colonization

Twitter Teach-In: 6 #NothingMoreAmericanThan Tweets To Challenge US Oppression

Rather than acting like pseudo-patriots blinded by the flash of fireworks and national anthems,  many are taking to twitter under #NothingMoreAmericanThan to voice the  hypocrisy of celebrating freedom while maintaining  systemic oppression.

While it would have been better not to simplify the Americas as being representative of a US experience and nothing else (this reproduces exceptionalism & neocolonization), the way in which digital activists have repurposed this hashtag is to be commended. Especially since it’s likely tweets would have continued to conflate and normalize whiteness with US citizenship, as well as erase the struggle for survival that many communities face.

Let the Twitter Teach-In Begin:

Side note: If any of these make you respond with the tired, “if you hate it so much here you can just leave” arguments, or any variation of it, you’re part of the problem.

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“Skirting the Issue”: a response & call to action

Moontime Warrior

I submitted a shorter version of this op-ed to the Winnipeg Free Press on June 17, 2015, in response to Professor Joanne Boucher’s opinion piece entitled “Dress-code message at U of W sexist”.

After this, the WFP published a response, “Pipe ceremony dress code uncalled for”, where Prof. Boucher was quoted once more, along with four men (any one of whom could’ve redirected media attention to an Indigenous woman). The voices of Indigenous women and Two-Spirits excluded on an issue that at its core impacts our bodies and our lives. We are the ones who face the consequences of these discussions, along with the backlash.

Finally, rather than choosing to publish anything submitted by Indigenous women (or any of the many Indigenous women academics who speak publicly on ceremony and protocol), the Winnipeg Free Press published an editorial calling the whole thing a result of “identity politics”. The issue of…

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An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling about the American Wizarding School in Fantastic Beasts

thenerdsofcolor

by Dr. Adrienne Keene | Originally posted at Native Appropriations

Dear J.K. Rowling,

I am unabashedly a huge Harry Potter fan. I first encountered Harry when I was in Junior High, volunteering at the public library (nerd status, I know). The children’s librarian handed me book one, and I was hooked. I even used to frequent Harry Potter message boards back in the day with my friend Kathleen (we were “Parvati” and “Lavender” cause we also shared an interest in divination, ha). Anyway, all this is to say, Harry holds a sacred spot in my heart. But I’m not one of those fans who can recite things verbatim, or remember every tiny detail, so if I’m missing something, I hope one of those fans will help me out.

I’ve been interestedly following the news that there is a new Harry Potter prequel-of-sorts in the works, for Fantastic Beasts and Where…

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Decolonial Voices MixTape, Vol 1: BRWN BFLO, BAMBU, MANE ROK, & ROCKY RIVERA

Here’s a visual mixtape, of sorts, dedicated to promoting those voices that work towards decolonizing minds and disrupting oppression-repression through hip hop music! All of the following artists not only provide a  soundtrack to the struggle of various communities, but they do it in consistently fresh ways. Enjoy!

 

1. BRWN BFLO “What’s Good?”

 

2. Bambu “Beach Cruisin’ (Kid. W.I.K. Remix)”

 

3. Mane Rok & Deejay Tense “This One’s”

 

4. Rocky Rivera feat Otayo Dubb “Beautiful Struggle”

 

 

2 Blogs Decolonizing Thanksgiving

“[T]he present Settler argument presumes that since the injustices are historical and the passage of time has certainly led to changed circumstances for both the alleged perpetrators and for the victims, the crime has been erased and there is no obligation to pay for it…[b]ut this idea, so commonly held by white people, is wrong; it assumes that the passage of time leads to changes in circumstance. This is fundamentally untrue, especially when made in relation to Onkwehonwe, Settler societies, and what has happened between us. Between the beginning of this century and the beginning of the last, people’s clothes may have changed, their names may be different, but the games they play are the same. Without a real change in the realities of our relationship, there is no way we can consider the wrongs that have been done as historical. The crime of colonialism is ongoing today, and its perpetrators are present among us.”Taiaiake Alfred

Alfred’s words have a rather powerful significance as we consider the forms of physical, spiritual, and mental colonization during Thanksgiving.  It is quite disturbing (and telling) how white settler society celebrates a snapshot in time without granting even a moment for critical reflection to the absolute devastation indigenous people suffered at the hands of the colonizer. But more to the point, the past lives on today so we mustn’t fall victim to ideologies, epistemologies, and discourses that frame the sins of the past as long since forgotten. In this somber time of reflection and healing it is important to seek and spread knowledge to decolonize the ways in which settler society (re)produce and maintain hegemony. With that said, the following blogs provide valuable information in our efforts to challenge colonization. Enjoy and saludos!

1) Broken Mystic’s The Truth About Thanksgiving: Brainwashing of the American History Textbook explains:

[A]s children dress up as Pilgrims and Natives to reenact the romanticized version of history, they are not only perpetuating stereotypes, but more importantly, they’re being embedded with lies. What do they really know about the Pilgrims and the Natives?

2) Stephen L. Pevar’s, “Thanksgiving? The deprivations and atrocities that followed,” at the Oxford University Press Blog writes:

Accounts say that the generosity of the Indians saved the colonists from starvation during the harsh New England winter of 1620…[but] [v]ery few schoolchildren are also taught… about the deprivations and atrocities that occurred to the Indians afterwards, first at the hands of the colonists and then by the United States government. Ironically, if the United States believes today that it has a poor immigration policy, imagine how self-destructive the Indians’ immigration policy was by welcoming the very people who would soon seek to destroy them.

(In)Appropriation: Disney’s Failed Attempt to Trademark Dia de Los Muertos

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By now most of us are aware of Disney’s failed attempt to trademark Dia de Los Muertos for their upcoming animated film, but if by some small chance you didn’t hear about this check out fronterasdesk.org for  more info.

images-7There certainly was an amount of anxiety that many of us had as we  first discovered that a corporation was trying to profit over  Mexican culture. In the most direct way of saying it: Disney’s failed attempt was done out of an ignorance of the history of colonization and how legal structures worked to disconnect indigenous, Mexicans, and Chicanas/os from culture by stealing the material (land) and immaterial (culture). I don’t desire to write a dissertation in the wee hours of the morning, so I’ll keep the philosophical lamenting brief and concise. When I refer to culture as immaterial I am not implying that culture does not produce material items, decorations and symbols come to mind. However, culture is very much an immaterial subject that occurs, first in foremost, in the hearts and minds of communities.

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Culture produces symbols and traditions

Sugar skulls

Cultural Production: Sugar skulls

Land on the other hand is material and can produce both material (resources/goods) and immaterial (culture). While Disney’s trademark-gate is an attempt at appropriating the immaterial (culture) in order to produce material goods from cultural productions based upon likely misinterpreted representations of Mexican cultural symbols, the event also falls in line with the larger historical context of colonization robbing our people of the material.

With that said, the history of colonization has been one of stealing the material to create wealth for the settler culture. The land issues in indigenous, Mexican, and Chicana/o cultures are undeniable.  For the colonizer, it has been a way to accumulate vast amounts of wealth as they were/are able to take land, commodify the resources, and transform them into products. In order to do so, legal structures were created and enforced allowing for the privatization of land in cultures that historically believed in communal use and responsibility to land–watch the The Demarest Factor for more info on how this continues today in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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Colonizer laws provided legal barriers to blockade indigenous people from using the land that was always  part of their heritage. This created not only a physical disconnect from land and resources, but also a destabilization of cultural connection. Land has many uses, the heritage and culture associated with particular sites present another way that the appropriation of the material can also rob people of the immaterial.

What Disney neglected to understand is the similarities between creating legal barriers to cut people off from their land, as well as the heritage and cultural connection to this land, and the trademarking (legal barriers) of culture. In terms of the latter, it would have it difficult to participate in said culture. According to the LatinTimes:

“Among the trademark applications that The Walt Disney Company has filed for, are education and entertainment services, confectionery, cosmetics, transmission or reproduction of sound or images, computer programs, accessories, jewelry, paper articles, luggage, and more.”

Had this worked, Disney would have legal rights to the name, Dia de Los Muertos, and the images associated with their interpretations and representations of Mexican culture. This images would undoubtedly use traditional cultural productions that would be re-visioned in a stylized manner, but in the above quote we also see “education…services” as part of their trademark. Would this have hindered culturally relevant education that incorporated Dia de Los Muertos (the holiday, not the film)? In all likelihood it would have at the very least complicated any possibility for educators to talk about the subject and showcase the images of Mexican culture.

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Regarding the legacy of colonization, the line between stealing the material and immaterial through the colonizers legal structures are pretty clear. Both effectively disconnect people from culture in a variety of ways.  I believe the actions of Disney, whether intentional or not, was a continuation of this process.