BETTER EXILED THAN CAPTIVE IN THE PROMISED LAND

Protesters including DPS board member Tawanna Simpson (r) carried out eviction of EFM Roy Roberts Nov. 12, 2012. Now he in turn has evicted the school board (again) under PA 436.

Protesters including DPS board member Tawanna Simpson (r) carried out eviction of EFM Roy Roberts Nov. 12, 2012. Now he in turn has evicted the school board (again) under PA 436.

By Elena Herrada (Notes)

Monday, April 1, 2013 at 10:31pm

Elena Herrada speaks at forum against EAA Aug. 2, 2012

Detroit school board member Elena Herrada speaks at forum against EAA Aug. 2, 2012

The elected Detroit School Board members face a new Emergency Manager law, PA 436, which replaces the one the voters repealed. Despite the fact that the language of the ballot initiative stated that repeal of PA 4 would also repeal its predecessor law, and that once the signatures were certified, the emergency manager law would be immediately suspended, none of this came to pass.

Despite the fact that Detroiters pay for a bond iniatiative to build much needed new schools, when the State took over, it sold off or leased our new buildings to charters and to the separate and unequal new experiment, The Educational Achievement Authority.

The Emergency Manager can hold all power over elected officials. This is the greatest perversion of democratic representation; one who is not elected answers to no one, and those of us elected answer to a corporate proxy. Crucial decisions about education are made by share holders and bond holders who know or care nothing of education for poor Black and Brown children. This is economic organ harvesting with full complicity of the state, the philanthropic community and the banks.

Protest against DPS state-appointed CEO Kenneth Burnley June 16, 2005. Student Sasha Alford at front.

Protest against DPS state-appointed CEO Kenneth Burnley June 16, 2005. Student Sasha Alford at front.

We are also being told that the options for voting out the emergency managers is actually a White Only option. None of the municipalities or school districts currently under EM will be eligible for the same option to vote out an EM. This “Grandfather” clause is similar to the Jim Crow laws that exempted Black people from equal protection under the law. This is being challenged; a law suit was filed in Federal Court last week on March 28th in Detroit.

The brutal racism leveled against Detroit- especially Detroit’s most vulnerable children- is something we have not witnessed in our lifetime- those of us under 70 or 80 years old. We have not witnessed state imposed racial and economic segregation; indeed, we were witnesses to court ordered school desegregation, which caused rapid white flight in the 70s, making way for Coleman A. Young to be the longest serving mayor in Detroit history. But it is no longer necessary to vote to run Detroit; indeed, voters run nothing. Detroiters who fought long and hard for representation- and for Latinos, a dream deferred- are watching our voting rights erode before our eyes while newcomers are being given tax abatements and incentives to move into the city.

Emiliano Zapata

Emiliano Zapata

The fact that the next election would have been the first in Detroit to offer the possibility of Latino representation via district voting vs. at large is only a small part of the current political moment. A city of 85% African Americans and all Black cities in Michigan have been stripped of voting rights by the state and we are still too numb to coherently make a plan to resist. Anyone elected to office now would have no power to make decisions. It calls into question why anyone would run. (School Board members do not get paid).

The elected school board members proudly return to exile. We invite the Detroit city council members to join us in exile and say NO to captivity; say NO to complicity; say NO to collaboration with those who steal our resources, our future and our city. SAY NO and JOIN THE DPS BOARD in EXILE!

In the words of Emilano Zapata, ” It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.”


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