Tuesday, March 25, 2014

RESEARCH UPDATE: Malcolm X, plantations, chains, and school reform politics

The St. Louis Schools Project will begin posting comments and updates on the research project, and we welcome feedback, critiques, questions and suggestions, here, or via Twitter (@slsproject).

We have been discussing, based on the comments of some of our interviewees, the significance of the recurring metaphor of the "plantation" used to talk about public school 'reform' politics in St. Louis.  This has included references (in public forums and one-on-one interviews) to terms like chains, whips, boss, house negros, and so forth.  Is this a generally shared perception or the view of only a few?  We are increasingly interested in how certain public spaces allow for the discussion on race and racism, and how other public fora work hard to silence or redirect any raising of the question.  Insights welcome.  On the recommendation of one interviewee, we have also recently revisited Malcolm X's speech that comments on some of these themes, the "Message to the Grassroots" (Nov. 10, 1963), which can be accessed here in text:  http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/message-to-grassroots/ and here in full audio: