dear dark daughta,Hey Dark Lily,
for me what complicates this picture of 'low level' settler is that for many of black folk in the new world, we only claim our aboriginal heritage to 'up' our status in the black community, with our good hair and light skin.
we can think about such projects such as the nation of islam's demand for the us government to give black folk the black south with no acknowledgement that we do not have a greater claim than the red folks who died on the trail of tears to reach oklahoma.
but i do not think that we can be called settlers. i think that we have to be called slaves. and buffalo soldiers. just as many of our people are today. and so the powers that be use our bodies to work their land. and our bodies to steal their land.
but i agree wit you. the heavy bloody implications of 40 acres of a mule have weighed on me for 10 years (ever since i walked out of a black radical congress meeting in tears)because we cannot claim our blackness gives us 'settler rights'. we betray our ancestors in doing so.
and so even though i may not have light skin or good hair, it is very clear in my family that we are black and indian. and that that the land that we 'own' (in south carolina) was both vacant because of the trail of tears and we are the descendents of those who found a way not to leave that land and find a way to won it once again. it is a complicated and i want to think it through some more...research the family history. before i blog about it. but thank you. dark lily
I hear what you're saying about the genetic connection. The blood is all over the place on a bunch of different levels, is what I figure. In my family there is a story...I can't figure out whether it's myth making arising out of internalized racist stuff designed to make dark African people feel "better" about who they are, making them less Black, not so fully Black...or whether it's fer real...they say my great grandmother was from Peru...Ophelia says the identical story circulates in her family, too...funny, as you point out...the description of my great gran' doesn't include a name or any link to her culture, whatever that was...it ends up being about transmitting knowledge about a relationship to lightness...about a woman with light fly away hair that would not stay put, light skin and...do I remember (?) freckles, too? (perplexed head shake) The kids come out all different shades without anyone going out of their way to maintain lightness through light/white focussed breeding programs. Go figure.
I don't think Black folks have any claim on the dirty south...unless they're good with unconsciously living off the proceeds of the multiple attempted genocides that occurred there and in other parts of north amerikkka without paying their respects and finding ways to not make their requests for lands about persistently turning to the colonizer, about persistently centralizing the power of the colonizer, about respecting only the governmental might of the settler colonizer.
We may decide that the sound of the word "settler", when attached to the word "Black", attached to us resonates in our ears in ways that are decidedly uncomfortable...but I realize that given your location as mixed race (?) with Native blood...I think that's what you meant (?), that the location of Blackness, your Blackness(?) as being about settler-ship, ends up being complicated...I had a flash of what children who have parents who are of colour and white, who embrace consciousness of white domination and the concept of white privilege as linked to something in their ancestry, must feel...torn, conflicted...like scrubbing "half" of themselves...which "part"?...with a sharp, tough wire brush.
Our ancestors were kidnapped Africans who were enslaved and force worked. Then our colonizers lied and said they "emancipated" us. Some of us got on boats and left as quickly as we could. Things haven't worked out so well for them back in the Motherland. (gee, I wonder who had a hand in that?) But they went back "home", back to somewhere they could call "home", and settled back in, made themselves at "home"...as best they could.
Many stayed here, in the amerikkkas, believing that there was no option, no real leaving...born here...grounded here...we were more of this place than from any other where or when. Forced into exile...sigh...maybe we believed could not go back and mistakenly believed that throwing our lot in with the syphilitic, psychotic, sociopathic crazy ass crazies who hated us was the key to a future, any future, our new future.
If we could just squeeze our eyes shut tight enough and click our heels together three times, we could ease on down, ease on down, ease on down the road to a fuller, more willing, more cognitively dissonant, denial based relationship with our colonizers and the dominant, occupying structure they forcibly imposed on this place, on the peoples linked to this place...
If we could find a place of strength and entitlement inside the experience of having been forced we could foster an understanding that we deserved a piece, that we had worked hard for a piece of the dream, for a place their dreamscape, murderous landscaping power based continental renovation occupation project.
Some of us even went so far as to believe that we could settle and start our own island nations, eventually, on land that had been the domain of others who "mysteriously" disappeared, conveniently "disappeared"...we believed that even in the shadow of our colonizers, just a stone's throw from their yards, we could be safe and independent...that's where I enter, was birthed onto an island mostly kept afloat with tourist dollars which is to say utilized by the descendants of the people who had stolen the Africans, exploited them, abandoned the "business venture" when it became more costly than it was worth and then returned in colourful clothing bent on seeking hedonistic racist leisure...still at our expense.
Some of us decided to be buffalo soldiers working to support and help expand the settlement project, protecting white settler occupiers. More culpability, more links to the occupier rather than to those who resisted, more defiant blood on our hands, more layeredness for me...and you (?) to decipher...and claim.
Pawns we are most definitely. What I've been trying to have conversation about is what that status as pawns of those who so profoundly harmed us, looks like, what it means, what it has done to our spirits...how it has cancerously redefined and refocused our liberation movements with them still center.
My issue is that we have not been willing to name and claim our pawn status, to understand the many ways we have served as lackeys not just in the continued colonization of ourselves and each other, but also in the ongoing settler project on these lands and, for those of us in the west...in the north, but specifically for those who understand themselves as hyphenated denizens of the "most powerful" "most wonderful", (I say) most bullying and dangerous nation on the planet, there is also additional "status", associate low level (status maintained through diseased racist social relations) as pawns of the oppressors of the world.
I don't even need to quibble over how we will call ourselves. You don't jell with "low level settler"? You don't even have to use it. I use it because it keeps me clear about how the hierarchy and the stratification works.
What ends up being more important is the unpacking. The conversation. The location of who we are, who we have been as pawns teased by a putrid carrot - full settler status - full citizenship with all the perks and privileges...but folks with the increased privileges would come all the associated accountability...full settler-ship, full owning of the blood ties to the domination of the land...legitimacy conferred by the descendants of the crazy Mc crazies
do you take this land in bizarre simulation of the original theft? we do. do you promise to have and enslave the land, erasing its peoples from any public conversations for as long as you and yours shall live? we do. do you promise to cleave to us even though we do not honour you, enduring hardship, denigration, lynching and self esteem bashing insults on the daily in the pursuit of your piece of what will always be our pie? we do. then, slit your wrists and use the blood to mark an x right here. no we don't have to sign anything. alright suh, yessuh, suh, massuh. we now pronounce you fully implicated in the lies, the murders, the blood, the harm, the occupation. otay, suh...ma'am...little diseased blonde baby colonizers. :)Legitimacy.
That fucking carrot dangling in front of our eyes, just out of reach, really a figment of our imaginations, never of theirs...'less you count the liberals, who actually want to believe that there is a way for us to be fully rewarded for attempting to buy into a structure bent on our destruction...achieving our destruction...
That fucking carrot controlling and defining our agendas...you're write we have been used. I would rephrase it slightly: Barring what we could easily recognize as viable options, we have allowed ourselves to be utilized. and hoped the coerced, raping, demanded bare backing, lubeless, centuries long collective forced ass fucking would pay off...in the long run...somewhere...down the road...?
We made calculated choices in a rigged game.
So, you're right about it being complicated, what I call messy. I'm appreciative of you breaking the embargo on open conversation I've encountered as I've struggled with this, having only Papster and Ophelia as willingly conscious Black people capable of continuing to foster a deep self love project while reckoning with the bits and pieces that are just plain...messy, crazy making, horrific...smelly.