what is settler colonialism

Rather than something separate from or running counter to the colonial state, the murderous activities of the frontier rabble constitute its principle means of expansion… Characteristically, officials express regret at the lawlessness of this process while resigning themselves to its inevitability… The occasions on or the extent to which settler colonialism conduces to genocide are not a matter of the presence or absence of the formal apparatus of the state.
—  Wolfe, P. 2008. Structure and event: settler colonialism and the question of genocide. In Empire, Colony, Genocide: Settler colonialism and the question of genocide, ed. A. D. Moses, 102-132. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

I feel at unease. This election is not just what USA deserves for all of its war crimes, imperialism and settler colonialism, it is the failure of the whole left, the whole elite of self-proclaimed progressives. It speaks more about where we are and how we lied to ourselves for such a long time. We have known fascist ideology for a century now, we have in our history books what happened in Germany, yet we see how many far right politicians are elected to run increasing number of countries. We failed to find the right response for fascism, we have failed to understand why people feel censored by social justice movements, we failed to open up new conversations, to give path to new ideas, we failed to prevent this. For once, stop blaming the neoliberal system, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why we didnt respond to that, why we allowed to have Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Netanyahu, Assad etc? We had so much time to analyze why we shouldnt do again and we failed.

So this photo, much to my astonishment, has been circulating on various social media networks to incite an emotional response out of people to the plight of Palestinians. There are a couple issues with this.

America is a settler colonial state. And no, this is not something of the past. Many people, including activists unfortunately, often portray the suffering of Indigenous communities as something that is not rooted in the present. Its not a reality that doesn’t have adverse affects on Indigenous communities currently. Trafficking on reservations is a reality. Mass impoverishment and skyrocketing prices and in turn, lacking access to food in Indigenous communities is a reality. Violence and continued colonization is a grounded and apparently a neglected social justice issue.

This parallel, whether or not it intends to, is crudely neglectful of that. To assume the vast majority of settlers in the US would exude empathy for Palestinians and their stolen land and the ghettoization, if not demolishment of their homes is to assume that they would also then be actively committed to addressing and deconstructing the oppression faced by NDN communities, which is patently false.

Since America in itself is an illegitimate state, the upheaval of the US should not be threatening to anyone who considers themselves a decolonial activist. This photo pretty much says “imagine Americans, if this happened to your country”, but this isn’t our country. None of this is our land to begin with, aside from Indigenous and Black American communities, who have felt the backlash and served as the main and direct recipients of US violence for hundreds of years. No one living in America who does not descend from the genocided and the trafficked should feel the entitlement to and comfort of this land and living here that this infograph would require one to.

How can we expect those that have been here and were the first to experience US bred brutality to feel empathy with us if we are not willing to extend genuine solidarity and exhibit constant conscientiousness of their struggle? I believe in Muslim communities and that we’re able to have a more nuanced and inclusive approach than this. We can’t denounce settler neglect elsewhere while perpetuating it ourselves, which is precisely what this photo did. That’s not activism, that’s exploitation.

I’ve been mulling over and ruminating in my thoughts these past couple weeks, desperately attempting to make sense of the senseless. Feverishly trying to patch and weave the pieces of history together to really understand and grapple with the calamities that have bestowed us today.

Reality has begun to satirize itself. By the time we update the list of murdered Palestinians, the list is outdated. Four children are killed on the beach and Hamas is the culprit, despite being nowhere in sight. Israeli leaders can sign off hundreds of missiles into Gaza everyday and go on record to accuse Gazans of self inflicted genocide. 66 years after nakba, Israel has become the most funded and equipped nation in all of Asia per capita, as an individual country receive more aid by America than all of Africa, wage war and occupy illegal territory in most surrounding regions and claim to be in a precarious situation at the hands of those who it has massacred and laid cruel siege to.

DIME bombs unearth entire societies, released on rehabilitation clinics and centers for the disabled and they are labelled human shields who were unfortunate and unintended, but an inevitable sacrifice and collateral damage. White phosphorous is abundantly and indiscriminately used in some of the most densely populated neighborhoods on Earth, while Israeli politicians gain interviews and are globally heralded as crusaders of a noble cause. Palestinian life has proven so cheap to many. More Palestinians have died in this week than Israelis have been injured in the past several years.

Fact has become fiction and fiction becomes fact. 441 miles of apartheid wall that jeopardize agriculture and irrigation is security. Homes inhabited by several generations of families are obliterated in minutes to erect illegal Jewish settlements and is touted as a means of self determination. Billions of dollars continue to be funneled into a genocidal campaign touted around as a settler nation state’s right to self defense against a colonized populace that overwhelmingly relies on foreign aid and has been under heightened blockades with food and drink being counted to the individual calorie. Body count, political leverage and extensive history of settler brutality exemplify one reality. Media exemplifies another.

Israel is the most transparent example of what settler colonial violence is in the age of neoliberalism. How it can deliberately target areas that are unanimously civilian populations and gets off with complete impunity. It distorts truth and history until it becomes eroded from public consciousness altogether. Palestinians are an illegitimate people and their indigenous villages were barren because in Zionist mythology, it was a land without a people for a people without a land. Colonial fabrications dominate public discourse, tangle themselves in media circuits and mock any and every intelligible and dignified approach to account for demolished villages, vibrant humans turned unidentifiable carnage and a military siege on what’s regularly referred to as the largest open air prison on Earth.

The truth is this world failed Palestine. In every conceivable way. Refusing to divest was a failure on every student body member who voted otherwise. Providing arms and military aid was a failure and an obscene act of violence. Using revolutionary language and utilizing one genocide to lay the road for another was a tremendous failure. Invoking racist and Islamophobic rhetoric in a post 9/11 age to justify unjustifiable violence was a failure. Not holding one’s own government accountable for its enabling and apologist stances is a failure. These varied failures allowed this to take place and one day, perhaps not tomorrow or in a year or even in a decade, but the day will indeed arrive where we reminisce on this ongoing bloodshed and realize the ways in which both action and inaction was the catalyst in which this nightmare occurred.

What is Violence?
  • US: *creates global prison system that functions on disproportionately incarcerating people of color (Black folx most incarcerated followed by Native and Latinx)*
  • People: *silence*
  • US: *Steals Native land, defaces sacred sites, places pipelines and dams in Native populations, sells Native land to mining and oil companies.*
  • People: *silence*
  • US: *arms drug cartels to justify the war on drugs and western intervention in America Latina*
  • People: *silence*
  • US: *creates terrorists groups for their benefit. Later demonizes countries with terrorists groups they created and invades in the name of peace and prevention*
  • People: *silence*
  • US: *deprives people of resources to have them fight against themselves*
  • People: *silence*
  • US: *funnels dangerous drugs into marginalized communities*
  • People: *silence*
  • US: *funds Israel to displace and massacre Palestinians*
  • People: *silence*
  • US: *assimilates few marginalized people into higher positions of power and influence to create illusion of possibility*
  • People: *silence*
  • US: *poisons mother earth*
  • People: *silence*
  • US: *executes Black bodies*
  • People: *silence*
  • Other western/white supremacist countries: *supports US; does same things*
  • People: *silence*
  • Protesters: *breaks windows of a bank*
Don't Blame Your Anti-Blackness on Palestine.

In March of every year, Iranians get together, young and old, to reflect on the past twelve months and to usher in the new year with friends and family.  Norooz is a joyous time.  We take part in centuries-long traditions that symbolize happiness and well wishes.  We create the Haft Sin and stand around the table awaiting blessings for the new year.  It’s customary to receive a small portion of blessed money to hold onto.  It’s a joyous time and a beautiful one too.  Old man winter has given his last huffs and puffs and spring is officially here.

The man charged with ringing in the new year?  Haji Firooz.  Every year, Iranians gather around, clapping like seals and laughing at a man take part in foolish behavior while donned completely in blackface.

Haji Firooz is a blatant example of racism excused under the guise of “tradition” but to understand the Middle East, one must recognize that this is not an exception.  Anti-Blackness in the Middle East and North Africa is the rule.  Anti-Blackness is a Middle Eastern and North African tradition.  What is the common slur for Black Arabs?  Abed, the Arabic word for slave.  Iranians refer to Black skin as “burned”.  Afro-Iranian?  Afro-Palestinian?  You’re not considered FULLY Iranian or Arab.  "She must be mixed", “we don’t have Black people here”.  No honest Middle Eastern or North African person can say that anti-Black racism does not exist in their community.

And so it is unsurprising that this type of oppression manifests itself in solidarity work.  In work surrounding Palestine, there exists a pervasively ugly phenomenon of comparing the struggles of Palestinians to that of African-Americans.  On the surface, this may not seem particularly insidious.  African-Americans have fought for basic humanity for centuries and have lost and continue to lose so much in the struggle for equality.  Unarmed Black men in America are considered a very real threat to White people.  Similarly, in Palestine, being Arab means that you have a very real risk of losing your home, access to food, and your life.  It is hard to ignore an obvious parallel between two marginalized peoples.  All oppression is linked, right?  I get it.  But when you take the logic behind comparison of struggle and perpetuate it in life and activism, that’s when a very clear problem arises.  In theory, it makes sense to draw a link but in practice it allows for Black people to be used as an example of how bad things can get, a forewarning of what can happen to a people if colonialism wins.  In so doing, it erases the humanity behind the rhetorical talking points.  It allows for Black people’s role in society to be deemed an inevitable ugliness.  A lesson.  A fact of life.  Black people will be oppressed, tiny violin, now let’s focus on the Brown people.  It’s a white flag of surrender of the life of Black people.  Mike Brown died but think about how many Palestinians are being killed!  Focus over there on the people who matter.  The people who have a chance.  Those Black people don’t. Native-Americans don’t.  Western imperialism won.  Focus on us now before we become like you.  It sets up a paradigm where Black people are told that they owe solidarity to the Free Palestine cause, in part because there is a Black President of the United States.  After all, it’s the Black President ordering these drone strikes on Brown children.  Maybe Black people are The Real Racists.

At best it relies on the white supremacist practice of casting Black people as the lowest common denominator and at worse it reinforces proximity to whiteness as the goal post for humanity. That is to say that the more you can appeal to whiteness, including distancing yourself and dragging Black people, the better your chance of survival is.  When you continue that line of logic and allow it to exist, actively rely on it to exist, you are cosigning white supremacy.  You are perpetuating anti-Black racism.  You are being an anti-Black racist.

What makes this all the more frustrating is that actual Palestinians voices are largely being drowned out of this.  Instead we have pseudo-intellectuals, non-Black, non-Palestinian Middle Eastern and North Africans, and white dudebros blaming their anti-Black, settler colonial behavior on Palestine.  This behavior perverts the cause and erases any chance of meaningful solidarity.  

Bullies often pick on weaker people to take focus away from themselves and to ward off bigger bullies by using the same tactics the bigger bullies employ.  Perpetuating anti-Blackness is shoving Black people to get White people to side with you and to let you live – for now.  You can perpetuate racism against Black people to argue for your right to life until you’re blue in the face but recognize that what you are doing is engaging in white supremacist settler colonialism.  You will be called out.


This moment is monumental beyond words. It will go down as one of the defining moments in Palestinian history. This is easily the most brutal Israeli offense in the past few decades, with no end in sight. Not only by the numbers, but the theatrics of politicians, journalists and paid agents of Zionist lobbies who run themselves in circles, excavating any route to justify and encourage genocide. And some time in the future, it will be fashionable, innate almost to oppose Zionist violence. Maybe not now. Maybe not even in a decade, the day, however, is inevitable.

All of our actions and inactions will weigh on us and its a choice we’ll all have to answer for. But unlike the atrocities of the far past, in this day and age, the internet preserves all.

The names and words of each of you criminals who rally behind the senseless massacre of Palestinians will be engraved into the consciousness of social media and younger generations for time immemorial. When your children, nieces, nephews and their children ask you where you were, what you thought and what you were doing when a people were declared undesirable by a colonialist political practice, what will you tell them?

When Israeli settler colonialism is long and dead and viewed as a historical tragedy, how will you rationalize that you chose to actively enable it? That you could’ve been on the side of justice and you chose to disparage it? You have a people’s blood on your hands and that’s a crime you will live with forever. Are you prepared to handle that?

Its one thing to be actively and perpetually cognizant of what Israel’s settler colonial end goal is, how that affects the conditions of Palestinians and what that means for this current ceasefire. I doubt that’s lost on anyone, especially not the people of Gaza who are celebrating the fact that missiles aren’t raining on their neighborhoods anymore. Which is why we have to continue honoring BDS guidelines, holding officials accountable for using our tax dollars to fund a genocidal project and lobbying/protesting in the streets. No one is arguing otherwise.

However, its a wholly different arena to be callous and spiteful. Its not a noble stance to undermine the legitimate reasons that Palestinians have to feel joyful that they don’t have to be at the receiving end of a heightened siege. Yes the occupation has not ended, yes apartheid and ethnosupremacy policies are still in full effect. And yes, we have to keep the momentum of the anger we felt during the siege that propelled so much action strong and intertwined in our current activism.

That can all be done while recognizing that no matter how small a victory or progression, it is just that. A victory and progression. And if the people who faced the full brunt of such attacks can celebrate, you can honor the reasons they’re celebrating.

Antagonizing a profoundly oppressed population doesn’t make you enlightened or an intellect. It makes you a horrid and smug piece of shit.

In the context of Canadian settler-colonialism, I contend that what gets implicitly represented by the state as a form of Indigenous ressentiment—namely, Indigenous peoples’ seemingly pathological inability to get over harms inflicted in the past—is actually a manifestation of our righteous resentment: that is, our bitter indignation and persistent anger at being treated unjustly by a colonial state both historically and in the present. In other words, what is treated in the Canadian discourse of reconciliation as an unhealthy and debilitating incapacity to forgive and move on is actually a sign of our critical consciousness, of our sense of justice and injustice, and of our awareness of and unwillingness to reconcile ourselves with a structural and symbolic violence that is still very much present in our lives. Viewed in this light, I suggest that Indigenous peoples’ individual and collective resentment—expressed as an angry and vigilant unwillingness to forgive—ought to be seen as an affective indication that we care deeply about ourselves, about our land and cultural communities, and about the rights and obligations we hold as First Peoples.
—  Red Skin White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition by Glen Coulthard

My work poses the following questions: how might examining the ways that Black femaleness is formed at intersection of slavery and settler colonialism tell us more about how the landscapes of slavery and settler colonialism are created? What analytical tools and vocabulary do we need to develop in order to simultaneously bring into view the productive and repressive powers of settler colonialism and slavery/anti-Black racism? How are the imagined and material spaces that are currently over determined by a discourse of conflict (genocide, sovereignty) between white Settlers and Natives also shaped by Black presence? How are the landscapes and analytics of slavery that currently are over determined by Master and Slave relations also structured by Native genocide and settler space making practices. Finally, I ask, how do we develop methodological tools to track the co-constituting nature of power relations over time?

Tiffany King, “In the Clearing: Black Female Bodies, Space and Settler Colonial Landscapes” p. 15

what I learned in elementary school from an actual textbook about colonial settlers in America is that they often died in large numbers from diseases. now as an adult i am looking at multiple .gov sites that all verify these settlers died because they would not stop pooping in their water supply

i’m always confused (but not) that a progressive defense of public subsidies for higher education is that it prepares people for citizenship. what does it mean to be a ‘good citizen’ in a white supremacist settler colonial patriarchal state? and what does it mean that only those who attend university can be one?

blvck-tuesday  asked:

It's no new knowledge that Pres. Mugabe of Zimbabwe dislikes the presence of Western entities within Zimbabwe. Recently he's instructed white farmers to cede their land to the indigenous people, Though I deem Mugabe as an awful dictator the needs to step down, i find myself agreeing with this action. However a white friend of a friend said forcing the white people away bc of the actions of their forefathers is not right. But I believe in this situation it is justified. Thoughts?

I really don’t like how people frame this question. This isn’t directed at you, more towards whenever the topic is discussed. It’s always about “innocent” white people. It’s always framed in a “but what about the poor white people? It’s not their fault. It was their forebears.” - I’m not really concerned with that at all. The fact is that they benefit from what their forebears did. White people in Africa are settlers. It’s settler colonialism. Sure the white people there now might be far removed from it, but being somewhere for several generations does not exculpate you. That’s your lineage and you’ve got to take the good with the bad. You’ve got to own it all. White people hate owning the bad things their people have done. They will tell you it’s in the past or that everyone does it, as if everyone circumnavigated the world and killed the people they came in contact with and took their resources and in some cases settled on their land and claimed it as theirs. White people want the bad things that implicate them to be forgotten, as they enjoy the fruits of all those bad things.

I’m no Mugabe apologist (there are a lot of problems with him), but I find it telling that all these land owning, “good” white people were quite fine with how the country was when it was Rhodesia and not Zimbabwe. I need them to understand that the only reason they prospered in those years was due to the subjugation and abuse of the indigenous population. Did they not support Ian Smith and all the previous anti-Black prime ministers? Were they not a racist white minority government that exploited, tortured, abused and murdered Blacks? Why is that not part of the discussion? We just gloss over that to talk about the children and grandchildren of settlers and their land, and how they had nothing to do with past wrongs. Even in African affairs, the plight of white people is centered.

Men like Mugabe don’t come out of a vacuum. Any time there is criticism of him with regards to his dealings with whites, people tend to forget how his ideology was formed. Mugabe was imprisoned for 10 years by the white government and we shouldn’t forget that, despite some of his glaring faults. Never forget that Mugabe was a political prisoner. His eventual release from prison saw him ascending higher to leadership. People were tired of being brutalized on their own land. This is why some started attacking white farmers. It was their land for generations. So we need to understand where this sentiment came from if we want to have a meaningful discussion about it.

Putting aside the racial dynamics for a moment, it’s not uncommon for autonomous nations to have restrictive land owning rights for outsiders, and European nations are no different.

Another important thing to remember is that during the Lancaster House Agreement that was signed in 1979, part of the deal was supposed to be land reforms. White settlers were supposed to sell back some land under reconciliation. That was the generous offer put on the table. Some white settlers still refused. It doesn’t get more fair and diplomatic than that. There was a 10 year operational fund to see through the transfer of ownership completed for all those who agreed. Mugabe was not unreasonable in this regard. Even the US and UK offered to buy back land from white settlers. When the US and UK are offering to buy, then you know that the deal was good. Many of the white landowners who remain are those who refused this deal. The smart ones realized that getting paid for land that has enriched you for many years after decades of racist white minority rule in a place you settled on is quite the deal. Those that rejected it are dealing with the chickens coming home to roost.

This is a very messy situation, but ultimately, whatever happens, whatever measures Mugabe employs will be meaningless if the common Zimbabwean doesn’t see the fruits of it. Those are the people that matter the most, the common Zimbabwean, not the wealthy elites. The common Zimbabwean have been the ones who have not benefited from their own land, not white people in Zimbabwe, many of whom have built generational wealth by being settlers on a land that for years was governed under white supremacist rule that benefited them.

Anyway, I’m not Zimbabwean, and I can’t speak with authority about every facet of Zimbabwean life and politics. This is just my opinion and I know many will disagree with me and that’s fine. Perhaps you should ask knowledgeable Zimbabweans for their opinion. It will be more definitive and authoritative than mine. I’m an outsider (albeit a somewhat informed one) looking in. They will know more and will give you a more nuanced opinion.

Good luck.