George Jackson, imprisoned for years and radicalized by the experience, clearly saw the need to develop a black culture of resistance to white supremacy. He wrote early on that “I know now that the most damaging thing a people in a colonial situation can do is to allow their children to attend any educational facility organized by the dominant enemy culture.” Yet he recognized the need to grapple with, compromise with, and ultimately leverage the systems and institutions over which we have little individual power. He wrote to his younger brother Jonathan, giving advice applicable to any young person passionately motivated to fight civilization or any of its many problems:
I hope you are involved in the academic program at your school, but knowing what I know about this country’s schooling methods, they are not really directing you to any specialized line of study. They have not tried to ascertain what fits your character and disposition and to direct you accordingly. So you must do this yourself. Decide now what you would like to specialize in, one thing that you will drive at. Do you get it? Decide now. There are several things that we as a group, a revolutionary group, need badly: chemists, electronic engineers, surgeons, etc. Choose one and give it special attention at a certain time each day. Establish a certain time to give over to your specialty and let [our father] know indirectly what you are doing. Then it only remains for you to get your A’s on the little simple unnecessary subjects that the school requires. This is no real problem. It can be accomplished with just a little attention and study. But you must now start on your specialty, the thing that you plan to carry through this war of life. You must specialize in something. Just let it be something that will help the war effort.
From Soledad Brother, page 195
What are your interests? What’s your calling? What are your skills? What specialty can you develop? Decide now, give it special attention, and let it be something in service of the earth and social justice.