Untitled Poem for the Ancestors by Camaray Davalos

I am far from where I came from.
I would try to make a sound, but no one would hear me.
I would try to make a move, but no one would see me.
I don’t mind death; I was never afraid to die.
But now that I’m gone I’m afraid I’m forgotten;
Down in the basement of a museum,
Down among hundreds of boxes,
Down because no one seems to care that I am alive.
Maybe I’m not breathing…but I feel erased. And if my spirit feels something, doesn’t that mean I am still valid?
Still relevant ?
Still existing?
I fear I am truly gone if I am not remembered.
I am not content with being  a catalog number, used to satiate someone’s interest in science.
I am not content with being taken against my will by a stranger.
I am not content with being a pawn in the systemic genocide of my people.
I think one day someone will remember me. I will be claimed by my people, and justice will be served.
Justice will be peaceful,
Justice will be right,
Justice will be obligatory.

Decolonizing Feminisms: Antiracist and Transnational Praxis

Originally posted on University of Washington Press Blog:

This week the University of Washington Press unveils the new series, Decolonizing Feminisms: Antiracist and Transnational Praxis, edited by Piya Chatterjee. The series reflects the Press’s plans to increase publications that engage with gender, women’s, sexuality, and critical race studies. UW Press editor in chief Larin McLaughlin will travel to several conferences this fall to promote the new series: American Studies Association, American Anthropological Association, and National Women’s Studies Association, where she’ll be joined by Dr. Chatterjee.

Decolonizing Feminisms welcomes progressive and radical feminist writing that privileges the integral connections between theory, activism, policy making and other forms of social action. It will forward the work of activists and scholars whose explorations highlight the inextricable weaves of knowledge and power, and theory and practice. The series is particularly interested in interdisciplinary writing that considers the ways in which historical and contemporary forms of colonization, occupation and imperialism compel…

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‘Building rage': Decolonizing class war

decolonize_turtle_islandBy Natalie Knight, Rabble.ca

The following is a speech by Natalie Knight delivered at “Decolonization 101,” a panel organized by Streams of Justice on June 2, 2014. The panel took place at Grandview Baptist Church, Unceded Coast Salish Territories.

I want to acknowledge that we are on occupied and unceded Coast Salish territories which are Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw lands.

On February 26 of this year, an Inuk woman named Loretta Saunders was found murdered and dumped on the side of the road in Salisbury, New Brunswick. Her death raised a national conversation about violence against Indigenous women. It is a deeply sad loss, and an acute effect of colonialism. And I also wonder about the reasons why Loretta received a more mainstream response than others or those that can’t even be reported, those deaths that are basically sanctioned by the police. Loretta was in university and maybe it was easier for Canada’s white-dominated society to recognize her and her violent absence. Maybe an Inuk woman who goes to university is more comprehensible than the over 1,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women who have been documented in the recent RCMP report, and the many Indigenous women still in certain shadows, including those missing and murdered below the colonial border.

In a series of online articles, Indigenous activists and writers expressed outrage, love, and wrote to contextualize Loretta Saunders within a much larger web of daily assault against Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women, that goes unseen. Siku Allooloo wrote a piece called “From Outrage to Radical Love,” which starts by saying: “I’ve been in a building rage. I am outraged at the status quo, at the overwhelming rate of gender violence and murder suffered by Indigenous women and girls in this country. I am disgusted with the lived experience of that; of gender violence as a pervasive experience that the majority of Indigenous women and young girls face in various forms throughout our lifetimes.”[1]

Siku Allooloo goes on to argue for the power of love to bind Indigenous people together in the face of horrific violence. And we definitely need more love. But I want to linger on this “building rage” that she had because I feel it and I don’t actually want to transform that rage into anything other than a decolonized class war that finds its power in leadership by militant Indigenous and racialized women.

But looking for Indigenous and racialized women leadership is not ultimately about identity. It’s not about just centring some voices who don’t get heard and asking others to be quiet and listen. It’s not about making adjustments in representational democracy or ensuring that we have the right ratios of identities in our spaces, it’s not just about breaking the visible signs of white supremacy by assimilating some racialized people into spaces that haven’t actually changed. Decolonization is instead about breaking the entire system that creates and maintains identity categories that act to severely limit class solidarity. It is also about refusal, dissonance, and an unrelenting commitment to remaking myself, my relationships, and politics along lines that I can’t really predict and that won’t be recognized by whatever dominant social structures are around. For me this is the power of decolonization, and in the settler colonial state of Canada, it might be the only way to revitalize class politics that reflect our real lived lives and are relevant to a much larger international class war.

I think that the political impulse of decolonization means coming to understand that we have a shared enemy; but, needing to understand who and what that enemy is — and that it is a big part of many of us.

However, the word “decolonization” can stand in for all kinds of politics and interpretations. For me, decolonization is not about treaty processes and forms of self-management that strike a deal with the colonial and capitalist state. It’s not about emulating private property and heteropatriarchal government systems that cede the core of the dangerous difference and threat posed by Indigenous people to the state.

Decolonization is also not about rights; it’s not about civil rights for Indigenous people. Decolonization isn’t about civil rights because civil rights have only ever applied to intra-settler disputes and sometimes to settler resistance to state oppression. They leave out Indigenous people; they have always been defined against Indigenous people. Huanani-Kay Trask writes about this situation in Hawaii and says that it’s not so much “a struggle for civil rights, but a struggle against our planned disappearance.” [2] This isn’t an exaggeration. What connects the conditions of Indigenous people in Hawaii, in the U.S. mainland, and in Canada, are struggles over land. Dispossession of land means trying to disappear a whole people. I don’t think this can be said enough because this centrality of land seems to slide off the sophisticated rhetoric we can develop about class struggle, the working class, and the exploitation of wage labour.

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Our bodies are of this land: Decolonization and Indigenous women’s radical self-love

A Halfbreed's Reasoning is a collection of thoughts, ponderings, and musings on Indigenous politics and miscellaneous happenings through the eyes of a twenty-something Métis woman.By Samantha Nock, Rabble.ca

I have always been struck by the natural beauty of this earth. I grew up admiring rivers and the northern lights. I’ve forever been in awe of the quiet elegance of snow-covered trees. I was raised in a place where the landscape takes breath away and leaves people speechless.

An Introduction to Settler Colonialism at UBC

UBC’s Alternative Student Press

This three-part series on settler colonialism is co-authored between two people: one who identifies as a michif (Métis) man from Saskatoon, the other who identifies as a racialized, non-Indigenous female settler. As co-authors, we are speaking from our own perspectives as an Indigenous person (Justin) and as a settler (Kay).

This series is informed through an anti-colonial, anti-racist, and intersectional feminist lens. We have tried to make it as accessible as possible, but fully acknowledge that we were not completely successful. We have attempted to frame it as a discussion as much as possible, and have embedded links for further learning and hope this can make the piece more accessible and informative. We hope this article can serve as an introduction to some important (and complicated) issues; in our opinion, an understanding of settler-colonialism, and our complicity in it, is essential to building a better future.

Part I | Part II | Part III

The Jewish Meaning of Columbus Day

A Jewish American reflects on Columbus Day, the legacy of settler-colonialism, and what it means for people of Jewish heritage

By Jordan Engel

In recent years, Columbus Day has become a day for many non-native Americans (let’s call them settlers) to reflect on their colonial legacy. As settlers in the Americas, we must bare some of the burden of decolonizing these lands, because the guilty parties in the genocide of American Indians over the past five centuries are not just the direct descendants of Indian-killers like Cortez, Custer, and Columbus. Decolonization is the responsibility of everyone alive today who lives on stolen lands, and as Jewish-Americans, we are not exempt.

Our people have a long and complicated history with this continent. We often fail to acknowledge, for example, that most of the Jews in the world, about 54 percent, live in North and South America – an area where 500 years ago, there were no Jews (ignoring, of course, wild theories that American Indians are one of the ten lost tribes of Israel).

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Unsettling settler colonialism

The discourse and politics of settlers, and solidarity with Indigenous nations

By Corey Snelgrove, Rita Dhamoon, Jeff Corntassel, Decolonization, Vol 3, No 2 (2014)

Our goal in this article is to intervene and disrupt current contentious debates regarding the predominant lines of inquiry bourgeoning in settler colonial studies, the use of ‘settler’, and the politics of building solidarities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Settler colonial studies, ‘settler’, and solidarity, then, operate as the central themes of this paper. While somewhat jarring, our assessment of the debates is interspersed with our discussions in their original form, as we seek to explore possible lines of solidarity, accountability, and relationality to one another and to decolonization struggles both locally and globally. Our overall conclusion is that without centering Indigenous peoples’ articulations, without deploying a relational approach to settler colonial power, and without paying attention to the conditions and contingency of settler colonialism, studies of settler colonialism and practices of solidarity run the risk of reifying (and possibly replicating) settler colonial as well as other modes of domination.

Full Text: PDF

On Settlers, Occupiers, and Warriors with Sakej Ward

Warriors and warrior societies have a sacred and powerful place in Indigenous culture and resistance. While colonial culture has and continues to undermine and deride the role and reality of Indigenous warriors, warrior societies have continued to form and function in order to resist the destructive and dangerous effects of occupation and settler-colonial culture. Sakej Ward sits down with Radio-BED for a conversation on the contemporary warrior and warrior societies, so leave your stereotypes at the door and pay attention. This is serious.

Refugees and Dissidents in an Invasion of Farce

liberation no deportation!

By Matt Hanson

Abstract: International refugees and dissidents share a common fate in relation to the United States, particularly with respect to their precarious recognition by the officialdoms of U.S. Immigration at the border. The history of border imperialism in the 20th century is important to understand as a prelude to the current strife facing American border security today. As the nation grapples with the humanitarian politics necessary to processing tens of thousands of child migrants from Central America, the policy debate is rooted in a cultural history. In response, the ultra-conservative “invasion” rhetoric is revealing. It is important to examine the defining features of a nation-state with respect to the transnational characteristics of social exchange. Economic inequality, and partisan politics set American society apart from within, and without. The cultural history of international dissidents censured by U.S. Immigration is significant, opening a context for understanding the narrative of child migrants through news analysis, and literary research. With respect to Indigenous Peoples, and decolonization, the historic crises of U.S. Immigration are held under special scrutiny. The fundamental humanitarian assumptions of border protection, and the mythos of America as an immigrant nation of multicultural syncretism are herein questioned, and critiqued.

Introduction

In North America, and elsewhere around the world, for example in Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy, there is a growing antipathy for migrants. The United States and Canada are not alone in the increasing volume of political distaste for migrants. In the United States in particular, there is an inherent contradiction within this debate, and this crisis of asylum, as concerns the identification of migrants as invaders.

With unabated trends favoring economic globalization, such as the overshadowing precedence of international free trade agreements, wealthy nations have a greater responsibility to receive economic migrants, and equally, forced migrants fleeing life-threatening persecution. To deny this responsibility is to reject the foundations of humanity, and to delegitimize the standard of national boundaries as security zones. Instead, national boundaries fulfill their original purpose, militarized demarcations, where the history of an invasion has simply taken another form.

In other words, the misperception of migrants as invaders exposes the fundamental myth of the modern nation state as a cultural, social, political, or economic distinction. As is most apparent outside of North America and Europe, however within as well, cultural, social, political and economic phenomena observably transcend state boundaries, merging in varying forms transnationally. Similarly, all people, as such, are a part of the transnational social capital that exists in every nation individually, and collectively throughout the globe. The inequalities of the global marketplace are manifest in the story of the modern immigrant.

Immigrant is a very different term than migrant. With its special legal, political, social and cultural ramifications, immigration is a process whereby a foreigner resides permanently in a country other than that of their origin. Immigration also connotes official identification, as recognized by the country wherein one is immigrating. Whereas migration is a primordial concept, immigration entails the officialdoms of international law, and domestic policy.

Anti-immigration is the result of geopolitical insecurity, while deeply rooted in forms of racism steeped in multigenerational, and colonialist inequality. The prevailing myth of nationalism, as a harbinger of progressive social values conceived during the European Enlightenment, purveys concepts as elusive as freedom. In modern Greece, and in the European Parliament today there are openly anti-Semitic officials who hold seats of government, and who won those seats based on an anti-immigrant platform (Cossé, 2014).[i] Unfortunately, in this extreme case, anti-immigrant policies are aligned within an unfounded, racist political paradigm. In the United States, the racism inherent in anti-immigration rhetoric is no less apparent.

Currently, tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants are arriving to the United States. They are largely detained, registered as criminals within the overburdened border protection zone along the U.S.-Mexico border, and deported. The trials wherein these children are sentenced to be deported are often pitiful displays of justice, held in a language that the child largely does not understand, and through mostly unintelligible proceedings. While the children are evidently running to border guards after surviving the harsh, overland trip from Central America, they are pegged as invaders. Politicians, such as Texas Governor, and hopeful presidential candidate Rick Perry said, of the child migrants, “I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault” (Prupis, 2014).[ii] Curiously, Perry was indicted for abuse of power on August 15th, and now faces potential jail time following charges related to blocking funding for a government anti-corruption agency (Achisa, 2014).[iii]

Meanwhile, more moderate politicians, only Democrats at present, are expressing compassion by standing together on the House floor (Lee, 2014).[iv] Not surprisingly, however, their sentiments also source religious conviction. For example, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick emotionally referred to his Christian faith at the Sheltering of Unaccompanied Children Press Conference, held on July 18th, while standing at his gubernatorial podium with two clergymen. “My faith teaches that if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him but rather love him as yourself,” said Patrick (Brownell, 2014).[v]

Despite acting on good faith, such a strong political and religious backing merely perpetuates the historic relationship between marginalized, stateless and illegal migrants. Internally displaced Native American communities have forcibly migrated, not only geographically, but also between federal regulation and socioeconomic ostracism. Similarly, Latin American migrant children are the subjects of political, and religious leadership, while politicians and religionists have been among the most exploitative, and misguided with regard to saving vulnerable peoples. Outside of the political arena, religious people nationwide are standing as a purported moral compass for the nation’s overt politicization of the basic humanitarian crisis of child migrants (Paulson, 2014).[vi]

The combination of religious zeal, and overt militarization clearly resembles the colonial legacy of an invasion history that is much better documented, that of the European in the lands of Indigenous Peoples, now commonly referred to as the United States, Mexico, Central America and beyond. From 1914 to 1917, the U.S. historically invaded Mexico on two accounts. At the time, Woodrow Wilson expressly backed the first invasion due to domestic pressures from business, politics and the press (Veterans Museum & Memorial Center, 2003-2007).[vii] Now, representatives of the rightwing press advocate for a new invasion into Mexico, in response to the purported aggressions of the Mexican Army, as well as other armed forces along the border, which have allegedly resulted in the shooting of a Tucson man, multiple violent confrontations with U.S. Border Patrol personnel, and the occupation of a small Texas town (Agni, 2014).[viii]

Power politics, as well as propaganda-style journalism, as with belligerent profiteering, merely exposes the ugly continuance of colonialist exploitation at the expense of migrants. Across the globe, migrants are exploited, often to advance racism, militarism, or politics in the name of extremist nationalism. Migrants are exploited because they are often the most vulnerable to the economic abuses that dominant societies depend on to expand. The migrant is not an invader, and has never been. The migrant simply embodies the human will to live. The institutions of immigration, namely border control, and the geographical, political, social, and economic demarcations that are founded on the ongoing histories of conflict, are the bastions of imperialism.

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on cascadian independence and fourth world decolonization (sketch #1)

Originally posted on Míle Gaiscíoch:

Lion_and_Unicorn

A member[1] of the Cascadia(n?) Independence Party recently asked:

“Question, what would you do if the natives said they did not want us to officially create Cascadia and told us to get out? What if they started to “fight back” and start a war with us to make us leave, how would you feel about it? After all they were here first right and we are just occupying their land.”

It’s a good question, worded in a way to get folks from any persuasion to show their true colors.  And it opens up one of the biggest questions that I explore here on this blog (as well as through other venues).  So here goes:

First, there are no “the natives.”  There are at least 140 Indigenous Nations within the Cascadian bioregion.[2]  If a settler was asked or forced to leave a place, refuge with the neighboring Indigenous Nation would be…

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