decolonizing-education

Decolonize Your Education: DOWNLOAD A FREE ZAPATISTA TEXTBOOK: “AUTONOMOUS GOVERNMENT 1”

The Zapatista Escuelita (Zapatista Little School) project, which opened in August 2013, has now made available the first of several books, translated into English, as free PDF downloads.

The first in the series is the text, Autonomous Government 1: Freedom According to the Zapatistas. Download the PDF here.

Forthcoming books will be released in the coming months, at one month intervals, if not sooner, as follows:

    • Autonomous Government I (Available now: click here)
    • Autonomous Government II (Will be published no later than April 8th)
    • Participation of Women in Autonomous Government (Will be published no later than May 8th)
    • Autonomous Resistance (Will be published no later June 8th)

2

Tonight I had the most wonderful opportunity to listen to former Black Panther Ericka Huggins speak @ UCLA about the Black Panther Community School in Oakland and how we as educators can create liberatory spaces within the classroom. She spoke on how the BPP school was created by the need to free young minds from the colonial influence of public schools. During the first 3-4 years of the school, almost all of the teachers, administrators, and staff, including Ericka, were on public assistance in order to meet basic needs, as they volunteered their time at the school. She engaged the audience and spent most of the talk addressing questions and comments from the audience instead of just talking, which was a really beautiful moment. When folks would ask her advice on something, she always turned the question around to ask them, “Well, what would you do?” She’d then engage that person in such a personal, intimate manner, something I’ve never seen a distinguished speaker do.

A few of us got to sit and have a nice, intimate dinner with her and pick her mind about some of the nuances of running a truly independent, revolutionary, and decolonial school that was community-based. She spoke of the lack of love and compassion in schools, as well as the lack of love and compassion in our teacher training; this spoke so deeply to me, as I believe that a classroom, first and formost, should be a space of deep love. Love for another, love for oneself. I think that my greatest achievement as an educator was creating a classroom environment that was founded on the one very simple concept: each one of my students was my people, and I deeply love my people. As Immortal Technique so rightly put it, “My revolution is born out of love for my people, not hatred for others.”

As a speaker, she is extremely engaging, and sitting down with a dozen or so other folks during dinner, I found us clinging to every word she spoke. Her wisdom is not just as a revolutionary member of the Black Panther Party, but also that of a Black woman whose wisdom stems from decades of activism as a mother, a Black Panther, and an educator in a society that regularly demeans and marginalizes Black women to the lowest rungs.

What an honor. I doubt I’ll ever meet such an inspiring and loving figure the rest of my life. My itch to get back in the classroom has now multiplied ten-fold! I feel so inspired to continue supporting and creating decolonial spaces for our youth of color, and emancipate them from a system that looks to exploit their labor, their love, their minds, and their bodies.

All power to the people!

[T]he ‘Bering Strait Theory’ has never graduated beyond being a theory…

The Bering Strait Myth is not so much science as it is politics. Much objective modern science in the past several decades has even suggested that it is highly questionable if there ever was a so-called ‘land-bridge’, or ‘ice-bridge’ as some have defined it. Yes, that’s right, from an in-depth, intensive non-politically affected and unbiased scientific study of earth history, countless scientists (mostly non-American) have concluded that there most likely never was a ‘land-bridge’! When I was young, it was ‘12,000 years ago’ when Indians supposedly migrated over the ‘land-bridge’ into this continent. Over the years, I have watched this number go up from 12,000 years, to 20,000 years, and now in recent print, I have begun to see the number placed at over 30,000 years! It seems that scientists just move the number back whenever something Indian is discovered that pre-dates their Bering Strait migration figure! I can tell you this, science does not have the market cornered on fact, nor on truth.

First…. Many Indigenous Nations have calendars which have been counting the years for a very long time. I am aware that the calendar of the Mohawk Indian Nation has been counting the winters for over 33,120 years. This pre-dates the so-called ‘land-bridge’ of the Bering Strait theory, unless, of course, the Bering Strait scientists decide to move their interestingly illusive time period for “early migration” of Indians back to 40,000 years! Many American Indian early histories tell of events that took place on this Turtle continent (North America) long before any so-called ice age. But, for political reasons, these histories have been mostly ignored. You see, the Bering Strait, in truth, is a theory that was born of the politics and propaganda of early America. In the midst of the American ‘Manifest Destiny’ social climate, the Bering Strait theory provided a ‘scientific’ means to justify the taking of ancestral Indian lands. In short, the mythical theory eased the conscience, as it was a way for land hungry immigrants to believe that, because Indian people were only ‘recent inhabitants’ of this land , it was not really their ‘homeland’. Therefore Indians were, in their minds, not any more the ‘original people’ of this land than they were. This was, and still is, the political power of the infamous ‘Bering Strait theory’.

Continuing…. The Bering Strait theory would have us believe that all of North America was uninhabited by human beings of any kind until the supposed ‘ice age’. The theory contends that all the ancestors of American Indians originated in Siberia. Factual history of the ancient people of Siberia in those times indicates that these people had plenty to eat, were very settled into their communities, and the land they lived on. The Bering Strait theory wants us to believe that countless thousands of people from these well established communities in Siberia, despite the fact that they had everything they needed, just left it all behind to head north into a frozen tundra to ‘chase and hunt game’ (which, by the way, also decided for some crazy reason to leave their rich marshlands and head for the ice). It is certainly possible that a handful of ancient Siberian people over the course of thousands of years may have found their way into the northern parts of North America. The Inuit cultures of Alaska may well carry an ancient connection with these people in their bloodlines. But this does not in any way negate the foolishness of the notion that North America was entirely devoid of humanity, and then suddenly became populated entirely by Siberians wandering across a so-called frozen ice bridge.

…I think it is very important to note that this myth is still identified today as a theory, not a fact. A theory is defined as: “an offered opinion which may not positively be true.” Yet this theory is taught in schools still today as if it were the gospel truth. It is far from the truth, and the time for it to be removed from lessons about American Indian people is long overdue.

If children learn to normalize dominance and non-consent within the context of education, then non-consent becomes a normalized part of the ‘tool kit’ of those who have and wield power… In my experiences with the state-run education system, my informed consent was never required—learning was forced on me using the threat of emotional and physical violence… This is unthinkable within Nishnaabeg intelligence.
—  Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Learning from the land: Indigenous land based pedagogy and decolonization
Articles on Religion and Spirituality in Connection with Feminism

Honestly, when reconciling your feminism and religious beliefs - it’s really about educating yourself, decolonizing your religious beliefs, and playing an active role in educating your religious community & peers.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. This is just what is under the “Religion and Spirituality” section in the WS 101 textbook Women’s Voices Feminist Vision: Classic and Contemporary Readings by Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee that I am used to teaching from. (I provided links for the ones I could find.)

  1. Introduction to The Woman’s Bible” - Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  2. God Says Yes to Me" - Kaylin Haught
  3. Fundamentalism and the Control of Women" - Karen McCarthy Brown
  4. "Decolonizing Religious Beliefs" - Sylvia Marcos
  5. "The Prophet’s Daughters" - An Interview with Syafa Almirazanah
  6. "Standing Again at Sinai" - Judith Plaskow
  7. "Everywoman Her Own Theology" - Alicia Suskin Ostriker
  8. "Feminist Questions of Christianity" - Caryn D. Riswold
  9. "Catholic and Feminist: You Got a Problem with That?" - Megan Sweas

Here are a few extra resources the classes I assisted in taught alongside the articles from the textbook:

In ‘developed’ societies, we are so accustomed to centralized control over learning that it has become functionally invisible to us, and most people accept it as natural, inevitable, and consistent with the principles of freedom and democracy. We assume that this central authority, because it is associated with something that seems like an unequivocal good – ‘education’ – must itself be fundamentally good, a sort of benevolent dictatorship of the intellect. We allow remote “experts” to dictate what we must learn, when we must learn it, and how we must learn it. We grant them the right to test us, to measure the contents of our brains and the value of our skills, and then to brand us in childhood with a set of numeric rankings that have enormous power over our future opportunities to participate in the economic and political life of our society. We endorse strict legal codes which render this process compulsory, and in a truly Orwellian twist, many of us now view it as a fundamental human right to be legally compelled to learn what a higher authority tells us to learn.
— 

The Profound Ways that Schooling Harms Society: Incredibly, All of This Is Invisible to Our Culture

If I had to recommend just one article critiquing schooling, this would be it.