Loading...

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Our Neo-Confederacy



Indeed, it seems Republicans' sympathy for African Americans goes only so far. The GOP's neo-Confederate agenda is almost diametrically opposed to the interests of the black electorate. A glance at the platforms of the cavalcade of presidential candidates now lining up for the Republican primaries reveals a solid consensus behind the neo-Confederate agenda and little support for measures that strike at the heart of structural racism, like expanding voting access, creating more federal jobs and reforming criminal justice.
In light of the GOP's Southern dominance, the once-revered Confederate battle flag has served its purpose. The GOP elephant is the only totem now relevant. The flag is dispensable; the agenda isn’t.

-Angela

Jalaluddin Abdul Hamid shouts, ‘Take it down!’ in response to a pro-Confederate-flag demonstration outside the South Carolina State House on June 27. (Lexey Swall / Getty Images)

Our Neo-Confederacy

The flag may be wiped from state grounds and license plates, but its ideals live on in the GOP agenda
BY Salim Muwakkil

The modern Republican Party—with its voter suppression schemes, states’ rights fetish, and steep cuts to government jobs and services that most benefit black communities—has absorbed the Confederate message.
It is an irony that the symbol of the old Confederacy has become the most prominent victim of the June 17 massacre in Charleston, S.C., rather than the three men and six women who were slaughtered at church.
After photos surfaced of the shooter posing with the flag, a bipartisan chorus of politicians, including at least a dozen Southern Republicans, denounced the flag's display on state grounds and license plates.
Though the Stars and Bars served as the battle flag for the Confederate Army, it only became a totem of the South in opposition to the integrationist push of the 1950s and 1960s, when it was adopted by the Dixiecrats—Southern Democrats repelled by their party's embrace of civil rights.
Those disgruntled white Democrats were aggressively recruited by the GOP through Nixon's Southern Strategy, which was exceedingly successful in transforming the Dixiecrat South into Republican central. Alienated Republican Michael Lofgen, a former staff member of the House and Senate Budget Committee, told MSNBC's Chris Hayes in 2013 that the GOP has become, in the past few decades, “an insurrectionist, neo-Confederate party.” Or, as Paul Krugman put it in a June 22 column, “Race made Reaganism possible.”
Some see the Tea Party as the latest manifestation of the GOP's neo-Confederate march. Law professor Ian Haney Lopez, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, argues that the Tea Party's appeal has much to do with its coded racist messaging. The modern Republican Party—with its voter suppression schemes, states’ rights fetish, and steep cuts to government jobs and services that most benefit black communities—has absorbed the Confederate message. Its platform is in line with the principles espoused by neo-Confederate white separatist groups like the Council of Conservative Citizens, which donated $25,000 to GOP candidates in the last election cycle.
There is little doubt that the ascension of the first black president has contributed to this neo-Confederate boomlet. Obama's election exacerbated anxiety among America's white majority about the demographic changes that will, according to the U.S. Census, render it a minority in the next three decades. According to a 2014 Bloomberg poll, most Americans believe black-white “race relations” have worsened since Obama's election. In its official statement responding to the massacre at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) noted that racist hate groups are on the rise. The Charleston shooting was “an obvious hate crime by someone who feels threatened by our country’s changing demographics and the increasing prominence of African Americans in public life,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. The most prominent example is the presence of a black man in the White House.
Every week, it seems we're presented with new evidence (often videotaped) of ongoing racial turmoil in Obama's America, incidents so egregious they've sparked national protests and given birth to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Perhaps the savagery of a rampage in a sacred sanctuary will hasten some racist white Republicans to reappraise their views. The victims' families' expressions of Christian forgiveness won many whites' admiration; yet those conciliatory attitudes disquieted many black activists, a growing number of whom are increasingly militant—frustrated with the seeming acceleration of police abuse and the concomitant lack of racial progress on other fronts.
Indeed, it seems Republicans' sympathy for African Americans goes only so far. The GOP's neo-Confederate agenda is almost diametrically opposed to the interests of the black electorate. A glance at the platforms of the cavalcade of presidential candidates now lining up for the Republican primaries reveals a solid consensus behind the neo-Confederate agenda and little support for measures that strike at the heart of structural racism, like expanding voting access, creating more federal jobs and reforming criminal justice.
In light of the GOP's Southern dominance, the once-revered Confederate battle flag has served its purpose. The GOP elephant is the only totem now relevant. The flag is dispensable; the agenda isn’t.
Salim Muwakkil is a senior editor of In These Times, where he has worked since 1983. He is the host of "The Salim Muwakkil" show on WVON, Chicago's historic black radio station, and he wrote the text for the book HAROLD: Photographs from the Harold Washington Years.




Mythology around Confederate John Reagan gives incomplete picture

Read here about how the Jefferson Davis status was taken down last weekend here at UT.  This story by a UT Urban Studies lecturer, Dr. Rich Heyman, sheds light on who John H. Reagan—after whom so many schools have been named—actually was.  Not the hero some think that he was, particularly for the neo-Confederate agenda.

 -Angela

Mythology around Confederate John Reagan gives incomplete picture



By Rich Heyman

-
Special to the American-Statesman
Mythology around Confederate John Reagan gives incomplete picture photo
Shelby Tauber


John H. Reagan High School in Austin















Since the shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., people around the country have been debating the display of Confederate namesakes and symbols with new fervor.

This weekend in Austin, the University of Texas followed through on plans to
remove a statue of Jefferson Davis, but keep statues of Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, and John H. Reagan. The Austin school district
is currently contemplating changing the names of several schools named for Confederates, including Robert E. Lee Elementary and John H. Reagan
High.

people know much about Reagan. A myth about him has been repeated during
public forums at UT, at school district meetings, and in the Statesman:
That, although he served as postmaster general of the Confederacy, he
was actually a moderate who after the Civil War encouraged his fellow
Texans to cooperate with the federal government, renounced slavery and
secession, and advocated allowing freed slaves to vote. It is also
pointed out that Reagan served in the U.S. Senate after the Civil War
and as the first railroad commissioner of Texas, implying that he “made
good” after the war and was reformed.

This is a misinformed view of Reagan: He was an unrepentant defender of secession and white supremacy until the end of his life.

As postmaster general, Reagan was part of Jefferson Davis’ cabinet and
therefore was part of the central decision-making of the Confederacy.
Furthermore, as the longest surviving member of the Confederate cabinet,
Reagan became a spokesperson for the myth of the Lost Cause, giving
speeches that defended and justified secession, such as one at the
meeting of the United Confederate Veterans in Fort Worth
on April 19, 1903. Rather than renouncing the aims of the Confederacy,
he became one of the key voices keeping its ideology alive into the 20th
century.

Reagan’s views on black voting rights after the war has
also been misrepresented. What he advocated after the Civil War was a
cynical approach to appeasing Union demands in order to minimize the
impacts of emancipation in Texas. In page 227 of his 1906 memoir,
he maintained that the “elevation of the slaves to all the dignities of
citizenship” was an “evil” that needed to be prevented; what he
advocated was “to make such concessions [to the Union] as we would
inevitably be required to make … to save us from universal negro
suffrage.” Rather than advocating voting rights for blacks, Reagan
wanted to minimize them.

He first outlined this position in a
letter he wrote while imprisoned in Boston’s Fort Warren at the end of
the war. The letter explains in detail how black disenfranchisement
could be accomplished: “By fixing an intellectual and moral, and, if
thought advisable, a property test, for the admission of all persons to
the exercise of the elective franchise, without reference to race or
color.” By doing so, “no person now entitled to the privilege of voting
should be deprived of it by any new test.” In other words, he proposed
crafting laws in such a way as to prevent blacks — but not whites — from
exercising the right to vote. Reagan’s approach was exactly the one
white supremacists were able to put in place across the South following
Reconstruction, when African-Americans were systematically
disenfranchised through “literacy tests” and poll taxes. And it was
exactly this route that led directly to the need for the Voting Rights
Act of 1965.

Far from being reformed, Reagan continued to defend
the actions and ideology of the Confederacy to the end of his life, and
helped lay the groundwork for key tenets of post-reconstruction white
supremacy in Texas, most notably the denial of voting rights to blacks.

Reagan, while an influential politician in 19th and 20th century Texas,
is not worthy of the honor of having an educational institution named
for him. He does not represent the values or ideals of Austin, the
Austin Independent School District or the state of Texas.


Heyman is an urban studies lecturer at the University of Texas.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Troy LaRaviere: My Statement on CPS’ “Warning Resolution”

Powerful.  A school principal gets unfairly cited for insubordination because he supported the opt-out efforts of parents.  Eloquent response.

CPS is not interested in anything that contradicts its ideologically driven anti-public-school privatization agenda; an agenda which includes, among other things, over-testing students, and the diversion of public education funds away from students into the hands of private interests. It was action I took against both of these backward elements of the CPS reform agenda that led to the Board’s warning resolution against me. The resolution contains two warnings.
 Here is another earlier link/story by LaRaviere that helps illustrate the absurdity of all of this. I appreciate this principal's civil disobedience.  May his kind multiply.

-Angela


Troy LaRaviere: My Statement on CPS’ “Warning Resolution

CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND
I’ve been asked for my thoughts in response to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Board of Education issuing a “warning resolution” against me for opposing their backward education policy and corrupt fiscal management of our school district. Before responding, I have to write a few words about who I am.
I have never written about myself, and I don’t discuss myself in interviews unless the reporter asks a question that requires that I do. This is why it baffled me that the Tribune story on the warning resolution stated I worked to “raise [my] profile.” I work to raise the profile of CPS’ and City Hall’s incompetence and mismanagement. When I write and post, it is always about CPS policy; never about myself. However, it seems that it might now be helpful to tell you a few things about my record. After all, who am I to criticize CPS’ management, and why should anyone listen to me?
I am the principal of Blaine elementary school. When I arrived at Blaine in 2011, 79% of students were meeting standards—one of the highest percentages in the district among neighborhood schools. Just two short years later 89% we’re meeting standards—remarkable growth for an already high-performing school. Only 43% of African-American students were meeting standards on the ISAT test before I began my principalship. Just two years later almost 80% were meeting those standards (The ISAT was discontinued after two years).
Most importantly–according to criteria established by Rahm Emanuel himself, as a part of his principal merit awards–only three schools in the entire district have consistently met three or more of his four school excellence criteria—for three consecutive years.** That’s three schools out of more than 600. Blaine is one of those three schools. Although he calls it a “principals” award, Blaine’s progress has been the result of the collaborative work of a strong team of people. I lead that team.
One would think CPS and City Hall would pay more attention to the critiques of a principal whom their own criteria has identified as one of the district’s three most effective school leaders.
One would be wrong.
CPS is not interested in anything that contradicts its ideologically driven anti-public-school privatization agenda; an agenda which includes, among other things, over-testing students, and the diversion of public education funds away from students into the hands of private interests. It was action I took against both of these backward elements of the CPS reform agenda that led to the Board’s warning resolution against me. The resolution contains two warnings.
SUPPORTING PARENT CHOICE IN OPTING STUDENTS OUT OF TESTING
The first warning is in regard to actions I took in response to a PARCC testing Opt-Out movement initiated by Blaine’s PTA. It was the most successful elementary school opt out movement in Chicago, with more than 80% of our parents opting their children out of taking the test. It was a parent-driven effort and I fully supported their right to opt their children out.
Parents submitted forms directing us not to give the test to their students. CPS responded by telling principals that we must defy parents and sit the student down in front of a test—that only when the student refused it, could we allow him or her not to take it.
I know of no other field in which the professionals are ordered to disregard parents’ choices and force children to refuse to participate in what their parents have already refused to allow them to participate in. If a parent tells a doctor that she does not want her child to take a particular prescription, the doctor is not ordered to disregard the parent and put the medicine in the child’s hand and make the child refuse it himself.
CPS’ directive appeared to be a thinly veiled effort to pressure students into taking the test in defiance of their parents. It is blatant hypocrisy for a district that promotes itself as supporting “parent choice” to go to such great lengths to get children to violate the choices their parents make for them. I responded in an open letter to CPS stating:
“I will not be following ISBE’s ridiculous directives aimed at intimidating children and families into taking tests they do not want to take… No child under my watch whose parents have opted him or her out of the PARCC will be sat in front of any computer to take it, nor presented with any materials. The test wastes enough time on its own. We are not wasting even more learning time by engaging in CPS’ and ISBE’s test-driven political theater.”
This is the stance for which I was cited in the warning resolution.
Within the resolution the board plainly states that their reason for issuing the warning is because, “You publicly supported the Blaine PTA’s Opt Out initiative for the PARCC test.”
In response I return to my analogy with medicine. Doctors have the right to advise patients against taking unnecessary prescriptions and medical tests promoted by the hospital and the pharmaceutical companies that profit from them. Not only do they have that right, they have that obligation as medical professionals. As education professionals, we not only have the right, but we have the obligation to give our professional assessment of the worth and value of the tests promoted by our district and by the private testing companies that profit from the administration of those assessments.
In each situation there is a company that stands to profit, and an institution allied with that company. There to protect the interests of the child in either situation is the professional judgment of the doctor and educator. As they do in most aspects of their management of this district, CPS officials and the Emanuel administration are attempting to eliminate the professional judgment of educators from all major district decision-making.
In the end, parents must choose for themselves and the board of education certainly has an obligation to insist that principals administer the assessments to all who choose to take it. However, the board and CEO have overstepped their executive authority when they give directives to principals that prevent us from meeting our professional responsibility to speak openly to students and parents about the worth of these tests. If you believe doctors should not be prevented from advising parents to forego an unnecessary medical test for their children, then the same logic must apply for educators. In fact, that logic is even more applicable to educators since we work for the public, not private sector interests.
The only way to test the legality of an unjust policy or law is to break it. The classic examples are from our nation’s civil rights struggles. In order to fight segregated busing in Montgomery, Alabama for example, Rosa Parks had to test the law by deliberately breaking it. So let me state it clearly: I am deliberately testing the legal soundness of a policy that forces educators to violate parental choice, and prevents us from meeting our professional obligation to advise parents and students regarding the wisdom and need for them to subject themselves to an increasingly onerous load of unnecessary testing.
INSUBORDINATION: VIOLATING THE NO-QUESTIONS POLICY
The second thing I was cited for was insubordination when I violated a “no questions” policy at a district principals budget meeting. I sat there at the meeting listening to CPS officials blame Springfield and teacher pensions for the budget woes, while they completely ignored their own well documented corrupt and reckless spending (e.g., $20 Million Supes Contract, $340 Million Aramark Contract, $10 million central office furniture purchase, etc. etc.). So I stood up and asked the question anyway, citing several questionable expenses. Then CEO, Jesse Ruiz, stood up and told me that I was being disruptive. It is a profound moment of truth and clarity when a CPS official gets up and makes it clear that he considers asking relevant questions “disruptive.” I have already written extensively about the details of this encounter in a post entitled, “Adding Insult to Injury: A Look Inside a CPS Principals Budget Meeting.” In the resolution, the board cites me for insubordination, in part, because Ruiz asked me why I worked for CPS if I were so unhappy with its leadership, and I responded, “To save it from people like you.” It is important to note that Ruiz asked me to come into the hallway where he called me a “loud-mouthed principal” and asked me that question. In essence, the board is attempting to discipline me for answering his question. If he didn’t want an honest answer, he should not have asked the question.
Another disturbing thing about this resolution is the way I was informed about it. I received an email on Monday telling me I could come in on Tuesday at 1pm to respond to the allegations on a resolution that the board would be voting on the next day. The board clearly knew that I was scheduled to speak at the City Club of Chicago’s panel on CPS Bankruptcy at that time since one of their own—Jesse Ruiz—was also on the panel. I chose to keep my appointment on the panel and thereby miss my opportunity to respond to this absurd resolution.
WHAT NOW?
Yesterday, I drove by Washington Park to see if there was any organized activity at the scene of the Dyett School hunger strike. There didn’t seem to be, so I pulled away and headed toward 43rd and Vernon, about a block east of Martin Luther King Drive.   The entire part of the block facing 43rd street is an empty lot on which once stood a fire-damaged slum I lived in as a child; where my brothers and I slept on floors and cots for months until the owner of Moore’s Furniture and Piano Mover’s donated a bunk bed to my mother. I go back there often to remind myself of the road I have traveled, and of the awesome responsibility I have been given. I came here from nothing. By any reasonable odds, I was not supposed to be here. And yet, here I am. I am not an overtly religious man but circumstances leave me no choice but to believe that whatever power put me on this earth—and in this position—did so for a reason. While I am here, I have a responsibility and a duty to use this position to advocate as strongly as humanly possible for the betterment of our city and its schools. That includes advocacy for sound evidence-based education policy and prudent fiscal management of district resources—the advocacy that led to the current warning resolution.
I will continue to support all of my PTAs efforts on behalf of the children and families of Blaine and I will continue to call out CPS on its reckless fiscal operational and educational mismanagement of our district at every opportunity they give me. Unfortunately, for our teachers and the students they serve, those opportunities abound.
I have been called a hero many times; and sometimes a saint. I am neither, by a longshot. Like all of you, I have my personal flaws and my ominous fears. However, each day I work to rise above those flaws and to rise above the foreboding limitations and restrictions of the corrupt system in which we find ourselves living and working.
Cord Jefferson and Hampton Sides once stated: “It is self-defeating to want our heroes to be perfect, because we aren’t perfect ourselves. By calling our heroes superhuman we also let ourselves off the hook: Why do the hard work of bettering the world if that’s something only saints do?”
We don’t need heroes, and we don’t need saints. We need a movement. A movement of hundreds of thousands of people across this city who stand together to retake it from the grips of the corrupt and inept elected and appointed officials who hold the reigns of power. The hero we need is the public itself, awakened and ready to change our collective reality; ready to serve as examples to our children—examples of citizens who come together to work and change our city for the better.
On a related and somewhat humorous note, one of the Board’s “Directives for Improvement” was for me to “Conduct yourself as a role model for students.”
I don’t imagine they’ll ever get the irony.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Habla Texas Carmen Tafolla

Tonight is Carmen Tafolla evening.  She's a dear friend and she's so awesome.  Plus, she is none other than Texas' 2015 Poet Laureate. We love you, Carmen! -Angela


CARMEN TAFOLLA - La Malinche

Provocative, poignant, and beautiful.  By Texas Poet Laureate and former San Antonio Poet Laureate, Carmen Tafolla.

She saw another world....  Indeed, she did.

-Angela




Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chicago Parents Enter Week 2 of Hunger Strike Protesting Corporate Ed Reform and Dyett HS Closure

It is alleged that there is a media blockage regarding this hunger strike by parents wanting to re-open their neighborhood school. I can certainly say that this evening is the first I hear about this.   
The coalition’s [Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High Schoo] proposal is for a district-run, green technology school with partners including the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Botanic Gardens. The other two proposals the board will consider to replace Dyett are from an arts education non-profit, which has proposed a "contract school" that would not be run by the district, and a former CPS principal, whose proposal does include a district-run school. But Dyett parents and community members say they believe the best option for future students is the proposal formulated by the community. 
This powerful story evokes memories of Civil Rights protests and civil disobedience.
As part of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, Taylor-Raman and others have held sit-ins in City Hall, filed discrimination lawsuits and picketed Board of Education meetings. 
The Dyett hunger strike is only the latest flare-up in a public school system in turmoil. Contract negotiations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union remain in a stalemate, and financial woes including some bad investment decisions (and the district’s unwillingness to renegotiate them) have left CPS begging for operating funds from a reluctant state government.

All else equal, I, too, like the idea of the community running the school, in partnership with the district.  This should exist as a default kind of opportunity for all communities.  Regardless, things have gotten quite serious over there in Chicago with CPS facing declining revenue and having to make draconian choices—consistent with the claim made within about racism and, I would add, power.  

Do read the entire report.  Yana Kunichoff is a Chicago-based journalist, is very talented.  I include several of her other news reports below.   

-Angela
Monday, Aug 24, 2015, 11:16 am

Chicago Parents Enter Week 2 of Hunger Strike Protesting Corporate Ed Reform and Dyett HS Closure

BY Yana Kunichoff
“That it’s 2015 and not 1950 and black people have to go on a hunger strike to get a neighborhood school—it says to me I’m not even human,” one parent says. (Michelle Strater Gunderson)  
As schools across Chicago begin the cleaning and organizing process leading up to the first day of school on September 8, one will stay shuttered. Dyett High School, in on the edge of the Bronzeville neighborhood, won’t be opening its doors this year.
The high school has long been in the process of closing. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced in 2012 that Dyett would be “phased out,” meaning after 2012 no new students would be admitted, as a result of low test scores, and the building would be closed when the last class graduated.
Three years later, Dyett’s doors are now closed. But the fight to reopen the school is heating up. On Monday, August 17, 12 parents and neighborhood activists began a hunger strike, under the banner of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, to demand that CPS make a decision on the future of the school and reopen it as a district-run, open-enrollment, neighborhood school that would allow all students to attend regardless of grades.
CPS announced last year that it would consider proposals for a new manager and school vision for Dyett. But after months of delays, most recently an August meeting rescheduled for September, and with a long history of mistrust between community groups and the district, community members say they’ve waited long enough.
"The city has sabotaged our community, which we know is undergoing gentrification. Why would they close the only neighborhood high school left for our children?” Irene Robinson, a grandparent with young children that would have gone to Dyett had it not closed, said in a statement.
They are calling for an emergency hearing at the Board of Education—and to ask CPS to make a decision that isn’t “based on political ideology or cronyism.” The coalition’s proposal is for a district-run, green technology school with partners including the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Botanic Gardens. The other two proposals the board will consider to replace Dyett are from an arts education non-profit, which has proposed a "contract school" that would not be run by the district, and a former CPS principal, whose proposal does include a district-run school. But Dyett parents and community members say they believe the best option for future students is the proposal formulated by the community.
CPS stressed in a statement that the decisions around how Dyett will reopen will be a “community driven process.” “Identifying a high-quality education option for the former Dyett site is a priority for the District, and CPS is reviewing school proposals to determine the best open enrollment, neighborhood education option for the site," the statement continued.
But activists argue that more than the fate of Dyett is at stake in this fight. They say years of “education reform” have change the character—and schooling options—of their neighborhood. Bronzeville has been the target of many school closings and reform plans in recent years—more than 15 in just over a decade. The hunger strikers say these changes have made public high schools that can be attended without an application process in the area sparse, hunger strikers say.
Jeanette Taylor-Raman has spent all but the last three of her 40 years living in Bronzeville, and the last few nights sleeping in tents near the school while on hunger strike. She says the idea that her daughter may have to travel several miles to the nearest open enrollment high school instead of attending Dyett, is unfair. At issue, she says, is race.
“I live in a city where the only mistake of me and my children is being black,” she says. “I live in a city where the mayor and alderman don’t respect working families, no matter which way you try to say it.”
Taylor-Raman has been in a community group, the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), that has been fighting for Dyett since the school’s phase-out was first announced. As part of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, Taylor-Raman and others have held sit-ins in City Hall, filed discrimination lawsuits and picketed Board of Education meetings.
The Dyett hunger strike is only the latest flare-up in a public school system in turmoil. Contract negotiations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union remain in a stalemate, and financial woes including some bad investment decisions (and the district’s unwillingness to renegotiate them) have left CPS begging for operating funds from a reluctant state government.
The demands of the CTU and the Dyett hunger strikers have important overlaps. In response to CPS calls for cuts in its pension contributions to teachers, the union has said that CPS is “broke on purpose.” Dyett hunger strikers also say they do not believe there is a lack of money for a neighborhood public school. Taylor-Raman points to the CPS purchase of a new building in downtown Chicago: “They don’t have a budget crisis if they can purchase a new building. Black and brown people are just not the priority.” (CPS claims it purchased the new building to save money over the long term.)
Also of great concern to both groups has been the sea change in the makeup of CPS. The closing of 49 public schools in 2012 received a huge amount of press coverage at the time. But even before that, reform measures like Renaissance 2010 and the Mid-South plan closed dozens of schools throughout the city and turned over many of the buildings to charter school operators. And in the latest CPS budget, money doled out by projected enrollment numbers resulted in an increase in funding for charters, while all the schools losing funding were run by the district.
With the additional possibilities of a teachers strike still looming amid continued budget cuts, the coming CPS school year will likely be one of continued protests.
The tactic of hunger strikes around social justice issues has a long history in Chicago. Little Village Lawndale High School, a social justice-focused high school, was opened following a hunger strike, and a group of residents in the Pilsen neighborhood stopped eating to demand the closure of a polluting, now-shuttered coal power plant.
With schools set to open in less than two weeks, it remains to be seen how the hunger strikers pressure will bear fruit. But that history of educational justice activism has helped Taylor-Raman spur her continuing fast, she says.
“That it’s 2015 and not 1950 and black people have to go on a hunger strike to get a neighborhood school—it says to me I’m not even human,” she says.

Yana Kunichoff is a Chicago-based journalist covering immigration, labor, housing and social movements. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Reporter, Truthout and the American Independent, among others. She can be reached at yanakunichoff at gmail.com.