Education at War: The Fight for Students of Color in America's Public Schools

Education at War: The Fight for Students of Color in America's Public Schools

Education at War: The Fight for Students of Color in America's Public Schools

Education at War: The Fight for Students of Color in America's Public Schools

Synopsis

On April 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the anti-war speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” in New York City at the Riverside Church. At the time, the United States framed its intervention in Vietnam as a mechanism to protect democracy worldwide. While this supposed defense of democracy raged on thousands of miles away, social protests for racial equity, political representation, and an economic livelihood for its most disenfranchised communities spread across the United States. Highlighting this contradiction in his anti-war speech, King presented his doubts regarding the government’s ability to eliminate the materialism, militarism, and racism that built the nation, a plight that continues today. Written from the perspectives of education practitioners and scholars who have personal histories with global war via (settler) colonialism, immigration, and subsequent disenfranchisement in the United States, Education at War addresses the vestiges of war that shape the lives of youth of color.

This thought-provoking collection of essays reveals how the contemporary specter of war has become a central way that racism and materialism are manifested and practiced within education. Education at War asserts that the contemporary neoliberal characterization of education and school-based reform is situated within the global political economy that has facilitated growth in the prison and military industrial complex, and simultaneous divestment from education domestically. Essays examine anti-war projects across the K–20 education continuum with chapters from educators who are from and/or work directly with the communities often pathologized in “damage-centered” educational discourse. The authors do not just frame the conditions faced by our communities as state-mediated but also as collectively resisted.

They place war, surveillance, and carcerality at the center of critical race analysis in education. Each of the chapters include a pedagogical component, including lessons and comments for educators and youth workers. In cultivating this text, the editors have contributed to building a community of educators, activists, teachers, and scholars who collectively explore how resistance can produce the opportunity for rich, diverse, and transformative learning for marginalized students and communities.

Excerpt

This project has been a long time coming. We began Education at War toward the end of the Obama administration and submitted the book manuscript before the election of President Trump and his subsequent appointment of Education Secretary DeVos, a billionaire with a clear anti–public education agenda. Although the transition from a “postracial” presidential administration to one that has fueled the resurgence of public white supremacist allegiances has in some ways shaped the message of the book, in other ways this transition has had little impact. the latter is due to how we understand the foundation of education to be inherently violent to the communities from which we come. the current political shift makes this point more readily apparent. Admittedly, we both possess a level of pessimism in the ability of state-sanctioned education to address the despair typically imposed onto people who look like us. But we also have hope that our communities can create spaces of learning that seek to guide its members through processes of humanization often absent in schools and universities.

Our lack of faith in state-sponsored education is informed by our complex relationship with education. For coeditor Tracy Lachica Buenavista, American education coupled with militarized violence was the tool that achieved social, political, and economic control of the Philippines, a process of colonization that continues to shape the “labor brokering” (Rodriguez 2010) and immigration of Filipinos to the United States and other parts of the globe. and for coeditor Arshad Imtiaz Ali, a British colonial educational and political system in India left a legacy of ethnic and religious conflict, violence, and bifurcation that continues seventy years after the British formally left India. Including and beyond particular national histories in South and Southeast Asia, we have seen the past generation of life in the United States defined by what the government deems both “highintensity” wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) and seemingly less intensive wars (Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, among a host of other nations). Such knowledge and experiences fuel many of our frustrating interactions with colleagues . . .

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