LOS ANGELES, CA––I had the profound honor of participating in the California Statewide Conference of the Association of Raza Educators (ARE) at the Santee Education Complex on May 21, 2016.
Founded by Union del Barrio, a Mexican liberation organization with which our Party has had a very close fraternal relationship for more than 30 years, ARE is comprised of public and charter school educators, university professors, students and community allies committed to using education as a tool for liberation.
ARE’s 2016 conference was organized under the theme “Ethnic Studies: In the Classroom and Beyond” and had the aim of bringing together students, educators and parents who are teaching, enrolled or interested in implementing Ethnic Studies in their classrooms and communities.
I was asked to give a keynote presentation and lead a workshop on the work of the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP), a mass organization of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) responsible for building dual power development programs in Africa and African communities around the world.
The conference, which drew hundreds of mostly-Mexican and other Indigenous teachers, students and activists to Santee Education Complex in Los Angeles, officially convened at around 9:30am.
I had the tremendous honor of opening up the conference with a keynote address summing up our Party’s understanding of the role of education in a capitalist society and the role that Mexican, African and other colonially oppressed educators, intellectuals and students must play in the struggle for freedom and self-determination of our peoples.
A dynamic conference on education and freedom struggles
After the opening presentation, there was a first session of multiple parallel workshops, offering participants an opportunity to learn how to fight for and implement ethnic studies programs and curricula, something ARE has been leading the struggle around throughout California.
During the first session, I attended a workshop lead by Comrade Ron Gochez, a long-time educator and organizer in Union Del Barrio and ARE on “How to be a teacher and organizer and not get fired.”
It was an incredibly insightful presentation which laid out practical steps that should be taken by educators who desire to be or who are already on the front lines of our people’s freedom struggles.
Ron’s number one piece of advice was for teachers to join or create progressive or revolutionary teachers’ organizations, like ARE, to avoid isolation and becoming easy targets for administration.
He reminded us that being a teacher alone is not enough, it is not revolutionary in itself. Only through active participation in revolutionary organization can we as teachers do the real work that will move our peoples’ struggles forward.
After the first round of workshops, we head back to the school’s center for an absolutely delicious lunch and shopping with conference vendors who had been pulled together into a marketplace.
After lunch, during the second round of concurrent workshops, I gave a PowerPoint presentation on the work of AAPDEP to a lively group of teachers, students and organizers.
The conference wrapped up with the final keynote by brother Jitu Brown, National Director of Journey for Justice Alliance. Brother Jitu gave a powerful summation of the work to end school closures in Chicago and the recent hunger strike he participated in as part of the Fight for Dyett Campaign.
The high level of discussion, camaraderie and hospitality that I experienced as a participant in the ARE conference were extremely impactful.
I left L.A. with a better understanding of how we can organize African teachers and students into the work of AAPDEP and the APSP. I salute and thank our comrades of the Association of Raza Educators and Union del Barrio for your tremendous work!
Forward the revolution!
Uhuru in our lifetime!