Notes on fake decolonization

Things I need to learn more about…

Photo by Mohd Aram on Unsplash What counts as “authentic” decolonization as the term takes over our social media and influencer bubbles? And how we can sharpen our activism. By Bhakti Shringarpure, Africa Is A Country Decolonization has taken over our social media timelines with a vengeance. With hundreds of thousands of “decolonize” hashtags, several […]

Notes on fake decolonization

Indigenous peoples, in Oregon and beyond, are decolonizing maps | OPB

Decolonizing isn’t just changing the labels on our maps. It’s reorienting what maps are based on, what purposes they serve.

‘Maps can tell the tribal story, not just that of the conquerors.’

Unlike nomadic or sedentary Indigenous tribes, Harrelson explained that many tribes in Oregon lived the seasonal round.

“The seasonal round is essentially: Each tribal group had a winter storehouse and then they would go to different areas when resources were ready,” Harrelson said. “They would travel to those locations, have temporary encampments, process their food and their goods, and then bring them back to their winter lodges, where they would spend all winter.”

Americans are becoming climate migrants before our eyes | Climate change | The Guardian

Climate change is already creating climate refugees and some of them are us. And more will be in the future.

https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/02/climate-change-migration-us-wildfires

“The killings are horrible but I don’t agree with the riots…”

I see quite a few people I know – and friends of people I know – expressing horror at the recent murders of Black people. It is and has been outrageous for years… decadescenturies. Unfortunately, some follow that outrage with some version of “… but I don’t agree with their methods/the property destruction/the rioting/etc.”

As recently as two or three years ago I would totally have agreed with them. However, after taking part in several anti-racism, anti-white-supremacy programs through my church plus the loving and firm guidance of several people of color, I respectfully – and strongly – disagree on several points:

1) I do not tell people of color or other marginalized groups how to feel about people or institutions who are oppressing them. I realize, now, that by siding with their oppressors I become one of their oppressors. In fact, by being white and not actively opposing that oppression, I participate in their oppression.

2) As a white person in this culture and nation, I do not know – and can never know – what it is like to be Black in America. The closest I can come is to listen to them, hear what they say, and believe them… and I still won’t know. Also, I know full well that there are many voices in the Black community and that few, if any, opinions will be shared by every one of them. Finding one Black person’s opinion that I agree with and telling other Black people that they should conform to that is racist.

3) Anything I say that implies that I will no longer support their otherwise-righteous cause if the resistance leads to destruction of property will be taken as me valuing property over lives.

4) When I fail to realize that any conflict may have more than two sides it is easy for me to think I know enough to make an informed opinion. However, I know that every narrative angle will oversimplify to some degree to support the view of that narrative. It behooves me to listen to the marginalized people instead of the powerful people.

This has not been easy work. It has been painful at times and almost always uncomfortable for me. I am trying to learn to exist in this discomfort. I feel that it allows me to sympathize – in a very watered-down way – with the existential discomfort that is an acute, daily reality for the Black, Indigenous, other people of color, and LGBTQ people in this world and the intersections of these identities.

I acknowledge that the wording of this post centers me and my feelings. Since I am not a person of color, this is problematic. My intended audience is other white people and I need them to know that they should take up this work and that they will also have feelings of some sort. The work needs to happen despite the discomfort of these feelings and I will support them on their journey.

Changing the Structure of Power in the U.S.A.

Two important points in this article:

1) The CDC recommends that the elderly and physically fragile people should not fly on commercial airlines.

And

2) Trump/Pence don’t want you to know that.

I think the unitary executive branch needs to end. The legislative branch has the Senate and the House of Representatives and neither one can tell the other what to do. The Judicial branch has the Supreme Court at the top and they can choose to override some lower court rulings but they don’t run the various regional circuits. Likewise, I think that the Executive branch should not be in thrall to the whims of one person (no, not even a Democratic president). In California we directly elect the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and several other top posts. If several of the cabinet departments (State, Justice, Treasury, and Defense, for starters) were walled off from direct control of the president and we directly elected people to those posts we could avoid this CDC problem, not to mention the Barr problem!

Yeah, yeah, I know, constitutional convention, ratification, yada, yada. But it can’t ever happen if we don’t start talking about it.

Also, the prospect is very scary because there are people who are pretty well organized who want to consolidate power along more nationalist/supremacist lines.