In the 80’s and 90’s our popular community discourse was influenced by that surge in African- Centered scholarship that fundamentally challenged the Europe-Centered and , white-supremacist story of the world–and of what’s important in it. Among other dynamic ideas, we’ve learned to hold forth that Europe’s cultural and technological achievements derived from Africa via Kemet. Too often, we skip over the process of verifying the bases of our ideas because “It’s all our stuff anyway!” The practices may be progressive and the historical posture basically correct, but there are problems with the “It’s all our stuff anyway” approach. It forgets its academic lineage, can’t name it’s ideological ancestors, and tolerates huge gaps in its information sequence, and this leaves us intellectually vulnerable.
The term itself is Yoruba and means “sit down”. A cultural consultant informed us that JOKO can refer to a community gathering (or “sit down”) purposed to resolve conflict and gain clarity on an issue. The goal of our JOKO is to generate a better informed, more refined group of thinkers, in alignment with the academic roots of our revolutionary tradition. It is a space for intellectually ambitious folk who are willing to be self-critical. It is not a space where all information is created equal. We are in our second year of development, working to design a replicable model of community self-education.