Education Not Criminalization

We Charge Genocide Supports the Dyett Hunger Strikers

August 25, 2015


Today is the ninth day of the Dyett hunger strike, and grandmother Irene Robinson is now in Provident Hospital. Ms. Robinson is just one of the dozen parents, grandparents, teachers, and community members who have put their bodies on the line to #FightForDyett--a successful community school in Bronzeville that over the years was disinvested in and targeted for closure by Chicago Public Schools until it was phased out. The school now sits shuttered.

The continued assault on high quality public education in Black communities is another form of violence against Black youth in Chicago. Like arbitrary and invasive stops and frisks on Chicago streetsthe same streets on which these schools are being closededucational inequities serve as a reminder that young Black people are not valued by the City of Chicago. It also sends the message that Black neighborhoods do not deserve the same development opportunities as other neighborhoods, even while they are heavily policed.

It is deeply powerful that the Dyett hunger strike, led primarily by Black women, is happening during Black August, a month of study and action that often includes fasting in solidarity with political prisoners and Black people killed by state violence.

Dyett’s slated closure is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointed CPS Board’s ongoing effort to undermine high quality public education, community schools, and the Chicago Teachers Union. This was most dramatically displayed by the 2012 teachers’ strike and the 2013 closure of 50 neighborhood schools serving mostly Black students and employing mostly Black teachers and staff. The mayor’s undermining of public schools and preference for privatization and wresting school decisions away from communities of color is racist educational policy meant to reshape Chicago for the wealthy and the white.  The neglect and punishment of youth through inadequate educational access in Black neighborhoods is all part of a slow genocide of our communities.

We Charge Genocide recognizes that abolishing systems of oppression, including prisons and police, also requires continued investment in strong community institutions — including strong neighborhood community schools.

 We rise in solidarity with the community leaders at Dyett, and urge you to join us in supporting them however you are able.

The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School helped develop a proposal for a Global Leadership and Green Technology High School that we would love to see in action. Dyett has hosted successful community-run initiatives before, including when it was a leader in Restorative Justice, decreasing student arrests by 83% in one year. Restorative justice in schools is an essential part of dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline and building the world without police that we long to see.


The twelve Dyett Hunger Strikers (from top left): Dr. Aisha Wade-Bey, Anna Jones, April Stogner, Cathy Dale, Irene Robinson, Jeanette Taylor-Ramann, Jitu Brown, Marc Kaplan, Dr. Monique Redeaux-Smith, Nelson Soza, Prudence Browne, and Rev. Robert Jones. Photos by Phillip Cantor.


Call Mayor Emanuel at (312) 744-3300, Alderman Will Burns at (773) 536-8103, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool at (773) 553-1500 and tell them that you support the Dyett hunger strikers and demand that they meet with them and support the community’s wishes for the Dyett Global Leadership & Green Technology HS.

Along with political education and demonstration, Black August is traditionally a time for fasting and sacrifice in solidarity. Please visit the Dyett hunger strikers and consider joining them in solidarity fastsalready being participated in by hundreds of individuals around the country today.

Search the hashtags #FightForDyett and #WeAreDyett, and spread news of the hunger strike far and wide. Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors about the connections between strong community-run schools and all forms of state violence against Black people.