Naxal here, on the headlines, on the New York Times, on the news from the streets, I’m comin to you fresh from University and high school classrooms across NYC, providing you “All the News Thats Fit to Flip.” Today’s installment has everything to do with education. Enjoy.
November 14, 2007
1.20.09/is fine/i mean if that’s when bush turns over the white house keys/cool/the real question is/are we as a movement/”too cool for school”?
lately ive found myself in convos with movement folks about the graduate school option. im usually the one in the room with a grad school degree, so i mainly listen, pipe in when i need to. so here’s what ive been hearing, the new news on the street. a few seminal bay area and nyc based organizers and teachers are applying to grad schools as we speak. most of whom are queer, all of whom are women of color.
these trailblazers have sparked discussions coast to coast about whether or not it makes sense for movement workers to go to grad school or go back to school in general.
one argument against the grad school option falls along the lines of: “you can’t use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house,” aka “school is wack.”
a slightly different line goes: school can’t teach us nothing we can’t teach ourselves, aka, i don’t have the patience for it now, aka, i don’t need it, aka, we as a movement don’t need to turn to the academic complex for validation, education, orplatforms.
and i can feel folks on all these points. i really do. i mean, you can’t fuck with that audre lourde quote. but you can over use it.
in terms of grad school, i say, if you are so inclined, go for gold ponyboy, and stay gold ponyboy. i mean shit, i did it, and [start singing billy holiday style now] “no, no they can’t take that away…from me.” i mean, i will be proud of that accomplishment till my last day.
how big is the chip on our shoulder from mammoth, neglectful public high schools? pretty big, im telling you. how much do we as a movement of young immigrants, and immigrants daughters, fear the severing effects of elite education? a lot, if you ask me. how balanced are we on the assessment of the burdens and benefits of graduate education? not very.
take the last convo i was in about this issue. 6 folks in a bed stuy living room, three grafitti artists/educators/501C3PO’s, one young movement veteran turned stripper, a dancer/educator, and me-poet/lawyer/perfoming/professor. the grad school discussion quickly turned to how it could change you/start believing in their ways/perfecting their power plays/severing further into elite islolationism no calls to the family for days.
oh damn, lemme call my parents real quick.
ok, im back.
shit, i never said the fears were unfounded. but staying whole, staying true to self AND true to movement post-academia, is a battle that can be won. i know, i’ve done it. when i was a teenager, i was chilling with john sweeney, then president of the afl-cio, learning the labor organizing ropes. been a 501C3PO ever since, working in large orgs, small, medium, lots and lots of orgs. somewhere in the there, i graduated from an elite law school, traveled to almost every continent, interned and externed across the country including a stint in the united states supreme court, the aclu, and national public radio.
through it all, i’ve been life and limb dedicated to creating a better world. that shit aint gonna change. come what may, grad school, relationships, children, jobs, ima always do me, do us, get free, nonplussed.
even if the education system ain’t perfect, isn’t it our right to learn in it? don’t we get to build our intellect in that way too?
picture the bay area. a mecca of movement non-profit organizations. a slew of 25 and 30 year old executive directors leading these 501c3s. young, queer, working class folks of color, mainly. and there we are, burning hard and bright and out in an overall structure that dont quite fit right. as in, we are not replaceable, our jobs are more than jobs, they are our life endeavors, our life stories, but the non-profit structure does not honor this. factories don’t either. which is exactly my point about why at some point, its okay to be up outta that shit. in law school i learned that the overall legal structure of NPO’s is almost exactly similar to corporations. go figure.
to my folks thinking about grad school, i say go for it. go for it and if you get in, enjoy that shit. go for it and stare down that guilty nag of privilege that says solidarity cant look like me going to school, because not only is that erroneous, its a self-destructive thought for the movement to embrace. go for it and feel your mind unfurl to hold new arenas of responsibility. go for it and chime in on rarefied conversations that are happening about populations we represent, work with, and love, conversations that turn into society shaping policies experts get credit for. go for it and if you don’t get in or don’t get the funding and say fuck it all, STILL chime in on those rarefied convos. go for it and become the nurse-midwife ima need sometime soon. go for it and write our stories into the narrative of this nation. go for it. and keep your head up and your addictions only as near as you can handle. because it is a mind fucking challenge. a different and neccesary battle. one that the movement deserves to face.
and that’s the news on the street. all the news that’s fit to flip. motherfuckers.