Video: “Decolonization is not a tendency!” 2013 Seattle Anarchist Book Fair Panel

Seattle

At this year’s Seattle Anarchist Book Fair, people from Egypt, Oakland, Seattle and LA–some of them having returned from Mexico and Pakistan with fresh ideas to share; others coming with grafted knowledge from growing up in the gentrification/displacement shuffle–spoke on a panel named “Decolonization is not a tendency.”.  The conversations came thick with no sugar.

The panel touched on urban Zapatismo, gentrification (this time from someone who has actually experienced gentrification), poetry, the Egyptian uprising, on being a displaced person, and how to check one’s own white privilege. There’s a lot to say on all of these things, and the panel was only the beginning of a  conversation raw enough to meet the longstanding vaccum within numerous activist circles–let alone the rest of our communities. So we’ve broken the footage down into two parts. A filmed night of performances by revolutionary hip hop artists will be coming soon. Thanks to Tom Vee for spending so much time rendering and uploading the footage and please forgive BAI’s amateur–at times wobbly–video skills.

Part I:

Part II:

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7 thoughts on “Video: “Decolonization is not a tendency!” 2013 Seattle Anarchist Book Fair Panel

  1. a d’athbhlagáil ar Míle Gaiscíoch éagus d’fhreagair:
    Bhí mé ag sa seomra seo. Ní raibh mé ag labhairt. Tá mé fós aon rud le rá. Má tá díchoilíniu i láthair mar bán aghaidh dhaoine den dath, ansin tá na coilínigh a bhuaigh cheana féin. Ní raibh duine Duwamish a labhair. Is é sin go léir is féidir lion a rá. Ba chóir an bhean bán bogadh go Béal Feirste. Is bocht an rud é.
    I was fortunate enough to be present at this panel in Seattle. It is very good to shut up and listen, and I was inspired to re-read “Decolonization is not a metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. I certainly was affected and have a lot to think about.

  2. Really glad this video made it up and for all the work that folks put into making this happen. I learned a lot listening and appreciate too much of it to warrant trying to list it all, just watch and listen to the whole panel if you haven’t already!

    A few major *critical* observations come up for me in watching it:

    1) there is no explicit, verbalized or otherwise, recognition of the Duwamish and Suquamish peoples on whose ancestral stolen land this panel took place; although that recognition can be found in the Declaration of Decolonize/Occupy Seattle @
    http://wiki.occupyboston.org/wiki/Decolonize_To_Liberate/declarations ;

    2) there is no explicit, verbalized or otherwise, recognition of the Ohlone people on whose ancestral land Oakland resides, given in the history of colonization and gentrification of Oakland (although there was a general recognition of being forced to work stolen land). It is also stated that starving white artists are the first wave of gentrification. This makes me curious as to the difference between gentrification and colonization. Do the initial colonial wars and settlement count as gentrification, or does that not come into effect until later? If so, when?

    3) the way white people are talked about I get the idea that they are not themselves colonized but that they only exist purely as colonizers. I think, as far as the identity category of whiteness is concerned, that is more or less or exactly true. But it is a category attached to real life people, all of whom have indigenous ancestry *at some point* and who were themselves colonized on the deepest and most fundamental levels in order to be turned into white people in the first place. To be clear, I am *not* bringing this up because I think it is important to to talk about how “white people are oppressed too” or some crap like that. I am bringing this up because I think a fundamental piece of decolonial struggle in the context of white empire is to recognize whiteness as a fundamentally colonized identity. This helps us see how whiteness is used in the process of colonization. It is not as though the individual people perpetrating whiteness for the empire are purely and only colonizers, they are also colonial subjects who have had their own cultures destroyed and forced away from them in the process of being made white. That is what whiteness is: a destruction or bleaching of culture to create a blank–white–surface for the empire to write upon. If we all (people struggling against colonization), and perhaps especially “white people,” don’t recognize that whiteness is a colonized identity (meaning that we recognize that people now called white people are also the historic victims of the process of colonization) I think we will continue to create a lot of unnecessary problems for ourselves..Without this recognition, it is all to easy for people to internalize the (white) colonizer identity and forget any history of their own ancestral resistance to colonization or any memory or even imagination of non-colonized or non-colonizer life; we are likely to continue to perpetuate generations of white savior mentality type folks, white guilt driven “activism” and Nazis, because if “white people” don’t think they have their own decolonial struggle to engage in, their own beef with the empire, they will either be driven by guilt to “help” (colonize) colonized people or they will be more easily convinced by Nazi recruiters after being driven away from decolonial struggle by people who helped deepen and confirm their essential whiteness…

    Perhaps the mention of how Zapatistas deal with other indigenous communities that help the government try to destroy them would be applicable to the paradigm of white identity vs PoC struggle in the US (i.e. when necessary take action to avoid being killed by people embodying whiteness but avoid dehumanizing them at an essential level of their identity; recognizing their humanity and that they are also a victim of colonialism does not have to mean not exercising self-defense. It just means understanding that all life has a stake in resisting the vampire of colonialism and it means holding space for the possible transformation of current colonial subjects exercising whatever violence on behalf of empire into compas consciously holding those stakes in their hands…)

    I think it is super important that we take as much care as possible to not invisibilize any communities targeted for genocide by colonialism and I trust that all panelists would agree with such an intention; invisibilization is exactly how the “US radical left” is “leaving the rest of the world behind.” It is quite obviously of extreme importance to call out and combat the gentrification-by-other-means that seems to be happening in the Bay Area via white anarchists and “radicals” moving in and taking over narratives of struggle while participating in the physical and economic displacement of the people of color they are trying to be close to and in solidarity with but nonetheless raising the rents of and facilitating economic violence against and likewise important to demand that white “radicals” and “anarchists” do a better job of not letting Nazis feel safe in the Northwest, among many many other things brought up. None of my critique here is meant as a distraction from or defense against anything brought up in the panel. Yet point number 1 and 2 above stood out as very glaring absences in the overall narrative presented that, to someone who is looking to this panel to learn about decolonization, I think it can functionally invisibilize the indigenous peoples of two areas very central to the panel and current day decolonial struggle (i.e. Seattle–Duwamish and Suquamish–and Oakland–Ohlone), especially when talking specifics of gentrification and colonization those places. With that being said, I could be perpetrating some further invisibilization with my very shallow knowledge of indigenous peoples in these areas but an insistence to mention those just mentioned nonetheless. I dunno?

    This makes me think of the piece that CúChulainn mentions above “Decolonization is not a metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang. The piece emphasizes that decolonization is fundamentally about the repatriation of indigenous lands to indigenous peoples and it explains the settler-native-slave triad of identity in the USA. It offers a very helpful description of a set of “settler moves to innocence” that is great for settlers to read through and acknowledge in working through the process of denial of settler status.

    “If you didn’t walk here or come here as cargo, you are a gentrifier, straight up.”

    Also, learning about how, with the relationship between universities in Pakistan and India and tech corporations in silicon valley, the military-industrial complex is channeling peoples’ labor toward the destruction of their own people (by training and recruiting people to manufacture and manage tech being used to surveil, police and murder their own communities) gave a potent example of how highly refined and insidious colonial destruction can be. Seems like there is still a very long walk compas…

    ************************************
    also…

    Ending questions of the panel are great:
    1) how many people actually live in the place they were born? raise your hands. look around.
    2) how many people are living in exile?
    3) how many people are not living where they are from because of economic displacement?
    4) how many people chose their current residence? Look around, look at the demographics.

    *************************************

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