This is for me...for us...

This was a post I wrote over on my blog.

It's about my relationship to The (stolen) Lands which other people refer to as "Canada" and "America"...

This piece has grown...
It's still really raw and messy...
It's still morphing as I develop my ideas further. I'm struggling with language I'm not accustomed to utilizing. I'm struggling with analysis I'm not accustomed to aiming at me. So, if you're reading now. Keep going right to the end. Afterwards, you might want to start again or return in a few hours, or days or weeks, because this is a set of ideas and explorations in tha makin. I write and delete and insert and read. Then I go away and talk and think and chew and gag and ache and return to write again, inserting more ideas and questions. As a result, this piece is growing as I do.

A set of cascading realizations
In tha gut...
roiling, gurgling.
Do you listen to your stomach?
I do.
This is difficult...
hee, hee, hee...
exciting, a new set of realizations and interrelationships to process and explore and gnash my teeth about.

I've got to document an email exchange I had with a Native woman who lives here in Toronto. She had been trying to make contact with me about talking, processing emotions using a radical anti-oppression framework.

Life, as indicated from the various postings here on this blog, has been chaotic, crazed, unintelligible, horrific too much of the time for me to be able to see or think clearly enough to support someone else's self-uncovering.

So, I didn't return calls, emails, or when I did I was non-committal.

Intentional community woes behind me, blogland skirmishes where I sustained way too much idiot friendly fire, baby labour behind me, recuperation well on the way and my own counsellor getting a solid, thick earful every week...

I engaged, connected fully present and ready to offer life support.

Still, when we finally began communicating I realized I was annoyed and felt as if she wasn't getting me and how I am located as a Black, caribbean born, woman.
I had flashbacks to other conversations, terse conversations with Native women I'd met over the years. I remembered feeling defensive, indignant, misunderstood as if they couldn't possibly want to lump me in with white colonizers and immigrants from other parts of the if they couldn't actually be trying to say: none of you should be here, so get tha fuck off our land.


Thinking about immigration as a misnomer from where I, caribbean born into the western hemisphere via the horrors of the middle passage, stand, I regrounded comfortably in a refusal to understand myself as "landed" or as "immigrant". Since, to my mind my people's had been forced to occupy space in the west for hundreds of years. Coming to kkkanada was just a shift of neighbourhood from the islands off the coast to the mainland.

Thinking about shade, lightness, white-skinnedness and darkness, I grounded in a consciouness which allowed me to see the ease of misdirected and/or projected rage originating from behind light skins readily smeared on those inhabiting dark skins, those understood because of their location as accessible, easy targets.

I really tried hard to stay with the familiar, the place I've been sitting all these years.

I talked/wrote about the Middle Passage and said that Black people didn't come to Turtle Island voluntarily that we were forced, dragged, stolen.
Our relationship to the land, this land started there. Others who came later, whether they were enticed by faulty adverts or running from persecution, ironically enough seeking "safety" from harm, only to be fuk'd over, head taxed, coolied, deported or workfared into submission by white people's racism, came willingly.

Black people, I asserted and maintained, were different.

And fucking hell, we are. More than I had been willing to see.

Did I say this is difficult? I'm excited...and scared. Shivers.
I am human, able and willing to ignore certain hard harsh truths if they're not sitting right under my nose. Denial.
I am human. So, this woman's presence with spirit, truth, self-knowing and clear conscious sight has galvanized me, drawn me, invited me, forced me off the edge of yet another flat earth. Her stating of a very simple truth: It's not possible to cry out against the Israeli occupation of Palestine or against the US invasion of iraq without reckoning with the invasion and occupation of this place. These thoughts send me bungee jumping again...I don't know where or when I'll be able to land... mouth feels dry and my heart's skipping beats.

Feeling uncomfortable I'm hearing this woman's pain, heeding her truths, listening to an invitation direct from my spirit to feel my way through, deeper, deeper. I hear a word she uses, so foreign to my tongue. I use "colonizer" meaning a white person not me. She uses "settler" which I understand encompasses the white people, people of colour on this land

I couldn't stay with that thought for very long at first.

But my ethics, a sense of what makes sense so defined by the writings I've had the privilege of reading and understanding not just as academic, theoretical, political frameworks, intellectual exercises divorced from reality, but filters through which to see and templates from which to craft tools which can be used to build consciousness of my own location and privilege, guided me true and brought me back.

Power, privilege and oppression, a new blend, tha, tha, tha remix.
Here I go again.

I remember going there little by little at first...
Writing her that Black peoples living in the Americas had made some really limited choices, to say the least. We hadn't allied with First Nations peoples across the board, but only in pockets here and there. And yes, I know there are pockets of Black folks all over the place with Native DNA and Native people with African DNA. That still doesn't quite get to the root of what's happening for me.

This is what I know:
Malcolm travelled across the Atlantic to Mecca and connected with Muslims and Pan Africanists. He didn't stay at "home" to seek counsel from Native elders and join his struggles by any means necessary to theirs.

Martin read from the "good" book, he didn't ground his pacifist dream for a brighter Black settler future on the struggles for this bloodied and captive land so rocked by genocide...maybe he would have realized he needed to fight not turn the other cheek and die.

To call these historical moments epic mistakes or major lapses in critical vision may sound dangerous, like a capital offense to some. But from where I'm at this admission just isn't enough. It sounds really weak, somehow. These moments have been pivotal, diverting the path of Black people's histories and herstories, forever. Forever linking us not to the land, but to the land theft agendas of the white Settler Colonizer here in the Americas.

Sure, immediately following "emancipation" some left for Africa. partner's mother, a Black feminist historian, adds Sierra Leone to my picture.

But so many remained. And those who remained had choice. They made decisions. They/we did not collectively ally with the custodians of the land and collectively attempt to link our political agendas with theirs. We did not collectively request permission to be here any longer than necessary to collect our things and go. We did not ask permission to take up permanent residence from the original and true custodians of the land.

Stockholm Syndrome in overdrive we internalized the settler colonial attitude that gave us a sense of entitlement, a sense of ownership based on underpaid work for bible thumping white supremacist colonizers still hell bent on theft and murder.

In that historical watershed moment, brutally, psychologically, emotionally, physically abused, torn, raped, infantilized, dominated, ethical centers so far off kilter, our moralities and world views substituted with that of our abusers, our colonizers, we stretched out trembling needy, covetous hands, reached for power, legitimacy and survival means all derived from the proceeds of stolen land.

And ever since then we've focussed on struggling self-centeredly against white folks for a better share of the land, for better treatment on the land while working with them, alongside them, helping them to imprison the land and its peoples through the apartheid system of bondage South African whites learned from Canada.

We kept tha peace to get a piece. Allying behind the scenes with our oppressors to further their colonial settlement project built and financed on our broken backs. Supporting their plans to dominate and then parcel out the land, we lent a hand.

Our complaints were that we didn't get enough respect as fellow settlers, that they should stop tormenting us and killing us Black Settlers and that they really shouldn't be raping Black Settler women. We complained that we didn't get enough land to settle, that we got land full of rock stones, never the "good" parts of the land. After all, we just wanted to work the land alongside them and their Settler families without any trouble. We just wanted to settle down and take care of our own Black Colonized Settler families.

Sometimes we hit the "jackpot". In the West Indies, the Haitians warred over half the (is)land and "won" the land. In Barbados, where I was born, we were "civilized" (historically crushed, made an example of by the British who wanted a completely controlled island without the uprisings plaguing other colonies that they could point out as proof that the slavocracy worked). More British than the British (to this day still taking pride in this) we waited peacefully until we were granted the right to govern the (is)land, legitimized by our betters - the imperialist, colonizing white royal family.

Some of us actually define ourselves, understand ourselves as "indigenous", originally coming from the land. I spoke to my sister years ago about our elementary school education in Barbados. We both agreed that we'd been left with the distinct impression as children that Black people had always been on the island, that we were originally from the (is)land.

Part of the problem with this self-naming is the utter avoidance of the memory of enslavement and an avoidance of our Africanness. Black Africans who live in the caribbean are indigenous to somewhere. We did spring up from the soil of a land...just not in the Caribbean. Those islands are Native land, too.

There is rage about being left in limbo, I think, on the part of us descendants of enslaved Africans. The continentals often make fun of us. They sometimes understand us as cash cows blindly seeking fetishistic objects that will help us feel more like we belong with them, a l'il something, a piece of carefully worn cloth, a wall hanging, a carving, a mask, an ashanti chair, anything to help pacify the pain of separation, profound dislocation. I've heard us described time and time again as lost and fucked up cousins, descendants of slaves...not directly related to any continental...unless the link is of strategic importance.

Knowing that the shoddy records kept during slave times mean that many of us, most of us cannot supply such precise information, I've seen continentals snicker about us saying: "You're from Africa?...Africa's a continent. Which part are you from? Which exact location on the continent?" The agenda? To show that we don't fully belong, no tribal linkage, no family to directly claim. Just a messy dna soup with nowhere to call "home".

But really, given the petroleum wars (Oil companies in Nigeria causing civil strife), the blood diamond wars (engagement ring people aren't really in the business of love, afterall), the cell phone mineral wars (coltan mining companies creating strife to divide and conquer thereby keeping mineral prices low and profits high), the genocides perpetrated with arms purchased from all too willing euro-descended providers, the AIDS crisis the West created, the poverty, corruption, the neglect, the starvation all evidence of meddling by imperialist Colonizer states (former or present colonial powers) and corporations, Africa's wealth continues to be syphoned away. So much of it goes to Settlers of all races here in North America, increasing the quality of life for so many of us Colonized Settlers...
Given all this there is no mass exodus of Black people wanting to vacate these occupied settlements and go "home". Yeah, for a vacation maybe, to look for spouses/friends/allies/hazy tribal links, to attend conferences, to go to the festivities and ceremonies unfolding around Project Joseph.

But not many, myself included, want to actually give up perfectly useful Settler status here to really go "home" to stay.

We tell ourselves we've set down roots here, struggled against white settlers, struggled against the odds to grow our gardens here. White Settlers forcibly transplanted us here and now we claim the rotted roots sucking sustenance from these lands as necessry to our continued survival.

And we've been fighting the White Settlers on that point ever since. Here in kkkanada they question the false land claims of us Colonized Settlers so as to assert their dominance. They ask: "But where are you really from?" In response, fearful of being seen as the dispossessed, we cling tightly to the lie of our claim to this place and demand validation and recognition from those who originated the lies.

So, we're in this "new world" and if we don't understand ourselves as linked directly to the land by ancestry, by "rights", then we really are nothing, we really are the dispossessed. And none of us want to claim limbo as "home". We behave as if the fact that we don't want to wander as traumatized scatterlings anymore, justifies us supporting and perpetrating settlement projects in the Americas. We were forced to work, to suffer, to scream, to cry out. For that we have a right to rest, even if our resting place is in someone else's bed.

We want to finally belong somewhere.

Me? I'm linked tuh me. I belong tuh me. I come from my ancestors by blood right and no matter how I behave, how rude I get, how much I fuck up the tidy little stories my peoples tell to themselves, to each other and to me, no one can take away my roots. NO one can nay say who I am and from whence I come. That's what I've got to keep me warm as I continue to do this work. I understand that my genes are a jambalaya, a mix up, a stew. These cells hail from a lot of

Another piece of the Black "indigenous" misnomer is about an avoidance of the knowledge of the peoples who originally occupied those islands, some of whom are still there. Black Africans living in the diaspora have prided themselves on the creations of "new world" musics - jazz, blues, r&b, funk, house, hip-hop, soca, calypso, reggae, dance hall. We've prided ourselves on maintaining links between Africa and our present locations as evidenced through a multitude of creoles and dialects. We've synthesized traditional African dress, art forms, cooking and the list goes on. We've created cultures that have traveled and morphed...which is a beautiful thing.

We've re-created ourselves post emancipation, fresh, new and more human and smelling of the salt sea breeze. We celebrate for a whole month, every year, our histories and herstories of collective self re-creation and "politicized" revolution. Of course another way to understand Black History Month is by pulling the veil off the uplifting story and acknowledging the not-so-beautiful tale of how Black people moved from human chattle on up the ranks to low level settler class. We, myself included, celebrate mostly without stopping to take stock of where this transformation has occurred, who benefited or whose suffering has continued unchanged and unchecked.

We throw giant Diasporic Settler cultural festivals (Carnival or Caribana, anyone?) in different parts of the Americas trumpeting our reslient, persistent presence here for all to hear. Colonized Settler revelers parade in costumes that to my eyes could easily resemble the fancy dance dress of some Native peoples.

We party and revel and remember struggles for our own civil rights while legitimizing falsified land claims that have allowed us to ignore our ethically and morally bankrupt status as Colonized Settlers in the Americas.

Why, in Toronto, folks even complained about having the big Colonized Settler Carnival removed from the downtown core to the lakeshore lands south of the city proper.
Keep in mind WE weren't taken out of our homes, moved to the lakeshore lands and forbidden to travel or to identify ourselves as ourselves if we left those places without the permission of Settler government officials.

Feel free to ground in the reality that OUR CHILDREN weren't taken away from us, moved to the lakeshore lands there to be subjected to a state sanctioned, massively traumatizing, abusive and brutal (mis)education, christian religious, brainwashing program from which they and their descendants would never fully recover.

Our big, once a year, tourist money making, weekend fete, party, jump up, booze fest, meat market, jam up ram up, cultural celebration, opiate of Colonized Settler masses, was moved to the lakeshore lands.

No disrespect or erasure of police stalkings of Black Colonized Settler youth during this city's Colonized Settler carnival festivities or at any other time of the year for that matter. No denial of taxis passing Black men by or police killings and strip searches. And no, I don't forget how we came to be here in the first place. I'm just trying to add some new layers as I broaden my own perspectives and adjust the focus of my political picture.

Still, can you just picture in your mind's eye:
Colonized Settlers party, drink, eat, ritual/performance rut and honour links to Middle Passage ancestors while jumping up on soil that is ancient, bloodied, in bondage and still at war?

These are big parties even the white Settler Colonizers come to when they want to forget themselves and the horror they've birthed onto the land. These are comfortable places for all of us to go when we just want to have a good time.

Our carnival songs, our freedom songs, our redemption songs, our songs of revolution do not reflect who we've become in this place - Settlers. Our politics of resistance, with very few exceptions, does not reflect the knowledge of our history of collusion and participation in an atrocity spanning a few hundred years. Our cultures serve a dual function: support our continued existence and resistance while perpetuating the erasure and domination of Native peoples who don't exist tangibly in our new settler stories, songs and other expressions of consciousness. The settler agenda is reified. Native people just don't exist. And if they don't fully exist, then we don't have to ground in our Colonized Settler realities.

I'm thinking about the nationalism of the denizens of the caribbean islands and about the DNA of Native people still flowing through some of our veins. I'm thinking about Black people and Asian people and Arab people and South Asian people working, buying, owning and governing native lands.

I'm thinking about South Africa during the era of (official) apartheid. The category of coloured was invented, literally brought into being as a space reserved for mixed race people, South Asians and Asians who didn't have to be lumped in with the roiling masses of Black African people. Although they weren't going to be able to access the privilege of the white colonizers, they were offered some perks and privileges. In this way most willingly chose to function as a collective human buffer, a middle class existing between the dangerous darkies and the lily pure and powerfull whites. Many defended that settler project because defending it meant maintaining the access they enjoyed.

I'm thinking about Black Nova Scotians, about the Black people in southern Ontario...
I'm thinking about African- "Canadians" and African-"Americans" who proudly claim a place in the bosom of these apartheid states through what Black South African professor, writer, poet, philosopher Dr. Rozena Maart calls hyphenating their identities, linking themselves to state-sanctioned horror by name.

Our focus, whether it has been to struggle for better treatment or to be seen as fully human (meaning as good as white) or demanding more say or better wages, has always been about understanding and positioning white Settler Colonizers as center, as the legitimate "owners" and "rulers" of the land...thereby erasing the land rights of Native People.

Might (the ability to emotionlessly torment, dominate, rape, pillage, steal, poison, drug, torture, starve, imprison, massacre, lock away, partition off) means right. And because the white Settler Colonizers had already convinced us of their "might", we focussed on them, allied with them, becoming a part of their settler project.

Black folks living in the West, those descendants of stolen Africans set a precident for all coloured folks who would come later:
Don't undermine the Settler Colonial project
See what you can get out of it and agitate behind the scenes
Sabotage if you need to
But don't destroy the project
If there's something you can get out of it
There's no need to throw
the putrid, diseased, rotten, cancerous, virulent, contagious, insidious baby
out with the bathwater.
We set an example for all coloured peoples who came later:

Even the dispossessed can look forward
To having a share of the land
Might get spat on
Might get lynched
Might get cheated and fuk'd wit'
Might have to sit at the back of the bus
Might have to walk
Might have to bus your kids
Might have to take care of theirs
But always remember you're a part of the new state being built on the ashes of scorched earth, blood soaked land
You have a right to a share of the booty.
Black people set an important imperial standard. We made an example of ourselves:

If the human offal they worked and bred and killed and raped and damaged and mind controled
Don't mind lending a hand
Tilling the land for a share of the profit
However meager
However dusty the land
Then life here in the western hemisphere
In "the americas" (caribbean totally included)
Might be lived out within acceptable parameters.
If the slave times had really that bad, there would have been mass exoduses back to Africa, there would have been mass murders the moment Black people were declared "free". It would have had to be us or them. They would have had to deport us en mass...either that or massive group burials of really dangerous, violent, rabidly angry, foaming at the mouth "freed" men, women and children.

Washington would have been burned to the ground, like Montreal. North and South would have been fighting on the same side for their fucking lives, not against each other whistling muthafuckin dixie. Scarlet and Rhett wouldn't have had the time to make any little tow haired settler colonizing babies, they would have been building a goddamn siege wall around Tara and praying to their Gawd to save their scrawny white necks.

The white slavers, plantation owners, all those politely diseased white families in their big houses, the folks who were there when the hurtin' happened, who were the people who profitted from the hurting would have been struggling against us for their very lives, no?

But that's not what happened at that particular historical juncture.

The white Settler Colonizers went on to breed, expand, steal some more, murder some more, rape some more, dominate and terrorize some more. They built cities and countries and they're still here.

And Black people, the descendants of those African slaves?
Well, we found a way to settle down and swallow the pain. And as a result, we're still here. We're still here.

Because we found a way to live alongside the pain, to understand our pain as a fact of life, we've collectively "prospered". As a grouping of settlers we own a sight more than the proverbial forty acres and a mule.

Some own real estate, homes, cars, jewelry, stocks, bonds, planes, businesses all on the land. Some of our children can attend exclusive schools alongside the descendants of the settlers who colonized our ancestors, stole the land and killed its people. We hang out with white settlers, joke and drink and play and fuck and get better jobs than some of them too. We teach in their schools and get tenure in their institutions of higher learning. We work in their imperial banks of commerce, protect their investments, and put our money in their banks. We attend the churches where the bible (they used as an excuse to indoctrinate and brutalize Native children after they had been torn from the arms of their family members and put in residential schools) is read each and every Sunday. We shop at their Hudson's Bay Company (been bought by American settlers for a tidy sum), store still decorated with the colours of the measles blankets they used as biological weapons to murder millions.

And all the while the conscious Colonized Settlers remember to celebrate Kwanzaa (the festival of first fruits of this land), wear ethnic prints and purchase African objets d'art to decorate their/our homes built on the land

Collectively we've arrived...the nouveau riche Colonized Settler class occupying stolen land as we attempt to deflect enough White Settler racism so we cam claim more proceeds from the land.

But even those who haven't managed to get a full share of the spoils of the land, even those who haven't quite "made it", know they can dream about the day when they too will be able to be more privileged descendants of slaves morphed into Settlers reaping the benefits of stolen land.

Colonized Settler Oprah rules tvland and soothes her guilt by posing as benevolent aunty to young continental girls. Colonized Settler Condi plans out new imperialist wars for her white Settler master the illiterate yet supremely powerful village idiot. Nerdling Colonized Settler P Diddy is making millions from perfume. Colonized Settler Tyra is binging and purging and complaining about fucking being seen as, constructed as fat while making millions. Colonized Settler Whoopi has to be tracked down by desperately pleading officials from impoverished Guinea-Bissau after a PBS television show traced her million dollar DNA back to Africa. Colinized Settler Spike makes a documentary about how badly the Black Colonized Settlers were treated in New Orleans, how so many of them still don't have anywhere to live, anywhere to call their own. Colonized Settler actors complain about not getting enough representation on the silver screen...they want more oscar popularity nods from the white motion picture academy, a bigger share of the profits and more attention for their/our Colonized Settler movies and television shows.

All the while...
White settler colonizers visit the Caribbean and sip drinks alongside the wealthy north americanized Colonized Settler descendants of African slaves, while not so wealthy Colonized Settler descendants of slaves beam hate-filled, jealous smiles, braid hair on the beach, mix drinks full of spit, clean their hotel suites, plot tourist murders in cane fields for the lot of them and dream of the big time...all on stolen land.

And all the while...
Colonized Settler civil rights activists stage demos, marches and the like demanding better treatment for themselves and for their Colonized Settler communities...for ourselves and for our Colonized Settler communities.

All the while...
The original custodians of this place and their children cry foul and shoot us dirty glances we claim...I claimed not to understand or deserve.

And all the while...
Black Colonized Settlers ally with Coloured Colonized Settlers who ally with white Settler Colonizers to protest the occupation and domination of Palestine and its original people by Israeli Holocaust Survivor Settler Colonizers. Now, say that ten times fast.

So, here I am, even still more layered and complexly vexed. The culturally and racially mixed and mixed up descendant of stolen peoples "freed" only to turn and enslave the land and undermine the struggles of its peoples. We effectively block their liberation while we cry out for our liberation, allying with their oppressor who we'd like to understand simply as the oppressor of us all. Now how fuk'd is that?

I'm bloodied and not all the blood I'm trying to scrub off is my own or from battle with my oppressors.

Can't go around this. Can't go over this. Can't go under this. Gotta go through it even though I know I'm not gonna be able to take back what has already transpired. I've got a shitload of options and choices to make or break up ahead. One things for sure...

I'm a Settler.
I am a Settler.
I really don't feel comfortable being a Black settler colonized and colonizing.
Identifying as a settler doesn't feel attractive, neat or clean. It feels ugly, messy and embarassing like I've got my own shit stuck on my fancy shoe. I want to scrape it off, off, OFF!

I don't want to have to add this to the identities I claim. I don't want to add this to the list of ways this oppressed body can oppress.


I'm a Colonized Settler breeder meant to birth millions/minions to solidify false land claims to stolen land by sheer force of numbers.
I'm a Colonized Settler mama, part of a humanplaguevirus that spread across the land.
I'm a Colonized Settler mama who can either decide to breed settler dissidents or Colonized Settler dominators hungering for their (un)fair share.
I'm a Colonized Settler with no choice but to embrace difficult consciousness and spoonfeed it to my little colonized settler babies so they will know the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

This is crucial.

This is how I got to this breaking point, cracking my own false consciousness wide open, pealing off what feels like a layer of my own skin in an agonizing home surgery.

Mamabrain or no, my five year old needs me to have a brain and to make use of it. My daughter's questions are keeping me honest...much more so than I would have liked, much more so than I would have planned.

I had to explain to her that we're Colonized Settlers who have helped to steal the land and dominate its people...
She did a double take because my usual wordings are compartmentalized:

We were brought here as workers, packed into big ships like sardines, forced to work the land for the pale people for free. They took our chidlren and sold them. They told us we were ugly and stupid. This was very bad. We are still very angry about this.
- on this side....
The First Nations Peoples' land was stolen by the pale people. The pale people gave them measles blankets. They poisoned them, poisoned the land and the animals, too. The pale people killed so many of them. Their children were/are stolen. They were/are harmed. They are very upset, very angry. They are fighting.
- over there on that side.

No connection between the two, no context we can share in common, no link I wanted to establish...until now.

She'll want to know more, want to know how and why. She'll come back with more questions...I'll need to understand more about me and about US so I can give her some more imperfectly layered answers.


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