By Chief Oju
One of the most violent experiences Colonized people experience under colonialism is the colonizer’s miseducation system. Whether on the plantation being taught by the whip how to behave or in the classroom being taught that people invading our lands were innocent, persecuted travelers, this miseducation system forces us to submit to colonialism. However, as we live our lives in the colony we realize that everything we’re being taught in these classrooms is useless to our survival and is just lie after lie. We find out that what we’re taught to build for is white power and the colony instead of our own well-being and survival and that’s when we begin to opt out of this educational system.
Those who remain and continue in it do so in the hopes that they can learn how to use the lies for their own individualistic opportunism. What if we could have an educational system that doesn’t kill us or produce neocolonial sellouts? What if we had an educational system designed explicitly to create people who are experts at organizing others to produce for the collective health of their community? What if we could learn to read and write, study history, balance chemical equations, build homes and more for ourselves and not for the kkkolony? This is why the Black Hammer Freedom School exists.
Historically, Freedom schools have been a tactic for Colonized people and revolutionaries to educate and re-educate the masses. The phrase itself comes from the Freedom Schools made in Mississippi in 1964 during the Civil Rights Movement and the initiative known as Freedom Summer. Throughout the region, these schools were run by hundreds of volunteer teachers who worked to teach the community—from the smallest children to the most elder—about how to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, specifically in voter registration drives. These schools would teach over 3,000 students during that summer.
However, this kind of organizing was not new to Mississippi. Because of colonialism and chattel slavery, colonizers did not need to put African and Indigenous people into any educational apparatus unless it suited the colony’s needs. When the colony needed to break the unity and strength of Indigenous people in order to better steal their land, Indigenous people were kidnapped and then sent to places like the Carlisle industrial school in Pennsylvania, a literal factory meant to erase the cultures and languages of Indigenous people. The colony needed to use the forced labor of Africans to produce on the land. Being put into any kind of educational system did not increase that production.
The colonizer did not require Africans to be a part of the colonial miseducation system until the beginning of the 20th century, when they needed labor in the industrial north. At that moment, Africans in the south had already organized their own schools, with their own teachers, and their own curricula. Building outside of the colony allowed Africans to teach young people how to care for the land, how to care for each other, and learn to read and write without the goal of producing for a parasitic community (euro-peons). Africans got forced into the educational system they’re in today, they never united to it as a tool for their own development. In 1969, the Black Panther Party seeing the need to pull our people out of the colonizer’s schools started working on their own freedom schools in homes, storefronts and churches in Oakland, California. By 1971, they had established the Oakland Community School, where hundreds of students would get their entire education.
Black Hammer also sees the need to have our Colonized children pull out of this miseducation system and enter one in which we can get an education where we learn how to produce for ourselves a world where no one lives at the expense of another. We need schools where we can learn our true history that teaches us not just who our ancestors were, but also what they can teach us about how to organize our people today. We need schools that value our expertise and do not punish us for what we do not know. Our worth should not be measured by how well we understand and adapt to the colony’s lesson plan for our lives. The colony cares so little about our lives that they are forcing students to come back to in-person classrooms during a pandemic where they are not going to provide them with PPE in non-ventilated classrooms sitting three feet apart!
The Black Hammer Freedom School is a chance for all Colonized youth and adults to learn what we need in order to live, to heal this world and our relationships, and to thrive. We don’t need the colony, we just need us. Already we are laying out the curriculum we need, whether that is a class on how we can resolve fights and disagreements through criticism and self-criticism, how we can use music, acting and dance to tell the story of their people, or mathematics because we still gotta learn how to count! Have your child register for a class with the Black Hammer Freedom School today and begin them on their revolutionary journey now!
We will have a class: We All Say Land Back! virtually on Zoom in early June, where we will explore for those generally between the ages of 7-10 what it means when we say Land Back and what our revolutionary Colonized children think Hammer City should look like. Join the Curriculum Committee to help build the Black Hammer Freedom School and provide political education to the Colonized poor and working class masses! Email [email protected]
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