Here we’re re-posting an article originally published on the Black Orchid Collective’s website,
“This aint about money! That’s far from the truth,
they want better work conditions to teach the youth.
Politicians, I don’t trust em, its all in the name
the president, the mayor all want political gain.
Theyd rather put the kids in jail, shackle em wit chains,
then provide an education that challenges the brain.”- Rebel Diaz, “Chicago Teacher” music video
I am a teacher in Seattle, and I’ve been following the Chicago teachers’ strike closely. I’m inspired to see any group of workers and oppressed people fighting back. If I were in Chicago, I’d be on the picket lines. At the same time, I’d like to pose some challenges about how struggles around the school system can go further, to more directly confront the rampant race and gender oppression reproduced daily in our schools. The quote above by Rebel Diaz speaks to what’s really going on. I think the teachers’ strike begins to address some of the problems in public education, but I don’t think we can defeat this oppression simply by supporting or relying on the teacher’s union.
In this article, Madaline tells the story of how she fell into organizing and the IWW – pushed both by terrible bosses and by amazing solidarity among her coworkers.
Working at Artistry
By Madaline Dreyfus
If the first week of work at Artistry Bakery and Cafe was any indication, there was no way this four-month experience should ever have resulted in two of the strongest friendships in my life. I was introduced on the first day to a group of men and women, mostly about University age, who were also going to be working with me at the restaurant. Before our new manager arrived to start the training, I started talking to a tall, tattooed woman, and the conversation turned to things which embarrassed us. I said that I was embarrassed by my one of my middle names, Ruth, and continued for several minutes to tell her how much I disliked this name. Confidently, I ended with “God, I mean, what a horrible thing to do to your daughter. What’s your name?”
Stone-faced she stared and me and said “Ruth”. I was fairly sure she wouldn’t ever want to speak to me again. (more…)