Sunday, January 15, 2006

I was digging through old files and found this editorial that was never published. I think it resonates with Bino's call for taking things into our own hands, in reference to promoting the work of Fil Am writers, artists, scholars at the forthcoming centennial of Filipino immigration to the US.

“Higher education is a free market”- (A quote by a university president) The conflation of “higher education” and “free market” is bothersome. There was a time when higher education was still considered immune from the vagaries of the capitalist system. A university was still the place where one can still acquire a truly liberal or humanistic education. There was a time when we believed that education is the great leveler, that in a truly democratic society, every one must have equal opportunity to get a good education. But now it seems, those days are over. Capital has taken over the last stronghold of independent thinking and humanistic values. Everything must serve Capital.

At a recent conference held at UC Berkeley on “Genocide in the Amerikas’, Loretta Ross, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights Education in Atlanta, said that she would be afraid to move to California because California’s racism is so well hidden that it’s toxic. She said there must be something wrong with a state that has managed to build and grow a prison-industrial complex (20 state penitentiaries in two decades) while building only one additional state university campus in the same period. As Angela Davis asserts: prisons are profitable. It serves Capital. Now who would we put in those prisons if every citizen became educated and worked at a decent job and became a good public citizen?

Wouldn’t it be in the interest of Capital to keep some sector of the population underserved, segregated, and impoverished? Wouldn’t it serve Capital to foster a limiting view of racial and ethnic diversity as preferential treatment? Wouldn’t it serve Capital if we revived the old assimilation paradigms and require a narrowing of the social safety net necessary to keep democratic options available to all sectors of a community? Of course it would serve Capital and the free market. But what are the social costs?

There is national concern over the increasing and deepening reach of corporate interests in institutions of higher education. While it is touted that corporate profits have no (racial) color, the reverse seem to be true in this case. What are we, as a community, allowing ourselves to become? Can we truly understand and embrace diversity without getting close enough to be transformed by an encounter with its many forms? Many people already live in gated communities in fear only of what they haven’t encountered. We ought to be afraid of our universities becoming versions of the gated community.

Comments: Post a Comment
links to this post

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?