Tuesday, April 17, 2007

From the people who gave us Eugenics and the flat earth...

A few days ago I was prepping to post some more photos from the Shmolian's homebirth. I've still got photos of Stinkapee cutting the umbilical cord for our (her and my) baby. And there are shots of Shmolee's first breastfest.

I was trying to find ways to historically situate my presence in the amerikkkas as a Black homebirthing mama, descendant of slaves who "graduated" to colonized settler status by a manufactured emancipatory decree issued by the colonizer.

I wanted to do more than situate the Shmolian as birthed through me into settler status as a citizen of the land colonized and renamed, maps drawn according to the specifications of those who stole the land.

So, I think I'm gonna be smart. I google the Bering Ice Bridge figuring I'm gonna trace Native peoples from their arrival in the amerikkkas from Asia.

Yeah, I'll be smart, not.

I start finding pages written by Native scholars pointing out the obvious gynormous holes in the idea that the ancestors of First Nations peoples walked across an ice bridge, down through the Arctic into the amerikkkas.

google search yeilded this, this and this.

My radically politicized homebirthing photo project had reached an unexpected fork in the road. I had been presented with information I was going to have to engage with.

I left off the download and started thinking.

First dealing with skepticism of this new (meaning new to me) origin "theory". It shook up too many things for this former avid high school geographer (did I tell you I won best geography student at my high school in grade thirteen?) to rest easy,

The theory about the Bering Ice Bridge is gospel. It links to the whole shifting and spreading plates deal which is supposed to explain why the continents are positioned where and how they are.

But particular theories about geography have also been linked to why different groups of people ended up where they are looking like they do, too. Let's leave this for a moment.

I got stuck about a week...actually by the time this post is published, it'll be more like two weeks. Bear with me if this seems a little disjointed, we're talking about bits and pieces of idea and word added up over the course of a few days.

Up until "yesterday". I was sitting somewhere waiting for Paps to come back when my mind started free associating. It just sort of revs up on its own and goes places dragging me along for a ride.

It asked: Why?
Why would someone want to prove that Native people weren't originally from this land? What could anyone possibly have to gain by spreading and imposing a fictional account of an arrival that might never have happened.

I realize I feel uncomfortable and defensive about theories of human evolution. For the past few years I've been feeling good about the whole idea of Lucy being the genetic source of all human life, the earliest known ancestor of all humanity. A continental African Black chick.

I've felt vindicated knowing that even though I've been the recipient of racist gazes from all manner of white folks and people of colour, I could always fluff up my ego with a simple reminder: "Humph. You come from me, dude. Y'all came through we."

Harps and violins, please.

Africa, the cradle of humanity. The Black mammy...I mean mother. She who birthed whole civilizations out of her geographic loins, blah, blah, blah.

Well, that's certainly one way to look at it. This way allows for a sense of pride and genetic continuity...sort'a.

Another way to look what the scientists said?
Black people are throw backs. The most basic form of human being. Not particularly evolved. The genetic raw material, "savage" and "uncivilized" that, much later, led to the birth of the epitome of humanity - The European. Humanity in its most distilled form, lighter and brighter, destined to rule all they survey.

Why had I been accepting their words as related to human evolution as the law all this time?

Why had I not seen the fiction?

Humanity was born in Africa and quickly left, leaving all that dark genetic material behind, later to return victorious and bearing wisdom that could be used to enlighten those proto humans who remained.


Even with theory about the spread of humanity infusing the beliefs of the dominant and those they've colonized, it's clear to see that no one else on the planet has a dispute of their very right to claim the land they occupy built into scientific creation myths about their origins.

Where did Asians migrate from and how did they populate Asia?
Where did South Asians migrate from and how did they populate south asia?
Where did Europeans migrate from and how did they populate europe?
Where did middle eastern people migrate from and how did they populate the middle east?

Yeah, everyone's got a general idea of how they came to be where they are. But this isn't forgrounded so forcefully as it is with Native people.

No one else has to defend their right to exist on the lands of their peoples. No one else is invited to shut up because of a scientific origin story created by their oppressors.

The story of the origins of humanity reworded in plain english:
"People started out no better than jungle bunny monkeys just recently deciding to stop swinging from the trees in Africa. Some of the smarter natives got restless and decided to start venturing forth.

As they moved away from the savage influence of their original homelands and the backward beliefs associated with their gene pool, they started to miraculously become lighter and more evolved.

The europeans, as those who traveled furthest north, were obviously the smartest of the bunch. Never mind with that pesky detail about Native people's in North Amerikkka.

Of course on the surface it might look as if they travelled further, which according to our evolutionary theories about human development, would make them smarter. But you see, they're actually descended from Asians. They do not represent an evolutionary development of the species. They're simply a genetic outcropping which happened after the gene pools had already settled. They were just a bunch of Asians, descended from Africans who lost their way in a series of intense ice storms.

Truth be told they are also settlers, relatively new, not indigenous to the amerikkkas. So they shouldn't really get their noses all bent out of shape over us white people coming along and nicely asking them to share the land.

We're all settlers here, aren't we?"

All sarcastic monologues aside, I'm actually thinking of Bering Ice Bridge Native Travel Theory as more of the usual white supremacist racist spewing, as a way of reasserting the genetic dominance of the colonizer while implicating Native people in their own genocide.

If we're going to frown on eugenics and flat earth theory, can't we also remember that the first time europeans put together a dinosaur skeleton, they got it wrong?

We've been indoctrinated to believe that they are scientifically infallible and that their beliefs about themselves and the world around us are credible because they have what they understand to be "science" on their side. But they make mistakes. Some they've hidden from view. Others have been glaring. Some Native scholars think that the Ice Bridge theory is full of shite. And who am I (Black colonized settler) to say that they're wrong?

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