[to see a video of me performing this piece, click here]
“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Pedagogy of the Poets
This is our classroom:
this Cipher, this Circle,
this Open Mic to amplify our voices,
This Talking Stick, this ritual,
This space where we are all teachers and students
and our Conversation is the lesson:
Voices in dialogue, concert,
Testimonies meeting, alchemizing in the air –
This is our Eternal Truth, our only Theory,
our Sacred Text, ever-changing,
We are Movement, Evolution,
Truly human, being praxis,
We practice the Art of Speaking and Listening.
The Word and the Silence are the legs on which we walk:
The Word to name ourselves and the world,
The Silence to hear what others are saying,
The Word to know, to defend, to dream,
Silence, soil to receive these seeds.
This is the Garden, the Ecosystem.
This is Art and age-old Wisdom,
This is the theater, this is the stage.
This is the altar on which we pray.
This is our church and our town hall,
Our congress and congregational.
This is our government: We are the legislators.
This is our Classroom: We are the Educators.
Capitalist pedagogy works top-down:
“Study for the test / Listen up / Shut your mouth!”
Standardized curricula written by the State,
Memorizing disconnected facts for a grade.
Keep it compartmentalized – don’t connect the dots.
Teach em to be satisfied with the poverty they got.
Never use the word “oppression,” that’s unpatriotic.
Don’t teach Ethnic Studies or you’ll go to jail, got it?
Water down the history, literature, social studies,
Out with creativity, we don’t need critical thinkers, do we,
In a system where the vast majority of jobs
are to slave away for minimum wage, workin for a boss?
But something new is happening: now even that is gone.
Automated labor has created a new problem:
They don't need us working in their factories no more
But they do need us in their warehouses so they can win their war
So they close the public schools when they wanna make a buck
But when COVID puts our lives at risk, they do not give a fuck
They say we gotta open schools up – the ones we haven't closed –
Cuz we don't care if you live or die, and where else would you go?
Maybe jail, maybe prison, maybe concentration camps
While they beef up the police state and they bail out the banks
Closing clinics, building condos, putting people on the street
That's the kind of education we gon get from the elite
If this shit ain’t fucking fascist, well, then I don’t know what is.
Tyranny of corporations: “Slavery, Inc.”
Lightfoot & buddies up in City Hall huddle
like a pack of vicious vultures, to callously shutter up
another housing project till there’s not even one left.
Sellin public schools out for charter paychecks.
Packin fifty students in a class with old books,
cuttin back, Special Ed, art & music go first,
Then it’s nurses, counselors, janitors, lunch is gross meat,
Soon enough they’re sittin in a room with no heat.
But “It’s all about the kids,” right? Lori's on our side,
It’s not her fault we’ve got an educational apartheid.
It’s gotta be the teachers, them motherfuckers lazy,
Better bust their unions up, cut their payment, raise fees.
Call me crazy, but I think I see a pattern:
They‘re takin away our basic needs while they keep getting fatter,
Their politics are like their classes: just monologue,
Turnin schools into prison: soft holocaust.
All of us now have to make a decision:
Keep trying to fix a broken capitalist system,
or redesign society, unite for a new Vision
where everyone participates and everybody listens --
This is why we make a space for everyone to talk.
This is what Democracy looks like: Hip Hop.
This is our Pedagogy – This is why we rock
the Mic, and we pass it so the Cipher don’t stop.