Radical educators strategizing toward liberatory education

The Association of Raza Educators (ARE) was founded in San Diego, California in the spring of 1994 to defend the democratic rights of the Raza community. They were formed by members of Union del Barrio, the Mexican Liberation organization that the Uhuru Movement has held a fraternal bond with for almost 40 years.

The forming of ARE was initiated by the passing of California Proposition 187, a ballot measure organized to deny undocumented immigrants “social services, health care, and public education.” This spring, ARE celebrates its 30th anniversary and still holds a close bond with the Uhuru Movement.

Hands Off Uhuru Chair Mwezi Odom delivered a guest lecture to the general meeting of the ARE San Diego branch in February 2024 for African History Month. International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) President Matsemela Odom delivered a guest lecture the previous February for the prior African History Month.

In 2023, Uhuru Movement members joined ARE in studying the book “Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching” by Jarvis R. Givens, as part of their book circulo. Black and Brown Radical Educators, parents, students, and community members gathered at the Centro Cultural De La Raza in San Diego on a monthly basis to study and discuss the strategies that African educators in the U.S. used to survive and resist as a community by righteously educating and empowering their children.

As we continue struggling against the institutionalized oppression that denies our youth access to a liberatory education, ARE chose this book because it acknowledges that education continues to be a tool of colonial oppression and centers the objective on focusing on finding strategies to resist the current “reformist” ideology for radical students, educators, and families who are navigating a colonial and racist educational system.

“Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching” dives into the history and legacy of Carter G. Woodson, a Black revolutionary educational leader who advocated for using history as a tool to empower Africans in the U.S. and was often misunderstood by colonizers who implemented education to oppress and dehumanize. Woodson developed a curriculum and practiced Fugitive Pedagogy, defined as “the art of teaching in ways that challenge the social, political, and economic status quo,” a practice that aligns with ARE principles and the practice of Critical Pedagogy.

Counternarratives is another practice that Woodson implemented. It involves challenging the master narrative that portrayed Africans as inferior and unworthy of education. As founder of Black History Week, which then evolved into African History Month, Woodson’s revolutionary practices continue to influence African education today.

Raza, Indigenous, and African educators struggle in defense of anti-colonial history and teaching

The importance of our people being able to have access to their history and Critical Pedagogy and being able to write their own narratives is extremely crucial because historically we have been taught to only listen, obey, and never question the white gaze. It’s the strategic way for the colonizers to continue having power and the feeling of superiority. The oppressors are afraid of Liberatory Education because Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth learning their history will bring pride, self-determination, and will challenge the enemy.

After reading and engaging in rich discussions, we are able to recognize that conditions have not changed. Oppressors have evolved by wearing masks of “progression” and adopting “reformism” as a way to hide their continued use of education as a tool to colonize, oppress, and dehumanize. “Reformism” is the idea of adjusting existing institutions that are built to colonize and oppress our Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth. It has been adopted by the Eurocentric system as a mask of “progression” as the colonizer’s undercover tool to oppress.

A current example of “reformism” is the Eurocentric school system denying Ethnic Studies and pushing multicultural studies. The multicultural curriculum is developed to promote “understanding” of different cultures and ethnicities. It stays shallow in order to continue to protect the white gaze and avoid confrontation of the institutionalized oppression we see in academia today. Meanwhile, the Ethnic Studies curriculum is built to encourage our youth to work towards self-determination, to question, analyze, participate in their communities, and build solidarity.

As Radical Educators, we are striving to dismantle the reformist ideology and build towards a Liberatory Education by implementing a curriculum where our youth are able to have access to Ethnic Studies, Critical Pedagogy, and write their own narratives as a step to destroy the system. To achieve this, we must use our strategic positions as educators to push the system in a righteous direction to engage our gente (people).

Revolutionary study of the past is important for our continued struggle

As the struggle continues, it’s extremely crucial to go back to the past to study and analyze the work revolutionaries put into place in order to be able to implement it in our practice and continue building towards our liberation. “Fugitive Pedagogy” is an insightful roadmap for radical students, educators, and community members who are looking for guidance to navigate within the reformist Eurocentric school system and those who are serving the status quo.

To build towards the future, we urge educators, students, and community members to join the struggle by joining an organization that is working towards a liberatory education, strengthening solidarity, and more participation in the community, such as engaging in a book club, march, and meetings.All or none.

Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

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