Columbus Day

And for those who will shrug and say “can’t change the past” remember that celebrating such a past, instead of critically examining and learnng from it, dooms us to repetition,

GW Bush Authored Sterilization Plan

Conflicts between federal governments, often protecting or extending corporate interest against existing treaties, and Native Americans (this one was done by a student in an anthro class 😀 )

If you are like me, you spent part of today griping about the mail not being picked up/delivered or not being able to get something done at the bank. I didn’t even remember what day it was when I left the house this morning.  I’d love to blame it on jet lag but the reality is that apathy in the U.S. about our history/ies permeates everything. People make lynching “jokes” and rape “jokes,” they celebrate genocide and praise a man who voted against Martin Luther King Day for standing up to a single elder woman after stirring up here Islamaphobia for weeks. And I write posts about current politics without even realizing what day it is until the middle of the day.

When Palin made her comment about Community Organizers, several pundits asked if her comment was racial. I remember shrugging because I know that there are conservative Christian organizers who have been community organizers just as much as there have been radical people of color, feminists, and liberal faith groups (including Christians) who have organized and they crossed race. Yet when Palin started in with the “palled around with terrorists” madness, I thought about the community organizer comment again. I though about Chavez and Huerta and the Chicano Movement. I thought about Elaine Brown and Erika Huggins and the Black Panthers. I thought about Buffy Saint Marie and Annie Mae Aquash and the American Indian Movement.

Today, I thought about how choosing these particular youtube videos would silence the message I am trying to send for the people who most need to hear it. How for them, like Palin, the right to self-determination is frightening when it comes from the mouth of radical poc social justice workers, whether they are Freedom Riders or the first Black Presidential candidate to make it this far in the election process. They are afraid of women who exert their right to express their sexuality, to seek their desires, and to choose what they do with their bodies. They are afraid of women of color who are a constant reminder of the occupation of this nation, the perpetuation of enslavement, and the trafficking of sex. They are afraid of radical white people and poc who stood up against corruption, inequality, and state sanctioned violence. They are afraid of the sons and daughters of a colonial era that is long over and yet still taints us.

And in their fear they build militias and lynch mobs and have rallies where even now they feel emboldened to yell out “kill them.” They create secret prisons and midnight torture flights. They bomb clinics and federal buildings. They hang effigies and nooses. They taser queers, youth, and mentally unstable people to death. They repeal 1878 Posse Comitatus Act and allow Blackwater to build huge domestic training bases and weapons lockers near the major freeway arteries for the South and the West. 

So I find myself concerned that for the first time in my adult life, my first thought on Columbus Day was “why the hell isn’t the post office open?!” and that we as a nation were so caught up in election fever that no one else mentioned the connections we could make between recent campaign tactics and the history of this nation as a cautionary tale to do better if nothing else.

And I find myself thinking about something Michelle Obama said about the call to imagine the world that could be and then work together to create it. I am imagining a world where indigenous lands are not taking over by encroachment and then force to obtain mineral or water rights for corporations. I am imagining a world in which the cultural trauma of colonialism has finally been healed. I am imagining a world where regardless of what you believe about the nation or faith or any other hot button topic, your opinion is based in fact, and you are able to listen and communicate with respect for those who differ from you. I am imagining a world where no politician, regardless of affiliation, tells me that separate cannot only be equal but it the best option; whether that seperation is physical like internment or reservations or institutional like marriage or competing conferences with decidedly different racial agendas, or ideological like the people who say that what woc need is beyond their comprehension but they support their rights “too.” I don’t know how to get there but I hope that even in the midst of all this apathy and economic fear, that we don’t lose sight of trying.


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