Rebel vs. racist coercion
Saturday, December 22, 2018 at 4:18PM
Challenge_DesafĂ­o

BROOKLYN, December 3—When high school bosses suddenly suspended three Black football coaches, one without pay and health insurance, over a hundred students and parents rallied to call out the systematic racism of the Department of Education. As a result, 11 police cars, vans, an ambulance and a fire truck rushed to the school. They are so quick to treat working-class Black and Latin children and parents as criminals!
Despite the Department of Education’s (DoE) talk of equity, the liberal DoE and the New York Police Department collaborate to attack working-class Black and Latin students. They demonstrate over and over how fearful they are of organized Black and Latin students and parents.
In a climate of intimidation and fear, antiracists and communists are working to create an atmosphere of fightback. The Progressive Labor Party fights for the political outlook that Black and Latin students are key to an antiracist and egalitarian future. We cannot be silent as this capitalist institution dehumanizes and crushes the leadership potential of our youth.
Climate of racist intimidation and hypocrisy
Three football coaches, all Black men respected by the community, were suspended from work after one of them reported a fight in the boys’ locker room. The DoE prohibited the coaches from contacting students and parents but did not tell the workers the reason for the investigation. The football team, students, and education workers were shocked and angered by the DoE’s withholding of information. Two coaches have been suspended without pay and have had their families’ insurance cut since they are not members of the United Federation of Teachers, the teachers’ union.
The school administration claims to value and support student leadership; when students took the lead in organizing fightbacks, these mainly Black and Latin teenagers were threatened with suspension from both the school and football team. Administrators spent an entire morning calling parents of students who were suspected of fighting back.
Why has this urgency and persistence not been used to fight the DoE against the racist metal detectors that criminalize our students every day, or to fight for a change in the lead pipes contaminating our students’ drinking water, or to fight the underfunding our school faces?
Some people in the school community are hoping that the bosses’ politicians will make changes and save us. Yet, the politicians have not and cannot give the working class the schools we deserve. This clearly demonstrated that this racist education system can never serve the needs of our students and families.
Never meant to liberate
During this investigation, students have been arrested. Families and the school community have been given little to no information about what happened to these children. Despite the liberal bosses’ talk about “restorative approaches to discipline” as an alternative to the school-to-prison pipeline, the DoE and NYPD work hand in hand to control Black and Latin students. This collaboration with the number one terrorist organization in the country, the police, exposes this ruling-class institution of education for what it is—an instrument of control.
The main goal of schools is to serve the class in power. In other words, schools under capitalism serve and protect capitalism. While DoE actively silences and suppresses youth, struggles teach us that fightback is the only viable response in the face of that suppression.
The liberal bosses are the main danger. They used advisory groups, which are taught to be discussions where students are viewed as “equals,” to temper working-class anger. This shows that liberal school bosses have the same goals as any other capitalist administration. They just use different weapons of ideological control to maintain a division between the future workforce. Many in the school are fearful, but others have not lost their fighting spirit!
Yet, we fight back
One teacher in a union meeting said we need to show solidarity for our co-workers who have less protection than teachers in the union. Two years ago, this teacher refused to sign a petition to support a Black veteran teacher who was reprimanded for neglecting to post information on the board. He realized that his silence benefits the bosses and that it’s impossible to be “neutral” when a fellow worker is being attacked. He promised to be more active and to stand up when he can. His speaking out at the union meeting about racism is a good start.
Some students continue to protest, decorating and wearing shirts in solidarity with the suspended staff. They chanted in support of the suspended staff at a school event and confronted the principal. In response, the principal said the situation was out of their control. The student bravely retorted, “Did you stand up for them?”
This effectively exposed and silenced the racist principal.
Though many are fearful, some understand the need to fight. They stand up and encourage others to do the same. As more students struggled to fight through the fear, one student felt discouraged.
Another student said, “Don’t worry. Remember the novel we are reading in class? The character showed us that movements take time to build. Sometimes it just starts with one person standing up and then it grows. Just keep trying.”
Lesson of the day
The Progressive Labor Party has been fighting along with students and co-workers for years. We will continue to build a culture of fightback and student leadership in our school. When a multiracial group of students, parents, and teachers are united, we disrupt the natural pattern of this system. In these fightbacks lies the germ of a communist culture.

Article originally appeared on The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party (http://www.plp.org/).
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