Political Education and Accessibility –

[image description: several rectangles with black colored borders. The column of rectangles to the left show a purple sky streetched beore a horizon, as well as a great purple colored full moon, a black hole, and finally a dark set of spatial mountains. The column to the right announces the ‘Anarkata Freedom School Black August Kritical Kickback Series’ in a white colored rectangle. A blue colored rectangle holds the logistical details: ‘AUGUST 1st’ in bold black lettering. The theme for this Kickback, in black lettering over a green background: “Political Education and Accessibility, 2pm EST on Discord”]

notes from the Anarkata Freedom School, Black August Kritical Kickback Series, session 2

  • Two ASL interpreters on call; a note taker on call
  • Introductions of names and pronouns
  • Setting the tone: Background on Black August and how this Kickback ties in with it.
  • ”It is a conversation more than a lesson than it is a lesson.”
  • ”Remember to speak at a pace that [can keep up with] the ASL interpretation”
  • Talked about how to sign ”black anarchist” in ASL. We broke down how to sign ”black” and ”anarchist”; we defined ”anarchist” as someone ”fighting all oppression.” This was our way to try and translate ”anarkata.” 
  • Our Host (Ziggy) introduces ”Black August”: started in Prisons in California with George Jackson visavis Black revolutionaries killed in the 70s. Commemorates births and deaths as well as rebellions that occurred during the month of August in Black radical history. As years have passed, people have expanded on it. Focused on prisons, which are concentration camps, disablist environments, where people are kept from what they need. Black August can also be about access, and centering the most marginalized. We want to think about that all the time
  • Co-host (ProfOund) expounds on Black August: from the UNIA’s ratification of the RBG flag, to Marsha P Johnson’s birthday, to the Bois Cayiman ceremony, to Michael Brown’s death, this month has much radical political fervor in our history. A time for study, struggle, solidarity, and spiritual discipline. Historically has meant fasting; but in the interests of accessibility we have been encouraging folk to reinterpret spiritual discipline in different ways that is suited to their medical needs. How can we reinterpret Black August more generally in an intersectional light?
  • We experienced tech issues so we began typing introductions; host’s phone died. 
  • ”Tryna find more accessible ways to honor Black August. Finding ways to keep our traditions alive.”
  • ”There’s so many materials people are expected to get into, but not many ways to get into it. For those who are working, just trying to survive, or who dont take in theory in ways that are expected”
  • ”Something that helps me dig into theory a little more is watching speeches… I saw Fannie Lou Hamer actually speak for the first time in a video. I think there is something really cool to being able to access things that way.”
  • ”I appreciate both of those things. I think people often think political education has to mean academic projects. While i dont discount the importance of some academic works, like Mapping the Margins by Kimberle Crenshaw, i do believe we need multiple avenues of engagement.”
  • ”Video has a way of having information broken down. It is easier to remember and put things in context. It is easier to capture people’s experience… let them speak for themselves. That is something i have been enjoying.”
  • Co-host talks about the Dream Warriors kickback series, which interlaces videos of speeches from Black radicals with music listening. This serves as a site of political education. ”What is political education? Everyone might not be aware of that term and what it means.””
  • ”Political education is about studying the history of how we got here, the actions that have been taken, the prominent figures, and using that to figure out what strategies we wanna use moving forward, what future we want, what skills. Going back and examining the past but carrying toward a better future in the process.”
  • “”For me, political education is getting together with a  group of folks who want to commit to getting more into having a shared understanding of whatever the political curiosities are. To have a shared language, to sharpen that lens we view whatever politic is being shared.”
  • “Political education to me is getting information that can be used to build a personal “toolbox” to help people move, function, understand, their worlds””
  • ”Having themed discussions are a good way to have political education so that we can learn from each other and discuss things that have come up and refer to things each of us have studied… and shared resources.”
  • ”I have seen people making messages through their paintings, songs, dance, theatre. I would be interested in getting involved in that a little more. A meaningful tool to have. Alot of what has registered with me through music, sharing messages in ways that really hit my core. Im personally really attached to the idea of political education via the arts.””
  • “also having accessible+space for political ed to me looks like being able to build trust. there is something very beautiful about sharing radical Black ass dreams and art is a fantastic way to move through political ed””
  • ”In february, the Afrofuturist Abolitionists put together a temporary community center called the Anarkade that included food, mental health workshops, video games and board games, seeds and information about farming, contraceptives and self defense equipment. One of the interesting facets of the workshop was the theatre space we facilitated, where we discussed environmental racism and then create a mythos/story set in a future impacted by climate disaster and colonialism. In this space, participants got to learn and create together and also work through debates about real life issues, and strategies/tactics of resistance through our characters. It was very freeing and very interesting form of political education.””
  • Quick check in – how is everyone?
  • Cohost asks how everyone feels about the Anarkata definition of political education. In the Anarkata Statement, political education has two simultaneous approaches. On one hand, we are raising consciousness/awareness of our oppression and history of resistance. It uses practical, theoretical, and experiential knowledge, not just theory. On the other hand we are raising our capacity to freely take initiative in matters concerning liberation. It uses practical, theoretical, and experiential knowledge as well. One side is about the information and the other is about the skills in terms of revolutionary involvement. “This is complex, however, and Im wondering if folk find that complexity to be inaccessible.”
  • ”[anarkata political education] makes sense it is complex. I think the point of political education is to drive how we move. It makes sense to figure out not just what happened before you but what is happening in the present and how you can impact what is happening. It has always felt complicated; to have that complication feels suited.”
  • Does the complicated nature of political education in Anarkata Turn come off as inaccessible to you? Yes or no? Why or why not?
  • ”Just because it is challenging to understand doesnt mean it cannot be understood. I think it just means you have to be more thoughtful about how the information more known… I dont blame people for the charge of accessibility, but also… If it is complicated but it is worth knowing and worth sharing, there has to be ways of making sure… people have different entryways to it.”
  • ”I think it is multifaceted… The first question I want to ask is what makes it complicated? Is it the vocabulary or the concept itself? What i have seen alot is whenever something is too complicated, there seems to be an assumption that the work will be done alone. There is a different complexity in something being easy to understand but you are isolated, versus a group both not understanding.”
  • ”I have heard often enough about certain theories being inaccessible. I think it is a good question is it the language or do folks not want to engage with digging more into Disability justice? What are the reasons people are ableist or transphobic and pushing against doing some digging in along those lines. Those are question i ask when people push back against learn. There needs to be a commitment to breaking down complex theories in a group. People bring different things to the table. I think it is really important to break it down and learn these complicated theories. We agree they are complicated and there should be a commitment to really deconstructed. I think people just give up and think things are too complicated and may give up and not do the [required] work.”
  • ”Not having the ‘why’ makes it harder to give context to what you are deciphering and how much effort should be put into it… this thought is still cooking right now.”
  • “Anarkatas push disability justice because we know our support will and can come from us, not the State. This support will recognize our whole persons and selves however we are shaped or may change and work to affirm us, by us, for us…. Anarkatas say that disability justice is ultimately about people power in its clearest sense, and see it as central to all of the political positions we espouse here.” I feel like valuing a shared investment in someone’s right to self determination should ground political education. If you arent willing to engage around Black radical traditions with a person, this isnt principled. This makes it inaccessible to me.
  • ”I think it is more about understanding how people learn. It may be that reading is not the only way people get information. I have had smaller groups where we have read really small texts. In our groups, some of the questions are understanding… what the grander context of where [the writer] fits. It is not necessarily a problem of ‘why should i read’ and it is more about ‘i have this concept but dont understand where it fits in the grander scheme.'”
  • ”Would it help for folk to also bring clear expectations of what they hope to get out of political education together? Some people might go into it for study’s own sake (which isnt always a problem); others might go into it eager for application. Perhaps confusion can be resolved by folk making (somewhat) explicit why they are engaging certain information.”
  • Read from ”disorganizing prisons” by Stevie Wilson:

“Political education helped me see who was the real enemy, who was responsible for my pain. When you’re hurting and you don’t know who is responsible, you tend to lash out against those closest to you. Many of us are behind the walls because of long-suffering pain and misdirected anger. Through study, I gained awareness and knew that other prisoners are not the cause of my pain. I began to see others with new eyes. My education made me more compassionate towards others.

I didn’t want to keep this good thing, this knowledge of what was really going on, to myself. I started to share materials with others. I started holding rap sessions about the PIC in the yard. I found that others were just as hungry for an answer to what was going on as I had been. We started to meet regularly. This is where cooperation became critical. You see, the PA DOC has rules against borrowing and lending and prisoners gathering without staff being present. So we had to get creative and be vigilant. Together, we found ways to study together, trade books and zines, and make copies of materials. We created groups with agendas we knew the administration would approve, like Life Changes: A Grief Support Group, and turned it into a transformative justice/healing circle called “Circle Up”.

Together we created and maintained four study groups. And when one of our members was brutally assaulted by two officers and placed in solitary confinement, we practiced solidarity. We put what we learned into action. We contacted our outside allies and created a phone zap campaign to make sure our comrade was safe and would not be charged with assault. Within two weeks, he was transferred to a prison closer to his family and back in general population.

The cycle doesn’t end. We study. We cooperate/care. We practice solidarity. This is how you disorganize a prison. This is how you disrupt the PIC.””

  • “”I wanted to know: how do we go about healing & community building? I’ve come to Anakarta from trying to address all the hierarchal oppressive tendencies I’ve seen in myself & spaces I’ve occupied””
  • Prof.Ound gives a brief outline of anarkata politic: i think we need clear expectations/definitions of what healing and community are. We have to account for the fact that that looks different for various people and places. For anarkatas we have a context-region specific way we move, and then a larger-scale global Black understanding of how we roll. The larger standpoint is a Pan African one, and an intersectional one; the more localized one is attuned to the fact that what works in the US is gonna be different than in Brazil or Mali or West Papua. We understand though that we have a tradition, a lineage, stretching back to precolonial Africa, of resistance to all oppression, and we want to build concretely on that lineage in a way that frees us in the now and also puts mechanisms in place to prevent other oppressions from unfolding in the future. One of the starting places for Anarkata politic is to take the concern with hierarchy, need, ability within anarchism, and the concern with class struggle and material conditions within marxism, and then reconcile it through Black queer/trans feminism. Four zines and this kickback series as an offering in that direction. In this abolitionist moment, where people are talking about abolishing the police in a popularized way, we have to ensure that those who are in prison, those who are disabled, those who are queer and trans, and those who are affected by the US military and imperialism around the world are not left out in the conversation. Then we can adjust down to figuring out how we keep that big picture liberatory politic alive at the person to person level. With how we treat people and hold our spaces. For example, if we know that Disability Justice is central to Anarkata politic large scale, then in a political education space like this Kickback, we have to have ASL interpreters. We have to make sure we make room for different styles of engaging, instead of just centering those who feel comfortable speaking.
  • We expressed our appreciation for one another and this space before closing out.

Resources to look into:






Image description: black and white photo, a group of young people engaged in protest, one of them raises their fist in Black Power salute. A large letter ”A” encircled–the anarchist emblem–is decorated in red, black, and green (the Pan African colors), with the black bar decorated with stars and giving off a cosmic feel. the following words, in red, black, and green hang to the right of this emblem: ”Anarkata: A Statement, Part II Anarkata Tradition

A silver triangle hangs over a black background, akin to a famous Pink Floyd album cover. This is a prism, in which white light enters into the leftmost side of the triangle, and a rainbow exits the rightmost side. The white light has the word ”problems” hanging over it in gray letters. The rainbow has the word ”praxis” shimmering in it in white letters. The sides of the triangel each have names in red letters too: the left side is ”anarchism,” and the right side is ”decolonization” while the bottom, the basis is ”intersectionality.” This is the AID – Anarchism, Intersectionality, Decolonization Feedback loop.
Black and white photo, crowd of young people stand in front of a building with their fists raised in a Black Power salute. In red letters, the title of the video: “Anarkata – Its Meaning – WIth ProfOund and Merrikat

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