decolonize history

History Lesson/Revision

Before we white-washed this place as
Ho Chi Minh City
it was Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
Before we indoctrinated this place as Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh
it was Saïgon
Before we colonized this place as Saïgon
it was Sài Gòn
Before we remember it as Sài Gòn
it was Prey Nôkôr ព្រៃនគរ
“forest of kapok trees kingdom”

Fun Decolonizing Facts: Soda Edition™

Most major Sodas (in the US?) are based on native beverages and medicines. That’s why so many were invented in like the 1800s by pharmacists, they were commodifying native drinks, medicines, and drugs.

1.       Coca-Cola and Pepsi: The most popular drink is basically just cocaine, a south American herbal substance, and the kola nut, originally from Africa where it was chewed and used like tea but super successful in the Americas. Used super frequently all over the continents but especially in the amazon and the central pan, cocaine was one of the most successful drugs. Kola was brought over and used for teas and such for a while before some white guy mixed the two with wine and sold it. Coca-Cola ta da.

2.       Sprite and etc.: Based on the pine tea and subsequent lemonade type drinks the natives made for scurvy ridden colonists. Their repayment was genocide and not being given credit.

3.       Rootbeer: Made from sassafrass and wintergreen was a common American beverage for a long time before colonization. Interestingly it is almost only popular in North America still to this day.

4.       Seltzer: The first real appropriated beverage was stolen from the Inca as a cure for malaria in the form of quinine. The natives of Tawantinsuyu or the Andes seemed to have enjoyed it for hundreds of years and learned to use it as a treatment once malaria was introduced during colonization.

5.       Ginger Ale: Based off of ginger beers and teas popular in precolonial America. I don’t really like it so that’s all I’ll say.

6.       Dr. Pepper: No one really knows what the main ingredients of Dr. Pepper are but we know it’s not prune juice. Natives had a tea made from Kola and Ginger that was a remedy for digestive problems and when some white guy made Dr. Pepper in the late 1800’s he marketed it as a digestive aid. So… that’s my guess.

The only exception to these origins is Fanta and Mountain Dew. Fanta was made by and for Nazis. Mountain Dew was made by redneck bootleggers during prohibition to wash down moonshine.

So that’s my excuse for my horrendous addiction to Diet Coke. It’s in my blood MOM!

In the most literal sense Haiti was […] unsettled: one of the perverse ironies of having gained its political independence from France in 1804 through a revolution was that the country was forced to pay the European power for the losses it incurred, and the fledgling nation was thus in debt to France on the order of millions of francs that continued well into the next century. But the price of the ticket was exponentially inflated: there is debate among historians that France forced the small country to not only pay for its loss of the slave colony on the Caribbean island but also remunerate its collateral losses on the American continent, specifically the Louisiana territories, in the guise of interest. Burdened even before it began, Haiti stumbled out of the gates of nationhood as a prototype for the dream of postcolonial statehood and the neocolonial debt economy; indeed, as a birth-place for modernity itself.

From its very inception, and even as a colony, the country that would come to be known as Haiti has lingered in the shadows of the U.S. imagination. Haiti has continually challenged the United States’ self-authorized narrative of democratic exceptionalism from the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson, more recently Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. In the opening years of the nineteenth century, Jefferson, although he supported the revolutionary spirits that underwrote the American colonists and French Jacobins, could not quite let himself imagine that blacks were capable of self-governance and, in his second term, formally created an embargo against the fledgling country. In the maelstrom of the Civil War, Lincoln considered both Liberia and Haiti as sites for black relocation/deportation before settling upon the Caribbean island as the site for a colony; this history illuminates the intertwined impulses of U.S. nationalism and imperialism even in a moment where the nation itself threatened to be dissolved. While Haiti never developed into a fully materialized colony for the U.S. during the nineteenth century, that haunting desire resurrected again in the aftermath of World War I during Wilson’s administration. Under the guise of protecting U.S. commercial interests, the U.S. occupied Haiti for some nineteen years — as part of the so-called Banana Wars, the specter of Haiti emerged as one ghost of many (including Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic) that put into high relief the relationship between U.S. exceptionalism and imperialism and, in a broader sense, the relationship of the U.S. to the Americas writ large. Given its history, Haiti is often seen not only as an unsettled state but a failed state. And yet for all of its future anteriority, Haiti also served as the model of a freedom yet to be, haunting slaveholders across hemispheres and fueling nineteenth-century African American sentiment toward liberation and inspiring global anticolonial struggles and decolonialization movements throughout the twentieth century.

Ivy G. Wilson, “P.S.: A Coda,” Unsettled States: Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies, pg.307-9


Burning Spear - Christopher Colombus