About Randy Miller

Randy R. Miller is a social studies teacher at Charter High School located in Camden, NJ. Randy has 5 years collective experience in both K-12 and higher education as a fundraiser, program coordinator and student advisor. He is also Co-Founder and CEO of MORE, Inc., which empowers urban youth and young adults holistically through education and mentoring using practical strategies for real life application. Randy received both his bachelor of arts degree (2005) and master’s degree in public policy and administration (2008) from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

sadlockershallwayFor the last 500 years, Western Civilization has dominated the world. When I say Western Civilization, I specifically mean Europeans who’ve colonized every continent on earth, and also the Americans who continue to dominate. Such domination means that institutions such as governments, schools & economic systems, are put in place and maintained by those in control. The signature of European and American colonization was the exploitation of people and resources: natural resources were found and returned to the mother country, women were raped and men enslaved. Unfortunately for the African, his hands would be the hands to build the Western world against his will. Slavery was common throughout all of human history, but the Western form of slavery became the staple of Euro-American domination for hundreds of years; a form of slavery that was as much psychological as it was physical – a consequence of capitalism. But one day, what the American knew as slavery stopped; at least the physical form. The Union victory in the Civil War left Whites with a dilemma; what to do with Blacks? If we took an honest assessment of the current state of racial affairs in the United States, it would seem that the powers of society are still trying to answer that very question.

Logic says that with the end of slavery comes the natural order of allowing the formerly enslaved an opportunity to begin life anew. Yet Africans were meant to be nothing more than labor. Capitalism gave Africans a place and even worth (in an economic sense). Yet once the government outlawed the use of African Americans as labor, the economic and political elite (who were White) had no use for African Americans. Sense the Civil War, there has been numerous attempts made by both White and Black to remove African Americans from the country, but to no avail. Fortunately or unfortunately, African Americans are here to stay for the foreseeable future. But if they are of no use to the economic and political elite, what should become of their lives?

With that truth in mind, there has been no effort on the part of those in power to facilitate the conditions that would allow the masses of African Americans to be socially and/or economically mobile in addition to assisting with defining the politics of this country. Blacks have been segregated and marginalized from the mainstream of society throughout American history first by race, now by class and in no institution is this more apparent than in the American public schools system. Segregation in housing has allowed for segregation in schools and the segregation of human and financial resources creating inequities in the quality of education received by Blacks and Whites. Concentrated poverty combined with fewer quality resources yields poorer results; this is the current circumstance for many African American young men and women in public and charter schools.

A disruption to the capitalist order can be best solved by a capitalist innovation. The popular solution to addressing inequity in schools is letting the market drive reform. School reforms designed to improve failing urban and inner city schools have done only two things; made money for various industries and reasserted the Euro-American standard by which Black and Brown people in the United States are to be educated. Neither of these has accomplished the supposed goals of reforming “failing” schools or improving the academic results of students. What it has actually facilitated is a system for tracking students; those who do well despite their economic conditions and the lack of school resources are awarded with greater opportunities and the adults around them giving a damn while those who don’t do well are branded as rebellious and problems to be managed. Where does that leave the various Philadelphia students whose schools were recommended to be closed by the Pennsylvania School Reform Commission …?

The Color of School Closures

Affected are primarily African American and low-income students. The reason for the closings: a budget short-fall of $300 million dollars. Even with the closings, schools will be without even more resources. At the same time, the state of Pennsylvania has decided to spend $400 million dollars on a massive prison project to help alleviate the high numbers of prisoners in current facilities. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but this has school-to-prison-pipeline written all over this decision. The school-to-prison-pipeline refers to criminalizing children rather than educating them. Once again, if a child can succeed, they’ll be rewarded but if there are any signs of poor performance or poor behavior because of poor performance, the criminalization process begins. Capitalists are building both schools and prisons to process and house the Black and Brown people of the United States, solving the problem of what to do with them. In theory, public control of schools and prisons has the goal of education and rehabilitation, respectively. However, private industries are free to establish their own objectives and expectations for both schools and prisons; thus the market can solve the problem.

The market has the problem of removing a labor force they can no longer take advantage of. The government has the concern of their placement in the United States. Both have segregated this labor force; only removing the “problem” from view while not really addressing it. Racial and class discriminations have created the environment for poverty to exist and thus the conditions whereby the market can address the inequities of education and high crime in urban areas and inner cities. The state no longer has the desire to pay for the education of a people of no value in the eyes of the political and economic elite and the market has convinced the state they can do a better job addressing the inequities they’ve helped to create. The same strategy is used against the state by the market with regards to prisons because the state doesn’t want to pay for prisons either. All things in the market work hand-in-hand and you have various corporations who benefit from industry cooperation to solve a problem 160 years in the making.

How do you rid a society of a people who are of no use to those in power… genocide. You can do so in a rapid and direct way, like the Europeans have in done their history. But the United States has taken a more subtle approach; collect as many of these people as you can over time, isolate them from society so they can die off, however slowly. Blacks are being punished and suspended in schools at alarmingly high numbers, so too are the numbers high for the amount of Blacks being incarcerated. You don’t have to call that genocide; it’s just the American way.

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