News for the East Bay's diverse, working-class majority.
Brought to you by the Democratic Socialists of America, East Bay chapter.
February 19, 2022
This is a lightly edited transcript of Majority’s interview with Westlake Middle School teacher Mx. San-Chez, who has been on hunger strike with one other teacher for 18 days to protest the Oakland government’s attempt to close down over a dozen schools. The hunger strike is ongoing. Donate to the hunger strike team via Venmo @convocation4studentjustice and follow their instagram @hungerstrike4oaklandschools.
I’m on hunger strike in opposition to these racist school closures. This is the second time the school board has tried to shut down schools in Oakland that serve primarily Black and brown children. Last time they closed schools it inflicted trauma on these children and teachers. This time we’ve had enough.
The rationale behind these closures, according to the district and the school board, is that we’re operating in a deficit and that having these many schools open is not sustainable. However, we know that these small schools work for our families, communities, and students.
Since the Reconstruction period, our government has continuously disinvested in Black and brown communities. Reparations never happened; we never got our 40 acres and a mule. We continue to see this pattern today; this struggle is against the disinvestment in education for Black and brown families. If we teach our students, they will get smart and they will rise up against those in power. Those in power don’t want that.
With our community pressure, two thirds of schools slated for closures were taken off the list, which is a small victory. But we’re out here to stop all school closures; no closures and no mergers.
I’m on day 9 of my hunger strike. Day 1 through 3 were the hardest. On day 3 I felt like someone took a knife to my stomach. The want for food has gotten less and less. My sustenance has come from interactions with people.
If I had a direct message to the public that’s watching, I would say that this fight’s not over. We need to stick together, stay in unity, and that we’re not going to stand for racism anymore, in any of its forms, especially when it’s affecting our children. So stand up, fight back, get organized, because together we win.