The Kheprw Institute, with all its limitations, remains a location of conversations about possibilities. In that field of possibility we’ve the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our peers, an openness of mind and heart allowing us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. These critical conversations are the practice of freedom.

~ paraphrased from bell hooks

There’s always been something indescribable, intentional, and attractive about the Kheprw Institute. I have been trying to put my finger on what exactly anoints KI with its gravitas. Stories around two events which took place during the last few weeks made me come to the conclusion that KI’s not only a place where freeing and expanding thinking is the norm, but it is also a place affecting how you feel.

One is a story about Mr. Wildstyle Da Producer, a local hip hop music architect, who after experiencing KI realized Indianapolis does have a Black institution of learning where substantial levels of intellectual discussions and thought occur–and it is right in the ‘hood.

He compared KI to a House of Wisdom, an academic center of learning removed from the broader society which was the intellectual hub of the Arab world during the Islamic Golden Age. Visitors would experience and/or be engaged in thought provoking conversations or lectures on science, culture, art, medicine, philosophy, alchemy, or astronomy. Well known scholars came through, sharing stories and ideas. Others came to use the center’s library.

The other story is mine.  I had written a poem on an experience I had on Shelby Street regarding gentrification in the Garfield Park area. The poem inspired KI to do a video. This validated my writing skills: I was able to communicate to others what I wanted to say. Yet, most important, this regard enlivened me.

With such aliveness one realizes that they can actually make a difference, changes can be made, that the only option is not accepting the world the way it is. In terms of educator Paulo Freire, at KI we can experience “…the practice of freedom, the means by which we deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of [our] world.”

Conversations that challenge us and help us clarify who we are, feeling alive, and liberation each describe KI.

John Harris Loflin
John Harris Loflin
John Harris Loflin is a life-long resident of Indianapolis and so a graduate of the Indianapolis Public Schools (# 75, 28, 8 and Harry E. Wood High School). He was an education major at Purdue and has a graduate degree in alternative education from Indiana University. John became interested in non-traditional education in the early 70s after reading How Children Learn, Summerhill, and Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He’s taught at the middle school, high school, adult, and university levels. John has presented during conferences on 5 continents and is also published by alternative education and democratic education groups, and other groups/individuals in Korea, Israel, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Canada, and the US. He has consulted on learning alternatives with public schools in Mumbai, India; Seattle, WA; and, Indianapolis, IN.