Defund and disband the police?
Yes. I’m here for that.
And while we’re at it, let’s talk about the education/public school system. Let’s talk about the importance of raising our children outside of these existing colonial education systems in order to disconnect the maintained cycles of oppression that begin in, and are upheld in, those schools.
While we defund and disband the police, we need to critically and seriously look at eroding the public education system that is currently being the funnel to cause all kinds of harms against black and children of colour and recreating a system that works for us.
For it is the police force and the education/public school systems that are the key pillars in maintaining racism, white supremacy, white superiority, and discrimination.
Being an indigenous women, my experience is different than the struggles of a black person today given the current political landscape. However, the solutions that need to take place to eternally cancel the societally accepted oppression and continued murder/genocide of our peoples, are very much the same.
And where does this societal acceptance of our oppression start (other than obviously when someone is raised with racist parents)?
The public education system.
The merging of this societally accepted oppression into the minds and bodies of children is happening in a place where we willingly send them daily.
The public education system.
Public schools and the education system are currently training school aged children and younger on how to maintain systems of white supremacy, racism, discrimination and more in the most subtle, and often not so subtle, ways.
The training of children to accommodate, comply and become obedient to these colonial, and oppressive, behaviours and systems starts there.
It’s the education system that trains children, as young as 3, to believe in, buy into, and feed into ideas of white supremacy, white superiority, racism, discrimination, and colonialism before parents of color have a chance to protect and defend their children.
Sure, many parents are already raising their children to follow ideas of white supremacy, white superiority, racism, discrimination, and colonialism.
And many incredible teachers are doing amazing work in the trenches, undoing what years of children being in this system had taught them. I applaud those teachers. I love those teachers.
However, it is in these “educational” spaces where these toxic ideas are often reinforced, restated, and often even rewarded in deceptive ways, rather than being taught that they are wrong.
Step inside any basic public pre-school or classroom. Pick a grade. Any grade.
The promotion of racism, prejudice, colonialism, and exclusion of “minorities” and people of color is very much the norm in public education. Whether it shows up in the way that adults are relating to children in these spaces (consistent with notions of adult supremacist mentalities), in the topics that are being discussed in classes (whitewashed versions of history which completely dissolve the truth of colonization and slavery), and ultimately, in the paradigm and worldview that children are being educated in daily.
The biggest propellor and offender towards these racist, toxic, and damaging beliefs is the one and only adult supremacy.
Adult supremacy shows up in most child and adult relationships the moment an adult isn’t aware of adult supremacy. It is insidious. It shows up in forms of children being perceived as “good” only if they are obedient to the adult, no matter what the adult is asking or expecting from the child. It shows up in having the expectation that children will comply, no matter what, even if it is oppressive, minimizing, or downright racist.
Adult supremacy trains students to agree to oppression, most importantly, the oppression of themselves, in order to train them to be okay with, and remain silent in the face of, oppression, injustice, and dehumanization.
It also shows up in parenting dynamics, as much as it shows up in teacher-student dynamics.
Adult supremacy normalizes the idea and belief that adults are always correct and children are perceived as “bad kids” if they say “no,” resist, or stand up against anything the adult may be saying or doing. Once the resistance occurs, the belief is that the adult then has the rationale to punish and discipline the child, simply for not complying.
It is a normalized dynamic seen in classrooms.
Again, this excludes the teachers who are doing the ground-breaking work in the system. It excludes the teachers doing all that they can to support children based on where they’re at and support their disobedience.
Ultimately, adult supremacy then trains the child to either become obedient and compliant to every adult and system in their life, even if it means they become tokenized, minimized, and oppressed along the way. They behave in such a compliant way in order to avoid punishment or discipline. Or the child grows up resentful and constantly resists every adult and system in their life, even if it means engaging in toxic, irrational behaviours along the way.
These behaviours then ultimately trickle into adulthood, with both serving colonial systems exactly how they need to be served. One will become an obedient, compliant worker of the system, the other will become a statistic continuing to fuel the system.
And both are avenues in which children, who then become adults, are not being their authentic selves. Specifically, children of color.
They are now people (adults) who are doing exactly what the system trained them to do their wholes lives. To be a servant to the system. Or to be a statistic in the system.
Adult supremacy (especially in classrooms) ultimately leads to the desired outcomes that colonialism and its systems so desperately need in order to keep them operating.
Adult supremacy in classrooms leads to the normalization and acceptance of obedient cops obeying the system and making the conscious choices to murder black and brown people based on all that they know and were raised with in their lives.
The reality is, if children are not being trained to be complicit to colonialism and it’s racist, oppressive systems at home, then they are being trained in classroom settings,
I applause those mindful teachers who are utilizing tools of anti-oppression and anti-racist approaches to engage with, and relate to, children.
Because if a teacher is not aware of every insidious form of adult supremacy, and is not aware of how to put an end to it, they are automatically feeding children to colonial, racist, capitalistic systems.
Growing up, I went to public schools. Being an indigenous student in these systems showed me what racism was before the age of 5. I was often placed on the “learning assistance” classrooms which were filled with other indigenous students and students of colour.
There were times where both my mother and I would advocate for me, battling with principals and teachers alike, to put me in regular classroom settings. However, it was always declined.
“She needs extra help.”
“She needs extra support.”
“She won’t succeed without it.
I would look around the class, with the only other few indigenous students in the school, and realize that being indigenous in colonial systems will always lead to our continued oppression.
The idea or belief that brown children and students of colour are “not as smart,” and will not “excel,” are the ideas fed children of colour as they make their way through the school system.
The white students even witness the brown and black children being funnelled into the remedial classes, further engraining the idea that brown and black children are inferior and are not as bright as them.
When in reality, that is not the case.
The paradigm and worldview that children are being educated in is highly problematic in that it is, simply put, a colonial one. It is a white paradigm. It is a settler worldview.
And this worldview is toxic as fuck. Yet, it is so normalized and societally accepted.
The worldview and paradigm is so toxic that it deletes, denies, and obliterates genocidal histories in textbooks and storybooks, masking murder with thanksgiving lies and Disney versions of Pocahontas.
Rather than learning about the true murders and conductors of genocide like Sir John A. Macdonald, children are learning about settlers and the “great leader” Sir John A. Macdonald.
If Sir John A. Macdonald was such a “great leader” I am sure my great grandfather would have never punched him in the face and ended up in jail because of it.
The colonial paradigm and worldview shames and punishes children of colour when they speak up against the lies.
I once received an “F” on a paper because I wrote about the murder and genocide of our peoples rather than regurgitating the white-washed history lessons that was being taught in class.
And the number of teachers of colour I had in my whole educational career (all the way up to my Masters?)
Every single teacher I had from pre-k to university to Masters classes.
And sure, some attempted to meet the “multi-cultural” quota by mentioning Native Americans, but most of the time it was colonial, racist, highly problematic versions of my people that always made my stomach twist in knots.
The paradigm and worldview that is pouring out of the public education system is based on adult supremacy, contains many racist notions and ideas, and works towards filtering children into racist and colonial systems as they grow into adults.
And if this paradigms and worldview isn’t showing up in the homes that children are being raised in, and if they aren’t being funnelled into these systems by their parents, it is definitely beginning to be practiced in preschool:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” The teacher will ask a classroom full of 4-5 year olds.
And the expected and accepted answers?
It is often answers fuelled by notions of capitalism and the economy.
A doctor? A vet? A police officer even.
It is answers that comply and follow colonial pathways to success.
The answers that are steeped in the maintainence of indigenous and communal/kinship based systems such as a defender of the Land and the people, a Land based knowledge keeper, a language speaker, or a medicinal knowledge keeper, are the answers that are never promoted, encouraged, or supported in these colonial education systems.
And the reason they aren’t brought up in these classroom settings?
Because these answers, if lived by every student as they grew up every day, would be the answer to demolishing colonialism and colonial systems simply by existing and being practiced abundantly.
Children today, indigenous, black, and every other race and nationality, are even being educated in a colonial system which completely attempts to destroy notions and ideas of communal and kinship based living.
Public education focuses on non-communal learning methods which are use an isolated process where children are siloed. This further prepares children to “thrive” in colonial systems. Working alone, feeding the capitalistic systems, and neglecting indigenous kinship systems practices is the target and goal.
The way in which children are educated in general, with no communal learning, being graded on intellect versus survival and Land-based connectivity, further saturates the idea that capitalistic and colonial avenues are the only way to success.
And amongst this all, black and brown children are being told their histories are irrelevant. They are being told that the Land was never stolen, that their ancestors willingly gave the Land to the white people. They are being told that there was no genocide, that residential schools were not as bad as their kokums and moshums told them, that police officers are doing a great job protecting their communities, and that treaty rights are a lie.
The education system is what continues to feed white supremacist, racist, and discriminatory ideas to children as they go through the system for the duration of their whole childhoods and lives.
The education system is what trains children to obey or completely go against colonialism and its oppressive systems, both which are avenues that lead to fuelling the system.
And here’s the thing. Many teachers are doing their best to “decolonize,” “indigenize,” and disrupt colonialism. And it’s deadlee. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful to see.
And they’re doing it with the tools that would overthrow what exists.
If it was all done with the same effort with all of our kids.
We can’t change how white supremacists/racists raise their children, but we can change how our children are being educated and raised at public schools by creating and supporting our own education systems fully.
It is not just the police who are causing harm to black people and people of color.
It is the school system that is teaching those police officers that it’s okay to cause harm to black people and people of color.
It is adult supremacy.
It is the white-washing and attempted erosion of our histories.
Because if we had our own schools on the land or in the urban setting supported by our own teachers who were conscious and aware of adult supremacy and only spoke the truth, we could easily override and abolish the systems that colonialism and capitalism are separating us into as we grow up.
This, in turn, would create space for our families, communities, and nations to develop and revitalize systems of education and justice that worked for us generations before white people set foot on these lands.
It would set up the space for all of us to deem the colonial police system and the colonial education system as void and irrelevant to our existence.
We would see schools that are based on our worldviews, our paradigms, and schools that will train children to resist, stand against, and deem irrelevant the colonial and capitalistic systems that are murdering our families every single day.
Once we create and re-establish these schools, these justice systems, these health care systems that are our own, we can develop all the tools necessary to overthrow and create safety around these murderous systems like the police force, and colonial legal system.
This is the answer.
Because the answer isn’t in just defunding the police and putting more money into education.
It’s in revitalizing what worked for our people historically for generations.
It’s in our own Land- based, kinship based, family based education systems.
And honoring our children and their disobedience. Always.