Thanksgiving: A Time to Imagine

Imagine if aliens from a galaxy light-years from Earth, decide to seek out a New World. Imagine they discover Earth, it’s the New World, they assume. And they pursue a relentless campaign of occupation, colonizing the planet. One by one, these aliens systematically remove, with much violent force, the people of the planet, starting with the First World dominant culture, because, of course, they’ll want what that culture has: access to the land and resources which that culture controls. Imagine these aliens succeed with such a crusade, centuries later marking the genocide with an annual feast celebrating a deluded history that claims they were embraced with much alacrity and congeniality, that, while they were killing off human beings to clear the way for their own culture, human beings weren’t fighting back but teaching them how to make mashed potatoes and gravy and pies and roast turkey and things. “C’mon, Frank…” you’re probably saying, “this is a bit too much, don’t you think?”

I know, I know, so this scenario is a bit kooky. Such a concept is a little too bonkers for the sociological imagination. Okay. Fine. Let’s try it another way.

Imagine if white settlers from a continent 3,325 miles from the eastern shorelines of an already inhabited continent, decided to seek out a New World putatively, circa 1620 AD. Imagine they discover “America,” it’s the New World, they assume. And they pursue a relentless campaign of occupation, colonizing the continent. One by one, these settlers systematically remove, with much violent force, the people of the North American continent, starting with the indigenous nations of the east, because, of course, they’ll want what those cultures have: access to the land and “resources” which those cultures inhabit and employ sustainably. Imagine these settlers succeeded with such a crusade, centuries later marking the genocide with an annual feast celebrating a deluded history that claims they were embraced with much alacrity and congeniality, that, while they were killing off the native indigenous to clear the way for their own culture, natives weren’t fighting back but teaching them how to make mashed potatoes and gravy and pies and roast turkey and things.

There. Not so crazy now, is it?

“About three-quarters of all adult Indians suffer alcoholism and/or other forms of substance abuse. This is not a ‘genetic condition.’ It is a desperate, collective attempt to escape our horrible reality since ‘America’s Triumph.’ It’s no mystery why Indians don’t observe Thanksgiving. The real question is why do you feast rather than fast on what should be a national day of mourning and atonement. Before digging into your turkey and dressing on Nov. 23, you might wish to glance in a mirror and see if you can come up with an answer.” — Ward Churchill

“One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.” — Robert Jensen

“We suffer from a poverty level of 69 percent, which must be unimaginable to many people in this country, who would equate a situation such as this to one found only in Third World countries.” — Tribal Chairwoman Kathleen W. Kitcheya speaking about the San Carlos Apache Reservation.

“Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword, some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived that they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.” — William Bradford, a settler, describing Captain John Mason’s attack on a Pequot village.

This Thanksgiving, rather than thoughtlessly stuffing yourself with food and then sauntering over to the couch for some postprandial football, think about how you can play your part in stopping the dominant culture from removing more indigenous cultures from their landbases to extract raw materials for industry that is destroying the planet’s ecological and climatic infrastructure.

Frank Smecker is a writer and social-worker from VT. He can be reached at: frank.smecker@gmail.com. Read other articles by Frank, or visit Frank's website.

40 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 25th, 2009 at 11:34am #

    Are americans just starting the business of governing-obtaining the world?
    Obtaining iraq and afgh’n by murder and in name of american constitution and god made in america, american greatness-freedoms, etc., proves that US is after the same goodies they were after in 1620-1900.

    ?All euros and ?all christians, some asians and afrikans have now joined them.
    They all heard US say, Be neutral at your peril. There is no longer gods, sides to a story, laws; there is now one story, one political party, one law, one constitution, and one god, – the one made in america. Eat you hearts out, u neo indians! tnx

  2. Don Hawkins said on November 25th, 2009 at 1:53pm #

    Frank how could you write such a thing? Am going to watch Fox New’s now and try to come back to normal. Funny though I just said what you wrote to someone at the fast food store, strange.

  3. Sam said on November 25th, 2009 at 2:25pm #

    At the “fast food store?” Are you being serious or joking? Why would one be at a so-called “fast food store?” “Fast food” usually means junk/crap/not-worth-putting-in-your body/low to no nutrition and giving $$$ to some corporation which already has billions.

    I suppose one might be able to buy something like batteries at a “fast food store,” but one wonders why anyone would go there for something to eat, assuming that’s why one went there.

    Just asking.

    Where would you go, Sam? To a health food store which sells locally and organically grown produce/real food with nutrition. Preferably a “green” certified store that is a worker-owned co-op.

  4. Don Hawkins said on November 25th, 2009 at 3:08pm #

    A worker-owned co-op green store I like those a lot. A few years ago about twenty on the big island of Hawaii I would pick Kona Coffee on the side of a hill nice and quiet then trade the coffee for food at the co-op. Yes I did go to the fast stuff store today and said something like well they landed at Plymouth Rock and a few years later put the people who were here first on reservations and said have a nice life. I try and keep it simple sort of.

  5. kalidas said on November 25th, 2009 at 4:04pm #

    I wonder, do they have a nice chaw at the co-op?

  6. Don Hawkins said on November 25th, 2009 at 4:22pm #

    “About three-quarters of all adult Indians suffer alcoholism and/or other forms of substance abuse”. Hay I resemble that remark. Indian some and English and Russian. Alcoholism and/or other forms of substance abuse well did you ever wake-up behind a dumpster with a half bottle of wine in LA or in the park downtown San Francisco with a Chief from Oregon and a week or so later check into rehab it’s different. I would be in Hawaii and have a few buck’s and after a few day’s of drinking blacked out get on a plane and wake up in New York now that was always’ different. Do I still drink or take drugs no and I didn’t embrace the system after I stopped you know if you can’t beat them join them join them not me.

  7. B99 said on November 25th, 2009 at 5:27pm #

    Mighty white of you Sam. A good deal of America gets their food from ‘fast-food stores – there are no supermarkets around, let alone “a health food store which sells locally and organically grown produce/real food with nutrition. Preferably a “green” certified store that is a worker-owned co-op.”

    We’ve got people skipping meals in this country, and many more packing as many calories they can from fast food and convenience stores – they aren’t traveling long distances for local grown arugula.

  8. Don Hawkins said on November 25th, 2009 at 6:44pm #

    FOOD: Kellogg reshuffles Eggo inventories for shortage
    Kellogg Co. says there will be a nationwide shortage of its popular Eggo frozen waffles until next summer because of interruptions in production at two of the four plants that make them.
    The Battle Creek company’s Atlanta plant was shut down for an undisclosed period by a September storm that dumped historic amounts of rain in the area. Meanwhile, several production lines at its largest bakery in Rossville, Tenn., are closed indefinitely for repairs, company spokeswoman Kris Charles said in an e-mail.
    Detroit free press

    Oh no not Eggo frozen waffles how can we go on. Because a September storm that dumped historic amounts of rain in the area. Historic probably one of those thousand year storms.

  9. Sam said on November 25th, 2009 at 7:11pm #

    B99:

    My earlier comment about the worker-owned co-op had nothing do with being “white.” It sounds as though you are pre-judging my ethnicity when in reality you know nothing about me at all.

    I live in a major city here in the States and I shop regularly at a worker-owned green-certified co-op which sells locally grown organic food. Most of the customers and workers are not “white.” The store is located in the Latino section of the city (viva Latinos!) and the store is rather close to where I live. And buying locally means that the food was grown *close by.” That’s what “locally” means. Also, piling in carbohydrates or calories is not the point. One can live much better eating greens such as kale, whole grain rice and whole grains for example than eating processed calories mostly made of GMO corn and junk and non-food material such as road tar and sawduct (both are considered legal “fillers” for processed food). When one takes real food home and makes one’s own meals, it’s far cheaper and nutritional than buying junk with no nutrition in it at some “fast food store.” One’s nutrition effects one’s ability to think clearly. There’s no wonder this nation seems to be getting dumber and dumber by the minute.

  10. Don Hawkins said on November 25th, 2009 at 7:25pm #

    Sam you stay with us as the next 6 months or year is going to be anything but boring and we will see about ability to think clearly.

  11. B99 said on November 25th, 2009 at 7:36pm #

    Sam – You have no idea about notions of food security in America, do you? Seattle is pretty much a different America. There are maybe a hundred million Americans who live nowhere near a ‘health’ food store – nor a supermarket. Nor do they have a car to drive to one. Nor gas money. They are skipping meals.

  12. Sam said on November 25th, 2009 at 8:23pm #

    B99 –

    You completely missed the point.

    If people were smart enough they would MOVE to where they can get 3 nutritional meals a day and MOVE to where they can get a credible job to help pay for the meals. A grocery store or corner store will work just fine. It doesn’t have to be a “health food” store. The health food store issue was brought by myself to encourage people to spend their money locally on locally grown produce, that way the money stays in the community and one gets the most nutritional food.

    Seattle does indeed have places where one can get 3 nutritional meals a day, just like most other major cities and mid-sized towns.

    If one is living in the sticks, it’s because they chose to live in the sticks…so deal with it…if that’s where one is.

    If one lives in a big city, one doesn’t need a car to go to the grocery store. One can take mass transit (as I do…bus and metro subway) or one can walk and get some exercise or one can ride a bicycle with a backpack (for carrying some groceries).

    B99: You just need to think these things through. They are really not that difficult. All these road blocks you seem to put up. Buy some nutritional food for yourself and maybe it might help your thinking processes. Just a thought.

  13. lichen said on November 25th, 2009 at 9:14pm #

    Yeah, I don’t randomly absolve people for their lifestyle when I have gone out of my way to maintain a good one for myself; which, yes, includes organic food co-ops, local farmers markets, and my own garden.

  14. Hue Longer said on November 25th, 2009 at 10:33pm #

    Sam,

    That reminds me of the appalling Sam Kenison who screamed to Ethiopians, “Why don’t you go to where the food is”

  15. Sam said on November 25th, 2009 at 10:51pm #

    Many people in the States think that universal health care is a bad thing. Many people think that distributing the wealth is a bad thing. And now some people think it’s a bad thing for people to go or try to go (or somehow get there) to where the food is. Well, stay where one is and starve then. I do not understand the “logic” here. What about water? Is one supposed to stay away from water too, if they don’t have any? Duh.

  16. Sam said on November 25th, 2009 at 10:53pm #

    Many people in the States think that universal health care is a bad thing. Many people think that distributing the wealth is a bad thing. And now some people think it’s a bad thing for people to go or try to go (or somehow get there) to where the food is. Well, stay where one is and starve then. I do not understand the “logic” here. What about water? Is one supposed to stay away from where water is too, if they don’t have any? Duh.

  17. Don Hawkins said on November 26th, 2009 at 3:38am #

    New Zealand (AHN) – More than 100 icebergs – and possibly more to follow – are drifting toward the coast of New Zealand in an exceptionally rare occurrence. The unusual event has prompted officials to issue a shipping warning in the area.

    A glaciologist for the Australian Antarctic Division said the massive ice chunks were spotted by satellite photography heading past the Auckland Islands and towards the main South Island.

    Once scientist said there were approximately 100 icebergs in a cluster, leading him to believe there were hundreds more not far behind. He said the pieces of ice measured up to 650 feet in diameter. They broke off from much larger ice floe due to air and temperature changes caused by global warming.

    The last time the icebergs floated close to New Zealand was in 2006. The first-ever sighting of the massive frozen masses was in 1931.

    Scientists said they can expect to see more pieces of ice floating in their area if the Earth’s climate continues to get warmer.

    As a publicity stunt by the country’s wool industry, a sheep was flown out to once of the icebergs to be shorn. AHN

    exceptionally rare occurrence. The unusual event and of course the 1000 year storms we keep seeing Worldwide on a regular basis now could be a sign on this day of remembering.

  18. Don Hawkins said on November 26th, 2009 at 4:40am #

    By Greg Gutfeld

    FNC

    Last week I told you about the scandal at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. A hacker revealed confidential e-mails exposing attempts by global warming apostles to manipulate embarrassing info that countered their warming claims.
    These e-mails have been called “the nail in the coffin” of global warming hysteria. I wish that were true.
    Check out the sites where the Chicken Littles still thrive. About the hacked e-mails, The Huffington Post says: “This criminal activity has created fodder for right-wing groups to promote their own agenda that global warming is not real.”
    After admitting he was “deeply shaken” by the e-mails, a Guardian columnist adds: “To bury man-made climate change, a far wider conspiracy would have to be revealed.”
    Really?
    For fun, imagine if these leaked e-mails weren’t about global warming, but Gitmo or Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin’s private life. How fast would Time, Newsweek and an intensely sweaty Andrew Sullivan be all over them; calling these e-mails corruption of the highest order?
    But they can’t do this here, because the lie is the lie that the media believed in. It’s their Watergate, so it’s no wonder there’s no Woodward and Bernstein to bring it down.
    So, where does this leave Al Gore? He’s got his hands all over this leafy Ponzi scheme and he stands to make butt-loads of money off propagated fear. Something tells me he won’t be discussing these e-mails in “Hopenhagen,” because as long as the sky keeps falling, his bank account keeps rising.
    And if you disagree with me, then you sir are a racist. Fox New’s Channel

    Has anybody ever watched this Greg Gutfeld on Fox the show I think is called Red Eye. To me on the show they the they being highly intelligent guests sit around and tell people how smart and funny they are and how stupid the rest of the World is and if I do watch them always’ my last thought is PUNK’S. Then what he wrote make butt-loads of money off propagated fear and “Hopenhagen,” because as long as the sky keeps falling, clever if you enjoy second grade level thinking. Fox New’s would never make money off propagated fear or tell people the shy is falling no no no. To me all you have to remember is the few play the game with the few it’s called arrogance and we the people the little people get to watch them play and tell us we love you we love you very very much, please. Well most don’t even do that anymore just right in your face arrogance. Yes the little God’s at play. To cut through the noise on climate change is hard now because of something called hate on both sides Bush really got it started among other things when he tried to put many scientists in a box so to speak. So the reason for Hopenhagen and some World leaders and the best minds we have to try is not climate change but a new world order and spread the wealth? The little God’s don’t like either of those ideas and the tea party’s we hear so much about on Fox is for us the little people no no no it’s about keeping the money/debt and power right where it is with the PUNK’S I mean highly inteligent people. Is climate change real yes it sure is and in not to many years because it is happening faster than first thought it is going to make life very difficult to say the least and it appears the game from the little God’s is to see who get’s to control how we all go down the drain in not such slow motion. To be truthfully honest I don’t think the little God’s have a clue what they are doing and the game goes on. Mulga put it very well how these little PUNK’S think yes he did. To really try means no more black tie steak dinners or listening to PUNK’S tell us all how smart they are and how dumb we are but working together, reason, knowledge, imagination and work the real thing. So far just more hate nobody wins and the game goes on third one from the Sun.

    Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money. ~Cree Indian Proverb

  19. Mary said on November 26th, 2009 at 3:02pm #

    This fine poem by Gary Corseri made a big impact on me. It was one of the first things I read when I went on the internet for the first time and I thought ‘Wow’!

    Christopher Columbus, Crawl Back In Your Hole!

    Take you Nina, Pinta and Santa Magreedier.
    We know what you did in Hispaniola!
    We watched silver helmets glint in the sun.
    We saw you claim our island for Spain!
    Idiot!
    Look what you’ve done!
    How many millions of lives lost,
    How many holocausts
    Would burn up the centuries
    So you could fill your coffers with gold?

    Christopher Columbus—take George Bush with you!
    Take them all—Lincoln and Washington
    And Jefferson, too.
    None of them gave a damn about us.
    They said we were savages,
    They killed us for sport.
    Ever read about Lincoln and the Black Hawk War?
    If Lincoln wanted to “free the slaves,”
    How come he didn’t give a damn
    About their red brothers?
    Jefferson pimped for “democracy”
    But signed the Removal Act to defraud the Cherokees.
    And Washington—“Father” of his country?
    Please! You’re killing me! Don’t make me laugh!

    Christopher Columbus—Genoa scum!
    Take Ferdinand and Isabel—bane of the Jews.
    Bane of the Moors, too, who gave Spain a culture.
    Not like those crap-bags with their “kill one for Christ!”
    (You can leave Jesus behind,
    But not him of the Popes, not him of their lackeys.
    If you want to leave the sandaled carpenter behind,
    We’ve got work for him, work with honor.
    We’ve got to undo 500 years of your damned interfering:
    We’ll re-plant forests and heal the sky.
    We don’t know if we can do it.
    You took the last kernel of our hopes and crushed it.
    You took our hope away and gave us fear.
    You took our hope—but not our courage.
    Courage to resist you, even after 500 years.

    We’re all under your boots now, your jackhammer boots.
    You Nazi, you maniac—take your bloody history
    Forward and backward and what have you got?
    The Spaniards came and rode us like lamas—literally!
    They climbed on our backs and whipped us till we dropped.
    The French came looking for pelts.
    They took more than they needed so they made
    Beaver-fur hats—a Parisian fashion statement!
    The Anglos came and never stopped coming.
    They slaughtered each other over our land.
    They never stopped slaughtering.
    They made great speeches about freedom and liberty
    While their vampirish mouths ran with our blood.

    Christopher Columbus, crawl back in your hole!
    Take your economy and your progress and
    All the appurtenances of “civilization.”
    Take your death culture and your sordid manias.
    We’re sick of you and your hypocrisies.
    And we’re gathering.

    We’re singing the Ghost Song and dancing the Ghost Dance,
    Gathering on the hills when you shut your eyes;
    Whispering in your dreams
    And crying in your nightmares.

    And howling as your towers fall,
    Your bridges buckle,
    Your levees are breached,
    Your schools implode,
    And your children grasp you with their bloody claws.

    http://dissidentvoice.org/2007/10/chrstopher-columbus-crawl-back-in-your-hole/

  20. sid wright said on November 26th, 2009 at 3:53pm #

    this is a bit happy for you mary
    when did you become sad and unhappy with life?

  21. Boling Kiley said on November 26th, 2009 at 10:30pm #

    Hey , it’s Thanksgiving Day! I’m happy with my extra day off, and I am planning to make something fun that will probably involve a bike ride and seeing something new in Ridgefield Park I haven’t seen yet.
    You write something new at Thanksgiving?

  22. p0stcap said on November 26th, 2009 at 11:55pm #

    Dear Sam (and Lichen, et al)

    Sam said:
    “Well, stay where one is and starve then. I do not understand the “logic” here. What about water? Is one supposed to stay away from water too, if they don’t have any? Duh.”

    And Sam said that they would only eat food from “a health food store which sells locally and organically grown produce/real food with nutrition. Preferably a “green” certified store that is a worker-owned co-op.”

    Sam thinks that only “green”, “organic”, “locally grown” food bought from a “worker owned coop” is… what? Responsible? Ethical? Intelligent? Civilized?

    This *is* a very “White” attitude Sam… especially in the context of a comments section of an article about colonialism. Why? No, not because of Sam’s particular tastes and class privileges about being able to choose what to eat from a broad range of conscious options. Sam is extending their tastes and class privileges as universal point of judgement of others. And Sam is blaming others for not “choosing” to make the same “choices”Sam makes. What does this mean? It means that Sam thinks we’re all born into an imaginary world where we can each draw our consciousness, tastes, geographies, eating habits, sexual proclivities (etc) from a list like santa claus. Only the “intelligent”, “responsible”, “ethical”, “civilized” ones like Sam make the “intelligent”, “responsible”, “ethical”, “civilized” choices that Sam has made and makes. Sam’s devotion to Sam’s choices is proof further of Sam’s great traits in making “correct” choices.

    Sam. Come on. It’s a fucking article about colonization. Who has the highest level of diabetes in the “America”? Colonized people who eat “unethical” food. Who gets poisoned by water in the “America”? Colonized people who drink “bad” water. Why? Because their geographical position was organized against them by colonial regimes. Because their water was poisoned by colonial corporations stealing their resources. Because their horrendous poverty, depression, abuse, suicide rates, murders, were organized by a colonial administration that STILL operates under the maxim “the only good indian is a dead indian.” The organization of the oppressive colonial apparatus is so efficient now that it is nearly invisible and the colonizers don’t have to talk about “good/dead indians” anymore. Now the colonizers talk like you, Sam.

    But they have CHOICE right? So “why don’t they just leave” for Sam’s city? Sam is suggesting that Indigenous people abandon the lands they stand on and defend and fight for as positions of anti-colonial claim so they can be “ethical” with their “food choices”. And Sam is suggesting that if they do not do what Sam says that they are irresponsible. Unethical. (etc) Sam thinks that if Indigenous people “choose” to “stay” (motionless apparently) on reservations or small poor towns (or in poor areas in cities) then “they” deserve to starve and die. Good colonial drive you got Sam. Assimilate to the new white liberal code of food ethics, or die. Very good.

    Today I heard on the radio that one in six US-ians are hungry. And Sam wants them to go to “Worker Owned Coops” in cities that Sam wants them to move to. Sam thinks all these millions of people are all those bad things Sam imply with Sam’s glorious self inflation.

    And you too “Lichen” (hilarious by the way… you’re a cartoon character): no body asked you for your “absolvement”. Who do you people think you are?

  23. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 12:22am #

    “This *is* a very “White” attitude Sam”

    I agree with 99% of your comment, but you’re yet another “progressive” who turns to racism as rhetoric. I’m not trying to exonerate anyone of their crimes, but think about things strategically; what do “progressives” gain by regressing to racial vocab? If you think that there’s actually something (beyond nurture) that defines “whiteness” then you are a racist by your own definition, and thus you reinforce the existing divisions. In other words, if you do think there’s a causal connection between “attitude” and the colour of your skin, then you’re only promoting racism and reinforcing your “enemy”.

    cheers

  24. p0stcap said on November 27th, 2009 at 12:35am #

    No, I think “Whiteness” is as much an ideological construction as “Blackness” and “Chineseness” and the rest. But the difference is that “Whiteness” is the location of power. As an identity it is the location of definition of the self, through Others.

    I’m identifying Sam within the power base of the racial discourse. Sam is defining Sam as “white” (in my opinion), or to use another, non-racial, metaphor, Sam defines Sam as the Center by defining the Other as the Margin.

    Others eat “unethical” food. Sam is, therefore, ethical.

    I was actually thinking a lot of how “White” workers on the “American” west coast defined themselves as “White” (and part of the white empire project) by constructing the “Chinese” racial container through behaviors and eating habits the racial center racialized “Chinese”.

    If my angry rant came across as racialist, it was just because I was angry and I was taking too much for granted. That is a “progressive” trait; I’ll give you that.

  25. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 12:50am #

    p0stcap I appreciate your candid response.

    You’re true in saying that “whiteness” is not a “race”…. in the sense that it is no way to define yourself. However, it is nonsense to say that “white” is not a “racial distinction”. I agree it is a “false” distinction, but that is the point; reactionary movements fail to recognize the role they play in buttressing the establishment. Do you think that a “white” Turk has much in common with a “white” Peruvian? Why even make the distinction? It’s only pointing to, and consequently reinforcing, the opposing argument?

    chers

  26. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 12:51am #

    it’s should be is it

  27. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:02am #

    p0stcap,
    “Sam defines Sam as the Center by defining the Other as the Margin. ”

    This is not an argument. Everyone operates on the ‘assumption’ that they are the ‘centre’. It is inextricable from consciousness. In every culture that is the ‘Other’, they define the ‘majority’ (I assume that’s what establishes the ‘other’) as something different (goyim for example).

    It’s actually required by any ‘value system’ to oppose such rhetoric. The rhetoric undermines the possibility of any values… “I value what other people value”… spoken even as the ‘other’ negates his own reality by submitting to any value other in accordance with submission. The only values that remain unacceptable are those that challenge the value of holding values… ‘diversity’ is undermined by becoming a universal cause; the ‘other’ holds contrary values, and yet they must be accepted over and above your own, in order to prove that they are not ‘other’.

  28. p0stcap said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:04am #

    “However, it is nonsense to say that “white” is not a “racial distinction”. I agree it is a “false” distinction, but that is the point; reactionary movements fail to recognize the role they play in buttressing the establishment.”

    Can you explain what you mean? I don’t understand.

    I am not making claims of racial distinction. I think the categories of “racial distinction” are themselves constructions. The kind of seeing we do when we look at people is constructed by our experiences with explanations given us by powerful voices through our lives. But I’m afraid I’m misunderstanding you. And… what is a “white Turk / white Peruvian”?

    When I talk about “Whiteness” I’m referring to a pretty specific Euro/US-ian race ideology and *not* “racial distinction.

    Again, sorry if I’m misunderstanding.

  29. p0stcap said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:11am #

    … just an aside.

    It’s interesting that you choose Turkey and Peru as places for an example. It astonished me how negatively racialized Turks are in “White” europe. It happened again and again when I was in Germany that I’d meet young people who self identified as “revolutionaries” and “anti-racists” but made exceptions for “Turks” who they thought were “uncivilized” and “barbaric”. It came out of a profound Islamophobia. I know I can be silly, but it shocked me. As part of that, they also supported Israel because “Arabs are fascists”. The anti-imperialist left! Crazy no? Demonstrated to me the power of race ideas and where the center of that discourse lies… in Germany anti-anti-semitism is pro-settler anti-Palestinianism. Contorted, I know.

    And in Argentina there is an intense racism against Peruvians and Bolivians. Wannabe-white Argentines point to Peru and Bolivia as “non-modern” / “uncivilized” nations to define themselves as an imaginary europe of the south. Again, this is done largely by racializing certain kinds of culture and eating.

  30. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:12am #

    “When I talk about “Whiteness” I’m referring to a pretty specific Euro/US-ian race ideology and *not* “racial distinction. ”

    Yes, I grasp this. But consider what you’re saying. Compare with the statement “When I talk about ‘browness’, I talk about irresponsibility, not some racial distinction.”

    It is not controversial to say that there are people who are regularly called ‘brown’ who are ‘irresponsible’, but it is controversial (and irresponsible) to use the terms interchangeably.

    How can you possibly separate ‘whiteness’ from race or identity? You’re pigeon holing people by using such colour-coded terminology.

  31. Hue Longer said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:14am #

    Interesting drift this one took…

    I’m loving the conversation and not as a correction to anything being said by Suthiano or postcap…

    Those with the privilege (no matter how unrealized it may be) get away with not being the “other”. And not being directed at Suthiano at all (who could be anyone), but it always seems to be white progressives who complain about definitions when the marginalized (and of course not that postcap is a “other”) define themselves or the privileged- the latter who again get the benefit of not being anything other than “Not Black”, “Not Mexican”, “Not Chinese”. “Hey, we’re all part of the human race” is easier to say when you don’t have a boot on your neck and like Melvin Van Peeples said, “Can always cut your hair”.

  32. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:17am #

    “It astonished me how negatively racialized Turks are in “White” europe.”

    Again, I’m not trying to dismiss your claims, but you’re being careless. Turkey is trying to get into the EU. I know ‘urban planners’ who have traveled to Turkey to address the ‘gentrification’ that is ongoing there. They are currently kicking a large Gypsy community out of their neighbourhood, and the adverts that go along with the gentrification depict ‘dark featured’ people as the ‘before’ and blonde haired ‘western-style’ (your ‘white style’) people holding shopping bags as the ‘after.’

    The same impulses occur worldwide… your attempts to connect them to race are contrary to your professed goals.

    cheers

  33. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:27am #

    “And not being directed at Suthiano at all (who could be anyone), but it always seems to be white progressives who complain about definitions…”

    Hue, thanks for joining in.

    But, I think you are ignoring what’s been said. In fact, the term ‘other’ was popularized through academia; mainly jewish studies. I do not deny the ‘otherness’ of those who have been persecuted, but you continue to connect this to ‘whiteness’ and separate it from its actual use. The ‘Jews’ are white and ‘western’ and largely involved in ‘racism’, but within the ‘english context’ they qualify as ‘others’… imagine a ‘Chinese’ (white) ‘Canadian’ ‘Christian’ (white) trying to emigrate to Israel…. who is the other in that situation? More importantly why does this ‘racialization’ occur again and again? and can one side really claim the ‘otherness’ the ‘purity’?

  34. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:33am #

    p0stwatever,

    I understand you more and more. You are trying to equate ‘whiteness’ with the ‘dominating impulse’. You are an absolute fool for doing so. You are engaging in racial (colour coded) labeling. You are equating ‘power’ with ‘whiteness’ as if those in power, regardless of colour (you should appreciate such sentiments as a ‘progressive’) were always ‘white’ and thus easily distinguishable.

    In doing so, you actually reaffirm ‘colour’ as the dominant factor in judgment. You reaffirm the racist impulse.

  35. p0stcap said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:35am #

    Suthiano: “But consider what you’re saying. Compare with the statement “When I talk about ‘browness’, I talk about irresponsibility, not some racial distinction.””

    I’m not claiming there is a universal “White” person. I’m talking about power. And when we talk about white people we are locating racial power. Because, while race does not exist, race ideas do. And they are powerful. And they are wielded by whiteness. That’s why when you talk about Turkey jockeying for entry in the EU, we see a re-racializing happening, a “positive” self racializing. In the case of Turkey, it is carried out by positioning themselves closer to whiteness, by pushing others down on the imaginary racial hierarchy. This *is* whiteness. What David Roediger calls working for the “Wages of Whiteness”.

    But on the ideological race hierarchy, imperialist Europe is a stronger defining voice, and it is that power base that shapes the Turkish EU race maneuvering. And most Turks are still marginalized and oppressed racially in Europe.

    Anyway… signing off for the night. Thanks for the discussion, I appreciate your thoughts and think your cautions are important.

  36. Hue Longer said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:39am #

    Not ignoring what’s being said (and a lot has been said since I started writing my last bit)– I was bringing in an observation from a not totally related point that when things are not equal as they wouldn’t be in dominator dominated status, it only benefits the dominant to appeal to handling things from a color (other) blind perspective. I’m not so much white as I am not this and not that….giving it a name is an attempt to even it out. Please carry on and I have to feed my daughter! Peace

  37. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:48am #

    “But on the ideological race hierarchy, imperialist Europe is a stronger defining voice, and it is that power base that shapes the Turkish EU race maneuvering. And most Turks are still marginalized and oppressed racially in Europe.”

    So you aren’t denying your connection, you’re just justifying it. Whiteness has become the ‘oppressive power’ in your mind. Since this is the case, you look to the ‘defining voice’ without considering how your voice defines the outcome. You also operate on the assumption that ‘whiteness’ is the power of the EU, as if the EU was a coherent body made up of allies. If you define the outcome using racial distinctions, you are by all comprehensible standards, a racist.

    cheers

  38. Suthiano said on November 27th, 2009 at 1:50am #

    *should read “of allies committed to a ‘white ideal'”.

  39. b99 said on November 27th, 2009 at 7:26am #

    If one understands something about racial privilege in America then one understands that Sam IS white – he’s adopted attitudes that would really be rare to come by in non-white communities. He has the sureness and assuredness of the young, single, mobile, white American. As in – ‘what’s the problem, folks? Just do it!”

    That rural people should move to where the food is, is pretty funny. Or that anyone in a city should hop on public transit like he does to shop. You know, many millions of people live under dire circumstances. They have no job or they are underemployed, or they are sick or disabled, the can’t afford to move, their car’s a clunker, or they have no car, they have no gas money, they live paycheck to paycheck when there are paychecks at all, they are caretakers of others, rents and mortgages are far higher in amenity neighborhoods, and life just gets harder as one gets older.

    Or to really get real, how many cities have the transit systems that match that of Seattle? In most cities in America, once rush hour is over it may be more than an hour’s wait for the next bus – or you might need two buses. Try that after a day of work. Try shopping for 4 or 5 people by bus after work. Try lugging a half dozen or more grocery bags to the bus stop – negotiating that trip, and then lugging the bags from bus to home. Do that on a repetitive basis – and then see how appealing a near-to-home KFC starts to look. Especially compared to Whole Paycheck prices at Whole Foods.

    It’s been a century since Jacob Riis told us ‘How the Other Half Lives.’ And we still have people – much more often than not, white people – who still subscribe to the notion of people picking themselves up by their bootstraps.

  40. lichen said on November 27th, 2009 at 8:21pm #

    Some of us not only like local, organic food and cooperative systems, and public transit, but also advocate a socialized government whereby everyone could easily access them at low cost. Many people here are asking us to pretend that there isn’t a right wing strain through all economic situations whereby people intentionally dislike organic food, cooperative workplaces, public transportation, and the like; many people in cities or small towns, poor or not. They are responsible for their dismissive right wing attitudes against these things. In fact, I’m sure that some of the people responding don’t like these things and intentionally go out of their way to avoid them. But they wish to fight a culture war instead, and insult any non-white person who likes these things.

    I don’t endorse Sam’s words that people should move–in the current economic crisis, moving to places like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco is a bad idea (very high unemployment) and most people there don’t want you, especially if you don’t come with your own set income. There are a lot of local solutions that should be advanced where people are.