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UnSelling and UnSettling Akkkademia for Palestine, For Mama Earth

Updated: Jun 7

By tiny gray-garcia aka @povertyskola, daughter of Dee, Mama of Tiburcio

Anthropology, Ethnography, Psychology -just some of the studies about us without us 

Our spirits

our cultures

our traditions 

Deconstructing our struggles 

While our communities are dismantled

 and left in rubble

..excerpt of akkkademia by tiny from the Sidewalk Motel - Poems & Poshunary from a poverty skola

For years I have critiqued formal institutions of learning for creating krapitalist* products out of knowledge, for raping, stealing, extracting poor, Black, Brown, indigenous and disabled mamas and papas and ancestors cultures and peoples for the sake of “Study” for counting, examining, dissecting, caging, and experimenting on humans for surveillance, knowledge production, eugenics, art, medicine and what I affectionately call “wite science*”. And ultimately, silencing, firing, intimidating voices and actions of dissent. Mostly people of color who dare to speak up inside the institutional walls. I have called for poor and indigenous people to resist, to build our own spaces of liberation education outside the institutions, and few of us have, until now.

In 2024, across occupied Turtle Island akkkademia* in its static sacred unquestioning form is being dismantled, redesigned, unSettled, re-made and re-visioned. Thousands of warrior truth-teller students and some liberation faculty allies, of so-called elite institutions of higher learning, institutions rooted in histories of genocide, enslavement, exploitation and extraction of this stolen land, with buildings and programs named after eugenicists, programs named and funded after corpRape* extractors and poisoners of Mama Earth and Mama Ocean, anthroWrongology* and arkkkeaology* departments holding indigenous ancestors hostage, are actively taking back their stolen land campuses in the name of Palestinian freedom, divestment and the end of complicity. But a funny thing happened on the way to these warrior moves for our stolen Palestinian babies and mamas and elders, the intentional and unintentional liberation of institutional education itself and over 500 Gregorian years of dusty wite* lies and silence. 

Tent-based reclamation in so-called California

As I stood at the edge of a cluster of over 75 tents (at UCLA and UC  Berkeley) located in the centers of two of the most elite institutions of higher learning, where young peoples of all nations and communities were sitting together on the grass and the Greco-Roman palatial steps talking and activating about the oppressive institutions they were enrolled in, I saw it -the change was electric. They were surrounded by giant posters and handmade art and placards detailing the History of Palestine genocide, institutional complicity and demands for divestment. There were canopies filled with free knowledge, free medicine, free food and free information to any and all that needed it. I thought to myself, “the people, the learners, young people with a clear-eyed vision created this.” Young people paying an institution for turning knowledge into a product and then legitimizing it with a piece of paper. Young people who themselves were leaders as much as they were learners.

As I was invited onto the oddly astro-turfed quad of University of San Francisco, a Catholic university in San Francisco, enriched and alive with tents, placards, blankets, snacks and students walking with each other, exchanging ideas, sharing dreams of liberation, I was struck again about the contrast to the ancient missionary architecture looming above from all four sides.

When I stood on a bustling street with a Greco-roman name in front of University of California San Francisco, while medical students played music, dreamed and visioned liberation from institutional silencing and actually spoke to each other, planned with each other and prayed with each other….  I was struck by this moment of liberation from the other source of repression, silencing, pain and fear. The institutions themselves, spaces of so-called learning, rooted in medical apartheid, the experimentation on women of color, indigenous and disabled bodies has actively repressed the voices of its students and faculty of color whose only hope was to teach structural racism, health equity and consistently are attacked and threatened for speaking their truths, by the donors and ruling medical aristoKRAZY.* 

Warrior teachers, writers and practitioners of medicine like Rupa Marya, who has stood with all revolutionary actions in the Bay Area consistently for years, who launched the powerful DoNoHarm coalition with her students at UCSF in response to the violent poLice murders in amerikkklan*, tried to bring in Poverty Scholarship and this poverty skola to teach at UCSF and was squarely rejected because I was not “published” which is akkkademik* code for “Legitimized by academic journals”, which actually isn’t even true as Poverty Scholarship and many of my articles have been cited and used in multiple thesis’ projects and journals including The Harbinger out of NYU and Columbia and more. But these soft gates and quiet gatekeepers rule so much of the UC system in California and many of the akkkademik* institutions across Turtle Island that my voice was easily shut out.

The beautiful visionary medical students at UCLA who did manage to launch a structural racism and health equity program at their medical school brought me in and of course I prayed for Palestine and a free mama earth, spoke on poverty skolarship and wite science*. And for those truths I was doxxed, lied about, and death threatened. 

Every single one of these student-led resistance spaces launched their own “popular universities” inviting in speakers, talking among themselves, sharing knowledge, and not commodifying knowledge. Many of these students and the faculty who supported them have been silenced, doxxed, framed and lied about by a silent wealth-hoarding class who are friendly, funded, or outright aligned with Zionism, corpRape* industries and war mongers. 

All of these spaces of tent-based resistance/reclamation** have many things in common, taking back occupied indigenous land for liberation, taking back their own power to educate, taking back and living into values of radical sharing and mama earth liberation.

**tent-based resistance is my naming of the movements to reclaim akkkademik spaces for the people -I don't use encampment because it is a military industrial complex term used as a slur against us Houseless peoples street communities- I also called out the irony of the use of tents by the students because if this was done by people like me we would have been “swept'' like we are trash within seconds and are everyday. I asked them to promise to redistribute their tents to Houseless communities when and if their resistance came to a close.

ComeUnity Education leads to ComeUnity Reparations  

My mama and I, in collaboration with fellow poor and houseless people at POOR magazine, created our own theory, our own canons- or to use one of the favorite words of the akkkademiks*- pedagogy. We created Poverty Scholarship-which helped to launch other Poor /houseless/Black Brown indigenous pedagogies like Voces de inmigrantes en resistencia, Youth Scholarship, Krip Hop Nation and KripHopOlogy. We called ourselves Poverty skolaz, Border Skolaz, Elder Skolaz, Caged Skolaz, Youth skolaz and Disability skolaz. We wrote our own Textbook and journals and non-extractive models of knowledge sharing. We created our own titles like Resistance Awards, Poverty Heroes and Po Poet Laureates. We launched our own educational movements open to all for free and even with support attend them- We Will Be Heard, FAMILY project, PeopleSkool and Deecolonize Academy- that worked to unTeach the racist, classist lies of poverty shaming, success, hoarding, extracting, and experimenting and teach back what was stolen from us, all of us. Our medicine, our theory, our prayer is radical love and interdependence, Unhoarding, decolonizing, degentriFUKing* Mama Earth and elder care-giving, love-working, anti-state violence, anti-poLice*, anti-eviction, anti-institutional, humble, street and community-based truth knowledge. We created new, non-violent terms for our knowledge offerings; Revolutionary Love Work instead of *Anti-Social Work, ComeUnity Reparations instead of Philanthropy, HERstory instead of History, HEALing Care instead of Hellthcare, poor people direct reporting media instead of about us without us middle class media WeSearch instead of research. Homefulness instead of homelessness and my most recent ISWAHT? The Institute for the Study of Wealth Accumulating, Hoarding and Truth…  

Our teachers were us: poor and houseless, Black, Brown, indigenous and disabled povertyskolaz, recyclers, panhandlers, poor mothers and fathers, abuelitas and Tíos, domestic workers, trabajadores, Street Artists, Vendors, Poets, low/no wage workers, care-givers who had survived by any means necessary, whose college was life, whose PhD's were in poverty, incarceration, false borders, racism, ableism and colonization to name a few degree focuses.

In the end, it is never my goal as a humble povertyskola to destroy anything, these institutions of learning provide jobs and money and space and time to people lucky enough to get into them, and to thousands of poor/working class, communities of color support staff who need those gigs, but they are also harmful racialized, ableist and class stratified spaces of scarcity, gates, poLice, tests, extraction, gentriFUKation*, hoarded land and resources. My hope and ask has always been to deconstruct the gates and gatekeepers that intentionally make things inaccessible if you haven’t mastered the oppressors language, if you don’t have enough money or even time away from caring for your community. 

We need to learn from accessible school models like the medical schools in Cuba that intentionally work to keep space open for poor students from destroyed and marginalized communities. We need to broaden, not shorten, the reading and learning and change-making so more of us can learn, soak up the urgent knowledge and be recognized for the knowledge we already have. We need to open the arkkkives* to include the peoples libraries, the povertyskola knowledge creators, the people intentionally left out and kept out of history and Herstory. We need to end the violent and impenetrable testing and scoring, judging and demanding that keeps these institutions elite in the first place. To break open the knowledge systems and the way our peoples' skoolwork are valued and seen. 

Perhaps degrees could be granted for taking care of our elders, taking care of our babies, stewarding and care-giving for community gardens, cleaning and stewarding watersheds. The concept of who is a teacher could be broadened to the abuelitas and mamas making teas and tinctures from flowers, the recyclers cleaning and sorting mama earth’s waste and people trying to survive through multiple traumas and intense poverty deemed as the experts, scholars and teachers they are. Elder prayer holders, bringers and culture keepers honored for the traditions and energy keeping they are already doing in degree programs that require no extractive skool time, but rather support time for what they are already doing. 

So education could come back to comeUnity where it began, from elder to youth, from village to generation. The violent and gentriFUking* force of the away nation (a concept I teach on in PeopleSkool) could be reversed. No more parks, homes, buildings and open spaces stolen for the profit of the Dorm industrial complex because community learning would be at the center of the educational processes. These akkkademik* hoarded buildings and lawns could begin to house houseless people and animals and grow food and build community equity.

And so this povertyskola has a practicable launch proposal for all of these institutions. A proposal of not only complete divestment in ALL extractive industries from RealEsnakkke* to CorpRapeShuns* and all and any military, poLice* and war industries and companies, but Investment and Reparations to all and any communities profited off of, experimented on, bombed, terrorized, studied, exploited and used from Palestine to Oakland.

ComeUnity* reparations supporting full scholarships for low-no-income, houseless students, free housing for houseless students and their families, free child care to students who are parents, LandBack of most (if not all) of the occupied land these schools exist on, with easements that include recognition of spiritual and physical leadership for all of the land, teaching and “board” positions for first nations relatives, guidance on curriculum design of things and knowledge they have long held in Science, land, medicine and art (to name a few), with a mandate to return all ancestors’ remains to all of the indigenous, Black, Brown and poor people they are stolen or “acquired” from who are languishing, un-cared for in their arkkkives* and basements. To invite houseless elders and residents who have been displaced by their extractive dorms - right of first return to housing in the dorms. To pay the gardening and cleaning staff of the school equivalent to the tenure teaching staff and offer them positions as teachers in the new land stewarding departments created as part of the proposal. 

This is only the beginning and I have a whole lot more in my proposal, but this is a start and very close to what I gave to the “liberal arts” college that gave this povertyskola “Credit for time served” i.e., accepted my 6th grade formal education and granted me an exemption from a BA for all the work I have done all my life so I could go onto receive an MFA, which I am eternally grateful to them for, because it saved my life. Their recognition and support helped this houseless/incarcerated, traumatized povertyskola artist write my first screenplay and produce a feature length movie on the violence of sweeping us houseless humans like we are trash. 

From day one at the beautiful campus where the residency was, I was overwhelmed by the miles of hoarded indigenous land. I proposed a ComeUnity reparations proposal to rematriate* the land back to the indigenous peoples of that territory, as well as at least 10 full scholarships to houseless/low/no/income students from the community where the skool is located and the worker staff who take care of their kitchens and cleaning and cooking to be offered, not only a full scholarship to go there, but to be seen as worker scholars who could teach on some of their own poverty scholarship in the program. 

Change and transformation never happens fast. It’s a prayer, it’s a journey filled with multiple pathways. This moment needs to be preceded by so many more moments and moves and refusal to accept or roll back into wealth-hoarder dominant status quo.  For right now, I send so much love to the warrior students who are still in the tent-based resistance movements*, refusing to pretend everything is ok. Demanding change and NOT giving up until they attain it. 


I see this moment as just the beginning, a powerful beginning to UnSell and unsettle these extractive institutions into love-centered, sharing centered community skools that brings knowledge back to where it began. With all of us, not just some of us. …In the meantime… consider coming to the next Decolonization /DeGentriFUKation seminar at PeopleSkool in Black August…

*The terms Wite Science (no “H” cause it's not a color, it's a system), Akkkademia, Amerikkklan, CorpRape, DegentriFUK, WeSearch, ComeUnity, Arkkkive, AnthroWrongOlogy, etc. are from my PoShunary - a poor people's dictionary (and if necessary for publication, can all be transformed back to the linguistically dominant spelling)

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