Gilmore’s conversation with Scahill made the relationship between anti-capitalism and anti-racism inseparable, which she first attributed to her childhood and her family’s multigenerational labor struggle. This link seems to be easier to grasp as someone disenfranchised by the fangs of capitalism, so my question is: what are strategies to support anti-racist, anti-capitalist work in mostly economically privileged circles (such as many higher ed spaces)?
>> I think about this a lot and would love to brainstorm with a collective. From what I’ve been seeing during social movements of the pandemic is a kind of slacktivism where a lot of my social media acquaintances (who mostly come from my mostly wealthy liberal arts college) will “spread information” on their profiles to “show support.” Things like “top 10 ways you can support x communities” infographics or profile banners that say “Black Lives Matter.” I feel complicated about such things – sure, they can be helpful, but they can also be sanctimonious. I believe in the power of knowledge but I don’t believe it more in the power of wealth distribution, which I wish would happen in its place. I also think there is a substantial lacking among wealthy classes of grasping how the legacy of slavery/colonialism in the United States directly disenfranchised communities of color nowadays and how American meritocracy is a facade and that ignorance directly inhibits anti-racist work that is intertwined with socialism. I wish our education system would be able to fill in these gaps, to contextualize history & to redistribute resources to students.
What are ways that we can introduce rehabilitation into our school systems in order to reduce harm and support students?
>> When I think of this, I think of initiatives for higher education within prisons – I think because the idea of rehabilitation is often linked to alternatives to prisons. I watched a documentary about Bard Prison Initiative, a program that educates incarcerated people at a Bachelor’s level, at a previous internship and was amazed by the amount of support (professionally, financially, emotionally, socially) it provided for individuals re-entering society. I also think of pedagogical strategies that give space to students whose social positioning/personal lives may affect their presence in class – for example, Matt’s chapter on poor queer mothers. At a structural level, I think of sufficient health care and leaves for teachers and student loan forgiveness. I would love to keep thinking about this.
How can Bambara’s model of a “very little academic distance” between teachers and students be employed to affect students’ mental health and students’ learning beyond academics (e.g. social consciousness and liberation)?
>>I loved Bambara’s work and was inspired by the ways that it made education seem holistic, active, and connecting. It made me think about how a lot of educators act as authoritarians, particularly with communities of color (I’m having flashbacks to the powerful Simon Says spoken word). It seems that education, like social science, has a fear of the subjective/personal, creating boundaries between students & teachers/administrators. It seems like the more this wall dissolves, the more education can affect the lives of students. Bambara’s work made me also think of the idea of neutrality in schooling (like in social science) and the ways that breaking through that standard can affect restorative justice, support students, and create educational pathways that are actually rehabilitating.
Terrific questions and responses, Janan. I’ll look forward to discussing these in class.
Janan, this is all excellent, but your question about Bambara in particular blew me away! What a creative way to apply her text to the context of student mental health and conscientization. Perhaps it’s partly about how we relate to one another in the classroom and university, as comrades as much as teachers and students, and in doing so collectivizing and radicalizing our work?