(The photographer and farmer are not credited in the article)
… white supremacy doesn’t mind waiting. It, or rather, its agents, will wait for years, decades, centuries to accomplish the goal. As a belief system, white supremacy is an unofficial religion, it’s the backbone of colonization, it’s the tune Europeans, and eventually Americans, whistled as they committed genocide for centuries.
This article, “Commercial Colonisation of Africa,” is a reminder of the tenacity of white supremacy, which is a system of beliefs, the tools of which can be deployed by non-whites, too, and the failure of the rest of us to wake up to our own complicity in the ongoing genocide against indigenous peoples all over the planet. Because the US, Russia, the UK, Canada, Japan, Italy and Germany, who blithely refer to themselves as the G8, are the same empires that have been colonizing and murdering indigenous peoples since they “discovered” the world isn’t flat. And with regard to the Pacific, all of those countries have taken turns colonizing and brutalizing the region and its peoples.
I love the photo above, which accompanies the article, because of the cracked earth in the foreground. I’m reminded of a conversation I had years ago with Gary Maunakea-Forth, one of the founding farmers of Ma’o Farms (maoorganicfarms.org), wherein he talked about the type of soil in Lualualei, a small valley on the Waianae Coast; Lualualei is militarized/occupied by the US Navy. That side of the island is very dry, and so the ground appears parched and cracked in some areas, such as Lualualei. And what Gary said went something like this:
The soil in Lualualei is a rare type of soil only found in a small percentage of the planet’s farm lands. Despite how it appears, it is actually very rich and can grow anything. The only other place this soil exists is in Africa. And what is the narrative of Lualualei and Waianae in general? That it is a place of poverty, although in reality it has some of the richest soil on earth. And what is the narrative we are told of Africa? It is the narrative of poverty, even though their soil is the richest soil on earth.
The construction of poverty narratives is intentional, it’s a deliberate lie invoked to find ways to steal the land and resources from the people they belong to. Perhaps the most inhumane aspect of white supremacy is that it uses the suffering it inflicts on indigenous peoples as an excuse to embed itself. And even worse, the country performing this ritual genocide is all the while constructing a narrative of itself as the hero of its victim.
It’s the “rape culture” logic that blames a woman for the way she dresses or behaves as an excuse for rape, claiming she wanted it to happen. It’s like when Americans get angry at Hawaiians who call for sovereignty, and say things like, “Hawaiians are lucky we took their country because if we didn’t they’d all be speaking Japanese!” Or the centuries long outright murder of indigenous peoples by Europeans and Americans who, since Ambassador Christopher Columbus showed up uninvited, created laws and policies to support their theft and genocide, enshrining a murderous mentality in a haze of so-called Christian values, like “killing the Indian to save the man.”
Okay, this isn’t just a rant. Because here’s another, really informative article that supports my position– it’s about how US & European coal burning caused a decades long massive African drought. It was published in The Atlantic magazine earlier this month and it tells the story of what researchers at the University of Washington have found. In short, scientists there have proven that American and European coal burning and pollution caused the reduction in rainfall in a largely arid region of Africa that led to local water sources drying up. The drought was blamed on bad farming practices, and the journalists and scientists who perpetrated that lie weren’t talking about industrialized, corporate farming, they blamed indigenous farmers whose knowledge of their land goes back thousands of years. Here’s what the report says:
Aerosols emanating from coal-burning factories in the United States and Europe during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s cooled the entire Northern Hemisphere, shifting tropical rain bands south. Rains no longer reached the Sahel region, a band that spans the African continent just below the Sahara desert.
The G8, made up of the countries responsible for this fairly recent drought, suffering, death and poverty, the impacts of which are still felt in Africa, is, instead of taking responsibility for their actions, carving up the continent of Africa to yet again steal its resources and wealth.
It’s literally another form of slavery, a continuation of the centuries of white supremacist enslavement of Africans. Only instead of kidnapping them and shipping them to America, the same nations, one of which is led by a man who is clearly aware of his own indigenous, African genealogy, have figured out how to enslave Africans in their own respective homelands.
This is a DGR posting (DGR-Sam Krop), yet another that I really appreciate because they do not shy away from connecting different expressions of oppression and violence with the violence against the environment. I have personally believed that the culture of misogyny is the culture of environmental destruction; as is the culture of white supremacy.
The article, by Sam Krop, has thoughtful analysis, with references to Andrea Dworkin’s work about the Marquis de Sade’s influence in how normalized sexual violence is today. Typically, I’ve found that it’s acceptable to criticize “the media” for hypnotizing and manipulating people into believing and accepting that which should be questioned. One obvious example is the recent media lynch-mob on the trail of Edward Snowden– here’s a refreshing, albeit small article about what the media is doing to that guy: Snowden-Media-Govt. But when that criticism is about sexuality and violence, the issue of “freedom” becomes the focus. And women consenting to participate in sexually violent portrayals trumps any meaningful critique of the power of pornographic media to normalize violence.
In mass media, things get dumb-down, so we usually end up with crippled conversations in the press about really important things. For instance, discussions about race and racism focus on behavioral things, like whether or not Paula Deen used the “N” word, etc., not about institutionalized white supremacy and how anyone willing to maintain the system’s rules can access power, even people of color (eg., African-American president, attorney general, UN ambassador), although to a lesser extent. In the dialogue about a woman’s right to choose versus pro-life, the discussion rarely addresses gender violence, oppression, misogyny, etc., it stays focused on Christian values.
These are such important issues, and all forms of normalized oppression should be critiqued over and over and over again.
Richard Hamasaki, poet and spoken word artist, author of “From the Spider Bone Diaries: Poems and Songs,” literary critic, editor, publisher and producer of four CDs of “amplified poetry,” has a new project. And he needs our help to make it a reality.
Hamasaki is a friend to all poets of Hawaii Nei and beyond, including Hawaiian poet, journalist and activist, Wayne Kaumualii Westlake, who was killed in 1984 by a drunk driver. Hamasaki has maintained a creative- collaboration with this soul-brutha through projects like the one he’s working on now: “Down on the Sidewalk in Waikiki.” It’s a new CD of Westlake’s poems and songs performed by other great poets, such as Imaikalani Kalahele, Sia Figiel, Teresia Teaiwa, and more.
This collection of poetry will soonly become a series of major (short) motion pictures, a project I plan to be a part of.
To learn more about “Down on the Sidewalk in Waikiki,” go to Redflea’s blog and then hightail it over to The Westlake project’s Indiegogo page and donate what you can; there are 16 days left to raise $790.
Simba is a former Free Speech Radio News producer who has been traveling in different parts of the world for years now, photographing and reporting stories from the Middle East and Africa, focusing a lot of her work on indigenous peoples and women. She’s now reporting from Thailand. Simba epitomizes the future of journalism: independence.
A self-taught storyteller, she believes storytelling is a sacred calling. And having spent many years in her late teens and early twenties living on the streets of NYC, working as a maid, and surviving, Simba’s insight about labor exploitation is a homegrown in the US of A schooling that informs the heart and soul and mind of her work. While she relies on donations to keep her online magazine, Migrant Stories, moving forward, her engagement with issues, such as labor exploitation and gender violence is fearless and generous.
Her latest issue of Migrant Stories features stories from ethnic Shan of Burma who are refugees in Thailand, a result of the Burmese government’s long-standing military assault on them for their land. And as is the case with many indigenous peoples forced to flee their homeland, the Shan fall prey to industries that use their starvation as a means to extract cheap labor from them to make things plenty of us guys pretend just showed up at Walmart on Santa’s sleigh. Have a read and consider supporting this amazing woman’s profound contribution to bringing us the stories and voices of people we would not otherwise know about.
Empowering Migrants In Thailand: http://bit.ly/108YTek
Jewel is a friend and inspiration. A Samoan-American artist, and teacher at the University of Washington, she is phenomenally talented and generous with her mind and skills.
This project at the deYoung is a great opportunity for anyone lucky enuf to be in SF when this is going on from July 3 – 28. The project invites anyone to sketch or create some image of an ancestor that Jewel will use to create a painting that celebrates the community of ancestors that shows up for the making of this piece of art. I’m thinking of trying to get in via an email!
For more information call 415-750-3528, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
No sooner did I write the words “what Sai and Kaiama are doing is the only sovereignty related story unfolding” two posts beneath this one, then I remembered two things: on Maui and other islands that are NOT Oahu, there are pockets of resistance taking the form of refusing to use Hawaii “state” license plates on cars. This isn’t new, but the fact that this expression of ku’e is picking up again is a story that would be followed if there was anything even resembling Hawaiian reporting and news production.
The other huge story that is in constant motion, albeit slow motion, is Kaanohi Kaleikini’s ku’e against the desecration of our iwi kupuna. There simply is no one else representing us in the way she has been for years now. And I personally believe that if Hawaiians actually came together on this one issue, the sovereignty movement would find its pulse again. What she (and others) said and did about the desecration at Walmart that appears in “Noho Hewa” is the backbone of the film.
In lieu of us having our own news show, which would rightfully feature regular reporting on the daily abuses and desecration of Hawaiian burials and sacred sites, here’s a lovely article the Honolulu Magazine published about Kaanohi in December. The gorgeous photo above of Kaanohi in Makua Valley was lifted from this article. http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/December-2012/Meet-Paulette-Kaleikini-The-woman-who-stopped-the-rail/
Sightseeing in the Apartheid State: From Ben Gurion to the West Bank
Spray painted onto the wall of a residential neighborhood in Hebron, this sign reads: Shalom Arabs! Gas the Arabs! JDL (The unnamed man in the photo is a volunteer guide with the Temporary International Presence in Hebron)
Cindy Franklin is one of the brilliant professors in the UH English department, and she’s written a powerful, first person account of what it’s like these days in Palestine. I’ve attached the essay, published on Portside. Also, Cindy will give a talk about her trip on Thursday, September 12th, 3PM, Kuykendall, Room 410. Save the date!
“This land, together with Gaza, is referred to by the United Nations and other international bodies as the Occupied Palestinian Territories, or oPt – Palestinian land under Israeli Occupation. We met with students and faculty members from five different Palestinian universities, toured towns and refugee camps in the West Bank…” Go here for the whole story: http://portside.org/2013-06-13/sightseeing-apartheid-state-ben-gurion-west-bank
There are two blogs in Hawaii Nei that are focused on Hawaiian issues. One is Scott Crawford’s blog, http://www.hawaiiankingdom.info,a site Crawford has maintained for years; at times this one blog has been the only consistent source of current information about the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
The other is Keanu Sai’s blog, http://hawaiiankingdom.org/blog. Sai’s most recent postings have been about the work he and attorney, Dexter Kaiama, have been doing at the International Criminal Courts; they have filed War Crimes charges against the United States, naming Hawaii Island judges in the charges. The most recent posting was about how Hawaii is targeted for nuclear strikes. Interesting and provocative, at this moment, what Sai and Kaiama are doing is the only sovereignty related story unfolding,which is itself an indication of the state of the movement.
In January, Amy Marsh will teach a 10-day series of classes for those who want to study hypnosis and learn how to apply it to healing mind, body and spirit without having to erase your history and spiritual reality to do it! Probably the first of its kind, the course will present Oiwi and others with proven techniques for achieving wellness and clarity in, as Amy says, “the context of the history and present situation in Hawaii.” Who knew hypnosis could be so politically relevant? Uh…the mass media that’s hypnotizing us 24/7 into not being politically relevant!
The course leads to certification in the National Guild of Hypnotists.
There are two discounted scholarships available for Kanaka Oiwi. Go to:
This link is to a blog post my friend Amy Marsh published at her site: amymarshsexologist. Sexology, by the way, is not nearly as sexy as the name implies.
The reason I’m posting the link here is because Amy and I had a very tough conversation about Deep Green Resistance, an organization I respect and often agree with, as they are consistently on the front line of resistance to the environmental destruction taking place all over the planet and they always stand with indigenous peoples. There is no other group with such fierce and brilliant analysis about the impacts of genocide and white supremacy. However, Amy’s letter is in response to DGR’s position on the subject of transgender people.
This issue, like everything else that matters, is complex. It reaches across all social, cultural, racial and economic boundaries. Here in Hawaii, although inside the sovereignty movement there is very little gender and class analysis, which I believe is a large part of the failure of the movement at this time, although their numbers are small, transgender people are as much a part of our community as straight and gay people. I think it’s because we all need each other.
While I remain inspired by the DGR in more ways than I can count, on this issue, I stand with my friend Amy. Not just because she’s a mom who, unlike most, is navigating the volatile terrain of transgender struggles with her own child. On principle, that kind of courage alone would typically be enough to secure my support! But it’s more than that. It’s beyond one transgender’s individual need or their collective need and right to self-identify. Self-identifying is a tough, tough issue that often becomes a serious problem for native peoples who have to deal with non-natives appropriating our identities, so I am in no way glossing over that issue.
Mainly, though, I stand by Amy because through my conversations with her, I was reminded that politics can unite us or really divide those of us who should stand in solidarity against the ultimate oppressors and the machinery and institutions that gain from our divisions. I stand by Amy because I believe we have to create spaces where it’s safe to disagree and still maintain solidarity, still move forward and accommodate the goal of liberation from all forms of oppression. That is the ultimate goal, as I see it.