Communiqué from Decolonize Oakland

Communiqué – March 18, 2012

Decolonize Oakland (formerly the QPOC/POC caucus/committee of Occupy Oakland) would like to reintroduce ourselves to you, our communities, as an autonomous collective. We believe that working autonomously will give us the freedom to build power from below.

Occupy Oakland’s failure to fully address the ways that race, gender, and sexual oppression intersect with capitalism in the lives of Oakland’s communities of color has made it challenging for us to work under the “Occupy” umbrella. Moreover, the unchecked race and gender privilege within Occupy Oakland’s organizing structures has made it difficult for many of our members to fully participate in Occupy meetings and events.

By declaring autonomy, we focus our energies on building the collective power of people of color in the Bay Area. We have begun this work by building with our larger networks, whether they are other autonomous groups, community associations and organizations, churches, Occupy Oakland and its committees, our neighbors, our family or our friends.

Following the rich tradition of people of color who have fought for self-determination, Decolonize Oakland aspires to win struggles for liberation by placing people of color, people with disabilities, people who are low income or working class, immigrants, gender non- conforming persons, women, and queers at the center of our collective struggle.  In addition, we commit to creating political structures and community events that welcome Oakland’s residents, 75% of whom are people of color.  Ceremony, talking circles, encuentros, coalition-based projects and actions, and educational workshops are examples of our approach to building participation within and across communities, neighborhoods, and organizations in Oakland.

We view our collective struggle as one that dates back more than 500 years; at the same time, we see 2012 as a unique historic moment characterized by global revolutionary struggle.  As a new collective, we do not pretend that we have the answers to all the problems and injustices that face our communities, nor do we presume to speak for all people of color in Oakland. Instead, we invite people of color and allies to work with us to build relationships, share information and
wisdom, and take action that align with our Points of Unity.

Decolonize Oakland Points of Unity

Decolonize Oakland is a collective of queer people of color and people of color. Descolonicemos Oakland es una colectiva de queers/GLBTQ de  color y gente de color.

We decolonize because Oakland is Ohlone land and because the occupation of Oakland continues through gentrification, military occupation by OPD and ICE, predatory practices of Wall Street banks and more. Descolonicemos porque Oakland es tierra de los Ohlone y está sufriendo de la ocupación intrusa de la gentrificación, la policía e ICE, los bancos, y más.

We decolonize because our current system was founded on settler colonialism, genocide, and slavery. Descolonicemos porque el sistema actual fue fundado en el colonialismo invasor, el genocidio y la esclavitud.

We decolonize because communities of color, women of color, and queers of color have been on the front lines in the centuries long struggle against State violence, patriarchal white supremacy, heterosexism, capitalism, and colonial exploitation. Descolonicemos porque nosotros somos comunidades de color, mujeres, gente queer/LGBT y llevamos siglos luchando contra el violencia del Estado, el racismo patriarcal, el heterosexismo, el capitalismo y la colonización.

We decolonize because any movement that doesn’t confront the continuing force of colonization, patriarchy, hetero-normativity, and white supremacy replicates these oppressions. Descolonicemos porque cualquier movimiento que no enfrente al colonialismo, el patriarcado,la heteronormatividad y el racismo, continuara apoyando esas mismas opresiones.

We decolonize to claim spaces for the self-determination of communities of color in Oakland. Descolonicemos para reclamar lugares para la autodeterminación de las comunidades de gente de color en Oakland;

We welcome collaboration with any group—including Occupy—on any and all projects that coincide with our core values—that is, the radical (to the root) project of decolonization, liberation, and self-determination of communities of color, with a particular and non-negotiable commitment to women of color and queers of color within those communities.

We can be reached at: decolonizetoliberate@gmail.com or (510) 969-9745
Our website is: decolonizeoakland.org

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6 responses to “Communiqué from Decolonize Oakland

  1. salud!

  2. Yes.

    Lots of love and solidarity from a white girl in Berkeley!

  3. Sounds great except for this:

    “Ceremony, talking circles, encuentros, coalition-based projects and actions, and educational workshops are examples of our approach to building participation within and across communities, neighborhoods, and organizations in Oakland.”

    Workshops and talking circles and coalition-based projects alone are NOT going to decolonize anything. How are you going to stop a police occupation with a workshop or a talking circle? Decolonization is always a violent phenomenon. Were the slave revolts in Haiti educational workshops and talking circles? Did Nat Turner propose “coalition-based projects?” No.

    Decolonization does not occur through coalition-building alone. Decolonization requires an attack on the forces of (neo)colonialism.

    “The Violence which has ruled over the ordering of the colonial world, which has ceaselessly drummed the rhythm for the destruction of native social forms and broken up without reserve the systems of reference of the economy, the customs of dress and external life, that same violence will be claimed and taken over by the native at the moment when, deciding to embody history in his own person, he surges into the forbidden quarters” -Fanon

  4. How can you possibly leave out material conflict with the colonial order from a list of tactics involved in decolonization? And how you can you justify this in the name of queer people and people of color?

    As queer people and people of color we need to be aware of the ways that that this communique’s failure to list any forms of attack on the colonial order in its list of tactics betrays real resistance.

  5. Splintering instead of compromise and solidarity are the reasons we will continue to be crushed by the 1%.

    • While there may be some degree of truth to this, it’s entirely over-simplistic. naturally, if we are busy fighting amongst ourselves, we will be easier to repress, but there’s a difference between unnecessary infighting, and necessary dealing-with of issues which cannot be ignored. This 99% vs 1% stuff may be good populist sloganeering, but it’s shit for class analysis, and has led to far too much sentiment in favor of homogeneity and the white-washing of critical issues such as the replication of repressive power structures within social movements such as Occupy. I also challenge the liberal notion that a unified front (consisting of false unity for the sake of appearances) is necessary to effectively challenge and defeat the ruling-class elite and the status quo that ensures their continued existence. A diversity of individuals, group formations, interests, and tactics can unify against a common adversary without necessarily having to agree with one another about everything. But if we don’t want to simply replicate power structures of privilege and oppression, we must “deal with our shit”, as we say, and confront the manifestations of those power structures in our lives. This includes heteropatriarchal white supremacist culture, as well as the continuing legacy of colonialism. To attempt to belittle the struggles of others in favor of a (false appearance of a) unified front is extremely paternalistic and emblematic of everything we must rid ourselves of if we wish to birth a new and just world.

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