Dear 99%rs:

10/06/2011

Dear 99%rs:

I admire your constancy braving wind, rain, and cops to stand up for what you believe in. It is always inspiring for me to see people self-organizing and standing up for themselves! However, I have been hesitant to join you because I not seen much in the way of a deeper critique of capitalism, colonialism, and statist politics. As a person of mixed race whose family is directly affected by the imperialist policies of the U.S. today (both in terms of relative white privilege as well as heartbreaking division directly resulting from the increased militarization of the U.S./Mexico border), I wanted to share some of my perspective with you.

The land you are standing on (or sitting, or laying…) right now is already occupied territory. This land was stolen from indigenous peoples, have no doubt about that. For those of you who will say “…but that was a long time ago…” indigenous people continue to experience overwhelming oppression from white imperialism, both here in the U.S. as well as abroad. For many of these people, it is not the first time they have experienced: going hungry, going without healthcare, having inadequate access to safety, education, shelter, or the means by which to support themselves. These problems have gone on for generations, and every time that people try to rise up so they can do for themselves what the government can not be trusted to do, those attempts have been quashed. It doesn’t mean people don’t keep trying, of course–but it is exhausting. Imagine not just getting arrested, but being slaughtered by the police and military for trying to defend land that was already yours to begin with!

While I recognize that your movement is by no means monolithic, I ask you to think deeper about what you are asking for, and broaden the scope of your critique of global capitalism and white/U.S. imperialism. A motto I have loved since I first heard it: A slight to one is a slight to all. I hope that you will stand in solidarity with all indigenous peoples who continue to fight for survival today, and acknowledge the ongoing legacy and horror of colonialism.

Here are some ways to start (via JohnPaul Montano):

1) Acknowledge that the United States of America is a colonial country, a country of settlers, built upon the land of indigenous nations; and/or…

2) Demand immediate freedom for indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier; and/or…

3) Demand that the colonial government of the United States of America honor all treaties signed with all indigenous nations whose lands are now collectively referred to as the “United States of America”; and/or…

4) Make some kind of mention that you are indeed aware that you are settlers and that you are not intending to repeat the mistakes of all of the settler do-gooders that have come before you. In other words, that you are willing to obtain the consent of indigenous people before you do anything on indigenous land.

A few personal additions:

5) If you find yourself asking yourself why there are not more people involved in your movement, ask yourself hard questions: whose needs are we asking to be met? are we serving the interests of people who have lived in poverty from day 1 of their lives?

6) Please do not re-colonize the bodies of people of color by tokenizing them.

7) Develop an active critique of police and statist politics. Whose needs do the police generally preserve? The State? What alternatives do we have?

8) Recognize that survival is a human right. That means food, healthcare, shelter, clean water, safety, and (for those able-bodied enough to do so) the access required to work to create those things for ourselves. For E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E.

This presentation of critique and analysis is by no means complete. Draw your own conclusions. Make them up as you go along. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and admit to them. Do better next time. We are not free until we are every one of us free. From capitalism, from imperialism, from the state.

Love and Rage,
RD

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