Social reproduction theory?


According to the author of Why Race and Culture Matter in Schools (2010), Tyrone C. Howard, social reproduction theorists say public schools reinforce existing social and economic structures that depend on low-wage, low-skill labor. In other words, the dominant culture wants to keep certain demographics down on purpose in order to ensure a steady flow of worker bees so our royalty (beneficiaries of capitalism) can thrive in the hive.

If the dominant group uses its considerable economic and political influence to block improvements in the prevalent public education system currently in operation by controlling budget flow and therefore civil rights protection for communities that utilise this institution, not only will a large percentage of the U.S. population continue to be kept away from realising their intellectual potential, but the pipeline between high school and prison will continue to deliver young men of color (17% of the overall population) at a rate of 70% of the prison population. For corporations operating these prisons and for those providing prison security, prison food and prison medical services this is great news! Plus, White Supremacists — that noxious, subhuman tribe — get to see the plot of their ongoing drama about the inferiority of them there “savages” played out in full, embellishing it with the drawl of their media evangelists and — most recently — spicing it up with so-called “presidential” politics.

Meanwhile, the non-prison, labor economy in the USA gets to enjoy the fruits of unskilled labor provided by high-school graduates who can’t hope to continue their education because they have to feed themselves and their families by accepting minimum wage employment. Losers feed winners.

In order to find a social, political, economic system on Planet Earth that is comparable in scope in terms of brutal, inhumane and extremely conservative ideologies, we’d have to look to Nigeria, specifically Edo State and its capital, Benin City*. There, rituals of a parallel religion known simply as “juju” are used to bind pretty young girls or strong young men (along with their families) to human traffickers. Here, in Africa’s richest country, these families routinely seek out the services of “travel brokers”, who promise economic and educational improvement to a growing segment of the Nigerian population in exchange for money. This growing segment is poor, even as the “country” (well, the government and its cronies in military, law enforcement and big business) grows wealthy as a result of oil profits made possible by investments from Western enterprises such as Shell and Exxon.

Nigeria’s girls are valued in Europe as prostitutes, just as less fortunate boys and men are valued for the cheap labor they can provide. So human trafficking has become very profitable indeed, and the route from places like Benin City to Europe is well-worn, carefully mapped out and has been serviced by a functioning network of experienced human migration enablers through Niger and Libya for hundreds of years, financed by “contacts” in Europe. In fact, military and law enforcement personnel in these countries depend on human trafficking for their own economic survival, as do members of certain tribes who control vast tracts of dry land across which this valuable product must be navigated before it is stuffed onto inflatable life rafts like so much knock-off luggage and sent North to — hopefully — be rescued by European NGOs and delivered at the other end for further dispersement throughout the Continent’s multitude of brothels, sweatshops, restaurants and hotel resorts. It’s a system that works very well, despite the many losses which are simply written off as the cost of doing business.

So we Americans use our public education system to produce unskilled labor that can then be offered barely a living wage so that the labor economy is ensured of a steady flow of workers with which to feed steady demand by the wealthy classes. Wealthy Nigerians skip the education step because their laws are not as pesky as those of the USA, preferring instead to misuse children that are born to the growing number of poor families who have little choice but to gamble with their own offspring in hopes of bettering themselves within a corrupt political and economic system which continues to reap vast rewards for the few, with the willing assistance of Western corporate interests, driven by their investors and supported by corrupt Western governments.

In this environment, it is difficult to cheer for a dysfunctional Constitution being managed by a political elite who only acts out of self interest with the help of a corrupt military-industrial complex that is supported by armed practitioners of arcane rituals.

And I’m not talking about Nigeria.



*Thanks to Ben Taub and the editorial staff of the New Yorker for the article The Desperate Journey of a Trafficked Girl in the April 10th issue.