Detroit People’s Climate March, April 29

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Water Testing Project – We the People of Detroit

Buying a $500 House in Detroit: Bidding on the Soul of My City

Buying a $500 House in Detroit: bidding on the soul of my city

By Drew Philip

April 11, 2017

Excerpt: “What I’d learned from those eight years was that there were still 700,000 people living in Detroit, with their own ideas about what it should become. There was a community already here, not a grotesque one that needed changing as I had been told, but a powerful and innovative one I wanted to assimilate into.

I had inadvertently stepped into a real community, one tied together with memory and friendships, history, shared experience and relationships, and it was facing a new threat, one arguably greater than all the fires and crime of the past decades: the auction I had purchased my house in still ran each year, now live via the internet, and it wasn’t just abandoned houses they were selling.”

Reflection on Love and Struggle

Reflection on Love and Struggle

Robin D.G. Kelley in conversation with Fred Moten

Transcription and commentary by Mike Doan

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How do we build a new future? How central to this work are love and power?

“Love is the answer.” “All you need is love.” “Love trumps hate.” Hopelessly naïve?

        – Love (noun): A sentimental feeling. An intimate, personal, private state of mind. The dullest of the weapons of the weak.

Or, can love become “a material force for change,” as Jimmy used to say?

“Power is the enemy.” “Change the world without taking power.” “Power corrupts, absolutely.” Hopelessly naïve?

       – Power (noun): A repressive, abusive force. The essence of domination and oppression. What they’ve got over us, or we’ve got over them—and we’d rather do without.

Or, is there also power with, the power we build and share together, as Grace used to say?

What, after all, is power? And what’s love got to do with it?

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Thinking for Ourselves: Resisting Closures

By Shea Howell

April 11, 2017

We are rapidly approaching the moment of decision on Detroit public school closings. The announcement in January by the State School Reform Office that another 24 schools would be closed in Detroit has been met with angry, vocal resistance. Parents, students, teachers and community activists are holding meetings. They have stages rallies, protests and speak-outs. Everyone agrees that more school closings will harm our children and our communities. The Mayor is on record as opposing closings and the newly elected school board has found the courage to file a lawsuit, claiming the closures violate state law.

In response, Governor Snyder commanded State Superintendent Brian Whiston todevelop agreements that he hopes will defuse resistance. These agreements are a shameless scam. They will subject schools to stringent requirements and provide a pretext for continued state intervention, including the possibility of more closures and district takeovers. Unable to make the distinction between coercion and a partnership, the spokesman for the state education department, William Disessa said that if the schools “don’t develop a partnership agreement with the Michigan Department of Education by April 30, then they will be subject to the next level of accountability.”

These forced partnerships are not in the interest of our children or our communities. They are another pretext for relentless privatizing actions. The same forces that have been destroying our schools for nearly two decades designed these “agreements.”

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Ruby Sales and Michelle Alexander Discuss MLK Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam”

In Love and Struggle: A Conversation with Stephen Ward and Robin D.G. Kelley

Thinking for Ourselves: Silence is not an Option

By Shea Howell

April 3, 2017

The Reverend Dr. William Barber II marked the beginning of activities reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s call for a radical revolution in values in “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.” On Sunday morning, April 2, Dr. Barber spoke at Riverside Church in New York City from the same pulpit where Dr. King stood to speak to Clergy and Laity Concerned.

Dr. Barber is no stranger to struggle. Pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina he has become a leading voice in the Forward Together Moral Movement that carried out weekly protests against the repressive in actions of the North Carolina Assembly. Just last month he was in Flint helping to bring attention to the lack of progress by state officials in addressing the water crisis there.

Drawing on Dr. King’s theme that there comes a time when silence is a betrayal to all we value and love, Dr. Barber pressed that today “Silence is no longer an option.” “We must challenge what is going on now,” he said, with the understanding that while the situation is “dire,” it is “not new.” Rather, “Trumpism is as America as apple pie,” and “every stride toward freedom is met with the same backlash.” This is the “call and response of American history” where every “season of racial progress” has been met with a “response of the progress of racism.” If we understand this history we should know that “we cannot afford the luxury of pretending Trump is an historical aberration.” He is “merely a symptom.”

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Frank X. Murphy: A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal: 

Aggressive Interrogation of Corporate Education “Reformers” 101

By Frank X Murphy

April 2, 2017

Quaint, archaic notions of education from earlier eras have de-emphasized things like dialog, free inquiry and enlightenment values.  These pedagogical modes no longer apply to our modern, post-citizenship educational systems.  We propose new and more effective methods of interaction with those who measure educational “outcomes” using badly designed standardized tests and market-based rhetoric for power and profit.

Altho in earlier eras best practice responses to such crimes would often entail putting rats like the corporate education “reformer” against a wall and shooting them, these interrogation guidelines envision more effective civil resistance measures that allow learners to explore the contested boundaries between nonviolence, mental health, and the interaction of public policy with curriculum development in both community and school, for purposes of nonviolent (if possible) social self-defense.

The corporate education “reformer” should not be slammed against a wall (“walling”) without extreme provocation, and in no event for longer than the hours their racist and demeaning standardized tests are annually inflicted on children victimized by their abuse.

The corporate education “reformer” should be confined with smaller vermin, for a period minimally necessary under Detroit Public School-type room temperatures of excessive heat and unbearable cold, to give some appreciation for the unbearable human rights violations experienced by many Detroit school children in poorly designed and maintained buildings created by state takeover and “reform” scams.

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Thinking for Ourselves: World Water Day

By Shea Howell

March 27, 2017

World Water Day passed without a word from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Soon it will be three years since he got control of the Water Department and he has done almost nothing with this power. His direction has failed Detroiters and he is failing the future. His lack of leadership is stunning.

In July of 2014 when he was given control of the Water Department, Mayor Duggan said he welcomed “the responsibility for dealing with the Water Department issues.” He promised a plan to deal with the shut offs, to provide support for people unable to pay their bills and to improve services. None of this has happened.  He has utterly failed to advocate for water as a human right and failed to address concerns for water as a public trust.

Instead, water shutoffs continue with one failed payment support scheme after another. The Mayor stubbornly refuses to make the Water Affordability Plan passed over a decade ago by the City Council a reality. Instead, he continues policies that enrich a private corporation, giving it what seems to be a blank check to go around the city shutting people off. The Homrich Wrecking Company has expanded its original $5.6 million dollar contract for water shut offs to $12.7 million as of last fall. That is as much as the City of Flint paid Detroit for its entire water usage prior to its own man made crisis.

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