A few months ago, I had another crises concerning what I was/am doing with my life. I have a degree in Peace Studies and consider myself an activist and a writer, however I have been doing nothing about this. I am running a medical marijuana dispensary and at the time of my crisis, I was using all my free time spending the money I was making- buying motorcycles, drinking too much beer, and otherwise throwing around those brainwashing pieces of green paper . I took a trip to Oakland with a friend of mine to clear my head, and it was one of the most eye-opening experiences in recent years. I returned to Boulder knowing that I couldn’t continue to dedicate all of my time to selling reefer- especially in the situation I was in back then, with outside interests trying to steer the direction of the dispensary, from a cool way to make a living and possibly cure cancer, to a machine created for the sole intent of making us rich. I made plans to sell the business and move to Oakland (which later changed to buying out my partners and moving to Longmont, in my opinion, Boulder County’s version of Oakland). However, I was still forced to take a look at what I wanted to make of my life. I knew that the only time I felt truly alive was when participating in something that had the potential to get all people a step closer to the world I wanted to see. I discovered while writing my thesis that I enjoy telling stories; in the same vein of Staughton Lynd I knew I would never be a poor black woman or a child in a war-torn country, but I could witness these things and write about them in the simplest way possible. Then the idea of teaching (like Lynd and most of my heroes have done) came out of nowhere and wouldn’t leave me alone. It is hard enough to fight, on our own, against everything that is being thrust on us; when our teachers and writers are also forcing lies down our throat, the vast majority of us are doomed.
An editorial in “Rethinking Schools” caught my eye this morning, just when I hadn’t thought about the teaching path in a few weeks. Exactly as Bush created No Child Left Behind, where he put the blame of our failed education system on the shoulders of the children, Obama and his education secretary Arne Duncan are blaming the “bad teachers”. How long will we continue to blame people or groups for the obvious faults of our system? This system drills into us from the time we are born that white people with money (especially those born in the United States) are above all others, and we use statistics to prove it. Children with darker skin usually perform lower on standardized tests and have more of a chance of dropping out before graduation. Then, through clever news articles and ignorant propaganda, we are brainwashed to believe that these children don’t care about their future, and we subsequently do nothing, no one rises up when their funds are cut even farther (except for those few within the communities). We aren’t told (and are too lazy to research for ourselves) of the conditions of schools around the poorer areas of this country- the obvious and racist differences between the books, computers, and structures that upper class, generally white, students enjoy. Less education means worse jobs, a higher chance of ending up in prison, having more children (who will also, upon noticing their parents view of education, fail in school too), and the cycle continues. The only way this cycle can even begin to end is with better underground education, with writers like Lynd, and with an emphasis on guerrilla history, but perhaps the most important aspect is that the people living in these communities learn that they cannot rely on elected representatives to make change for them, but instead take the power back.
Despite the obvious failures in our system, most of us continue to rely on it; we still unquestionably send our kids to these schools, we blindly trust the people we vote for to “represent” us, and we bow down to the authority of the police. Perhaps the media is focusing so much on the gulf oil spill as a way to divert our attention from the losing battles we are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and so on, but the fact remains that people are paying attention to this disaster. At first, people were outraged; they wrote letters, they protested, they rethought their use of oil, but over the past two and a half months, this has died down. The media stepped up and did their jobs- they reported on the outrage of Obama and other politicians, letting us know that we didn’t need to do anything but trust these people who were elected to help us. Despite this, many people were still curious and attempted to find out more information. These people are being confronted by BP security and are resisting and are having to meet the police. There could be a situation- a citizen (most of the time a member of the media, whose job it is to shrink the huge world we live in and give us truthful information) is taking pictures of a BP plant or disaster area, security for BP does her or his job and protects the corporation’s image by detaining the innocent person. From what we are taught in school about the way our police work, and from reading the side of most police cars (“to protect and serve”) most of us would believe that the police would come and diffuse the situation. However, in each and every publicized case, the police protected and served the corporate interests of British Petroleum over those of an actual human being. At almost every step, our elected officials did the same- the people who vote give their power to these officials – while speaking of new regulations and huge fines – often realize who is paying their salary and balk at doing anything meaningful to keep their jobs
We cannot rely on anyone else to change our lives or our futures for us. We cannot think that because someone’s title is “secretary of education” that they will hold the education of all humans above all else. We cannot think that the police are actually here to protect us. We cannot elect someone to look out for our best interests and then sit down and tune out. If our schools aren’t working, we have to form our own. We have to build relationships with our neighbors and the larger community in order to lessen and eventually eliminate the need for police. We need to form smaller groups—for our blocks, our neighborhoods, and again the larger community—and govern ourselves. We need to stress the importance of real education- its there if you know where to look for it.