Note of Camaraderie to our Sisters and Brothers in Struggle
On the eve of the first important day in the 2016 primary election cycle, we offer a draft, never before published but still highly relevant, from a high point of struggle during the last presidential election cycle. The Chicago Teacher’s strike of 2012 was an important moment for the struggle against neoliberal “reforms” to public education, as well as for the trade union and working class movement as a whole. As teachers in Oakland, California involved in efforts at building organization and struggle of parents, teachers, and students, we have been inspired and challenged by the solidarity that was demonstrated on the streets of Chicago during the strike, and we deeply respect the years of strategic work that went into organizing a base of teachers that was able to carry out such a strike. The experiences of Chicago have provided an example of a higher level of militancy and struggle than we have seen in decades.
CORE and the CTU deserve the most recognition for this. As part of this recognition, we wish to deeply engage and scrutinize the strategies that were used to carry out the preparation, execution, and follow up from the strike. Our engagement and scrutiny of these strategies comes from a place of wanting to carry forward at the highest level the struggle against neoliberal capitalist reforms from our location in Oakland; at times this will mean pointing out aspects of the strategy used in Chicago that we are critical of, while at other times it will mean putting forward some initial thoughts on alternatives grounded in our experiences in Oakland. We come from a humble place of respect and camaraderie with our sisters and brothers in Chicago, and we hope that our engagement and scrutiny is taken as a sign of respect for the hard work put into the 2012 strike.
Throughout the country we have seen repeated attacks on teacher unions; these attacks are occurring in the context of an all out assault on unions and working class people as a whole. From Madison to Chicago to Oakland and beyond we have see Democrats and Republicans carrying out legislation that seeks to undermine the gains that workers struggles and trade unions have won for their members; we refer here to seniority, health care, wage increases, and positive developments in working conditions. These gains have been achieved by the movement of working people getting organized formally and informally, in unions and without them at times. All of these forms of movement, organization and struggle are part of what we refer to as class struggle.
We continue to share reflections and analysis on the recent student protests in the Bay Area.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement and the movement against police violence has taken on new forms, and has now spread to schools as sites of potential power. Students have held large protests and shutdowns at Mizzou and Berkeley High that have garnered national media attention, but there have also been smaller struggles that have gained less notoriety but are equally as important for militants to study.
These small movements show us new forms of organization that emerge in response to police murders, how students are coordinating these protests, how local histories influence the forms of struggle that take place, the role of Black leadership, how multi-racial solidarities emerge, how students are pushing the boundaries of what the #BlackLivesMatter movement means, and what the limitations may be.
Communist militants must grasp these events on their own terms in order to better understand how the student’s rebellious energy can deepen and spread to other sectors of the economy and to broader layers of the class.
One such event occurred last month, when students at Castlemont High School, in deep East Oakland, held protests and walkouts in response to the police murder of Richard Perkins, Jr. at a sideshow. In order to document the emergent student movement in the Bay Area, we have interviewed a number of students at Castlemont High and we provide our reflections below. Please read, critique and share!
The recent wave of student revolt around the world has brought to light the power that students have to challenge oppressive racial and economic regimes.
In South Africa, university students held national mobilizations against tuition increases and for university workers’ rights. They were able to shut down the entire university system, and ultimately force the government to negotiate with them.
In the US, Black students at the University of Missouri have mobilized against violent, anti-Black threats on campus. These students organized with professors and football players to shutdown key parts of the university, and ultimately forced out the school chancellor and president.
Similarly, Black students at Berkeley High School organized a 2000 person walkout in protest of violent, anti-Black threats. This event made national headlines as another moment in the broader #BlackLivesMatter movement
These experiences raise vital lessons for militants to study and learn from. In this vein, we provide below a flier that we produced shortly after the walkout on it’s lessons and possibilities. Please check it out and let us know what you think!
Posted in Bay Area Class Struggle, Flyers, Resistance News
Tagged austerity, Berkeley High School, Berkeley Protests, blacklivesmatter, BLM, Mizzou Protests, Police Brutality, race, racism, south africa, Students, walkouts
We would like to introduce you to the Advance the Struggle Free Education newsletter, an agitational tool we use at various campuses across the Bay to connect with school workers and students interested in engaging around the conditions and struggles of the education sector.
We welcome any feedback and encourage our friends and supporters to spread these widely!
Here is our first edition:
An independent grouping of students and school workers came together to organize an action against police violence. Young people of color are constantly surveilled and harassed by police in their communities and schools, so it’s inspiring to see a spirited action done in a militant and structured way. Our friend John Reimann has produced this video of yesterday’s action, which you can see after the jump. We will be sharing more strategic reflections on the organizing involved in this shortly. Enjoy the youth energy in the meantime. Continue reading
On the day of the verdict, whether or not the grand jury decides to indict Darren Wilson – the cop who killed Mike Brown – we will be out on the streets at 14th and Broadway at 7pm. We do so to show our solidarity with Mike Brown and the militants of Ferguson, who withstood the brute force of the state while bravely fighting the white supremacist power structure that treats black life as disposable. Their actions have inspired a movement all across the country and the world to challenge the daily oppression faced by black and brown working class people.
Whether or not this cop is indicted won’t change the repressive nature of the state and capital, but what this tragedy has shown is the revolutionary potential of concerted action in the street. The militants of Ferguson have directly faced the state, have rejected community and business leaders’ calls for pacification, and, when the cameras left, continued to do the intensive community building to keep the movement strong. But where will they and the national movement against police brutality go from here?
The experience in the Oscar Grant struggle has shown the need for an organized struggle that moves beyond merely reacting to moments of outrage and court dates, and develops a sustained movement and organization of black and brown proletarians that can challenge all instances of police brutality that occur in our city and beyond. This isn’t done by pandering to the state and it’s courts, non-profit leaders, self-appointed community leaders, or the “business community,” but by developing a revolutionary organization composed of working class militants who are steeled in the day to day struggles in the streets, their communities, and their workplaces.
When a black life is lost every 28 hours by the hands of cops and racist vigilantes, when stop and frisk is becoming the new normal, when prison populations are overflowing with black and brown people, families broken up by deportation, and jobs are few and far between, this movement seems more relevant then ever.
Below the jump, check out a dope track entitled War Cry by Tef Poe, a rapper who has been on the front lines of the struggle in Ferguson. This is sure to be a protest anthem. See you in the streets..