Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Funding Empowerment

TJ von Oehsen's picture

I attended a talk tonight given by Haverford alum, Class of 1986, Vincent Warren regarding his work in activism and, in particular, the Black Lives Matter movement. A political science major while at Haverford, he did not shy away from an attempt to find applied solutions to issues to accompany his anecodotes and more philosophical points regarding race relations and police brutality. It was clear throughout a majority of his talk that he was in a room filled with people who very much agreed with his more theoretical claims regarding race. His assertions early on were met with nods, snaps, laughter, and a general air of affirmation and agreement. Yet, towards the end when he began moving towards applied practices, I found myself deviating from the masses witht regards to his message. What Warren introduced and stressed for a majority of the second half of his talk was the economic investments that restrict our ability to evoke change to the system of racial relations. The example he utilized was qutie contemporary, he chose police body cameras. Of course, we all know how effective and useful the requirement of body cameras has/will continue to be with regards to preventing instances of police brutality. Yet, as Warren explained, we are essentially addressing the wrong end of the problem. The way Warren sees it, we are using our money that would normally go towards paying officers of the law, to instead, "prevent them from shooting us." Consequently, Warren suggested a systematic divestment on the part of the United States towards systems that perpetuate inequality and that focus on the issue rather than the solution. Body camera and our criminal justice system are two prime examples. Up until this point, I was in total agreement with Warren. Yet, he went on to recommend that we divest that money and invest it in systems such as child care; which he claims should be our number one priority and investment. Investing more money in the education of youth with regards to the child care that Warren was addressing caught me a little off balance. Having taken a few education courses before and discussed at length the importance of the human aspects of education, the role of family and peers, and even geographic features, I found it hard to jump on board with everyone else agreeing upon the idea that throwing money at the issues of education, however important to address, would assist very much in solving our current inequalities. Can we fund the education system towards the implementation of empowerment? Is this an oversimplification?


alesnick's picture

To be sure I understand: did Warren call for greater investment in early childhood learning and less in cameras and the broader criminal justice system?  And are you saying that with all of your studies of education, you are focused on how such funding would enter the unequal stream of funding that leads to the problems we see now in the Ed sector?  In other words, did you hear Warren (and some of your peers in the audience) being naive about how the Ed system is fully embedded in the same systems of inquality as the criminal justice system?