Category Archives: racism

To Breathe Together: Co-Conspirators for Decolonial Futures

By Sefanit Habtom and Megan Scribe, Yellowhead Institute

AS THE COVID-19 pandemic continues, many increasingly ask, “when will things go back to normal?”, “can we ever go back to the way things were?” and, in even more frightened moments, “could this be the end of the world?”

For Black, Indigenous, and Black-Indigenous peoples, these are not new questions. Since white settler ships landed on Indigenous shores with enslaved Black people in cargo holds, we have asked these very questions; but have asked them without ever letting the uncertainty of the answers deter us from striving to unmake the so-called “New World” in pursuit of something otherwise.

Unmaking is a desire for worlds in which Black, Indigenous, and Black-Indigenous peoples can breathe and live full lives.

The original prompt for writing this piece was “how can Indigenous people show up for Black communities right now?” But we have taken a slightly different approach, thinking instead about our shared experience of surviving within white settler society, while at the same time, taking seriously the antiblack and genocidal imperatives that mark us differently.

Tiffany Lethabo King has called on Black and Indigenous Studies academics, activists, and artists to imagine “how Black and Native communities can ‘end this world’ and remake reality and its relations on more just terms” (2019, p. 209). To engage with this call, we reflect on the violent conditions bringing Black, Indigenous, and Black-Indigenous peoples together and collaborative paths forward.

Click here to read the full article…

About the Authors

Sefanit HabtomSefanit Habtom is a doctoral student in the department of Social Justice Education, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. Her research is on Black student organizing that focuses on land. She is Eritrean and hails from Vancouver, BC.

Megan ScribeMegan Scribe (Ininiw iskwew, Norway House Cree Nation) is an interdisciplinary Indigenous feminist researcher, writer, and educator. Scribe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Ryerson University. Her research establishes connections between violence in the lives of Indigenous girls and settler colonialism. She is a longtime Community Council Member for Aboriginal Legal Services’ Diversion Program and a member of the Planning Committee for the annual Strawberry Ceremony.

Coronavirus & White Settler Colonialism

We could not be as prepared as we would want to be because generations of violence ensured we wouldn’t be.

By Class Trouble (March 13th, 2020)

Today we saw wealthier white folks talking about how we all ought to be better prepared for a crisis like coronavirus. We saw on social media pictures of stocked refrigerators, power generators, gardens, and animals. We were again reminded of now heavily racialized capitalism is and of the intersections of environmental racism and white settler colonialism. We were reminded of how victim blaming is the default response when the violence of empire is invisibilized.

We were reminded that our current reality is always linked to a history that must be named. So here’s a quick post to remind wealthy, able-bodied white people of how white supremacy has scaffolded their ability to insulate themselves from crisis and to remind Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BI&POC) that we could not be as prepared as we would want to be because generations of violence ensured we wouldn’t be.

To white people talking about “being prepared” for crisis who have land, who have generational wealth, who have everything they need to survive, check yourself: BI&POC would have that too if y’all’s ancestors hadn’t stolen everything & if y’all weren’t hoarding resources for hundreds of years.

The people who will have to practice public distancing most will be largely BI&POC populations living in the most densely populated areas. But BI&POC are in cities largely because white settler colonialism forces people off their native lands and into urban areas where wage labor is easier to find. This makes us more vulnerable to outbreaks like coronavirus.

Go into the majority of rural areas in America and you will find a predominantly white land owning population. Quick Fact: White Americans own more than 98 percent of U.S. land amounting to 856 million acres with a total worth of over $1 trillion. (Source: Inequality(.)org)

We have to rely on a centralized medical system and power infrastructure because capitalist economies rely on hierarchy to generate profit. The vast majority of that wealth goes to white people who can stock up on food, who have large storage spaces, who can take vacations, work from home, or take sick time without consequences.

The people best positioned to weather most forms of crisis in this system are the ones with the most power and access, and for those people to tell the rest of us to be prepared when their “preparation” is really code for generations of pillaging our communities, this is nothing but privilege and victim blaming.

White people should be giving resources out to historically oppressed communities and finding ways to make sure the most vulnerable of BI&POC communities have access to the support they will need to make it through this crisis. That’s all. Keep your advice.

 

Comeback as Re-Settlement: Detroit, Anti-Blackness, and Settler Colonialism

As cities are gentrified by developers and new residents, their work is often cast as saving the city and repopulating an empty city in crisis, despite the fact that those spaces are occupied by longtime residents and workers. This is not a race-neutral discourse. Jessi Quizar’s research on Detroit shows the connection between the discourse around “urban pioneers” to Detroit and settler colonialism. And while Quizar’s work makes this connection eminently clear about white gentrifiers in a majority–African American Detroit, her work forces us to consider the language around gentrification more broadly: who is made visible and who is erased in policies about and discussions of urban development?

As cities are gentrified by developers and new residents, their work is often cast as saving the city and repopulating an empty city in crisis, despite the fact that those spaces are occupied by longtime residents and workers. This is not a race-neutral discourse. Jessi Quizar’s research on Detroit shows the connection between the discourse around “urban pioneers” to Detroit and settler colonialism. And while Quizar’s work makes this connection eminently clear about white gentrifiers in a majority–African American Detroit, her work forces us to consider the language around gentrification more broadly: who is made visible and who is erased in policies about and discussions of urban development?

By , Social Science Research Council

Land in the Americas was categorized by the British Crown as terra nullius—nobody’s land—thereby discursively erasing Indigenous people themselves and legally eliminating their claims to land and territory. And Indigenous people themselves were continually literally made to disappear through displacement and genocidal campaigns, which were driven by white settler desire for land. Since colonization, Native Americans’ racialization has largely been geared toward disappearance, which has been crucial for both the justification and logistics of white occupation of Native land. By contrast, Black Americans historically have been racialized as hypervisible.

Click here to read the full article…

Are You a Settler?

Settler-colonialism, Capitalism and Marxism on Turtle Island

By Brian Ward, New Politics

Everything in U.S. history is about the land. Who oversaw and cultivated it, fished its waters, maintained its wildlife; who invaded and stole it; how it became a commodity (“real estate”) broken into pieces, to be bought and sold on the market.

—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

The politics of solidarity on display during the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline have raised the issue of Indigenous liberation more and more sharply to people on the left. Activists have started to recognize that their struggles against ecological destruction, imperialism, and colonization are linked to the fight for Native self-determination that has gone on now for decades, even centuries. The recent struggles Standing Rock and Keystone XL stand in the tradition of organizations like Black Hills Alliance in the 1980s that brought together Natives and non-natives in the Black Hills in South Dakota to try to stop uranium mining.

A whole new generation of activists has learned the long history of the United States continually breaking treaties with the Indigenous Nations—stomping upon their self-determination any time the government and corporations demand access to Native lands to extract energy and raw materials. The climate justice movement is coming to an understanding that treaties must be upheld and extended, as demanded by Indigenous Nations, based on their traditional territories. We have an urgent need to bring the fight against Native oppression into all the economic and social struggles of today. And that means grasping, as clearly and firmly as possible, that the struggle for Native liberation means keeping the question of land rights central.

In this essay I will demonstrate how settler-colonialism was and is vital to the development and maintenance of capitalism by using historical examples. Understanding the history and ongoing process of Settler-colonialism adds to our understanding of capitalism, while ignoring it perpetuates the erasure from history of Native peoples and their resistance to that process. I will do my best to use actual Indigenous Nation names such as the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota (Oceti Sakowin) or Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) or the Dine (Navajo) but will also use the words “Indigenous,” “Native,” “Native American,” “American Indian,” and “Indian” when appropriate, such as in quotations. I will often lump the United States and Canada together because their experience with Indigenous people are very similar.

Among Indigenous people, the common name for the continent of North America—and the one I will use accordingly—is Turtle Island.

Hundreds of different social organizations existed on Turtle Island prior to the arrival of capitalist markets, but one common feature was that most Indigenous Nations treated the land as something held in common. The idea of nonhuman life being someone’s “private property” was almost literally unthinkable. Many Indigenous theorists now consider “modes of relationship” a more useful concept than “modes of production” when talking about what Winona LaDuke, a citizen of the White Earth Ojibwe Nation, has called the co-evolution of Indigenous peoples and their environment and surroundings. Material conditions required Nations to develop relationships with human and nonhuman life in order to thrive. Indigenous people didn’t pursue a sustainable existence out of some mystical nobility but because reality demanded it.

Writing in the Communist Manifesto in 1848, Karl Marx said, “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” From an Indigenous perspective, that expanding market transformed abundance into scarcity.

Exploitation, expropriation, and extraction of the land’s riches created wealth for those colonizing land and enforcing their claim to it by violence. Marx’s term for this process as it had occurred in Europe is usually called “primitive accumulation,” although it might be better translated as “primary” or “original” accumulation.

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Rethinking Thanksgiving Toolkit

Artwork by Kandi White, Indigenous Environmental Network, CultureStrike and Micah Bazant

Artwork by Kandi White, Indigenous Environmental Network, CultureStrike and Micah Bazant

From the Indigenous Solidarity Network

Introduction

For many Indigenous People, giving thanks is a way of life. Among the Haudenushonne (Iroquois) Nations an opening address, or Great Thanksgiving, are the words spoken at start of day and before any important gathering of people commences its activity… Other Indigenous People also begin their days and activities with a prayer of Thanksgiving for all creation. We put our tobacco down as a gift of thanks. Thanksgiving, respect and reciprocity are core to our life ways.

– Barb Munson (Oneida Nation), Wisconsin Indian Education Association, Indian Mascot And Logo Taskforce

There are many different experiences we will have over Thanksgiving – some of us will have lots of food, some of us will struggle to have enough. Some will be surrounded by people and some will be alone or with just one other person. For many, it’s an important time of coming together with family. This day also gives us a chance to look at and change stories we have about our families and ourselves. Thanksgiving is based on myths that hide and erase the genocide that the United States is founded upon. What would it mean to tell a different story; an honest story?

This past year has been filled with an emboldening of white supremacy. At the same time, more and more people are working to create something different. We cannot expect that justice will ever come if we are not willing to face the injustices of our past and present. Holidays can be a time to connect and talk about these realities and touch people’s hearts in profound ways. This can be fertile ground for lasting change.

The Indigenous Solidarity Network has developed this toolkit geared for white folks to discuss settler privilege and Thanksgiving with family, friends, and broader community. Deep gratitude to Dina Gilio-Whitaker and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz for sharing the chapter “Thanksgiving Proves the Indians Welcomed the Pilgrims” from their book All the Real Indians Died Off: and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans. We need to talk about the history and ongoing reality of settler colonialism. (Meaning how European people violently took over lands and peoples for their own gains, and came to stay. In the US, this process of settling included enslaving people of African descent to build a country on Indigenous land.)

If you’re having these conversations with People of Color and/or Indigenous peoples, listen to what they’re bringing. It’s important to look at the complex ways that the colonization of Indigenous Nations went hand in hand with enslaving African people to work that land and how the violence is ongoing, as is Indigenous and People of Color led resistance. It can be hard for any of us to confront the ways we benefit from oppression and hard to talk about with people who do not agree with us. But this is how change starts and gives us the chance for real healing.

We invite you to take a moment to pause and breathe. What is happening in your body right now? How are you? Holidays are intense for many of us – whether they are filled with joy or sorrow and struggle, or a combination. Taking time to pause and notice how we are doing and what is happening can support us to continue to be in hard conversations.

As with any work in which we are acting in solidarity against oppression, we recognize that we do this work not ‘for’ Indigenous Peoples, but in partnership. We act out of mutual interest, recognizing that we are all facing the crisis of climate catastrophe and environmental destruction. It is Indigenous peoples who are fighting back most intensely and defending their lands. Supporting Indigenous protection of lands and waters ensures they will be protected for future generations.

Click here to read more…

The Indigenous Solidarity Network initially grew out of SURJ, Catalyst and other folks work at Standing Rock and following ongoing solidarity efforts with Standing Rock fighting the DAPL pipeline and to protect the water.  It has since become a network to share resources, and actions for non-native people to be in solidarity with indigenous struggles.  We host quarterly video calls, send e-mail updates, and action alerts.  Join the email list to keep updated by emailing anticolonialsolidarity@gmail.com.

Thanksgiving Is Dedicated to Erasing the Ruthlessness of English Settlers

Settler colonialism is based not on giving thanks but on the taking of Native life and land

By Joseph M. Pierce, Truthout

Thanksgiving is a colonial holiday meant to erase the ruthlessness of English settlers. In a way, Thanksgiving is the perfect American holiday: It is based on the erasure of Indigenous peoples, promotes a false vision of peaceful cooperation between nations, and has now become an excuse to indulge in the spectacles of hyper-consumption and football.

The historical record is murky about exactly when and where the first “Thanksgiving” was held. Most Americans say it was 1621 in what is now Massachusetts, when a group of Pilgrims and Indians gathered to celebrate the first harvest after the arrival of the Mayflower. Some point to when President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a federal holiday in 1863 as a way of reconciling communities during the Civil War. Both of those dates obscure the 1637 massacre of more than 700 Pequot men, women, children and elders in what is now Connecticut. The state governor celebrated that massacre with a Thanksgiving feast. There is a good case to be made that Thanksgiving is in fact a celebration of that genocide.

I have been thinking about the ruthlessness of this holiday and of what it conceals. Settlers are ruthless. Capitalism is ruthless. Patriarchy is ruthless. All of these were forced upon Indigenous communities without our consent. “Ruthless” comes from the old English word “rue” (to feel regret). Ruthlessness means having no regrets.

Click here to read the full article from Truthout…

Joseph M. Pierce is associate professor in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature at Stony Brook University. He is the author of Argentine Intimacies: Queer Kinship in an Age of Splendor, 1890-1910 (SUNY Press, 2019) and co-editor of Políticas del amor: Derechos sexuales y escrituras disidentes en el Cono Sur (Cuarto Propio, 2018). He is also one of the editors of the Syllabus project “Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee Citizenship, and DNA Testing,” published by Critical Ethnic Studies. He is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

The End of American Thanksgivings: A Cause for Universal Rejoicing

By Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report

The mythology that Thanksgiving nurtures is itself inherently evil.

“The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory In their own depravity and savagery in their most helpless victims.”

Nobody but Americans celebrates Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.

We at BC are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity’s deliverance from the rule of evil men.

Thanksgiving is much more than a lie – if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events – subsequently revised – were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England. The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise – Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously – an overlapping and ultimately inseparable Act Two.

The last Act in the American drama must be the “root and branch” eradication of all vestiges of Act One and Two – America’s seminal crimes and formative projects. Thanksgiving as presently celebrated – that is, as a national political event – is an affront to civilization.

Click here to read the full article from Black Agenda Report

This article first appeared in the November 27, 2003 issue of The Black Commentator.

Give No Thanks for Settlers’ Savagery

By Mark P. Fancher, Black Agenda Report

The peculiar national holiday is a celebration of white settler conquest – a whitewashing of unspeakable crimes.

“Denial is facilitated by an extensive and elaborate collection of myths.”

When a sane person commits a horrific, unspeakable crime, that person’s psyche is unable to effectively withstand the trauma. Such an individual will either suffer a loss of mental stability or instinctively default to any of several psychological coping mechanisms. As a consequence of a protracted campaign of conquest, territorial theft, genocide and enslavement, European settlers in the U.S. and their racial heirs have had to cope with heavy emotional baggage. Knowledge that the country they relish is built on piles of bloody carcasses of many millions of African and indigenous peoples overwhelms their souls, and coping requires a focused, deliberate and permanent state of denial. Denial is facilitated by an extensive and elaborate collection of myths, legends and outright lies about U.S. history and historical figures. Desirable fantasies can even be projected on to contemporary personalities like Barack Obama who has enabled many a white person in denial to say: “There is no more racism because we elected a black president.”

Through the years, a favorite coping mechanism has been the Thanksgiving holiday. The all-too-familiar scenario of musket-bearing pilgrims clad in heavily starched black clothing benevolently sharing a roasted turkey dinner with less fortunate indigenous neighbors is comforting to the white mind, but quite different from contemporaneous accounts of the thanksgiving commemoration of a massacre of indigenous people.

Click here to read the full article from Black Agenda Report

Thanksgiving and the African Revolutionary

, Hood Communist

Well, it’s that time of the year, comrades when we are gravitated by guilt back towards our family for the Colonizer’s Holiday Season. The first Holiday is Thanksgiving, where the resources of the working class are pocketed by farmers and airlines.

Thanksgiving has a special place in the hearts of Colonized Revolutionaries. It either speaks to a time where you witnessed a family member exposing the colonial holiday for its brutal genocidal nature or you were that family member that did the exposing. I remember I learned about the natives being the first people of this land in first grade. No matter how nice my teacher tried to make the story about them three ships sound, I was very clear on who the bad guys and good guys were. I made an announcement on that Thanksgiving how disgusted I was by this story.

We should all know by now that Thanksgiving is nothing but the celebration of stolen land by way of murdering millions of indigenous people. It’s giving thanks for the bedrock of colonialism which birthed capitalism, which is white people’s life support. How do white people become the parasites of the human race and the planet and then find special days to celebrate that inhuman relationship is beyond me.

Click here to read the full article from Hood Communist

Our History Is the Future: Lakota Historian Nick Estes on Thanksgiving & Indigenous Resistance

Democracy Now!

Lakota historian Nick Estes talks about Thanksgiving and his book “Our History Is the Future.” He is a co-founder of the indigenous resistance group The Red Nation and a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.

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