We speak with Swarthmore’s Dr. Edwin Mayorga, who explains how abolitionist classrooms and schools create “freedom as a place” in contrast to racial capitalism. Dr. Mayorga encourages educators to center joy and healing. We also discuss the corporatization of schools that reduces students to their test scores. Schools, as “localized nodes of political power,” should adopt democratic processes that cultivate voice, participation, and collaboration.


00:00-00:50 Intros

00:50-02:30 Abolitionist education

02:30-04:50 “Freedom as a place”

04:50-08:10 Critical racial ethnic studies; the Sankofa bird

08:10-15:30 Decolonizing education; relationships in the process between colonized and colonizer

15:30-22:30 Intersections of race and class

22:30-26:30 Racial capitalism’s impact in the classroom

26:30-33:30 Kensington Health Sciences Academy (KHSA)

33:30-36:25 Teacher as lead inquirer

36:25-38:30 Moving at the speed of trust

38:30-40:20 Modeling trustworthiness for students

40:20-43:00 How did KHSA become a school focused on trust?

43:00-46:15 Making the shift from a more traditional to a more liberatory school

46:15-49:40  Sustainability after school founder(s) leave

49:40-53:05 Relationships of capital to schools: Now and a century ago

53:05-56:15 Education sovereignty

56:15-59:35 Community land trusts as models for schools

59:35-01:03 Balancing autonomy with accountability

01:03-01:06:20 Humans’ relationships with other animals: Moving away from anthropocentrism

01:06:20-01:10:30 Where the joy is

01:10:30-01:15:55 Takeaways: joys, hope, healing, radical possibilities

01:15:55-01:17 Outro


Click here to see the full transcript of this episode. 


Soundtrack by Podington Bear

Image: swarthmore.edu