Whatever technologies, models, and organizational structures we develop, to orient ourselves toward social and economic justice, we must also make space for the unwilling and the unable to be independent, self-determined, and safe. This means insulating them against the violent death throes of our system of capitalism, white supremacy, and imperialism, as we replace it with something better.
The moment demands a mass mobilization of people and collective will. Which means bridging gaps: in knowledge, resources, understanding, and empathy. In our conversations, and in our work around sustainability, we have to integrate those things which support and affirm our rights to healthy, dignified lives, so we even have the capacity to take on something so grandiose as “saving the planet”.
At the end of last year, I published an article in the journal Transcontinental Human Trajectories, my first “official” publication. It is mostly a personal narrative — and I do mean personal — but it also lays out much of my educational philosophy, and sketches my initial trajectory from a school teacher to more of an activist. Although I didn’t use the term “school abolitionist” at the time, you can see the first inklings of that identity starting to crystallize.
Those who benefit from the status quo (and those who aspire to) — by virtue of social, economic, or political power and privilege — would really quite like it, if the rest of you wouldn’t much mind, if we could just keep things “civil”. A premium is placed on preserving the appearance, not just of civility, but of the fundamental “goodness” of those in power.
That whole time, there were other voices, on the margins of academia and the political sphere – pushed there by the relentless power of the status quo and those who uphold it – who were already making the case Nick and Diane only just came to understand. There were teachers who understood it, even if they didn’t have the vocabulary or the platform to make the case, or of they did, were quickly buried by the neoliberal demands of the system and punished for noncompliance.
So I find myself thinking about all the “Never Books”, the books I will never write, not because of stagnation, but because for any given project I have to draw the line somewhere and finish it. There are infinite variations of any book I might write, given enough time to ruminate and to appropriate any and everything that captures my attention, stirs my devotion, or inspires my revolt. Truly, what would UTMC become if I gave it another twenty years?
This whole Virginia drama is revealing something important about the current Democratic establishment, something which has implications for both past and future, including the election of Donald Trump. That something is that Democrats are symbolic politicians, concerned more with the image of doing the right thing, than actually doing it. Where they effect policies that actually make a positive difference in people’s lives, it is usually reactive, a case of them “holding the line” against the worst abuses of the Republicans.