I’ve grown up in the bay area and my political development started when I worked for a nonprofit. I was about 19 years old, had gotten kicked out of my parents house for drug use and related family conflicts revolving around mental health, and had to find work in order to pay my newly acquired housing expenses. Not having many marketable skills aside from being bi-lingual, I turned to Craig’s List and eventually got a series of interviews that lead me to an after-school tutoring job at a public school in Oakland. The program was funded and organized through a social justice nonprofit.
It was through my work at this nonprofit that I met people who were politicized around issues in education, pedagogy, and racial justice. Though no one helped me develop my politics through direct mentorship, being around a scene of people who had radical ideas and were doing work with working class students encouraged me to follow my interest in working students to the point where I decided to finish community college and get a teaching credential. It was through this process that I started researching people like Paulo Freire and through this being opened up to the world of revolutionary theory and history . . .
How many people have become radicalized through nonprofits? Found them to be useful forums for expressing radical political energy? How many have found them to be incredibly limiting and de-politicizing after spending some time in them? Continue reading