Revolution #182, November 8, 2009
Taking Revolution to the High Schools
We received the following correspondence:
When we first got the special high school issue of Revolution we made plans to go out to two high schools and a middle school. Doing this we would let hundreds of youth know about this Revolution and the leadership of Bob Avakian.
There is one particular experience that was really important and made a big impression on the high school students.
We focused on one high school in an area we had been aiming to saturate with the RCP statement “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have.” This high school is in a poor proletarian neighborhood with people from all over the world. In one apartment complex in the area we had found 9 different languages from around the world, from almost every continent. Over 30 languages are reportedly spoken at the school itself. This international scene is mixed with lower and deeper sections of the proletariat from this country, including Black kids, and Latino kids whose parents came to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America.
We went out one day with a good sized youth crew to make a big splash at this school -- all wearing our Revolution T's, and holding large visuals. As school got out and students began streaming from the doors down the sidewalk we pulled out our bullhorn. One of us started agitating, drawing from the article, "Young Brothers and Sisters." Many students began walking up right away to see what was going on. Some youth began to stop and listen, drawn to what we were saying. Some asked what this was about, though we were also having a hard time getting most to engage more deeply on the spot. A few told us about how they didn't like that there was hunger, or that there was homelessness, or poverty, or the attacks on immigrants and black people. Others didn’t know what to say when we asked them questions about the world and changing it, except, “it’s bad” and “things should change.”
As we began to gather a crowd of about 15 youth that were all standing around listening or engaging with one of our team, the cops rolled up from across the street, telling us that we couldn't use the bullhorn. Our agitators put down the bullhorn but continued to speak out at the top of their lungs: "Look these pigs are trying to shut us down, but we're not backing our shit down and we're not going away!" They spoke from the Party statement about how the time can be long past when these pigs do this and get away with it -- exposing why the cops do this as the brutal enforcers of this system and how they don't want the youth getting into revolution, they don't want people to be able to change the world. Some of the kids really dug this -- cheering and raising their fists.
Many of the kids responded to the article in the high school issue exposing how the police think – “ they have the authority to do whatever they want.” One Latino kid told us about how a cop had slammed his face into a steering wheel, knocking his braces off. Another young black man told us about how his uncle had been a Black Panther and had been shot down by the cops. There were many stories of how the cops followed them home, bossed them around at school, constant harassment.
As we wound down and the students began to leave we started summing up. We found that we had gotten out over 100 copies of the special student issue in addition to the 500 or so copies of the short version of "The Revolution we Need... The Leadership We Have" we had been getting out for the last week at the high school. One student had gotten a bundle to get out to his friends and several had gotten stacks of fliers to get out inside the school. When we called people back we found that most of people we were able to reach had read at least part of the issue and thought it was important.
When we went back several days later we ran into a really interesting scene. A couple of young women came up and gave us hugs and said to their friends, "We love these guys!" They told us that the next day everyone had been talking about us, "The Communists." Some of the youth as they would leave would raise a fist out the bus window and some cars honked at our banner, "Revolution: Hope of the Hopeless." One young woman, who was there with her friends, told us "I wish you were my teacher."
In these engagements with these high schoolers, we learned more about their experiences in this society, ranging from the police and their own stories of being brutalized to a young woman saying how she hated how guys would whistle at her and treat her like an object. People wanted to know, what does capitalism have to do with how women get treated? We used the section in the Party statement on the leadership we have in Bob Avakian. Almost none of the youth had ever heard anything about this revolution or this leadership. Some kids were interested that Bob Avakian had worked closely with the Panthers -- what had he done and what was that about? Overall, these youth wanted to see a better world, they were tired of living this way.
But along with all of this appreciation and obvious attraction to this revolution some of the controversy also got to come out much more. Some really young kids that had heard our agitation from the last time had heard us talk about Obama and as they went by on their bikes chanted "Obama! Obama! Obama!" and one took a copy of the special issue saying that he was going to rip it up. Another group thought that we were McCain supporters and refused to talk to us. This time the cops and school security mainly stayed on the other side of the street. One time one cop came by and said that they had gotten some complaint calls from parents about what their kids had brought home so, "you should watch who you harass." We continued engaging with students and getting out literature and the cop went back to the other side of the street, watching us.
Overall, we found that it is really necessary to be struggling hard to be drawing out the youth and their thinking. They are not used to and really don't expect to be asked what they think about the world, much less what kind of world do they want to live in. Like it says in the statement "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," "A system which offers millions and millions of youth no greater purpose, no better fate, than crime and punishment, or to become a mindless killing machine for the system itself -- that alone is reason enough to sweep this system from the face of the earth!" But in order to even begin to really get a sense of what these students thought, to draw out their advanced sentiments, we had to give them a sense that we were for real and that the revolution is here. We are going back to this school and are going to keep digging in to draw people into taking up this revolution in all kinds of different ways.
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