One of our favorite shows, subMedia‘s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It And I Feel Fine, recently did an episode dedicated to decolonization. Check it out!
One of our favorite shows, subMedia‘s It’s The End Of The World As We Know It And I Feel Fine, recently did an episode dedicated to decolonization. Check it out!
By El Machetero
“Precisely at the point that you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society.” –James Baldwin.
”The primary difference between the western and indigenous ways of life is that we relate to and experience a living universe, whereas western people reduce all things, living or not, to objects.” –Vine Deloria
The very concept and idea that I have anything even remotely resembling any sort of right to be on these territories is a relatively new one for me. As the oldest son of political refugees from Chile (a nation with its own definitive set of entrenched colonizer-derived contradictions) whose ancestry can loosely and lazily be described as Basque/indigenous (Mapuche/Selk’nam)/semetic (both Arab and Ashkenazi Jew)/with probably at least a little bit of African splashed in there who comes from a highly politicized background and whose family came here during what can best be described as a highly politically charged era, I grew up perhaps exceptionally conscious and aware of the fact that we had migrated and sought refuge in a parasitical culture and society built on another collection of stolen lands.
During the earlier parts of my life, my own status as an outsider from someplace far away from here served in many different regards to form my identity and view of self, as for a very long time, I felt an overpowering sense of divestment, alienation and disconnection from much of anything having to do with this place.
At the same time, because my family was not able to return to Chile (without running the great risk of ending up dead, incarcerated, and/or tortured, or some combination of all three) for the first 17 years of my life, I have only ever gone back as a visitor just passing through for a while, and as such, I was therefore not able as a child to ever develop the types of associations, attachments and connections essential on many levels to be able to wholeheartedly claim a place as “home”.
I continue to this day to struggle with the contradiction that the one place I feel I can claim at least some level of tangible ancestral connection to was almost every bit as much a distant and remote abstraction to me as well.
In retrospect, I realize now that my Chilean identity was almost entirely formed in the shadow of our whole experience of exile from Pinochet’s military dictatorship, the traumatized wartorn weariness of my family, and the solidarity movement my family and many others just like ours helped to build. Since my parents even during their most frantically pained moments at the very least knew that they didn’t want to raise a rootless and confused child, from the time of my birth, I was taught to be well-versed in our music, our poetry, our food, our social and political history, as well as many aspects of what is commonly referred to as our “folklore” .
I knew about the mountains and the oceans and the dry desert regions of the north and the lush forest regions of the south, and the “great nothing” regions of the ends of the Earth, but since it was not yet a physical/metaphysical world I had yet had the opportunity to interact with in the ways I typically felt I needed to for a connection to feel real to me as a kid, it remained a great abstraction. As such, while it was “easy” (relatively speaking) to connect with different realities of systematized violence and oppression, for a very long time it remained very difficult for me to feel connected to any land anywhere.
Interview recorded at PowerShift Canada 2012, Oct 28 in Ottawa on unceded Algonquin territory.
Video interview by Greg Macdougall for IPSMO Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa
From Settler Agrarian:
I am a monster (but I’m working on it).
With the birth and growth of Idle No More, now more than ever, lots of settlers are understanding colonialism as a problem, and trying to think through our relationships and obligations to Indigenous peoples, the history of colonization, and what all that means for us as settlers. This shifts colonialism from an “Indian problem” to a “Settler problem.” In spite of the mainstream media, many Canadian settlers are learning that they are implicated in an ongoing colonial relationship. For me that’s encouraging, because I didn’t grow up in a context where colonialism is actually something discussed and debated, where settlers see colonialism as a problem that involves us. I move through some spaces like this now, and they continue to challenge me. This is about how settlers respond to these challenges.
I’m a white, male, educated, cis-gendered, able-bodied, hetero-sexual, middle-class settler, so I basically benefit from every major axis of oppression. What follows is a reflection of my own experience with the politics of colonialism, decolonization, and settler solidarity efforts with Indigenous peoples, over the past few years. I’m drawing on some feminist, queer, trans, and anti-racist writers and activists here too. Even though dynamics are always different and complex, I think there are also some similarities in terms of the way privileged folks (like me) conduct ourselves across these struggles, especially when we’re trying to to prove that we’re good, in spite of our privilege. When I use “we” and “us” I’m talking about other white settlers who benefit from ongoing white supremacy and settler colonialism in Canada. I am glossing over lots of complexities and nuances of colonialism and decolonization. I’m experimenting with monster metaphors in hopes of getting at some of these issues in a different way, but I recognize that this is serious shit. And I want your feedback, critical or otherwise.
Upsettlers, Monarchists, and Manarchists are monsters that plague settlers in Canada, making it difficult for us to grapple with our colonial privilege, engage with other settlers, and effectively support Indigenous struggles. I started out as a Monarchist, had stints as an Upsettler, became a Manarchist, and now I’m trying to avoid relapsing into all three monsters.
Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, 5:00 – 7:30 pm PST
Idle No More is the current manifestation of widespread Indigenous resurgence. Historically, alongside Indigenous resistance and resurgence efforts against colonialism, imperialism, and genocide, there has always been support from some Settler peoples who recognize the immorality of the situation facing Indigenous peoples. This is most true today as millions of Settler peoples are stepping up alongside of Indigenous peoples in the Idle No More movement but there have been questions arising from how to be a good ally in this movement and friction has resulted.
Many Settler peoples are wanting to help and to learn more about why we are in this situation and what is an ethical way of engagement with these issues, and with the INM movement itself.
Panelists Robyn Heaslip, Ian Ki’laas Caplette, John Swift, and Natasha Bob will be engaging this question in a livestream panel addressing these areas of contention in the hopes of bringing further awareness to the ethical engagement of Settler peoples in the INM movement and in Indigenous resurgence.
**NOTE: The term “Settler” does not desrcibe a particular “race” of people and is meant to describe those peoples who are not Indigneous peoples to the lands they live in.
Occasionally, Unsettling America will select and showcase featured artists for their contributions to the discourse of decolonization. Today’s featured artists are Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes of Dignidad Rebelde:
Dignidad Rebelde is a graphic arts collaboration between Oakland-based artist-activists Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes. We believe that art can be an empowering reflection of community struggles, dreams and visions. Following principles of Xicanisma and Zapatismo, we create work that translates people’s stories into art that can be put back into the hands of the communities who inspire it.
We recognize that the history of the majority of people worldwide is a history of colonialism, genocide, and exploitation. Our art is grounded in Third World and indigenous movements that build people’s power to transform the conditions of fragmentation, displacement and loss of culture that result from this history. Representing these movements through visual art means connecting struggles through our work and seeking to inspire solidarity among communities of struggle worldwide.
Dignidad Rebelde’s graphic art is of the highest quality and versatility – our art is for museums, collectors’ exhibitions, community and cultural centers, individual homes, political rallies and more. We are committed to advancing the acceptance of people’s art as quality art, and to nurturing a model of art-making grounded in collaboration with community organizations and other networks of artists.
Greeting my relatives, friends, and supporters,
It is with great honor that I get a chance to speak with you even though it’s a written message that someone has to read.
I’m saddened that we have to call this a Day of Mourning, but we must take every opportunity to remind this nation when it comes to keeping their word about treaties, about human rights, about the environment, about excess pollution – that it has failed miserably on all of those concerns. Also want to remind the major religions that speak about peace and love and brotherhood and are celebrating this thing called Thanksgiving, that we the native people of this land realistically overall have nothing to truly be thankful about regarding the arrival of the pilgrims.
And I would also like to remind the major various religions of this country that in all their teachings it says you reap what you sow. And if that is a true statement, if that is the law given by the Creator, then you have to only look around at the news of the day to see that that statement is coming to pass. This country is not keeping its solemn word under god that it gave regarding our treaties. And they don’t keep their own Scriptures that say not to bear false witness or lie. They’ve tried to keep us from honoring our fathers by destroying our culture. They violated their word where it says “thou shalt not kill”, violated every one of their commandments regarding our people in this land. And they will truly reap what they sow.
I also want to say that in the spirit of compassion and reason, and fairness, and forgiveness, that its never too late to turn things around. Actually I should say that’s not quite correct, it can be too late. There’s an old Cheyenne saying that a nation is never destroyed until the hearts of its women are on the ground. And if you look around you will see the decline of America. And it is entirely possible that that teaching is not far off. One thing as a people that we do have to be thankful for and thankful to the Creator only, we are still alive we are still a people. And we still know who we are, we still have a commitment to the Creator to protect this land, we still have a commitment to protect the laws of nature that were given unto us, to our ancestors. We are probably the only people on this continent that would be better off if this whole system fell apart. Because we possess the knowledge, the teaching and the culture to live in harmony with that which the Creator has given us.
I want to encourage all the young people, to always remember your health and the health of the earth are the most important things that you possess. And that self-discipline is the most important thing that you can learn. And taking responsibility for ourselves and our future is the most empowering thing that we can do. Right now you are listening to my words the words of a man in prison for 30 something years. A man who has had limited contact and yet I am able to speak to you now. And the reason I am saying this is because with all the freedom that you do possess you could do so much more. Educate yourself to our true history, educate yourself to what is really going on today, and educate yourself as to what needs to be done to make a better tomorrow for yourselves and your children’s children, our future generations.
Again I want to say I am just an ordinary man caught up in extraordinary circumstances. There is nothing that I have done or said that you cannot do or say and much better because you possess more freedom than I do. We need each other. If I am ever to be free, I need you. And the truth is, none of us are truly free right now, because any people who is afraid of their government, is not free. We all need to be warriors of one. Each needs to know how to defend themselves on any level. And as I’ve said before we need to recapture the freedoms we’ve lost and protect the ones we still have.
In closing I want to encourage each and every one of you to stand up in your own way in whatever way you can for what’s right, try to right what’s wrong and know that in my heart and in whatever way I can help you, that I will be with you. We need each other, you need each other, and we need the help of all peoples to correct this great damage that is taking place throughout the earth. Our battle is not with a race a people or a color, our battle is with ignorance and greed that is ruling the governments of men today.
Again I want to thank you and in the spirit of crazy horse and all those beautiful people that have stood up for what’s right in the past, and the ones standing up now. Stay strong and support one another,
Your Friend Always and in All Ways,
Modern residents would hardly recognize the Bay Area as it was in the days of the Ohlones. Tall, sometimes shoulder-high strands of native bunch-grasses…covered the vast meadowlands and the tree-dotted savannahs. Marshes that spread out for thousands of acres fringed the shores of the Bay. Thick oak-bay forests and redwood forests covered much of the hills…
…Packs of wolves hunted the elk, antelope, deer, rabbits, and other game. Bald eagles and giant condors glided through the air. Mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes—now seen only rarely—were a common sight. And of course there was the grizzly bear…These enormous bears were everywhere, feeding on berries, lumbering along the beaches, congregating beneath the oak trees during the acorn season, and stationed along nearly every stream and creek during the annual runs of salmon and steel head.
-from The Ohlone Way
On Columbus Day, 2012, the people of Oakland awoke to find a few dozen banks and other parasitic entities vandalized. Paint was splattered all over the walls, glass littered the ground, and the windows of the City Hall were being repaired that sunny morning. This was the first time in recent memory where the holiday was commemorated with destruction, disdain, and disorder directed at the fine and noble institutions of capitalism and colonialism.
Downtown was abuzz with chatter about what had happened the previous night. The mayor and the rest of the city bureaucracy felt bereaved, having had the windows and doors of their fair temple smashed once again. They complained to the media, lamenting the fact that on Columbus Day, in front of City Hall, there was supposed to be a fan rally for the Oakland A’s wherein all the problems of the world could momentarily be forgotten. Unfortunately for them, no one walking downtown that day could forget so easily. There was still anger in the atmosphere, lingering on despite all hope for the contrary.
The world that grew from the Spanish Missions, the world that created the rows of houses, the paved roads, and the electric lights of the metropolis was attacked the night before Columbus Day. The colonial world, the old world, the linear virus that extends in all directions: this was the target. Before the virus created this metal, glass, and concrete landscape, the land that is now downtown Oakland was a vast marshland filled with countless mammals, birds, and fish. These marshes sustained human life and enabled the Ohlone, Miwok, and other tribes of the area to live without an empire, exterminatory wars, or hunger. The Bay Area was a giant cauldron of life before colonization, just as it is now largely a cauldron of death.
Let us look no further than the image of Alan Blueford chalked on the bricks in front of City Hall and let us remember how he was killed by a psychopathic police officer while he was on the ground screaming. Let us not forget the indifference of City Hall towards his death or the cold words of Ignacio De La Fuente, the aspiring fascist dictator of the city. And let us not forget that there will be no prosecution of the cop who killed Alan Blueford. This is the system of death, and for just under an hour on the evening of October 7th it was assaulted by the chaotic forces of life.
But let us be clear, the forces of life are small, and they are enmeshed within the system of death. Our counterforce is stuck paying rent, working, and stealing whatever we can in order to survive. Our time is mostly out of our hands, and what little extra there is of it is spent trying to combat our enemy.
On Friday, October 5th, a small group of people met at the Montgomery BART station on Market Street in downtown San Francisco. This city, the center of colonial expansion in the Bay Area, is host to the consulates of various nation-states. The small group of people, numbering just over thirty, stepped out onto the streets and marched to the Canadian consulate, handing out fliers explaining how the US, Mexico, and Canada are engaged in an exterminatory war against the earth and its inhabitants, determined to extract as many resources from the soil as possible before their system eats itself.
They stood for ten minutes in front of the building while in the sky fighter jets tore through the air during their annual display of fascist technology. After leaving, the group continued to march down the street towards the Mexican consulate near the entrance to the Bay Bridge. As they marched, the people on the sidewalk stared at them and their banners in bewilderment before being distracted by the jets in the air and soon forgetting what they had just seen. Once the group reached the Mexican consulate, a few people read aloud the text of their flier. They were drowned out several times by the terror in the sky. The group dispersed without incident, signaling the start of a long weekend.
The next afternoon, a group of nearly two hundred people met at Justin Herman Plaza on the waterfront in San Francisco. They assembled for an anti-capitalist and anti-colonial march that would make its way through the financial district. Almost immediately, it was clear the police were not going to allow this march to take place. They confiscated a pirate-ship float that had been constructed for the march and destroyed it, they sent in a few old and feeble cops in plain clothes to take pictures of the participants (one of whom was fortunately assaulted and scared away), and declared the march illegal before it had finished walking a single city block. Perhaps knowing their efforts would be cut short, people began hurling paint at the police soon after discovering their presence on the street was a crime. The march lasted ten minutes before being attacked by the police. Twenty people were arrested and taken away to jail. The jets continued to fill the air with terrible noises. The banner that the people had marched behind read RESIST GENOCIDE – DESTROY WHAT IS CIVILIZED.
On the evening of October 7th, people met at Oscar Grant Plaza for a march remembering the anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan by US and NATO forces. Around two hundred people stood in a circle, drank tea, and listened to each other speak their minds about why they were there, where they came from, and what they wanted for the future. It felt like the best parts of the old general assemblies: togetherness, patience, strength. One speaker compared the smashing of windows to slinging rocks at a tank. She did not condemn either tactic. When I heard these words from her mouth, I spent then next twenty minutes realizing that she was correct in her comparison. Both tactics do little damage to their monolithic targets. Smashing bank windows has not brought down capitalism, just as slinging rocks has not freed Palestine. But, just like her, I cannot and will never condemn either tactic. They represent the force of life, desperately lashing against what it knows it cannot immediately stop, but determined to do it just the same. With her words, the speaker reminded me (and possibly others) of the infinite and proud nature of life. The march through downtown was powerful, angry, and left a clear, unmistakable message that could not be ignored as easily as the events of the preceeding days.
I in no way want to glorify or glamorize our inability to effectively destroy the forces and projects of our enemy. We are all caught in a web and other humans have taken the place of the spider. So often we attack each other and leave the web intact. To say we are doing the best we can is an overstatement. We are simply doing what we can, attempting to build off even the smallest success and increase the likelihood that our next efforts will mutate and transcend our past barriers and limitations.
DOWN WITH DEATH
LONG LIVE LIFE
With direct solidarity to:
-The EZLN, the imprisoned fighters, and the autonomous and indigenous communities of Mexico
-The Grand Jury Resistors in the Pacific Northwest of the US
-Those fighting the tar sands and the pipelines in Canada
-The workers of the Foxconn factories in China
-The family, friends, and memory of Alan Blueford, RIP
Communique re: 10/6 & 10/7, from Indybay:
Compared to the millions in the world at this moment, on their feet fighting and dying daily to decentralize power and uproot imperialism in their communities, struggles in the US are slow or behind the curve even. Comrades in Athens, Cairo, Kabul, Tripoli, South Africa, Mexico, the Congo, and in the Foxcon factories in China are showing us daily that the line of demarcation that separates the tools of genocide from the tools of freedom, the passive spectator with no moral conviction from the person who takes action (unable to shake the responsibility beating in their chest), that line in the sand is drawn with the blood of the guerrilla and the blood of the fascist.
San Francisco 2:00pm Saturday October 6th
Approximately 130 anti-colonialists met at Justin Herman Plaza to shatter the illusions of capitalist consumerism and its required tools of war, using the Columbus Day weekend’s largest influx of people in SF’s recent history. From sports games to music festivals to fleet week, thousands flooded SF that day. A banner was unfurled atop a staircase reading “Fight Genocide, Destroy What Is Civilized” shortly after the first wave of pigs appeared. The speaker’s voice echoed in the plaza as they described the genocide of their people on the continent, periodically interrupted by the roar of military jets overhead.
The march moved through the plaza onto the side streets off of Market St., a vital vein for he blood flow of capital. Snaking through the narrow streets passing boutique shops full of the evidence of other’s misery, the pigs followed suite on the sidewalk between the militants and their desired targets. Marchers, sensing the impending doom, lit fireworks, threw paint bombs at cops, and took hammers to windows in a last ditch effort to meet the expectations of the day. One block away from Market Street, angry police clumsily attacked the back of the march. A melee followed: pigs swinging clubs, comrades getting slammed against street signs. The head of the march stopped not wanting to leave their loved ones behind, one protester hurled their black flag at the enemy. Reckless motorcycle pigs forced the remainder of the militants to run or face arrest, dumping everything into the streets behind them to slow the cops down. Many got away and regrouped later to assess the assault on their comrades. 20 arrests were made, with charges including resisting arrest, unlawful assembly, obstructing an officer, and conspiracy to incite a riot.
The events of Saturday were unique in their political framing: militant decolonization coupled with anti-capitalist struggles pointing to a new trajectory for the Bay Area. The old caricature of the white male anarchist participant withered away as mostly people of color and women stood at the head of the march and diversity revealed itself amongst the mug shots of those arrested. The legacy of US colonialism has left in its wake our disillusioned and displaced populations in its cities. Struggling alongside militant comrades in Oakland’s uprisings, from the Oscar Grant riots to the Occupy street battles, we’ve been finding one another. From these roots the militant analysis of decolonization and race has just recently begun to bear fruit through practice. And as the following day revealed, that fruit can ripen to taste so sweet on our lips.
Lessons were learned regarding planning and infrastructure. There was a misguided assumption that the police force in SF would be spread thin due to the many events taking place that day. The expediency and efficiency of police movements and arrests reveal the opposite of what many had taken for granted, that it was because of these events that police needed to contain any and all disruptive activities quickly. The threat of escalation to a point of uncontrollability by reaching the wider and more densely populated streets was real and thus crushed mercilessly as to protect the capitalist spectacles of the day. March attendance was also lower than anticipated, signaling the need for even more safe inclusion and conversation. Credit must be given to the many legal volunteers who spent sleepless nights maintaining the infrastructure working to ensure the safe return of our stolen comrades.
The fight for freedom must be along material lines over space and land to eliminate borders, prisons, prisons and wars of aggression. The third world is rising and freedom dreams spread like wildfire. We live in a gilded cage but a cage nonetheless. As the struggle here gains momentum through consistency of action and diversity of tactics we find ourselves more and more in step with the third world. As Afghans continue their age-old fight against colonialism, here the people’s target has moved beyond reformist politics to set its crosshairs upon the local vestiges of the international war machine.
Oakland 6:00pm Sunday October 7th
200 dressed in black hoodies and hijabs met at Oscar Grant Plaza for an anti-imperialist march with the memory of the previous day’s battle fresh in their minds, and with loved ones still behind bars. As the speakers began, the direction of their rage gained clarity, toward the systemic destruction of communities here and abroad exemplified in this case by both the repression of the day before and the 11 year occupation of Afghanistan. Toward the forces that ensure the stability of the metropolis at home, making war abroad an inevitable fact of life. Most of the speakers were radicals from the Muslim community who had been disillusioned by non-profit and liberal organizations. One woman pointed out the spinelessness of liberals when she commented that thousands had shown opposition to the war when Bush was in office, but were nowhere to be found once the political pendulum had swung in their direction. She stated, “the anti-war movement was really an anti-Bush movement.” Others articulated the need to expose the mechanisms of genocide that hide in the city: the banks that provide investment capital for the acquisition of more resources, to in turn create more capital, and the university system that directs publicly funded research toward the tools of genocide.
The march moved quickly out of the plaza and onto 14th Street, and with only one unmarked police car sighted, the rebels quickly got to work. Targets hit included:
• Chase Bank – war profiteers
• Berkeley Livermore Labs – research and development for the tools of war
• AT&T – handed over information to intelligence agencies looking to surveil Muslims and suspected activists
• Oakland Tribune – a cog of the propaganda machine that articulates the narrative maintaining the status quo
Hoodies and hijabs moved seamlessly in the streets, coalescing different identities…and the lines between anarchist, Muslim, person of color, and white blurred however temporarily into naked aggression toward the oppressor. It was truly generalized antagonism, where solidarity for particular struggle became agency of those struggles in and of themselves. The multiplying potential of mostly people of color initiated and organized action demonstrated its teeth. And as a result Oakland’s bourgeoise woke up on Columbus day to reap what they had sown so long ago.
They thought they could take everything from us and leave us to die. But we’re alive in the cities, we’re finding each other, and we’re coming for everything.
- a few Oakland rebels
Around 150 people gathered in Justin Herman Plaza. They were against everything: the military jets making metal of the air, the hordes of tourists thoughtlessly awing at the spectacular display of death above the city, the office towers and malls hanging above the waterfront, the unrestrained and uninterrupted reign of capitalism, slavery, colonialism, the empire.
At 3:30 pm they left the plaza carrying a banner that read RESIST GENOCIDE – DESTROY WHAT IS CIVILIZED . They headed towards the streets behind the Embarcadero Center mall. The riot police immediately began to follow alongside the march, and just as quickly the first paint bomb was thrown at them. The police declared the march illegal before it had walked a block. Along the route several luxury cars had their windows smashed and their tires deflated. The cops continued to get hit with bright paint as people proceeded towards Market Street.
They attempted to stop the march at one point but were outmaneuvered and the march was able to continue another two blocks. It was not until the police attempted to apprehend a single individual that the march was halted and a brawl began. The police swarmed in, two dozen of them on motorcycles, and began to isolate lone individuals and smaller groups of people. A Starbucks had its windows smashed as people were dispersing and in the end at least 19 people were beaten and arrested as the military jets thundered overhead.
The hordes of enthusiastic and wonderstruck tourists and baseball fans coursed through the metropolis, unaware of what was taking place behind Embarcadero Plaza. The virus that was planted in San Francisco hundreds of years ago was still expanding, neutralizing all resistance, and keeping itself alive. To all those marveling at the war jets in the sky, it is difficult to make sense of a mob of people who are against the colonial system. To be against colonialism, capitalism, and civilization are not popular causes—at least in affluent places like San Francisco wherein most have been convinced by the virus that its glitters are to their benefit. But this was why people went onto the street, and this is why they were attacked so severely.
The Colonial Machine, with their cops, laws, and order, attacked in order to silence our resistance and solidarity with others against a toxic system created to keep us in cages. From the belly of the beast, people rebelled against everything that fuels this empire. Cops attack to maintain order with their guns and badges, people attack with paints to liberate walls and brighten the darkness. There is no freedom in Amerikkka, there is no justice on occupied land. 520 years later, Indigenous people resist genocide and slavery through occupations. Decolonize the Empire, rebel for life. Decolonize the New World, liberate all walls, brighten the darkness.
More updates to come after Columbus Day…