The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. —James Baldwin
MLive ran a story yesterday about the Ann Arbor Public School District’s “Schools of Choice” program. There are moments in the piece that deserve underscoring and some fast exegesis.
Ann Arbor School Board OKs 750 Schools of Choice Seats for 2017–18
After wrestling with the financial and regional implications of accepting Schools of Choice students, Ann Arbor Public Schools trustees decided to accept as many as 750 students who live outside the district for the 2017–18 school year.
Can we throw a quick punch at the euphemism “Schools of Choice”? It reminds us of the phrase “Right to Work,” itself a euphemism for unionbusting. What processes are camouflaged by the phrase “Schools of Choice”? White Flight, and also competition among public school districts.
You have to wonder if MLive let Tom Perkins go precisely because he’s got an ethic. It’s Ypsilanti’s loss, and Detroit’s gain: check out his new piece in the Metro Times.
This critique comes from my own perspective, which is not omniscient—our human perspectives never are. My perspective is middle class, middle-American, white, and female. I feel that I have been well-educated as a cultural producer, have well-honed abilities as a cultural consumer, and wish to elaborate on the problematic nature of the work Open Casket by Dana Schutz. First, the problem isn’t about generally depicting or potentially profiting off of the reappropriated image of a dead black body (the latter of which I don’t condone), and Schutz assures us she isn’t profiteering, as the painting is not for sale. It goes much deeper and may be unintentional on the part of the artist; however, I am going to explain why this is unacceptable.
Daniel Pantaleo’s salary is $119,996 . That’s a 14 percent increase from what he was making when he killed Eric Garner. On the other hand, the brave civilian who filmed the killing and suffered protracted police harassment as a result, is now incarcerated.
A whistleblower in New York has just leaked a couple pages from Pantaleo’s disciplinary record. Resist the temptation to believe there isn’t paperwork like this in the files of cops employed in Washtenaw County; resist, too, the idea that the system will protect you from them.
Even though books have been written and films have been made about Washington, D.C. punk band Bad Brains, their influence on white American culture is obscured in a way that will be familiar to anyone who’s even an armchair student of the parasitic process of white supremacy. And though they were a primary—if not the primary—inspiration to Minor Threat, Fugazi, Black Flag, Cro-Mags, Nirvana, and other bands, the four original members of Bad Brains won’t ever accumulate the cash or social capital those bands have. To make a long story short: America’s most fiery, technically skilled, and innovative hardcore punk band was Black, which meant that its contributions to American culture weren’t going to be recognized until they’d been appropriated and reconstituted by white practitioners. This is why Ian MacKaye has got some millions in the bank, while Bad Brains vocalist H.R. lives modestly in Philly, and guitarist Dr. Know was employed for many years at a grocery store in Woodstock, New York.
There are plenty of other ways whiteness dogged Bad Brains its entire career. The following anecdote is just one.
In 1986 the band was at a recording studio in rural Massachusetts, at work on the rasta-metal album I Against I with producer Ron Saint Germain. After all but one of the vocal tracks had been recorded, H.R. informed Saint Germain he had to immediately jump in a car to return to D.C. in order to turn himself in to serve time for a marijuana charge.
The two of them eventually devised a way for H.R. to record the vocals for “Sacred Love”: over the phone from Lorton Reformatory in Laurel Hill, Virginia. “H.R. unscrewed the mouthpiece of the telephone so that there could be no background noise, and sang into it.”
No matter how much Bad Brains has been emulated, appropriated, and even incarcerated, H.R., Dr. Know, Darryl Jenifer, and Earl Hudson are still out there, and their listeners multiply at an exponential rate. Check out how Ypsilanti media artist Ashanti Africana has brought “Sacred Love” to the screen:
March 22–April 5, 2017
Duderstadt Center Gallery
2281 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor
Gallery hours: Sunday and Monday, 12–6 p.m.;
Tuesday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Sales begin March 22, 6 p.m.
Exhibition closes April 5, 5 p.m.
Wednesday, March 22, 7 p.m. Duderstadt Center Gallery
Keynote by Dr. Heather Thompson
The Attica Prison Uprising and Why It Matters Today
Tuesday, March 28, 7 p.m. Duderstadt Center Gallery
In 1971 nearly 1,300 prisoners began one of the 20th century’s most important protests for better conditions and basic human rights. Their struggle was ended brutally by the state of New York with vast consequences for criminal justice policy in this country. Dr. Thompson spent more than a decade recovering this history for her book Blood in the Water, a National Book Award Finalist. It is a story of hope, horror, heroism, and even a most shocking cover up. In this talk, Dr. Thompson will share Attica’s history, as well as explain why this history matters today.
All events are located in Porter Hall on EMU’s campus.
Thursday March 16
Opening Keynote Address: Robert Jensen
Friday March 17
9:00 am–10:00 am Concurrent Session One
Porter 203 Our Voices Will Be Heard: Murals as Youth Activism in Ypsilanti
Lynne Settles, Nick Azzaro (Ypsilanti Community High School), Jermaine Dickerson (artist), Rhea Mcaughley, Mark Tucker (Lloyd Hall Scholars University of Michigan) and YCHS students: Doriyanna Hudson, Maximilian Harper, Teilo Wessells, Christy Witkowski, Tori Williams, Gabriela Herrera, Grace Villarreal-Silva, Ashley Gimmey, Sam Read
Facilitator: Lisa Voelker
Exciting news from the folks at MAPS:
Today we launch the Michigan Abolition and Prisoner Solidarity (MAPS) website. MAPS came together in the wake of the nationwide September 9, 2016 prisoner strike to organize in solidarity with prisoners against the violence of incarceration. To further their fight, we urge you:
Visit the site and share it with your comrades and contacts.
The MAPS website provides a timeline of events leading to the actions in Michigan’s Kinross prison on September 9 and the subsequent and ongoing retaliation against Kinross rebels. It also features recent letters from those imprisoned inside Kinross, plus annotated media coverage of the uprising and analysis of the spark that led to the largest and most widespread prisoner strike in US history. Lastly: it highlights support actions you can take.
Check out the MAPS website right now! Then spread the word (and the link).
Join our political commitment to amplify the voices of the imprisoned, as they struggle against the violence of mass incarceration.