the philosophactivist

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Throwing Stones at the windows of the Ivory Tower (and bringing knowledge to the People for $Free.99)

So most of us already know how exclusionary and exclusive academics can be. The rise of the piece of paper..I or diploma and its importance to our very existence in the economic sector...or whatever. The way that we are denied a chance to thrive because of our lack of this credential...or whatever. No- I'm not saying that we need that piece of paper. I'm just saying that without it-- it sure is hard to be "middle class." No matter what the majority of Americans think they are. If you are struggling from paycheck to paycheck and in debt up to your eyeballs and trying to keep up a veneer to keep up with the Joneses then, baby, you ain't middle class. You know, I've been thinking a lot about education and how it can exclude you from your community. Especially if you come from a black community or a mixed community of, say, latinos, whites, blacks, and asians. As soon as you get to high school it's like you start working your way out of the community with your good grades. Athleticism is fine. You know, us people of color are expected to be track stars and football stars and basketball stars. In my little po-dunk town, brown people were held to the lowest of expectations when it came to academics. White teachers were shocked and surprised when I could form a coherent sentence and knew how to read way before elementary school. Yea, I have a lot of ideas on that --now that I've processed my educational experience. I used to think that they thought I was intelligent and never really read into it. Now I think they were patronizing. I think that their shock wasn't how I read it at all. They were proud of me for being brown and having a brain---not like the other brown people. Ugh. Process that. No wonder brown people hated me. Why did I get attention? I didn't want the attention. In fact, I was bored in class and talked and made animal noises and started food fights in biology labs. I had a permanent seat outside of most of my classes. They tolerated me, though. They knew that come test time I'd get an A. That was a jerk move I did---disrupting others who might have needed those boring lectures. But..well, on the other hand I kept them entertained and helped them with their homework and papers if they needed it. Hell, I even wrote papers for people if they paid me $15. Yep...that's right. I was a hustler. Nay, hustla. My mom always wondered how I had money...I wrote papers for people. $10 for a B, $15 for an A. Psshhh academic integrity--whatever. They were feeding us bullsh* in MISD. Where was THEIR integrity?

Which brings me back to the discussion at hand. Elitism---academia. There have been many movements to bring knowledge to the people for free. Now this knowledge is intermingled with what is called "local knowledge," (That knowledge from the community that comes from elders and members of expertise--or who just know sh*!! Pardon my language).  You know- I am a firm believer that any knowledge should be accessible. Academic, Spiritual...whatever. There should be no policing or gatekeeping. A person is going to do with it what they can. And you should NOT be charging for it. So academic institutions will say, but we have overhead---we have to pay these teachers, run this school. Psh whatever. Our ancestors did that stuff for free. They bartered. Traded sheep and let people use their land, or exchanged other resources. We need to go back to that. I am down wholeheartedly with the skillshares that have been happening throughout NYC, California, and Texas. The Free Skools that I see popping up in metropolitan cities with numerous universities. Academics and organizers who are coming together to bring knowledge to the people...

Who? What? Where? You say...
Well, there's The Free Skool in Austin. Here in New York City-at my very own (soon to be) alma mater Sarah Lawrence there are free classes given to staff and our food delivery workers,etc. There are also the skillshares done by Quorum and the Audre Lorde Project. There are also schools like this located across the nation and in other countries, see Chiapas, Mexico's school for the indigenous community.

I want a part in the passing around of both local and academic knowledge. It has been exclusionary for long enough.  More on this later...I just wanted to get this posted since it's been sitting in my "Edit Posts" section for a couple weeks now!

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