Where’s #BlackLivesMatter In the Struggle Against School Privatization?

Where’s #BlackLivesMatter In the Struggle Against School Privatization?

#BlackLivesMatter’s national board promptly reacted to a fulsome DNC endorsement with an apparent repudiation. While rhetorical opposition to Democrats is fine, on-the-ground work against their concrete polices is a step further. Apart from the prison and police state itself, no Democratic policy affects our communities more adversely than school privatization, which urban Democrats are forcing upon black communities from coast to coast.

By Black Agenda Report Managing Editor Bruce A. Dixon | Originally Published at Black Agenda Report. September 2, 2015 9:00 AM

Where’s #BlackLivesMatter In the Struggle Against School Privatization?

“Asking where the leaders of #BlackLivesMatter stand on school privatization is not an “attack” on #BlackLivesMatter…”

So where IS #BlackLivesMatter on the burning issue of school privatization? It’s not a hostile question, it’s a question of practical politics. It’s a question of where they stand on the urgent needs of African American communities like the south side of Chicago, where the #FightForDyett parents have entered the third week

[4] of a hunger strike [5] against the closing and privatization of their neighborhood high school.

Asking where the leaders of #BlackLivesMatter stand on school privatization is not an “attack” on #BlackLivesMatter either, though some of its true believers frequently construe any question [6] from their left in that manner. The question is a constructive challenge, a challenge to step up and take their places on the front lines of already ongoing struggles for the very existence of the communities they claim to represent.

As Glen Ford eloquently explains [7], turning public education into private profit centers for charter school and testing companies, and the firing of tens of thousands of qualified, largely black educators in African American communities across the land have been cornerstones of the bipartisan agenda of the American right for more than a generation now. Busting teachers unions with 21st century scab outfits like Teach For America [8], turning over public school property and black children to shady unaccountable charter operators and the “run the schools like businesses” crowd are polices championed by corporate media and both parties, and forced down the unwilling throats of black communities by the black-led Democratic urban regimes of cities like Chicago, Philly, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston and many, many others.

Apart from the brutal prison state itself – and the Black Agenda Report crew was popularizing the term “mass incarceration” a full decade ago [9], well before Michelle Alexander’s “New Jim Crow,” it’s impossible to name a public policy that has wrought more devastation upon black lives and communities.

“If they felt similar urgency, the #BlackLivesMatter board in the next 48 hours could issue a statement supporting the #FightForDyett Chicago parents on hunger strike….”

It’s one thing to rhetorically denounce and repudiate the Republican and Democratic parties, as #BlackLivesMatter’s national board did in response to the transparently hypocritical endorsement of the Democratic National Committee last weekend. It’s another thing entirely to engage in long-term, on the ground organizing against the concrete and actual policies of racist Republicans and urban Democrats. Their prompt reaction to the DNC endorsement proves this is something #BlackLivesMatter CAN do if they WANT to. The question is will they? That’s why the question is a challenge.

If they felt similar urgency, the #BlackLivesMatter board in the next 48 hours could issue a statement supporting the #FightForDyett Chicago parents on hunger strike. They could demand Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel give them back their high school, reconsider and reverse some of the other school closings and disinvestments in that city’s black communities. Will they? The clock is ticking.

It’s time for #BlackLivesMatter to find a way to step up and engage the enemy on this important front.

In 2009 President Obama came into office declaring [10] he would close and privatize 5,000 public schools, something like ten percent of all the public schools in the nation. That’s been done, and he has another year in office to go. Under this president the federal Department of Education has become the prime resource, enabler and advocate for privatizers through its signature education program, called Race To The Top [11] and its turnover of school district accreditation [12] to the US Chamber of Commerce.

“If we imagine ourselves as part of a movement responsible to the needs of our people, it’s up to us to learn the lessons of the past and present and to meet challenges as they come….”

Some #BlackLivesMatter leaders were doubtless in New Orleans this past weekend. Surely they recall that Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pronounced Katrina the best thing that ever happened to public education [13] in New Orleans. Certainly they remember that eliminating the schools that held neighborhoods together was a major part factor discouraging the return of more than a hundred thousand African American residents from the city after the man-made disaster.

Some disinformed souls imagine there was no struggle, no movement before #BlackLivesMatter, and if it crashes for whatever reason there will be nothing afterward. That’s silly. There’s a long tradition of organizing and struggle out here that predates and will outlive all of us, full of fits and starts, successes and failures, dead ends and opportunities. Organizations, ideas, movements rise and fall. SNCC and the Black Panther Party came and went. The old line civil rights organizations pretty much got on the corporate and Democratic party tit and remain there to this day. Whatever we build today will endure tomorrow, or maybe not. If we imagine ourselves as part of a movement responsible to the needs of our people, it’s up to us to learn the lessons of the past and present and to meet challenges as they come.

If #BlackLivesMatter is to stick around a little while longer, it would be nice to have them on the right side of the struggle against school privatization. If this is something they decline to get involved in, it would be interesting to hear why. Again, it’s not a niche or side issue. As #FightForDyett‘s Brotha Jitu explained [5] in last week’s Black Agenda Report, it touches the very life and death of our families and communities. School privatization, along with high stakes testing and the galaxy of “run the schools like businesses” practices are the concrete policy of the two parties #BlackLivesMatter rhetorically denounces. They are carried out mainly by urban Democrats and championed by a Democratic administration. They are a crucial test of whether #BlackLivesMatter’s repudiation of the DNC endorsement was any more sincere than the endorsement itself.

We’d like to take the #BlackLivesMatter board at its word. That ball is in their court, and the clock is ticking.

It’s a constructive question, not a hostile one. It’s not a question that can be dismissed with spurious accusations of homophobia or patriarchy. It’s a question that needs an answer. Where is #BlackLivesMatter on school privatization?

Whither, #BlackLivesMatter?

Bruce A. Dixon is Managing Editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com..


This piece was republished by EmpathyEducates with the kind permission of the Author. Bruce A. Dixon. We thank Managing Editor Bruce A Dixon and The Black Agenda Report for their vision and for their enduring commitment to bring equality to fruition.


Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.