This document was created to serve as an introduction to the ideas of colonization and provide a glimpse into what decolonization means. In particular, it is useful in broadening our thinking about classism beyond Marxism to also include indigenous people and their struggles. It’s not exhaustive. Please (please!) share your thoughts, questions and suggestions!
A little by way of background
Generally, in social justice circles, I hear Marx’s ideas as one of the primary and fundamental ways of understanding class-based oppression. To put it simply: classism exists because certain people take advantage of others by exploiting their labor. That profit is only possible when labor is under- or not paid.
However, this perspective continues to invisiblize native struggles: it ignores how nature and land get turned into natural resources and commodities to be traded. These are huge parts of how profit gets generated within capitalism! Furthermore, the violent transition from nature to natural resource isn’t a quick and easy shift, but rather often requires dispossessing native people, severing connections with land that have (in many cases) existed for several thousand years, and constructing histories that do not include these struggles. For example, in thinking about any natural resource, is it part of our consciousness to include just where it comes from? Where did the tree live that became a piece of paper?
For work around undoing classism to be successful – to move to a more just, equitable society – we must not only think about how people are turned into workers to be exploited, but also how trees must be turned into natural resources to be exploited and how natives must be erased to control land. What follows are a few entry points into further understanding about these dynamics.
1) Learn about which people lived where you do before you did. What are they called now? What name(s) do/did they have for themselves? What were their crafts, social structure, homes, types of food? Are there any descendants still around your area?
3) What thoughts, feelings, sensations do you have about living on land your people aren’t from (i.e. being a settler)?
Sensitizing readings & media
sen·si·tize: to make (someone) more aware of something
- An academic article that has been particularly profound for me — with a framework and a thesis on how decolonization doesn’t overlap with social justice: Decolonization is not a metaphor. I wrote up a few of my thoughts and responses.
- NPR story on a mapping project: The Map Of Native American Tribes You’ve Never Seen Before
- Chapter in the book Colors of Violence: Three Pillars of White Supremacy (and a quick video intro) Spoiler Alert! They are: Slavery/Capitalism, Genocide/Colonization, Orientalism/War
- Tambien la lluvia / Even the rain: A movie of stories woven together connecting colonization by Columbus and water privatization protests in Bolivia
- A short book list that was compiled by Kai, author of a blog called An Indigenous History of North America
- A 100+ page compilation of essays called: Unsettling Ourselves: Reflections and Resources for Deconstructing Colonial Mentality
Indigenous media/information projects
- Indian Country Today (link) (facebook)
- Indigenous Nations of America — the app! (link on Google Play)
- News from Native California (a quarterly magazine) (link)
Indigenous groups to get involved with or “follow”
- Idle No More (link) (facebook)
- Honor the Earth, Winona LaDuke (link) (facebook)
- Black Mesa Water Coalition (link) (facebook)
- Indigenous Environmental Network (link) (facebook)
- Zapatistas/EZLN (one of many facebook pages) (wikipedia)