All the things that North Philly Peace Park is, and will become, are part of a continuum of collective dreaming, striving, and will toward self-determination: the heart of all Black struggle. The life of Black people in this country has always been defined by the tension between our demand for sovereignty, and the violent refusal by the State at every juncture to entertain the mere idea.
Hunter’s Mind — or ADHD if you must — allows me to glimpse both the underlying systems that reinforce domination, and the ley lines along which alternative lifeways might be built. The utter soup that is my mind under capitalism requires serious organizational structure in order to even function. And so my thoughts naturally gravitate toward and coalesce around any possibilities for breaking down silos, traversing boundaries of animus and distrust, fostering communication, and synthesizing many different kinds of work into a more cohesive vision.
Even as he writes books laying out the “solutions we have and the breakthroughs we need”, Bill Gates’s cynicism prevents him from actually believing any of it. He would seem to be preparing for inevitable disaster, and in his arrogance, would situate himself as an arbiter of life and death.
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.