Abolish the University: Radicalizing Dropout Culture

[Image Description: a jet black panther with orange eyes traverses over a range of grey and brown mountains and pyramids. Behind them, a brilliant and translucent with faint stars and mountains. Around them, a bold orange Sun, and Beautiful purple Moon, above: the Words “Anarkata Freedom School, Black August Kritikal KickBack Series; August 4th/18th 2pm PST, Abolish University, Radicalizing Drop out Culture”]

Notes from the Anarkata Freedom School, Black August Kritical Kickback Series, session 3

  • Welcomed everyone in, waiting for folks to shuffle in
  • Start Introductions of names and pronouns
  • Host explains this Kritical Kickback as part of a series in the Black August Freedom school. They quickly preface a bit on Black August what it is, being a month of moving and learning in/around/through Black Revolutionary Resistance. It is a moment of communing in the multitudes of liberatory actions that this month holds. Host asks for others in the space to share intentions in building the space
  • “I want this space to be one of not only talking about opposition but a space for new learning that’s healing and affirming for Black Trans and Queer Disabled folks”
  • “I’m looking forward to this space of learning and helping guide internal thoughts I have been having going back and forth on this topic.”
  • “I’m looking for a space of grounding and connection back to learning since my history has been more in isolation.”
  • Grounded the conversation in the Anarkata principles speaking to how many Black radicals have different entry points into this mosaic of revolutionary trajectories and traditions that are synthesized/put in conversation with each other to center the most marginal. Gave an example of Black feminism as an entry point that speaks to how different identities (at the time of analysis Black womanhood) are inseparable from each other. Arriving at the full conclusions of Black feminism is to move to Black Transness and Queerness. It’s understanding the anti-assimilation politics which is anti-capitalist and anti-colonial. Part of this trajectory and separation from other feminisms is care work being a radical focal point of praxis. It’s shifting from individualism to communal orientations realizing that state structures and other entities are obsolete. This is where the conclusions of Abolition and Black Anarchic Radicalism come as well. To understand this in the current day is to look at the political moment of defunding the police and realizing that is also defunding the police in our head. Or as Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin says, kill the cops in your head. This would include abolishing hospitals due to medical racism and nonprofits. This realization unfolds the need for militancy and discipline (outside of ableism metrics of productivity) in care work and vice versa. An anarkata saying and wisdom is to not only burn the soil but understand how to scientifically and spiritually restore the soil. That is what it means to center the most marginal of us. This is an entry point, and as you follow the tradition you begin to see other necessary pieces like Black Radical Ecology to confront the ecocide that has been at the forefront of colonization in the past and current day.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, it is centering disability justice in the work knowing that disposability culture is a means of absolving peoples & institutions from the structural neglect that place folks into the “cracks” of society when they are rather crevices and canyons. This is the shaping of this Kritical Kickback series and who it centers Black Disabled folks.
  • Another note for this kickback is to disrupt how rhetoric has been a means to absolve folks from actions. Language has been seen as praxis, not realizing language evokes action. Language has become a “hot commodity” especially at the moment and part of this commodification is to miss the point of it moving folks towards action. College culture is filled with people just searching for the most “radlib” statement. It is to make sensational statements that aren’t grounded in work and often is used to substitute it. Often radical work gets appropriated into the mainstream, but always returning to the source can be one of radicalization
  • For this reason, we will bring in two quotes from Gamba Adisa’s (also known as Audre Lorde) “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
  • First paragraph: “Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference — those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older — know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.”
  • “A key part for me is survival is not an academic skill”
  • “This spoke volumes, along with the part that you ‘may temporarily beat him at his own game, but it will never enable us to bring about genuine change’. I see this a lot with language “critiquing whiteness” while simultaneously centering it. A lot of folks are really focused on opposition and it is eating away at our energy and resources more than actually building it. This reminds me of what Kwame Ture says about moving from mobilization to organization. Often mobilization is issue-driven and now opposition focused. While organization is more communal focused, proposition focused to create communal connections and interdependent strength.”
  • “I agree, there needs to be a focus on community-oriented. Post-degree it really hasn’t been looking back at the degree or academics with fond memories. The fond memories came from being in community and building within. It has been focusing on more hands-on work and not so much the over-intellectualizing in school”
  • Someone shared personally: “I see my righteous rage as means to speak up against power and confront. I am not sure if that is entirely wrong, but I agree with this statement about how rhetoric can be taken up so often and not be grounded.”
  • “Yes, honestly this all leads to the next quote!: ‘Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns. Now we hear that it is the task of women of Color to educate white women — in the face of tremendous resistance — as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival. This is a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought.’”
  • “Often a lot of the time people like to use Audre Lorde’s piece ESPECIALLY in academia but don’t like to speak how she was doing lots of community work and using her position to resource materials in the community. In St. Croix, she founded numerous organizations and in her earlier years was the head librarian at Town School Library. A lot of times people create a sensation around folks which allows them to pick pieces out that feed their own ego and remove any needs or calling to also move into community.”
  • “This is an important framing as well because often folks “love” to say school is trash and what have you or that ‘it’s just a piece of paper’ or it’s ‘only 4 years of your life’, but then say that to continue to move away from community rather than to it.”
  • “This is why it is important to look at the statistics. The statistics show that about 40% of college students drop out of college, and for Black students, it is at 60%. The numbers are fuzzier and need to be looked, but that is roughly 8 million and So many articles speak to the need to “close this gap” which only evades the necessary proof that these schools are faltering, that they perpetuate systemic racism, sexism, and ableism that permeates into the culture and interpersonal connections that push folks out.”
  • “It is also important to draw from George, Jackson’s piece, Blood in my Eye, that for industries to even have overproduction there is underconsumption. For example, certain industries always speak about having a “target audience” so historically an industry was homeownership. During a particular period, if a working-class white folk went into the bank they would be laughed out, but then a decade later they were handing loans out constantly. This particular project also provided support for white flight and the creation of the suburbs. This target audience excluded Black folks. This is seen today with certain stores now only allowing electronic currency instead of paper currency which excludes folks as well. As we look into today – the building of this techno state, people are talking about AI (artificial intelligence) but this automatically excludes the most marginal from the equation. This is underconsumption. So, when thinking about radicalizing drop-out culture, it has to be expansive to include all community members. Folks who decided to not go to college in the first place. School has been about taking material and fiscal resources via gentrification, but also people, quite literally, that can provide time and skills to the community. This division is going to be seen so starkly with folks being “geographically” in community but having all their time, skills, imagination, and possibility eaten up into the virtual space of “education”.
  • “This resonates with me when I dropped out of college. My mom and others were always asking when I was going to go back and get the degree, and after getting the degree, I really didn’t feel any reward. The degree and academic side weren’t as rewarding as it was for all the other folks.”
  • A lot of times, the “pursuing of a degree” is to pursue a sensation and/or clout. And this doesn’t only provide immunity and benefits for the “recipient” of the sensation/clout, but also the supporters. It provides a mutual benefit, but also sometimes can be more of a benefit for the recipient of clout or it can be more of a benefit for the supporters of the sensation. These points play into each other in different ways that uphold power in every which way.
  • “Also, ‘pursuing a degree’ plays into respectability politics (rp). And the way people who be saying rp the most are the main ones who are functioning within it. If we are to look into the Anarkata A.I.D. feedback loop. It talks about decolonization being disruptive action. Colonialism sees decolonization as “rude” and “antagonistic” because it obscures how power plays out. Colonialism is violent and violates colonized people, but colonized people’s violence back isn’t violence in the same way, because the power exercised is different, it’s a form of self-defense. To arrive at the fullest conclusion of decolonization is to reject ALL of respectability politics. This can be seen in also moving from how popular movements & rhetoric critiques whiteness while often center it and salvaging it. Part of this decolonization is intersectional, looking at the most marginal, Black disabled folks who do not move within how “respectability politics” forces folks to mask their disabilities and be “productive” as a student.
  • “This speaks to why people need to culturally move their (bad) faith in institutions and power and put (good) faith back into community.”
  • “A lot of institutions are about substituting political education with water down education like implicit bias theory which is a sandbox theory. It only goes so far and so deep without looking at how ignorance is structurally made. There are structural gaps in education that feed ignorance’s purpose in sustaining power and antiblackness. Community and political work show this.”
  • “For me, leaving college was a rebirth. It really showed me who my preferred audience is which wasn’t white folks. For me and all my friends. Leaving and moving away from the college arena really showed its limitations in numerous ways.”
  • What would be things wanted to be seen in moving away from college to community?
  • “Skill-sharing, access to resources for researching, workshops, therapy (in unison), random electives like ones on pottery or Biblical history”
  • “Being a writing major, I loved spaces to write and talk about writing as I was writing. I would like to see more relevant education and informal schooling.”
  • “I think really good activity would be using pod mapping. So, if folks who are interested can document certain resource materials as well as creating and/or finding community resources online hubs. I also have heard that there are facebook groups where people share institutional logins for materials. If there isn’t, that should definitely become a thing”
  • “Would this resource hub be for experts to come in or for community members to build resources together?”
  • “I honestly think it would be both. Like there should be experts who are community members who should be willing to share knowledge and skills. So, for example, if folks are interested in learning how to loc their hair, making/creating a resource of different helpful videos that are self-pacing or having an individual come into (either virtually or in-person) that helps provide guidance and help in nonableist ways as well.”
  • “The biggest threat to the current conditions is realizing the abundance in the community and creating mutual aid hubs. This also results in prioritizing disabled folks in a systematic way because the community-led spaces historically do not strategize about building a capacity to protect and provide by and for disabled folks. In doing this, we break the continuation of societal shortcomings and violence towards us.”
  • I think this was in ways pursued in the 70s with the student movements. And to invoke this really speaks to a need for a class analysis because without it, it ruins community work. Like students weren’t looking to chase a bag, they were using their position to allocate resources back into the community. There was the Black Student Alliance which was a space for Black students to connect, participate, and volunteer in the different programs from the health clinic runs to the creation of our research foundation on sickle cell. I think this work should be studied and highlighted with folks who were students who decided to move on like Safiya Bukhari who really saw life and freedom as a constant struggle. These events must be looked into to see how to also provide materials back into the community when vaccines come out for COVID-19 and beyond.
  • “How would we include folks who are interested in getting this bag? For example, a brother who wants to learn how to cut hair but wants to make capital off of it.”
  • “Ya, I think that’s a very real thing. Like my little brother is like ‘ya, I’m on the grind’ and I’m like ‘uh..wut???’ I think it is important to ask folks what they need at this moment. For my brother, he wants to be independent and have his own space. I think that is very real especially for Black Trans/Queer Youth. I think that’s generally a big reason why folks go to school in the first place. It is to get away from toxic households, so how do we create an alternative that includes housing? I think it really comes down to what people need, often space and food. But, if people are just like ya it’s just for me or maybe my circle then it’s asking about how we can lift up the whole community collectively. It’s providing resources and certain mutual aid projects to these folks to provide opportunities for folks to have their needs met and participate in helping others get their needs met. But, if they aren’t interested and really are being individualistic, it is important to remember what Audre Lorde mentions about where we invest our energy. This is a boundary that must be kept to keep opportunist out of the movement.”
  • “This reminds me of the live Prof.Ound was on that talked about clout culture and importance of laneguarding the movement”
  • “Absolutely, righteous rage is very needed to make sure community work doesn’t get diverted and that it is continuing to center the most marginal of folks”
  • “Yes, this reminds me of the saying ‘the same $20 gets pass around in the Queer community.”
  • “Absolutely, mutual aid has been around for ages. This word has become much of a buzzword but its practices have been instrumental in/to Black resistance. My paternal lineage runs in Jamaica and how my grandma and her 7 sisters all moved to amerika was using a susu. Practically, a passing of money to give a boost to a certain person each month. This is what needs to be continued amongst other things.”
  • We blessed the space and appreciated each other’s contributions to the space and closed out

I hope you all enjoyed reading these notes and it creates a space of radical dreaming and action! If this resides with you, please join us in 2 weeks to continue this conversation! Same place, same time. Peace and Love.

Summary: This kritical kickback is uncovering and building anarkata trajectories and narratives out and away from the university plantation towards community

  • It’s not only” dropping out” of college, its divesting from the violent college culture 
  • We are dropping out, moving on, & moving in accordance to an elevated frequency, an anarkata frequency
  • We are critiquing university, the Left, and college “activist” dialogue that centers ytness
  • We are defending ourSelf from the university, their agents, and their assault through action & propositions

Further Reading:

Black Panther’s Service to the People Programs:


Cabral’s Return to the Source:  


Safiya Buhkari’s the War Before: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aHUah6t0Rm9-yd6bWMvKEEnMcZKjaYEQ/view?usp=sharing    

An Appeal – Bring the Maroon to the Foreground in Black Intellectual History: https://www.aaihs.org/an-appeal-bring-the-maroon-to-the-foreground-in-black-intellectual-history/ 

Audre Lorde’s The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House


Statistics on College Dropouts:


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