2015 Theme

4th Annual Social Justice Fair Call for Proposals

Submit a workshop here.

Decolonizing Our Schools:

Building Asian, Black, Brown & Indigenous Power

Considering the roots of the U.S. education system as a tool of settler colonialism, we propose a theme that engages us to ask serious questions about what decolonizing our schools really means (like, can our schools even be decolonized?) We know that U.S. schools historically were, and still are, used as tools for linguistic and cultural genocide, “to kill the Indian and save the man,” to “civilize” Indigenous, Black, Brown, and Asian peoples. For example, boarding schools removed Indigenous children from their families and outlawed their culture and language, exiling them in their own land. The post-civil war white progressive project to create Black educational institutions sought to control Black people through strict authoritarian structures, patronizing dress codes, and an emphasis on silence and obedience over creativity or collective self-determination. These “civilizing” techniques continue to be used in schools today, including an emphasis on standardized testing and curriculum that continues to privilege Eurocentric knowledge at the exclusion of others, enforcing the norms of white supremacy and the cruelties of racial capitalism.

We call for workshops that can help us understand what it means to decolonize our schools and communities, and to build Asian, Black, Brown, and Indigenous power. We are inspired by powerful movements, the latest in a long history of resistance to colonial domination, from the Minneapolis student-led walkouts in solidarity with Baltimore and to protest racist and classist budget cuts to the fight to keep ethnic studies in Arizona, communities organizing against police in our schools, and for adequate funding for reservation schools, among others. We draw inspiration from the powerful leadership, tensions, and questions raised by Black Lives Matter that challenges state violence against black men, women, queer and trans people; recent Indigenous uprisings to stop oil pipelines and demand sovereignty; uprisings against the enforcement of borders and the use of deportation by DREAMers and immigrant and Indigenous activists; and revolutionary struggles the world over.

We ask that proposals use the following questions as resources to shape your workshop. We encourage and prioritize workshops by youth, parents, people of color, working class people, queer people, women, and people with disabilities.

  • What does decolonization look like in our educational justice work? How can we avoid interpreting decolonization as a metaphor and instead see it as a holistic program to transform society?
  • How do the struggles of feminists, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, Latin@s, Blacks, Asian-Americans, Indigenous people, poor and working class people, and immigrants overlap and connect to each other? What are the historical lineages, present arrangements, and future possibilities of our intersecting movements?
  • How can we, in education, learn from the critiques of the white cooptation of radical anti-racism, for example, the modification of “Black Lives Matter” into “All Lives Matter”? Conversely, how can white people see their engagement in decolonization as more than allies and recognize that their struggle is not separate from the struggles of peoples of color?
  • Art and cultural work have played an important role in decolonial movements. How do we mobilize these creative forms of resistance in our work? How can art re-center youth voices and the voices of people often marginalized within education institutions?
  • How can we take our ideas of revolutionary social justice and connect them to organizing within the complex layers–internal, communal, institutional–of our education system? What skills, tools, and relationships do we need to carry out these visions?
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7 thoughts on “2015 Theme”

  1. ALIANZA, Latino student group at Southwest HS, is interested in bringing protest training to our school. Will there be a table, or other resources around planning a protest?

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