Letters to Jonas: The Matrix of Man

Dear Jonas,

I should start by apologizing for taking so long to reply to your letter. The World seems to be spinning faster than ever lately, and finding time to write for writing’s sake has become particularly difficult as of late. Since your last letter, we have elected a white supremacist president, I have led a rally against the white supremacist president, I have assisted latinx students in resisting the white supremacist president, and I have talked and engaged critically at Freedom School with young black peers about how we could resist and survive a white supremacist presidency. With all this being said then, it is safe to safe to say – though the World may appear to be spinning faster – the World continues to spin the same. White Supremacy rules today as it ruled yesterday. Donald Trump doesn’t change that; he only accelerates it. A discussion on this acceleration may be justified, perhaps, at another time.

Aside from an introduction into the general times that we are in, this relates to some of the comments that you made in your letter. What particularly stood out to me is this:

You asked how I could consider myself Christian still. I still ask myself that. Of course, on one hand, the easiest answer is we’re all Christian inasmuch as we’re Western. And, while I think that to be at least generally true, I think it’s an exercise in avoiding the question.

First to answer in this way is not to avoid the question, it is indeed an answer to the question. But it is an answer that is simply incorrect. We are not all Western. I believe that this gets at the root of the structure of the West and why anti-blackness and white supremacy structures the foundational aspects of thought, and the Modern world. If Trump’s wall, if the rise of Eurofascism, if the perfection of slavery with the project of mass incarceration, if the election of Trump itself, provides proof for anything, it provides proof to the fact that we are not all Western. To be Western is to be Human, to have your humanity affirmed, your existence recognized. To live outside of the West, to experience life outside of the West, is to have your existence perpetually questioned or denied to you. Black bodies are those bodies that gave birth to the West through an accumulation of its death. Black bodies are womb-and-tombs, not Western. So the question is still returned to you, in a double, in fact, triple question: 1) Are you Western, like are you truly Western? 2) How can Blackness ever be incorporated into the ontics of a Western “all”? 3) How can you accept that Christianity is Western and that to be Western is to be Human and still accept Christianity? I, of course, am not trying to convert you (divert you, perhaps, is better wording); I am more interested in understanding how this notion that “we are all Western” is justified.

Additionally, I think that your disagreement about my conception of God is, in fact, an agreement. God is like Race. This means that God does have a referent to which it signifies, or to which the name of God is applied. There is no distinction to be made between the socio-institution and the facticity. God is discursively-instituted and factually real. God has Being, God is socio-linguistically-derived, God is objectively real, and God is paradigmatically constructed. However, that signification is not an unification. God is not One. God signifies something different for different people and different bodies and different ideologies, and all of these are real insofar as they create/enforce an action into the immanent World. For different bodies have different conceptions of Being, of Language, of Facticity, and of Historicity.

Lastly, on the difference between intersectionality and the Matrix of Man. I have thought extensively about what constitutes the difference between intersectionality and my concept of the “Matrix of Man.” And I have come to a bit of a conclusion. Intersectionality implies that who I am when I say, “I am a cisgendered, heterosexual black man who grew up in working-class black family in white rural America” is an identitarian claim. Intersectionality teaches that these are identitarian claims that are denied to me through the White Male construction of the Law. However, I wish to cast off the shackles of identity, but not in the sense that the Alt-Left, or better yet, White Marxist would like me to; or in the way that liberal Black folks wishing to frame the “Negro Problem” in terms of a struggle for Civil Rights do either. I want to contextualize my blackness, my cisness, my heterosexuality, my ableness, my working class background, my rural geo-location as positions within the Matrix of Man. I am in all these positions, these locations, across a spectrum of subjection, power and privilege. What separates this from identity is that identity implies a simplistic space-time frame in the position of a subject in relationship to World. Identity says: I am here, as one subject with multiple identities. But, no, in the Matrix of Man, I am in multiple positions in relationship to access and denied access to power and privilege. The Matrix of Man says: We are here at the same time (inside the same paradigm) phenomenologically experiencing that time differently because of our positions, and we are occupying multiple spaces – positions – within that paradigm. Blackness is the position of absolute dereliction. It is the position that gave birth to the universal, globalized “transatlantic” comprehension of the Matrix. It is what orients, structures, stabilizes, and gives vital energy to the Matrix. It is the Matrix’s condition of possibility.

Sincerely from a Friend,

John Gillespie Jr.

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#WeAreMizzou: Reimagining Radical Black Politics at the Public PWI University

The radical, committed to human liberation, does not become the prisoner of a “circle of certainty” within which reality is also imprisoned. On the contrary, the more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them.

  • Paolo Freire

This is the only possible relationship to the American university today. This may be true of universities everywhere. It may have to be true of the university in general. But certainly, this much is true in the United States: it cannot be denied that the university is a place of refuge, and it cannot be accepted that the university is a place of enlightenment. In the face of these conditions one can only sneak into the university and steal what one can. To abuse its hospitality, to spite its mission, to join its refugee colony, its gypsy encampment, to be in but not of – this is the path of the subversive intellectual in the modern university.

  • Fred Moten

#WeAreMizzou created a ripple effect in Universities across the nation. A sleeping giant rose, a spark was lit, a new age of student activist was born, and predominately white institutions shuttered in the aftermath. However, what became noticeably clear after the direct action protest was that every predominately white institution didn’t function the same, and this became evermore clear in regards to whether or not the institution was private or public. For example, Johns Hopkins University black student activist were able to rapidly receive the Diverse Faculty Initiative which promised to invest $25 million dollars over the next five years in order to better recruit and retain minority faculty. Additionally, Yale University student activist were able to receive $50 million dollars for practically the same thing. These big dollar initiatives are rarely capable of being granted to public universities, even if they are flagship Universities. For example, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill received a sum total of $1 million dollars in order to “diversify students pursuing doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences and fine arts,” a total that can easily be seen as a “small grant” in relation to the two former mentioned Universities.

The purpose of bringing this up is to illustrate that the beast of white supremacy and institutional racism manifest itself in a multiplicity of ways, maintains itself in a multiplicity of ways, and reforms, rectifies, and adjust itself in a multiplicity of ways. With that being said, it’s not necessarily true that Johns Hopkins and Yale students have been able to achieve more than the students at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, but that the reforms and adjustments created by white supremacist private institutions, the amount of capital these institutions are willing to give up while still maintaining their place as institutions of white supremacy differ depending upon the socioeconomic and political power of the individual institutions. I will not speak much more about private institutions and the future of black student activism at these institutions, but I will urge these students to think of these initiatives like small reparations, and take seriously Frank Wilderson’s critique of the American reparations movement when he says:

The reparations people present the issue to blacks as though slavery is an essentially historical phenomenon that ended, but the effects of which put blacks at what they call an “unfair disadvantage” to those in other positions who are also chasing the American dream. Through such a move the reparations folks waste a political weapon, they dull the knife, they keep the tiger in the cage, because here is a weapon which could spew forth in untold directions: I’m thinking here of Nat Turner’s greatest night.

In other words, do not waste that political weapon, do not dull the knife – release the tiger, and capture your entire institution sparring no hall, cafeteria, and/or department.

As for black student activist at most public universities the economic realities of low funds from racist donors, or funds primarily from the state and/or federal governments, and the political reality of dense anti-black bureaucratic processes makes achieving even a feat like that of University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill extremely difficult. This fact requires an alternative politic. One that rearranges the notion of the radical, one that understands that radicalism is not speaking truth to white institutions of power, but that radicalism is gaining, building, and sustaining black power and not allowing the institution to assuage the student activist with “fine-dining and meetings” that create the façade of progress at the expense of what is needed, namely, a cultural-social-political-educational revolution. What does this look like? I do not intend to provide the dogma of black activism for I am as new to this as any other, but I only intend to provide an option, a possibility of a future – a future of a radical black politics at the public PWI University.

First, in the words of Sey Elemo, Bilphena Yahwon, and Korey Johnson, three remarkable black feminist/womanist undergraduates at Towson University, “The revolution must always be ratchet.” This remark reflects the alterity of the black student/black student activist at the PWI. To be ratchet is to be Other. The black student is de facto Other at any University, and even more so at the PWI because through the gaze of white supremacy and in the words of Kanye West, “Y’all know that niggas can’t read.” This idea is reflected both by the #StayMadAbby phenomena and Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s remarks on affirmative action, and black student admission into prestigious universities. For the revolution to always be ratchet is for the revolution to always maintain its otherness, to always maintain its unwillingness to be coopted, to always be principally pro-black, unabashedly attached to black culture, black thought, black students, and black people. This concretely means three things: first, that culture is to be taken seriously – hip hop (conscious or trap) is not a black student’s plaything, it is a part of the black student’s social and psychological livelihood. Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole are as instrumental to that psychical survival as Migos and Young Thug. Second, that black parties are not spaces where blacks simply go to have fun, black parties are revolutionary spaces of the subaltern where black people go to, in the words of Alice Walker, “possess the secrets of joy.” When those spaces are heavily policed and militarized they mirror the policing practices of the rest of black America and remind black students that their University is nothing more than a microcosm of the macro-manifestation of anti-black structures that plague the rest of America. Third, black sexuality and conversations on black sexuality regardless if the conversation is being had with smiles and giggles, or sincerity and seriousness is a sexuality and a conversation not to be disavowed. Embracing and radicalizing intersectional sexual orientations, practices, and methods of discussions are a part of the ratchet revolution that must take place at the PWI University.

Second, in the words of Baby Joker in a screenplay written by record producer, actor, filmmaker, and rapper, Ice Cube, No more locked doors!” What this mean is that there needs to be a deconstruction of white bureaucratic ideals of privacy, logistics, and fictitious appearances of progressivism for the sake of public relations. In a world of what Bonilla-Silva calls, “Racism without racist” the task of black student activist is to publicize and criticize every event, every act of racism, every meeting with institutional power-holders, and to open the space up to accountability. Accountability both politically and psycho-politically, a remark I will come back to later. Nevertheless, the purpose of this principle is to radicalize the process of change. Change does not occur over coffee, tea, and shirts and ties; change comes through revolutionizing even the process of bringing about that change. It comes from creating alternatives to the current, and breaking down contemporary conceptions of the possible. This means taking seriously the idea that “the master’s tools will not dismantle the master’s house.” The master’s process of change is not ours. Thus we must open the doors.

Third, the radical politic must be driven by radical love. Black radical love is the relationship between two persons, one of whom is black, who embark on the ontological quest to be radically political, radically anti-racist, and radically anti-oppressive to one another; all the while additionally, being radically subversive to any one or any institution that dehumanizes. The position of radical love is pluralistic in that it denies the unified whole in favor of loving the multiple layers of personhood that make up the black identity. These layers include race (in this specific case, black) class, gender, and sexual orientation, etc. Emphasizing this love makes this love more than a social love or a kind of simple social bonding. Black radical love is a black radical political theory. For a black person to love themselves is a radical step forward, not only individually, but socially and politically. The same logic must be applied to black radical love for each other. Therefore, we have to assess blackness through the lens of black particularity, black feminism, black anti-capitalist exploitation, black sexual politics, black anti-elitism, and black anti-hierarchicalism. This provides a complete denunciation and critical analyzes of white supremacy: how it functions, what caused it, and how we cannot only destroy it, but more importantly transcend it. Solidarity, for black persons, must be a pluralist solidarity.

Fourth, transforming what is typically known as radical activism to what we call, “Radical Therapy.” This means shedding the idea of an activist since the activist is primarily focused on transformation of the political. The radical therapist is primarily focused on the psycho-political. Second-wave feminist constructed the feminist mantra that, “the personal is political.” The radical therapist’s mantra is that, “the political is psychological.” In Robin Kelly’s excellent article “Black Study, Black Struggle” he quotes Naomi Wallace in order to critique this idea. She says:

Mainstream America is less threatened by the ‘trauma’ theory because it doesn’t place economic justice at its core and takes the focus out of the realm of justice and into psychology; out of the streets, communities, into the singular experience (even if experienced in common) of the individual.

However, I tend to disagree with the supposed separation of the psychological and its potential for an economic-political-racial critique of institutions. Psychological trauma invoked by oppression, repression, and subjugation can result in a psycho-political analysis, like that of the work of Frantz Fanon, where structures of domination are psycho-politically analyzed and deconstructed for the sake of structural political, economic, and racial transformation. This means the black radical therapist is dedicated to black mental health and devoted to transforming the psychological effects of the structural political situation that is damaging to the totality of black personhood, which includes psychological health. The radicalism is sparked by the openness of the process, the virtue of community building of the process, and the trust and faith in the rest of the persons who become radical therapist in the process. In Robin Kelly’s own words:

[R]esistance is our healing. Through collective struggle, we alter our circumstances; contain, escape, or possibly eviscerate the source of trauma; recover our bodies; reclaim and redeem our dead; and make ourselves whole.

Radical therapy is group therapy, radical therapy is community-creating therapy; radical therapy is family-making process; radical therapy is subversive, political, and transformative.

Five, we must be practitioners of a world that doesn’t exist. This means creating the world we want now. Being the black professors we want now, being the black administrators we want now, being the black counselors we want now, being the black occupiers we want now. We have to teach each other by creating our own Black Studies syllabus; we have to create policies with each other that continue to create and recreate the demands of black students across all intersections of gender, sexualities, and religions; we have to be dedicated to creating self-care and counseling spaces with each other that are radical destroyers of depression and radical annihilators of suicidal thoughts that emerge from white supremacy; we have to begin to occupy and create the University we want now or the destroy the University we are in now by being living, breathing examples of what is means to be unapologetically black at all times. This means in the words of Fred Moten, we have to “steal the University,” now, and bring it back to our people. We have to “steal the University” and bring it back to the people who attend this University, people who attend other-local, regional, national Universities, people in high-school, people in middle-school, people in the suburbs, people in rural localities, and people in the hood. We have to create the world of the demands within ourselves and build the power within ourselves until the University does not only concede to those demands, but concretely devotes itself to creating and being a radical space against economic, political, and racial exploitation.

So in conclusion, I suggest we operate on five principles.

  • Sustain a ratchet revolution.
  • Deconstruct bureaucratic ideals
  • Operate on the principle of radical love
  • Become radical therapist before radical activist
  • Imagine and Build the World We Want Now

College is not about becoming what you want to be in the aftermath of graduation, it’s about being what you will be today and destroying every oppressive structure that stands in our way.

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Sketched Thoughts on Black Radical Love as a Political Theory

The conversation at hand is not simply one about intersectionality, it is one about black solidarity. A solidarity that has been further devoured by the history and continuation of white supremacy and its effects on the black community. White supremacy is the problem and it does not end at the conclusion of this conversation. In fact, the conclusion of the conversation is the birth of another conversation in hopes of further developing a praxis in addressing the central issue at hand. Henceforth, in reference to the term, solidarity, we have usually imagined a unified whole in which the multiplicity has been shrunk down to something almost atomical. Solidarity has been colonized by Western images and manifestations of the “Melting Pot.” Solidarity of the atomical sort has historically been governed by those whose ideals give definition to what it means to be solidary and what it is that we should be solidary to. If you are apart of the category that falls out of the consolidated whole, then you become anti-solidarity, anti-unification when it may be more just to consider you diverse, unique, or quite simply, beautiful.  I will like to suggest that any solidarity that perpetuates a unification of this atomical sort is a solidarity that will inherently become oppressive.

Solidarity, for black persons, must be a pluralist solidarity. As such, the metaphysical condition, blackness, in which a subject-became-object, in which the person, defined by their flesh, became synonymous with slave, in which the human became cow or cargo, in which the subject’s history became blackened and unreachable, must be addressed. To address this condition, we must not dissect it through the lens of black essentialism, treating black persons as if all blacks were colonized from the same region or tribe with the same language and cultural values, and then, acculturated under the same conditions of alienation and oppression. For any dissection of the condition of blackness and anti-blackness that completely essentializes the phenomena fails to understand the complexity of white supremacy and the diversity of the tools of mass destruction black folks are forced to face. Additionally, we cannot dissect the issue of blackness through the lens of black patriarchy, nor through the lens of black capitalism, black heteronormativity, or black classism, for this is, in the words of bell hooks, “slave’s freedom.” For liberation, comprehension of self, and the quest for the authentic living that follows this direction is simply staring upon what the master has and wishing to obtain it for yourself. We must go beyond this. The intersectional tools of political power used by white supremacist are not ours to harness, but they are ours to transcend.

Therefore, we have to assess blackness through the lens of black particularity, black feminism, black anti-capitalist exploitation, black sexual politics, black anti-elitism, and black anti-hierarchicalism. This provides a complete denunciation and critical analyzes of white supremacy: how it functions, what caused it, and how we cannot only destroy it, but more importantly transcend it. This transcendence should always be accompanied by a desire to understand the diverse ontological aspects of the black self, aspects that have been thwarted and undermined by white supremacy. It could be said that I am arguing for a unified black solidarity under a black leftist/progressive agenda. Truly, however, I am arguing for a pluralist black solidarity that truly is not much of a “solidarity” at all. Solidarity dehumanizes. The dehumanization of solidarity is that it takes the individual and transforms them into an objective whole. To turn the black, already made into an object by the spatio-temporal conditions of the Middle Passage, into another object, under the consolidated notions of what it means to be black by black elites is still objectivizing. The purpose for assessing blackness with black particularity, black feminism, black anti-capitalist exploitation, black sexual politics, black anti-elitism, and black anti-hierarchism, is precisely because these are networks and analysis by which we can come to grips with blackness while refraining from objectivizing it.

The question becomes: How can we stand together at all if we are so focused on the plural, yet subjective nature of the individual (see. Okot P’Bitek, “The Sociality of Self” for the way I understand the “individual”)  black? The answer is not, and never will be: tolerance. We cannot simply tolerate each other. Toleration means, put simply, to bare or deal with the existence of another. It does not require any form of acceptance, any form of true understanding, or any form of will/desire to grasp ahold of the particularity and allow it to play a crucial role in the understanding of yourself, the Other, and the intersubjective world. Toleration is not enough. Imagine if Martin Luther King desired simply to be tolerated by Whites. The notion of Martin’s Dream would have been watered down ( to a paltry desire to live among white folks relatively invisibly for toleration is simply an invitation to be among someone, but in a translucent kind of way. Then, the answer must be: acceptance? But even this is not enough. Acceptance is love, but particular love. Acceptance is the “hate the sin, not the sinner,” logic that permeates Christian culture that limits the true ability to accept another’s true self. For if the “sin” is a significant part of identification for the sinner, how could you truly accept them? Acceptance, in a way, is a cheap multiculturalism. It is a multiculturalism that encourages someone to embrace the parts of the individual that is agreeable to you, but disdain the parts that don’t.

Henceforth, the answer to the quandary is, what I shall call: Black Radical love. Black radical love is the relationship between two persons, one of whom is black, who embark on the ontological quest to be radically political, radically inclusive, and radically anti-oppressive to one another; all the while additionally, being radically subversive to any one or any institution that dehumanizes. The position of radical love is pluralistic in that it denies the unified whole in favor of loving the multiple layers of personhood that make up the black identity. These layers include race (in this specific case, black) class, gender, and sexual orientation, etc. Emphasizing this love makes this love more than a social love or a kind of simple social bonding. Black radical love is a black radical political theory. For a black person to love themselves is a radical step forward, not only individually, but socially and politically. The same logic must be applied to black radical love for each other and the oppressor as well. Truly, in order to engage in the black radical love that I’m outlining. the black must love their oppressor too. To elaborate quickly on the notion of black radical love for the oppressor, I want to say that, “to love your oppressor,” is not to love that they oppress you, but instead to know that the way in which they oppress you and their desire to hate or fear you only hurts them. The black who acquires the politics of black radical love understands that in order for an oppressor to dehumanize others they must first dehumanize themselves, and to engage in this form of political love for others is to radically desire for all persons to reach full humanization.

For black persons to love each other, radically, is a political move. This is indicated by white slave masters emphasis on not wanting or validating slave marriage or by not allowing black families to stay close-knit. For black persons to love the oppressor, radically, is a political move as well. This is indicated by the radical necessary and sufficient transformation that must occur in the heart and mind of the white person who wishes to be in a relationship with a conscious pro-black black person or be an ally to the black freedom and humanization freedom movement. To love all black persons radically is to be truly subversive to white supremacy and to be truly embracive to black personhood and diversity. To love all persons radically is to be truly subversive to all global systems of oppression and dehumanization. Loving the black, “sins” and all, must stand as the priority beyond anything else. It becomes of grave importance not to silence the black individual’s individuality, and not to project a systematic understanding of the individual in order for the black person to be taken seriously and lovingly, historically, socially, politically, culturally, and individually.

5 Ways We Can Benefit From Teaching Socialism in School

When one thinks of socialism, and its relation to our public education system, one might find it difficult to miss the irony in socialism’s misrepresentation, or lack of representation. Tainted by capitalist propaganda, the name of socialism has been consistently viewed as anti-American and anti-democratic by the political right (a view that is taught throughout public schools in relation to an ignorant understanding of what socialism truly is).  However, contrary to popular beliefs, public state and federally funded schools are indeed a product of socialist influence; and, as radical as public healthcare may seem too many Americans today, the same shouts of radicalism were generated against proponents of federal and state funded public schools in the past. Nonetheless, this isn’t about healthcare. This is about education. This is about how an idea of making education public and available for all has now become a crucial factor in maintaining a pertinent America and a thriving democracy. This is about how socialism has crafted our education system, but has been left out of our education system. The bias against socialism in our public education system can be attributed to the fear of socialist critique of the capitalist system of power. Capitalist method of thinking antagonizes socialism and makes it the thought of conflict, and in a school system that thrives off obedience and strict information storage – conflict is the last thing you want. In spite of that, however, if true education, understanding, and keen democratic goals are to be achieved, socialism should be taught in school. Although, many socialist will fear the demonization of the principle from within the public school sector, I will hope that for the sake of true education that all biases be left out of teaching of such material. But, capitalist against the idea might wonder: How can the school systems benefits from socialism? I will answer: There are, at minimum, 5 ways schools and students can benefit from teaching socialism.

  1. Welcoming A Different Worldview

Our school systems play the most vital role in crafting an obedient robotic individual. We praise the most plastic children who are willing to feed into the system the most without acknowledging its robbery of their creative imagination. We force children into allegiance with their country, its values, and its ideological norms without understanding how unrealistic the capitalist motto of “anyone can do it if they try hard enough,” is for a child currently living without numerous forms of privilege. We suspend or exclude all of the children not willing to accept so easily the one-sided notions shoved down their throats. By adding socialism into the curriculum, students will be opened to another worldview. A student’s dissent towards their education could be refocused and reenergized towards positive means. All dissent wouldn’t mean, a careless attitude towards knowledge, but some dissent might mean a different understanding of the world. By allowing socialism to be taught in schools, students who identify with the feeling of oppression or glass-ceiling social mobility will be able to understand that there is a different way and/or idea that may spark their intellectual interest.

  1. Collectivist Approach to Education

It is believed, taught, and perpetuated, under capitalist guise, that the sole benefactor of education is the individual. However, we cannot be so foolish to believe that the only person who benefits from education is the individual learning. This idea could be abolished if some of the thinking involved in the socialist message of the “collective good for all” was incorporated into education. When a student becomes a doctor, they are not the only person who benefits, all of sick society does. When a student becomes an engineer, they are not the only person who benefits, all of the shelter-needy persons of the society does. It is simple. By incorporating socialist thinking into schools, students learn that school is not just about them, it is about them and all the world around them. It is about how they are going to groom their individual talent to give back to their ever-growing and ever-needing society.

  1. Critical Thinking towards History

War is always a battle of beliefs, and the United States has had many enemies of war throughout history. Many of which have been governments that have adopted socialist principles from within their economy, i.e. the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cuba, and Japan. When World War 2, Cold War, and Vietnam War units come up in social studies/history courses, it seems that somehow American opposition is tremendously demonized as following some irrational course of hatred towards the innocent America. However, teaching socialism and the principle meaning and purpose behind these oppositional governments can provide a very useful “why” to the history of America’s adversaries and allow students to subjectively discern for themselves the right and wrong side of war. This will be crucial for critical thinking, an incredibly useful aspect of knowledge that is too often overlooked. Presenting two beliefs, two governments, and two societies objectively in front of a student’s eyes and allowing them to choose for themselves the right and the wrong or to critically debate between the two is an essential and missing element in much of today’s education.

  1. Politicizing the Population

This is an idea that may scare people – the use of socialism to politicize the population. But, we should consider this an absolutely necessary aspect of democracy. Politics has been left out of public education, and as a result, I believe democracy has weakened. Voter turnout has dwindled and will continue to dwindle with the next generation if the people don’t become politicized. To become politicized is to generate an understanding of social, economic, and political policies in your government and governments around the world. With socialism’s influence, people will become politicize by having something to be for or against and by knowing who along the political spectrum believes and stands for the same things that they stand for. It will generate early on the importance of social justice as a political aim and how social justice and its demonstrations have helped assist the oppressed and influence the state.

  1. It Exist

Like it or not capitalist, socialism is a real ideology, and to continue to deny its presence in public secondary educational institutions is an absolute dismissal of an actual idea. Socialism is real. If we continue to not allow it to be taught in our schools in an unbiased and accessible way, we allow our students to remain uninformed. And, if we allow them to skip over this existing idea because of our biases, then we allow our youth to remain in ignorance. This lack of knowledge does not only leave our youth ignorant of the idea of socialism, but ignorant of the world around them. It’s time we engage fearlessly with the world, and engage fearlessly with socialism.

Cecil County: A Diagnostic

I woke up tired. Rushing quickly to prepare myself for my 9:30 class, when I decided to check the news (which I usually do) before I left out. But something struck me – something breathtaking, something jaw-dropping, something unbelievable, yet all too steadily commonplace.

SHERIFF DEPUTY FATALLY SHOOTS DRIVER WHO REFUSED TO PULL OVER.

But, this couldn’t happen in my town, could it? You know where the black population is a growing, but minuscule mass? Where the population is predominantly white and the people predominantly racist? Where the difference between the poor and wealthy is gentrified by such grueling dividing lines that rich children can go to a separate elementary school for the first 5 years of their life in order to be unaware of the nature of the contrasting lifestyles, beliefs, and thoughts of the poor? Not Cecil County right? I continued to beg for a lie, hoping there was some mistake among the lines of the headliner, hoping that somehow the Cecil Whig, CBS, ABC news, and The News Journal all gathered around to come to a consensus of creating yet another police versus civilian drama. But, the story unfolded, revealing the evidence as it is right now.

Deputy stops man; man drives away. Does a chase ensue or does the man go directly after the Deputy with his car? This area remains gray. Deputy says he drives directly towards him. Could the Deputy have gotten out of the way or was it shoot or be killed? Could the Deputy attack the vehicle before the man or is this kind of act only for Hollywood films, Hollywood cops, Hollywood dramas? Would things be different, less fatal if the man wasn’t black? Would things be different less lost in gray if the police had body cameras? The questions remain, but the pain still stings and the county still wreaks with the stench of yet another casualty, however one thing becomes certain beyond the billowing cloud of uncertainty: Cecil County is a crumbling county.

A crumbling county with seemingly no objective from the people to address the nature of their degradation. A crumbling county with people willing to just shake off the piece-by-piece destruction of their towns and accredit the destruction to the problem of others instead of a problem of ours. A crumbling county that truly believes that the homeless holding signs in medians are simply lazy, drug-addicts with no initiative to work, since according to the County’s most brilliant persons there is only a culture of poverty, not a system that influences and creates it, and persons addicted to drugs are simply a problem for prisons, not a patient in need of true psychological rehabilitation. A crumbling county that takes all of their insubordinate children (my brother was thought to be one) and simply sentences them to MIPs (which only disciplines via boredom)  and suspensions (which does absolutely nothing) while their intellect and their capabilities is denounced as too problematic and an exploration of their personal attributes, goals, and wishes are brushed aside for the sake of common core curriculum, standardized testing, quality representational statistics and a lack of emphasis on the arts and politically-inclined humanities (this is also an issue for the nation as a whole). Truly, if it wasn’t for the strong will of my brother and the love and direction of my parents who knows if my brother would be in college right now.

Nevertheless, the issues of race, identity and difference in Cecil County are also continuing to get swept under the carpet by political and educational leaders, and it won’t be until the issue explodes like a Ferguson that it is addressed. Black Americans and Latino Americans are coming to Cecil County in more rapid rates, hailing from Wilmington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and elsewhere.  With few jobs in the community, the scapegoat form of racism is going to emerge among the impoverished and working class persons of Cecil County and the problem of race will explode, if diversity is not addressed – linguistically, culturally, socially, and in our educational institutions. The LGBTQ+ community is becoming more open in all areas of the world, even in Cecil County, but still, Cecil County is stuck in a historic ideology and many of these open and proud individuals will be pushed to the outskirts of society – bullied, hated, despised.  This kind of outcasting can turn deadly in the form of suicide as well as in the form of retaliation. All this because of the belief that cultural and social education is a liberal indoctrination of students, but if liberal indoctrination means teaching students cultural competence and the significance of equality alongside the significance of liberty, all while circumventing death, than liberal indoctrination is much needed.

 I do not know what to make of the Deputy’s shootings, and I am not saying that there is no evidence that the Deputy might have been justified in his actions. But, we must call it into question to get at at least a remnant of truth.  And, I am not an anti-police force leftist, I am a truth-seeker, a leftist – yes, but a truth-seeker first. And the truth is that these kind of issues are only the first of the growing anxiety in a county that is simply falling apart; and the truth is that these kinds of issues cannot be dismissed as isolated actions or pushed into the ignorant “otherness” of “That’s not my problem,” because the truth is: this is your problem. This is our problem, and that’s why an hour away from home I felt a cry seep into the seams of my broken heart as I saw evidence of the bleeding of the place I’ve called home since I was six. This bleeding didn’t start with this shooting; it didn’t started with the killing of the elderly couple at Glen Farms; it didn’t start with the disappearance and murder of the two young men at Whiningbrook; it didn’t start with the young boy in Perryville who killed his father; it started the moment we let go of community, the moment we let go of humanity, the moment we let go of understanding in exchange for one-track mindedness, selfishness, and “me-me-me” ideology. But, we must come together, or we will all fall apart.

Slaves of Thoughts and Political Peace

We must learn to be more rational and discerning in every situation, thinking beyond what we are supposed to believe, thinking freely, opening ourselves to the possibility of being wrong and perhaps, (even more frighteningly) the possibility of standing alone. For many must stand alone for political polarization to cease and for true critical free thinking to begin. The ability to think freely without the cage of authoritarian titles, the chains of dictating labels, and the tyranny of polarization is a necessary condition of finding free thought. Critical free thought and the transference of differing ideas with the means of understanding is important and significant as we search for peace in a world filled with new war, militancy and cyber danger.  It is fine to be influenced; it is fine to be inspired; but we must not let any one ideology become the law by which we cannot break nor critique under any circumstances. For when this happens, when unbreakable, non-critique-able laws of the mind emerge, the mind becomes a slave of thought. If what I believe in cannot and is not challenge-able, or malleable, then I must ask: Why is this belief so difficult to change? Is it difficult to change because of the stoutness of the belief or the stubbornness of my character? Is it difficult to change because of the strength of the idea or the strength by which I am willing to hold onto it? Disputes, confrontation, and war are the result of stubborn characters battling for the assertion of their strongly held ideologies. Discussion, conversation, and treaties are the result of critical thinking and the transference of ideas with an ardent desire of sending knowledge, understanding, and/or making peace.

Many slaves of thought are advocating throughout the political scene. These chained brains are from the left and from the right. There are some using their religion to assert the truth of their statements. There are some using their oppression to assert the invalidity of other’s opinions, experience, and knowledge. There are some using their privilege to devalue the experience of others, and there are some using their lack of privilege for their own ideological purposes. All of which may, can, and should be taken into consideration when one is analyzing what is the most truthful and what will bring the most happiness to the governed people – rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, European, national and foreign, immigrant and native, etc. But, none of these alone should dominate in all aspects and facets of your thoughts and your politics. The world is a stream of colored thoughts, full of opinion and creative information. These thoughts are only waiting for your arrival in order to add to the dullness of an experience you might have disregarded. It is when your thoughts become dominated that you remain dull.

We must politicize the people. But we must not polarize the people. We must politicize them to be critical consumers of knowledge. This means introducing our children to all of the opinions of the world and allowing them to discern for themselves what they believe and why it is that they believe that. Doing so erases the victor as the only writer of history, and teaches that history is a tale of two cities (or more). When the politicized people fall blindly into a label and follow blindly into the ways of a sole political, religious, or social position then, humanity releases. We become laws and not limbs – inflexible versus flexible. We become a category and categorization takes away the complexity of the human who in various situations will act differently, think differently, and believe differently. This is not true for all things and all situations, but openness is significant for when the time arises, and peace will only come from opposing what is believed to be what you are supposed to believe. It is crucial that when we begin to think critically we understand that all true critical thinking takes into account the opinions of all sides and understands the purpose or logic of the opponent.

It all comes back to being. Being has no boundaries except for those which we makes for ourselves. Your identity is a journey, and there is no journey more vital than the journey we must take with the people who are most different than ourselves. Who you are is just as much who you’ll become as it is what you are today. Therefore, we must think freely and we will never become a slave of thought.