Category Archives: Education

No More Excuses, Time to Organize in the Ghetto

by BaoYunCheng

In this following post, I argue for movement builders and revolutionaries to take seriously the task of organizing with low-income people of color in the ghetto—the unemployed, the homeless, the gang members. I hope to engage with two primary audiences: white anti-racist progressives and revolutionaries. In my first section, I criticize white anti-racists and how they use the idea of white privilege (aka privilege politics) to distance themselves from directly organizing with people of color. In the later sections, I lay out the urgent need for revolutionaries and movement builders to organize with street people of color (POCs) and thus avoid reproducing the problems of social distancing by white anti-racists and avoid the rigid conception of working-class-led revolution by contemporary revolutionaries.

I. SOCIAL DISTANCING BY WHITE ANTI-RACIST PROGRESSIVES and THEIR FEAR OF BLACK BOY!

It happens so much it’s become ritual now. Every time I hear the overstated progressive truism “the oppressed peoples must lead the movement” put forth by an organizer/activist who’s completely disconnected from the day-to-day interactions with oppressed communities—and believe me, when you’re around the organizing scenes in Seattle, you hear it as frequent as it rains—the song “Black Boy” by Tech N9ne plays in my head. I can just hear a more movement-oriented Tech N9ne singing, “I was told by your movement I was a fool…I think I know why organizers would look in my eye and say that, and why’s that?” with Krizz Kaliko (Kali) responding in his opera-esque voice, “Cuz I’m a BLACKBOY!…Scared to see me, frauds disappear like a genie.”

I think Kali’s line “frauds disappear like a genie” is particularly appropriate for white anti-racists who talk the big talk of people of color movements and the need for people of color (POC) leadership, but don’t walk the walk in building this movement together with street folks and low-income POCs. White anti-racists, this day and age, seem intent on organizing in comfortable spaces while using the aforementioned truism to validate their own distance from low-income workers, unemployed, and street people of color based in the inner cities and ghettos of Amerikkka.

The added irony is that many white anti-racists, if they are in majority white organizations, proudly use the language of ANTI-RACISM as an excuse to not organize with street people of color. They correctly point to past histories of militant people of color movements co-opted by white folks, at the same time blatantly forgetting groups like the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the Congress of African Peoples, the Young Lords, and the Black Panther Party, none of whom could be dismissed as folks who were intimidated and co-opted by white anti-racists. This is extremely important when thinking about the possibilities of multi-racial organizations for the contemporary period. However, there is a host of real history, theories, and organizations which have devolved a multi-racial way of organizing into separate movement building based on “privilege”: the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Freedom Summer, Fanon’s “Black Skin White Masks,” Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness Movement, the Black Panther Party’s call to organize in one’s respective community, and Noel Ignatiev’s “Race Traitor.” A lot has been lumped together, and what is of interest is how each of these examples has been interpreted to justify specific social relations in terms of race.
Continue reading No More Excuses, Time to Organize in the Ghetto

March 4th Analysis from California

-Will

Advance the Struggle has posted an important analysis of the events which took place last month.  Paying attention to California is particularly important right now cuz the anti-budget cut’s student movement is highly developed in comparison to the rest of the country. This is in relation to the severe budget crisis of California and immense austerity measures that are being forced upon the students and working classes of the state.  What is happening in California is a foreshadowing of what is to come in many other states across the country.  Can the movement in California spread to other parts of the country and what lessons can activists learn from Cali so their respective local struggles can start on a higher basis?

March 4th at UT Austin

** written with fatima & Tyler Zimmerman — the 3 of us are organizers with ¡ella pelea! but this is not an official position of that organization

At the University of Texas at Austin our rally and march on M4 was considerably smaller compared to the West – approximately 200 at its height – but since this was its first anti-budget cuts rally it was no small feat.  Numbers can be less important than energy and militancy, and it showed on M4.

A SXSW Flavor

The smaller size is partly due to the fact that the effects of the recession are only just beginning to be felt in the state of Texas. Texas is one of the few states in the country that is not running a deficit, and has also been able to attract more businesses to settle and develop here due to lower tax rates.  But along with this comes the under-funding of social services as compared to the rest of the country, which includes public education.

This can also be explained by the historical and regional contours of Texas as both a border state and a Southern state.  Right on the US-Mexico border, Texas has the second highest concentration of undocumented immigrants in the country, following California, and is one of the few states in the country whose population is majority people of color.  Along with other parts of the South and Southwest, Texas is also a Right-to-Work state, which means that collective bargaining rights for unions are illegal.

In this light, the strength of the Right in Texas needs to be taken into consideration.  With the primaries recently over, Governor Perry — who has executed more people than any governor in the history of Texas, and who openly associates with secessionists and other opportunists responsible for the attacks on white workers as well — has regained the Republican nomination.  More recently, conservatives have succeeded white washing the textbooks and curriculum in Texas public schools removing people of color movements, and painting neoliberalism and US Empire favorably.

These things combined have meant that there is a lack of working class institutions to carry on the legacy of working class militancy in the face of right wing hegemony.  The fight to take back and defend public education takes on new significance as a means to rebuild this legacy and these institutions.

Continue reading March 4th at UT Austin

March Forth Seattle

by Mamos

Reflections on the Shifting Terrain of Struggle

It is has been ten years since thousands of workers and youth shut down the WTO here in Seattle.  Now the fight against budget cuts is once again laying the groundwork for a mass movement.  One again young people and workers are in the streets  asserting that another world is possible.  In this piece I will analyze this dynamic, shifting terrain of political struggle.

This reflection comes in the wake of the March 4th National Day of Action to defend public education, which was a major leap forward here.   A student strike at the University of Washington (UW)  brought out around 700 students, workers, teachers, and high school students with an unexpectedly high level of militant energy, shutting down streets and almost blocking the freeway ( as you can see in this video).

As an organizer with the student-worker group Democracy Insurgent  (D.I.) at the University of Washington, I wish to draw out some reflections and conclusions from our involvement in the struggle.  I’ll start by tracing the struggles that lead up to the March 4th strike and made it possible.  Then I will outline what March 4th shows us about the prospects and challenges for building a mass movement here in WA state and beyond.

Continue reading March Forth Seattle

March 4 Student Strike Wrap Up

Analysis of March 4 is slowly appearing, but it will be some time before a fuller picture emerges. Until then we are collecting here a small number of writings that are relevant to the March 4 walk-out and protests. We will post more as it appears. If you find anything you think is important for discussion, please send it to us.

In the News

Hundreds of Thousands Take Part in National Day of Action to Defend Public Education, Democracy Now

Education funding demanded in ‘Day of Action’, The Oakland Tribune

Thousands rally on campuses, streets for schools, San Francisco Chronicle

UW student rally targets higher-ed funding, The Seattle Times

California Students Protest Education Cuts, The New York Times

Analysis

Open Letter to the White Student Movement by J.

Response to a Critic of the “White” Student Movement by occupy california

Raider Nation Collective Statement on the M4 Highway Takeover by Raider Nation Collective

Following String of Racist Incidents, UC San Diego Students Occupy Chancellor’s Office, Democracy Now

How Not to Capitulate to Union Bureaucracies: March 4th and the AFSCME 444 Resolution by Advance the Struggle

Don’t be Bamboozled by the Budget by Democracy Insurgent