This summer saw death tolls rise amidst proliferating white supremacist acts of terror across the country. The state, another agent of white-supremacist terror, has persisted its administration-directed campaign of snatching children from their parents, and parents from their children, leaving young kids alone and traumatized.
The tragic collision of those two elements, in yet another horrific way, was exemplified this year when, hours after the horrific shooting in El Paso, injured undocumented and status-threatened persons who had survived the shooting were dissuaded from seeking medical treatment due to the realities of the state preying on their communities. The political cross-hairs they have been placed in have been backed by ICE raids, roundups and mass deportations.
Collective trauma has permeated entire communities, every bit as devastating and whose ramifications are as far reaching as a hurricane or wildfire. Similar to the toxic ash and smoke in the vicinity of a fire, we can’t breathe in this toxic sociopolitical atmosphere of hate.
White supremacy is America’s original sin. It came over with Columbus and initiated the largest genocide humanity has known, and it is continuing, albeit in different and countless forms today as evidenced at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, and the WalMart in El Paso.
It’s why ‘Thanksgiving’ celebrations are rooted in the murder of Pequots at Mystic. It’s why there was a massacre of innocent Cheyenne at Washita, Cheyenne and Arapaho at Sand Creek and Lakota at Wounded Knee. That same hate disease killed Dakota at Mankato. It’s why Ashanti, Ibo, Yoruba and countless other peoples were stolen from Africa and enslaved to build America. It’s why the Greenwood section of Tulsa was burned, why Rosewood was razed.
White supremacy is what inspired the murder of Emmett Till and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist church. It’s what shot Rekia Boyd and choked Eric Garner. It is what hunted and killed innocent black men in the New Orleans neighborhood of Algiers after Hurricane Katrina. It’s what promised white vigilantes in the disaster’s aftermath that “For every black looter you shoot, and provide proof of a clean kill,” a group of white supremacist terrorists “will provide reimbursement of all expended ammunition, at no cost.”
Collectively, these acts of mass killings of Indigenous, immigrants, refugees, black, and latinx community members, were similarly rooted in an atmosphere of white supremacy, platformed and legitimized by power. The perpetrators’ explicit intentions have been swept under the rug by apologists who shrug off the growing compendium of white supremacist, nationalist, “America first” manifestos.
People in the halls of power often blame mental health and violent video games for these atrocities; at once, scapegoating people with mental health struggles as murderers, and pointing the finger at video games depicting war and mass militarist violence while ignoring the state’s very own real life wars and mass militarist violence.
White supremacy is, and always has been, a disaster.
Environmental destruction and global warming are accelerating cataclysmic climate events in both intensity and frequency to the point where it seems that parts of the planet are constantly pinned up against an atmospheric backdrop of unnatural catastrophe.
Interlinked acts of white supremacy and eco-fascist terror—regularly platformed by state actors and defended in the streets by police—seem to sometimes be accelerating likewise in both intensity and frequency. Eco-fascism envelopes and embraces a history of eugenics, ethnic cleansing, environmental racism and genocide. It is a far cry from true climate justice, ecology, sustainability or ethical environmental praxis.
With coming cataclysmic climate change and environmental racism’s mass displacement of those disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, migration to relatively safer lands will be a vital and necessary adaptive strategy for billions of human beings. And Indigenous peoples have vital insight on how to interact with the natural world in a way that doesn’t cause ecological and climate crisis.
On this Indigenous People’s Resistance Day, we reaffirm our commitment to deepen our partnerships with groups like the Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative, expand our invisible disasters program, and respond more effectively to the disaster of colonization that continues to plague Indigenous people throughout Turtle Island.
Anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, white nationalist, white supremacist, colonial violence normalized and emboldened by incessant rhetoric and subsequent policy advancement disseminated by the state, in addition to being fundamentally evil, will only make our collective survival as a human species that much harder if, or when, current projections of sea level rise, temperature rise, and historic, disastrous weather trends come to pass.
Just as in the hours, days, months and years post disaster have the potential to bridge and unite communities, which link to other communities, which link to a broader movement of solidarity based mutual aid to build resilience for the disasters we see coming in the future, so must we trudge new pathways and carve out connections between our movement and the broader movement for a better world of which we are only one small part.
We have experienced the profound sadness that burrows its way within us during and after catastrophes, when our streets no longer resemble themselves and our communities are concussed by climate catastrophe. And we have known the strength of the human spirit that time and again rises from the rubble in the most heartbreakingly powerful ways.
Just as in the aftermath of a flood or tornado, so too are people in the aftermath of shootings and massacres and the legacy of colonialism, calling up the best within themselves, and rising to the occasion to be there for each other, to comfort each other, and to build out of the ruins.
El Paso, Texas. Poway, California. Christchurch, New Zealand. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Charlottesville, Virginia. Finsbury Park, UK. Portland, Oregon. Quebec City, Canada. Charleston, South Carolina. Overland Park, Kansas. Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Oslo, Norway. Wounded Knee, South Dakota. And far, far too many more to name, we see your communities‘ resilience, beauty, love, pain, anger, and power.
It is a flower growing up through the concrete, saying there is still life under all of this weight. In the collective dark night of the soul we are experiencing, your courage guides us. Your perseverance inspires our own. Your wisdom is so needed, now and in the future. The ruins are not the end of the story.
The new, better world we all carry within us will be.