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Cancer or Cure? A disruptive hooligan’s solution to incarceration

30 Apr

Black Orchid Collective

This winter, a broad coalition of people disrupted the King County Council meeting where they voted to authorize funds to build the new Juvenile detention center.  In response, a judge and several media pundits accused the growing prison abolitionist movement of being a “cancer” in Seattle politics. They also called us “disruptive hooligans” and suggested we need to be repressed.  Here is an excellent response from our friend and comrade Bypolar the Toxic Cherub, an emcee and organizer who has experienced incarceration himself and who had dedicated his life to dismantling it.

Cancer or Cure? A disruptive hooligan’s solution to incarceration

As an abolitionist we here over and over again we need prisons, we need police, that there is no viable alternative, that its the nature of humanity. Which is a very kkkapitlist mindset, and extremely untrue, so, you ask what is the alternative? Well lets for this time focus…

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Zine version of Reading For Revolution

18 May

Black Orchid Collective

Reading for Revolution is a three-part series of short articles that I wrote on collective learning and the struggle for a new society. 

The first article, “ Steal the the Ability to Read this Book ,” makes a case for seizing the reading skills that slave-masters and capitalist bosses have systematically denied oppressed communities. 

The second article, “ Clowns to the left of me, Leninists to the right, here I am – Chillin and reading with you… ,” argues for developing a learning praxis (reflective practice) that can break from the alienated and oppressive dynamics of capitalist classrooms.

The third article, “ DIY Study Strategies,”  is more practical, offering suggestions for how to start your own revolutionary study group.  I argue that  how  we read to make a revolution is different from how we are taught to read in school. I attempt to outline some of the more revolutionary…

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Billions of Dreams, Not Billionaires’ Dreams

10 May

Billions of dreams, not billionaires’ dreams
Billions of plans, not billionaires’ plans
Billions of thoughts, not billionaires’ thoughts
Billions of gifts, not billionaires’ gifts



On Saturday, May 10, folks organized a “Gates Foundation Truth Squad” outside the Gates Foundation Visitor Center to engage with young people attending their “Teen Action Fair”.  We engaged with a large number of attendees to support their volunteerism while asking their own questions about the role of wealth and power in Philanthropy.


Here is the content of a flyer that folks were handing out:



Fun Facts

  •   Much of the Gates Foundation funds are in Berkshire Hathaway stock, which owns Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) and Canadian Railway (CN).  BNSF and CN are now profiting from explosive tar sands oil trains.  This expanded rail capacity will bring tar sands oil to Asian markets, even without Keystone XL.
  •    Gates Foundation has significant investments in the GEO Group, which operates the immigrant detention facility in Tacoma.
  •    Gates Foundation invests in G4S, a private security firm that operates detention camps in Palestine and has been accused of human rights abuses.
  •    The United Nations recently reported that small-scale, organic farming is the best way to eradicate hunger, yet the Gates Foundation continues to support GMOs and agro-business giants like Monsanto and Cargill.
  •    They preach nutrition, but invest billions in McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Burger King, etc.
  •    They preach support for the working poor, but invest billions in Walmart
  •    They preach about fighting climate change, but invest billions in fossil fuels like Exxon Mobile, Arch Coal, Peabody Coal, etc.
  •    Gates’ Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project failed miserably at validating their preconceived belief that teacher effectiveness can be scientifically measured.    (This study won the National Education Policy Center’s 2013 Bunkum Awards, recognizing lowlights in educational research).
  •    Gates has been a key driver of standardized testing, which is being rejected by parents and teachers nationwide.  These standardized tests were originally created by the Eugenics movement in attempt to prove the ‘genetic superiority’ of whites and to apply assembly line models to classroom.
  •    Gates admitted their Small Schools Initiative produced “disappointing” results AFTER districts spent millions redesigning buildings based on Gates direction (eg, Cleveland HS).
  •    Gates brags about the quality of his own relevant and relationship-based education at Lakeside, yet pushes Common Core and treats schools as education factories to produce more workers.
  •    The Gates Foundation post-secondary program was severely criticized by the Chronicle of Higher Education for being “designed for maximum measurability, delivered increasingly through technology, and…narrowly focused on equipping students for short-term employability.”



Fair Questions

  •   Why do they claim to fight climate change, yet profit from fossil fuels?
  •    Why do they profit from immigrant detention?
  •    Why do they profit from private prisons?
  •    Why do they profit from shipping tar sands oil to Asian markets via the rail lines it owns (via Berkshire Hathaway stock)?
  •    Why do they profit from Palestinian detention facilities?
  •    Why do they support GMOs when there is no long term data on possible negative health effects?
  •    Why do they support industrial agriculture when the UN claims it is less effective than small-scale, organic farms?
  •    Why do they push charter schools, when the results are often mediocre at best and fraudulent at worst?
  •    Why do they drive using test scores to determine teacher salaries?  (even MSFT recently dropped the link between $ and employee ratings)
  •    Why do they want to replace college with online ‘worker training’?
  •    Why do they believe that the most important dimension of a human being is their contribution to the economy?  (See the vision statement for their post-secondary education program)
  •    What is the proper role of wealth and power in Philanthropy?  Does the Gates Foundation have too much influence, and does this distort research?
  • Is the Gates Foundation only treating the SYMPTOMS of our inequitable system, but ignoring the fundamental CAUSE?   Does the Gates Foundation benefit from and perpetuate injustices in the system

For more info, please check out this post from last month.



Zapatista teacher dead, 15 seriously wounded in deadly Chiapas ambush

9 May


Jose Luis Solís López, a teacher in the Zapatista’s “Little School” (La Escuelita) was murdered, and at least 15 Zapatistas seriously injured, in an ambush by members of an anti-Zapatista organization known as CIOAC-H on Friday, May 2, 2014.  The same attackers damaged or destroyed both the autonomous Mayan school and the local health clinic at the Zapatista caracol of La Realidad.

Read more, and find out what you can do here.

Bringing the Trainwreck to Bill Gates’ Doorstep

1 May

As we have written about previously, we have a legitimate fear that the public policy ‘experiments’ of the Gates Foundation are leading to a trainwreck of epic proportions.

In this post from last month, we provided an overview and links to further reading about many of the flawed policies of the Gates Foundation — from their investments in explosive tar sands oil trains, private juvenile prisons, and immigrant detention facilities, to their promotion of extreme techo-capitalist education policies.

Over the next several weeks, there are a couple of chances to again bring this fight to the front lawn of the Gates Foundation in Seattle.

On Saturday, May 10th at 10 am, the Gates Foundation is sponsoring a “Teen Action Fair” at their visitor center @ 440 5th Ave N. (You can check out their Facebook event here).

Outside the event, we will join with others to autonomously engage with and support young people attending in asking their own critical questions about the role of wealth and power in our society.  We hope to provide additional educational information to contextualize the narrow view that will be offered inside by the Gates Foundation staff.  Details are still, TBD, but we hope to offer teach-ins, dialogue, and fun engagement.

Additionally, on Thursday, June 26th at 5 pm, the Washington “Badass Teachers Association” is hosting a Rally to Save Education. This group is protesting Gates’ role in the privatization of education. The event will start at Westlake and end at the Gates Foundation. (You can check out their Facebook event here)

We plan to support the permitted teacher event 5-7pm, and autonomous solidarity actions from allied groups are encouraged.

Here is a flyer that is being used to publicize these events.

Please stay tuned here for more details and drop a note to if you would like to be more involved.

Reading for Revolution Part 3: DIY Strategies for Study Groups

18 Apr

Black Orchid Collective

Assata on education I recently published an article in the journal Perspectives on Anarchist Theory , sharing some suggestions for how to form revolutionary study groups.  It is available for free download here:   DIY study strategies .  Feel free to distribute it if you find it useful.  This is the third part of a series on revolution, education, and reading; the first two parts can be found here .

The full issue of the Perspectives journal focuses on anarchist strategizing, and can be purchased here, from the Institute for Anarchist Studies and AK Press.

In the article, I lay out some methods for learning from each other instead of treating the text or the facilitator as an authority.  I also wrestle with how to navigate differences in literacy skills among study group participants, and suggest some practical and creative ways to make texts and discussions more accessible to folks who have varying degrees of access…

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Destroy the School to Prison Pipeline

27 Jan

Below is the text of a flyer that we created in solidarity with the School to Prison Pipeline workshop that was part of the MLK day events.    We also handed this out during the march and engaged a wide range of folks in valuable dialogue.

A pdf of the flyer is available here.


The global economic system has created a set of pipelines that trap all of our youth:

  • A pipeline to privilege for a select few
  • A pipeline to precarious labor for most
  • A pipeline to prison for everyone else

These pipelines are not color blind.  Youth of color are far more likely to be trapped in the School to Prison Pipeline:

Limited pre-K → Special Ed. → No APP or enriched programs → “Time Out Rooms” (prep for Solitary) → Suspension → Expulsion → Drop-out status → No college → No job → Arrest risk for drug charges (even though whites are more likely to use drugs) → Harsh sentencing → Multiple Incarcerations → Felon Status → Alienation


In the face of increasing automation and globalization, our economic system uses prison to remove those whose labor is no longer needed. (While profiting from prison industries…)

Meanwhile, those in the precarious labor pipeline are increasingly stressed by consumerism and fear of falling into homelessness or convict status.  The system is so rotten that even those in the privileged pipeline will eventually suffer with the rest of us in the face of environmental and social collapse.

Stopping the School to Prison Pipeline is more than just a struggle to move from the pipeline of the oppressed to the pipeline of the oppressor.

We need to dismantle ALL of the pipelines so that NO ONE is marginalized.


  • Call out Seattle Schools for disproportionate discipline

(Contact the Justice Department at 206-553-7970 to force them to not drop their investigation of Seattle Schools)


  • Call out Seattle Schools for poor support of Special Ed

(Contact Jose Banda at 206-252-0180 to demand Seattle Schools to properly support Special Education)


  • Support specialized programs for POC ( Africatown Innovation Center, American Indian Heritage, etc.)

(Contact the School Board at 206-252-0040 and ask them to approve the Africatown rental agreement ASAP)


  • Work to block the new $210M Juvenile Detention Facility at 12th and Alder.

(Visit for more info)


  • Call for reduced sentencing for minor drug offenses


  • Work to end the use of isolation rooms in schools


  • End the use of PTA funding that advantages privileged students in wealthier schools
  • Call out the use private schools and segregated APP programs that perpetuate the pipeline of privilege
  • Work to end stratification, segregation, competition, and tracking in schools and classrooms
  • Find joy in community, challenge conventional definitions of ‘success’, support everyone’s children, and actively work to liberate us all from the pipelines

For additional reading and discussion: