Americans to believe, as Representative Robert Pittenger, a Republican whose district includes areas in Charlotte, told the BBC, that black protesters in the city “hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”

But Charlotte’s protests are not black people versus white people. They are not black people versus the police. The protesters are black, white and brown people, crying out against police brutality and systemic violence. If we can see them through the tear gas, they show us a way forward to peace with justice.

On Thursday, I joined 50 Charlotte-area clergy members who were on the streets this week. Yes, a few dozen provocateurs did damage property and throw objects at the police, after being provoked by the officers’ tear gas, rubber bullets and military-style maneuvers. But as we saw, thousands more have peacefully demonstrated against the institutional violence in their communities.

Protesters demonstrating against police brutality in Charlotte, on Wednesday. Credit Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

That systemic violence, which rarely makes headlines, creates the daily traumatic stress that puts our communities on edge, affecting both those of us who live there and outside observers who often denounce “black-on-black” crime. We cannot have a grown-up conversation about race in America until we acknowledge the violent conditions engendered by government policy and police practice.Anyone who is concerned about violence in Charlotte should note that no one declared a state of emergency when the city’s schools were resegregated, creating a school-to-prison pipeline for thousands of poor African-American children. Few voiced outrage over the damage caused when half a million North Carolinians were denied health insurance because the Legislature refused to expand Medicaid.

When Charlotte’s poor black neighborhoods were afflicted with disproportionate law enforcement during the war on drugs, condemning a whole generation to bad credit and a lack of job opportunities, our elected representatives didn’t call it violence. When immigration officers raid homes and snatch undocumented children from bus stops, they don’t call it violence. But all of these policies and practices do violence to the lives of thousands of Charlotte residents.

As a pastor and an organizer, I do not condone violent protest. But I must join the Charlotte demonstrators in condemning the systemic violence that threatened Mr. Scott’s body long before an officer decided to use lethal force against him. And I must condemn the militarization of Charlotte by the authorities who do not want to address the fundamental concerns of protesters. For black lives to matter in encounters with the police, they must also matter in public policy.

The North Carolina N.A.A.C.P. has called for full transparency in the Scott case, including a Justice Department investigation. There are still many unanswered questions, which is why we demand that the governor release video from body cameras recording the shooting. And we want accountability for officers who did not have their body cameras on when they confronted Mr. Scott while he was waiting for his son to get off the school bus.

Our protests are about more than the Scott case. Every child on that bus — every person in Mr. Scott’s neighborhood — is subject to systemic violence every day, violence that will only increase if Mr. Trump and others continue to exploit the specter of violent protests for political gain.We have seen this before. After the civil rights movement pushed this nation to face its institutionalized racism, we made significant efforts to address inequality through the war on poverty. We did not lose that war because we lacked resources or met insurmountable obstacles. We lost it because Richard M. Nixon’s “Southern strategy” played on white fears about black power by promising to “restore order” without addressing the root causes of unrest.

In the Scriptures, the prophet Jeremiah denounces false prophets for crying “peace, peace when there is no peace.” We cannot condemn the violence of a small minority of protesters without also condemning the overwhelming violence that millions suffer every day.

Instead, let’s look again at the vast, diverse majority of the protesters. This is what democracy looks like. We cannot let politicians use the protests as an excuse to back reactionary “law and order” measures. Instead, we must march and vote together for policies that will lift up the whole and ensure the justice that makes true peace possible.


Source: Why We Are Protesting in Charlotte – The New York Times

Exclusive: Meet Yale Dishwasher Corey Menafee, Who Smashed Racist Stained-Glass Window | Democracy Now!

As Black Lives Matter protests have swept the country in recent weeks, we end today’s show with the story of one dishwasher at Yale University who has decided to take the university’s history of racism into his own hands—or his own broomstick, in this case. Corey Menafee worked for Yale for about eight years. In June, as he was cleaning a dining room in Yale’s residential dorm Calhoun College, Menafee stood on top of a table and used a broomstick to break a stained-glass window depicting enslaved Africans carrying bales of cotton. Menafee said the image is racist and degrading and that he had become sick of seeing it every day. Calhoun College is named after former Vice President John C. Calhoun, one of the most prominent pro-slavery figures in history. For years students have demanded Yale change the building’s name. Yale University police arrested Menafee and charged him with reckless endangerment and felony mischief. But on Wednesday, after Yale students and community members demonstrated in support of Menafee, Yale University announced it has dropped the charges. We speak to Corey Menafee and Craig Steven Wilder, author of the book “Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities.”

Source: Exclusive: Meet Yale Dishwasher Corey Menafee, Who Smashed Racist Stained-Glass Window | Democracy Now!

EDST 580—Entry 7: Progressivism and Anti-Racism in Mid-20th Century America

Baker, S. (2011)Pedagogies of Protest: African American Teachers and the History of the Civil Rights Movement, 1940-1963.

This week’s article was a joy to read.  Baker explicitly connects his historiography of African American secondary education with the activist politics of the American Civil Rights Movement AND explicitly connects all of the above with John Dewey’s progressive philosophy of education.  I knew it could be done.  I struggled to connect similar dots when I was writing about Black Mountain College earlier this year.  Baker’s paper is exciting, particularly in that his interviews reveal that there remained a subterranean progressivism, which had not devolved into the instrumentalism that is so rightly reviled today in the form it has taken in mainstream American schooling— a philosophical justification for the hyper-rationalization of curriculum with effects ranging from student tracking, to over-reliance on standardized tests, to the rampant marketization of schools.  Baker’s article reveals that teachers in segregated black southern schools translated Dewey’s cries for Democracy as the truest aim of education into a curriculum for racial justice and African American agency.  What’s more, this transformation of the segregated school curriculum along progressive lines took place even as predominantly white school superintendants were pushing painfully outmoded nominally “progressive” vocational education programs for black segregated schools.

Baker’s research is also important to me for its methods.  He combines a historiography of African American teacher agency in the Civil Rights Movement based on archival research as well as interviews with a brief discussion of Dewey’s philosophy of education and the ways it manifested itself in these segregated schools.  He carefully moves back and forth among a variety of different sources as he traces the progressivism of African American teachers from schoolyards to sit-ins.  And more than any other article I’ve read for this course so far, Baker presents progressivism as a still viable ideology for meaningful change, not only within the boundaries of the education system, but in the whole of society by way of education.

The African American teachers and principals whose work Baker celebrates in this article are at once philosophers and activists.  Despite their working in the belly of a terrible beast—a racist education system that used a perverted version of progressive educational ideology to justify pigeonholing bright young students in vocational training programs—African American teachers used their relative invisibility to their advantage.  In Baker’s words, these teachers and principals were “institution builders,” who were able to stoke the fires of the nascent Civil Rights Movement in the United States by creating safe spaces for their students to be able to challenge the authorities, which demanded their continued subjugation and disenfranchisement.

According to Baker, black teachers in America in this era have gotten a bad rap from high-profile civil rights leaders like Stokley Carmichael who thought black educators had sold out their race “for security and status” (Carmichael & Hamilton, qtd in Baker, p.2778).  But as Baker goes on to point out, so much of this is just rhetoric.  And Baker wields his archival evidence to great effect in refuting such remarks.  One of the most inspiring examples Baker gives to this effect is that of Julia Brogdon (p.2787).  Brogden taught a class at the Burke Industrial School in Charleston, South Carolina called “Problems of Democracy” in which she required her students to apply to (and presumably to be rejected from) the segregated College of Charleston.  I can’t think of a more relevant, challenging, and empowering lesson in social studies.  And it is precisely this type of grassroots curriculum design, informed as it was by progressive educational philosophy that Baker argues helped the American Civil Rights movement grow.

I hope that more brilliant teachers such as Julia Brogden continue to be inspired by a progressive aim for democracy and social justice.  I hope that these individuals are not dissuaded by the efforts of the powerful to continue to use education for enslavement rather than for freedom.  I hope that progressivism in education will never completely harden into a rigid instrumentalism.  But it will take the continual efforts of progressive teachers, like those in Baker’s essay, who are willing to be critical, to struggle in whatever niche they may carve out by their strategic non-compliance to create change and further just causes.  Progressivism in education can at least be a means to those ends.