The Global Legacy
Chapter Two: Paulo Freire and the Continuing Struggle to Decolonize Education
Paulo Freire and the Continuing Struggle to Decolonize Education1
More than forty years after Paulo Freire’s (1971) book Pedagogy of the Oppressed was first released in English, the inequalities and injustices that he was addressing then continue to persist in the United States and around the world. In many instances these conditions have worsened in the past two decades, with the infusion of neoliberal imperatives of privatization, deregulation, and the free market into practices of education. It is important then to begin our discussion about the legacy of Freire here, in that it has often been precisely Freire’s revolutionary critique of capitalism and the link of schooling to class struggle that have been stripped away, resulting in watered-down, diluted versions of his ideas.
As a scholar of color who was born a colonized subject in Puerto Rico and reared in abject poverty in the United States, there is no way that anyone can convince me that the center of gravity of oppression for those of us deemed “other” is simply the psychological aberration of white people toward our so-called “race.” Rather, I argue adamantly that the racialization processes experienced by the marginalized are intimately tied to the material domination and exploitation of our communities by the wealthy and powerful elite—and enacted, for the most part, by those who are not themselves affluent but answer the siren call of capital daily.