Updated: Apr 22, 2020



"Refusing to assign a 'secret', an ultimate meaning to text "liberates what maybe called an anti-theological activity, an activity that is truly revolutionary since to refuse meaning is in the end, to refuse God and his hypostases - reason, science, law." - Roland Barthes

By Ernesto Todd Mireles, Ph.D.

This begging for scraps at the electoral table, not cute, not a good look, acting like boot licking sycophants, standing around defending the need to vote for a republican or democrat, all the while maintaining it doesn’t matter which as long as you participate? Making declarative statements about how you aren’t going to vote for either because neither party “represents” you?

The irritating thing those people have in common is none of them are doing anything to actually build real political power for Xicanos, Latinos or Indigenous peoples. These two options (republican and democrat) are simply default acquiescence to the settler colonial political structure. If your goal is to end colonialism it doesn’t matter who you vote for, so go ahead and vote I do, even though I believe that vote in every election is ultimately for colonialism.

How is that true? It is true because the entire argument of participation regardless of which of the two sides you are on is ONLY ABOUT SETTLER COLONIAL PARTY POLITICS, and the perpetuation of the settler colonial state by its own laws and regulations established at the moment of conquest to exclude black and brown people.

I want the rarely explored third option within U.S. colonial politics to the republican/democrat “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain” binary, which in this case can only be a sentiment designed to muddy the historical waters of brown exclusion. That third option states, “anyone not actively participating in building mass political organization for Xicanos, Latinos and Indigenous people has no reason to complain about the second class treatment we receive across society whether you “vote” or not.”

Xicanos argue endlessly about being Democrat and Republican, but never about whether we should have our own political party. No, we just laugh those clowns right out of the room, for no other reason really than our community simply cannot conceive of a situation where Xicano/Indigenous political force could offer an alternative to the political and economic force of settler colonialism.

The belief indigenous people are political, cultural, economic, and social losers is the plain view “secret” of U.S. history books, movies, and religious sermons written over the past 500 years. That deeply embedded “secret” contends Indigenous sovereignty is fractured, so beyond repair that as a community especially Xicanos and other indigenous people openly scoff at even the suggestion of resistance, even one that operates fully within the parameters of this nation’s laws - like forming a political party.

Recognizing any political allegiance to the Xicano Indigenous community beyond benign cultural practices puts people in dangerous territory. Those individuals stand on the threshold of a mighty refusal ready to embrace the understanding that the “national liberation of a people is the regaining of the historical personality of that people.”

Xicanos have to evolve politically if we are ever going to be more than a way for neo-libs to prove they speak a little Spanish. One way for that evolution to happen is when the political mutation of regaining our historical personality is introduced and intentionally spread to the population.

By regaining their historical personality Xicanos embrace their political destiny not as subjects of a settler colonial state but as a politically sovereign group of people. That is political, economic and social evolution. Turning our backs on the settler politics of the Republican and Democratic Parties in favor of building a Xicano/Latino/Indigenous political party that serves as a first step toward “a return to history.


It is this call for regaining history that is the dangerous part because it demands a large group of people recognize and reject the political reality of the past 500 years. It demands political action and as result of that demand is so thoroughly ridiculed it’s hard to bring it up at all.

We must have a political party, one that works for the future of Xicano/Indigenous people. The passing days of Covid 19 bring all of us closer and closer to the truth of our profound disappointed in the Dems, and our deep dislike of Republicans. But it still hasn’t occurred to the majority that Raza could form a political party based on the recouping of our “historical personality”?

No one is saying good work isn’t happening in our Indigenous Xicano/Mexicano communities across the country. There are real heroes everywhere - and now with the deportation of many Dreamers - these heroes are beginning to organize themselves in Mexico. This type of low intensity grassroots organizing can begin to build a new Xicano Indigenous culture to replace existing colonial culture and its twisted institutions.

Are our interests really so divergent from the rest of the population? We live on this planet, drink water, breathe air, and need food. Our interests are divergent not from the people around us but from the political economic system that seeks to uphold narcissistic capitalism intent on destroying the earth. I would argue the only thing that is hard to believe is how many of us fight against the idea of owning our political power.

The process of reflection, knowledge, action and transformation are basic expressions of indigenous knowledge acquisition found across the hemisphere. What the West calls the scientific method. To study or reflect on a matter is the building of knowledge and understanding about the material conditions, a population faces. When specific knowledge presents itself, a decision should be made about the course of action to correct those conditions.

The need for a Xicano Indigenous political response has grown across the 20th century and into the 21st leading us to this moment of pandemic that is creating a challenge to capitalism in which the possibility of profound political, social and economic change has never been more real or more inescapable.

Once the course of action is engaged, as in any physical process, action leads to evolution. This process removes us from the linear notion of time to a circular understanding by deleting the deficit model forced on us by settler colonialism and re-centering on the success of the Indigenous Xicano community outside of its relationship to settler colonialism.

The development of political will (reflection) is the key to organizing political party victories (knowledge). A people’s movement produces actionable power (action) as a consequence of the political mobilization of the people by the organizer. Political cultural education with the goal of building a political party is the “crucial task” of any anticolonial organizing initiative seeking to, “educate, mobilize, organize, and arm the whole people in order that they might take part (transformation) in the resistance.”

Su Voto es su Voz.

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“Beginning to think is beginning to be undermined”

Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus


I am undermined. I am doubted, and maligned. My very existence violates the historical mythology of settler colonialism. I am anomalous in the historical imagination. The child of three America's: white privileged, black underclass, and Mexican invader, separate but equal, distinct but one, spreading rebellion through endlessly reimagined and refashioned realities, a secret in plain sight, displayed for the cultural benefit of liberal do-gooders. My children are the future – a future of voluntary miscegenation, of dismantling oppression. I am the failure of a colonial education because I speak, read, write and organize to free my people.


As an Indigenous Xicano organizer/scholar in the 21st century looking back on 500 years of physical, environmental and psychological erasure I see the latest threat to collective survival is creeping removal of indigenous resistance through a fracturing neo-liberal identity politics that celebrates “I” while dismissing “WE”. It is within this Randian ascendency I experience the dismissal of the group, the collective think tank, leaving me and others like me with the stark realization there seems to be no other recourse for political petition in the United States other than the individual will.

Routinely, in the past few years the passports of Xicanx people in Southern Texas have been confiscated, all along the US/Mexico border brown children are caged separated from their parents and forced to represent themselves in court regardless of age, in cities across this country, for the crime of being brown and indigenous looking, men and women simply disappear.


Many never heard from again. The brutal fact being most of us never even knew they were here and are gone. I say this not as a denunciation, but knowing all of you, like myself, already live with the internalized subliminal terror that is our constant reminder of the political powerlessness Xicanx/Latinx face in this country. Clearly, we are doing something wrong. There is a flaw in our approach to power of any kind.


As an example, the majority of our community considers it buffoonish to talk about a coming political storm; a deluge of social, political, cultural retribution that will overwhelm the fabric of settler society. Yet, the consummate US apologist Samuel Huntington said as much in his 2009 premonitory essay written for the Foreign Policy journal titled “The Hispanic Challenge”. Huntington warned unless the US government stemmed the flow of brown bodies entering the United States White Anglo Saxon Protestant society would be destroyed.


Unlike Huntington, I do not fear that storm or the rising tide of indigenous humanity that might reclaim their land and history. In the so-called immigration debate we rarely acknowledge, either on purpose or out of a sense of survival, this continent is not a place Brown people arrived at after a period of travel, but Huntington does, and in fact argues this claim makes our presence here dangerous.


Five centuries of European occupation have almost eradicated the political presence and capacity of indigenous people, however, la lucha sigue, and the struggle is in fact resurgent in many places. Across Turtle Island the numbers of Indigenous people and descendants of Indigenous peoples are rebounding, millions walk the streets of this country, but political power and cultural purpose beyond our role as consumers eludes us.


Imagine the further disenfranchisement that would ensue if this country’s labor supply was forced into a state of remote work. It would be the ultimate commodification of the body for the capitalist - remote slavery. Brown labor without Brown bodies. Huntington’s fantasy realized. Want a sneak peek at what the future could look like? Check out the 2008 movie Sleep Dealer, directed by Alex Rivera.


Existence is not resistance. It may be for a select few their personal existence is tied explicitly to their resistance of settler colonialism. But the hard truth is their, your, my individual commitment to anti-colonialism is almost universally metaphoric.


The revolutionary Ulrike Meinhof, one of the leaders of the Red Army Faction in Germany once said, “Resistance is when I ensure what does not please me occurs no more.” Collective resistance has physical consequences that extend notions of culture to include the political, and economic exposing the contradictions between human need and the economic realities of settler capitalism that forces those watching to choose a side across.


What does collective power ensure for indigenous lives and indigenous resistance? We have seen flashes of this collective power in the DACA movement, at Standing Rock, the Idle No More movement, certainly the Zapatista’s in Southern Mexico, and we know these movements have extended the scope of indigenous culture because they have forced, whether ultimately successful or not by a display of power, the whole of society to take a political and economic side.


That is revolutionary culture, collective resistance that surpasses individual existence.

Resistance is a conundrum, that you can believe. An endless morass of bewildering choices that only lead to more choices. When we open a collective channel to the practice of life being more than an cultural existence propelled forward by consumerist choices, we embrace indigenous resistance as a reemerging of the political, the economic, the artistic, the cultural into an opposing force that must inevitably end or be ended by the settler colonial system.


Huntington understood this, White people understand this, Xicanx people need to understand it as well. As long as we delude ourselves into thinking power is produced by proclaiming our existence - we continue collectively powerless in every sense of the word.


It seems the reality, for the vast majority of those who labor endlessly under capitalism and its diabolical proxy settler colonialism, that existence has very little depth outside the fabricated desires of capitalist consumerism. Clinging to the individualistic neo-liberal identity framework will not produce depth because that ideology of individualism cannot lead to a collective resistance powerful enough to confront the existing power structure.


One thing Huntington got wrong, or maybe in his mind it is always implied, mere numbers do nothing if they are not organized. Building organization, scaling up movements instead of scaling them down by constant fracturing through PC purges and ageism is necessary if there is ever going to be true Brown Power.


Join a group that is practicing or at least talking about “radical” politics. One with a critique of power, with a critique organization. It doesn’t even matter if it is an all white group. Make them teach you how to mobilize, how to build infrastructure. Two of the greatest Xicanx heroes of the 20th century, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta were taught by white boy Fred Ross how to build organization and mobilize farm workers and farm workers supporters across the country.


Just think if their response to white boy Fred Ross had been, “you can come to my house but don’t say anything, because white people aren’t allowed to talk in our meetings.” Don’t be like that, be like Chavez and Huerta, build, organize, mobilize, resist - that is what we want our culture to be based on.


The choice before us has been the same one for the past 500 year: submit to an absurd genocidal shadow existence on the margins of settler colonialism or learn how to take back collective power from these obscene colonial fetishes that clamor for brownness sans the brown bodies.

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Community organization and mobilization centers on contacting people. Serious community campaigns begin with contacting people sympathetic to or interested in your campaign. For our purposes we should begin with the idea that the main goal of community mobilization is to create grassroots or bottom up power for regular people. If this is true, knowing who lives in your community and who wants to help make change is important. There are different ways to gather this information and we are going to go over a few of the main ideas and information organizers need to begin a campaign. In this post we will talk briefly and specifically about lists of supporters and how and why these lists are created and used. The methodology of mobilization helps us understand the intentional movement of people. 


Identify supporters and potential allies.

Much of the work we need to do is communicating with others the importance of the work we are undertaking. Take a moment and list out for yourself an initial list of supporters and allies. When you do this it helps create in your mind the directions you can go in and the possibilities of alliances you can create within the community mobilization effort.


Identify other groups and make contact: Everyone has potential allies. Make a list of different organizations who you think maybe yours. Think of groups that may be economically affected by a particular issue. Try to meet with organizational leaders before arranging to address the larger gathering of its members.


Make contacting members simple and easy.

Quick mobilization can be of the utmost urgency. How do you get a hold of people? There are times in every community mobilization program when quick and significant turnout can mean difference between success and failure. Contact lists should be set up with ease of use in mind.

Name

Mailing address

Phone number

Email

Organizations

How do they want to get involved?


Record the information of everyone you speak with.

Make a record of their contact information and make a note about their level of interest, skills, or concerns. Make information accessible. Contact lists should be structured in such a way you can easily access names and phone number as well as other key information.


New volunteers need to be contacted immediately.

New people should be contacted within 24-48 hours. This is critical to harnessing the energy of new activists. If your new volunteers request additional information get it to them in a similar timeframe. Most people are moved to action through personal contact.


Set guidelines for using the list. 

Access to names and addresses is power. Set some working ground rules for their use. In one community mobilization drive a married couple working on the issue was having problems. As a means of retaliation one of the spouses wrote a letter detailing how their partner was not a good parent because they were using politics to ignore their family. They then mailed this letter to everyone on this list. Needless to say that was the end of that community mobilization movement.


Constantly update your list. Keep it hot. 

Assign someone to systematically maintain and update your list. List can quickly become outdate – don’t wait for a crisis to find out about yours.


Invest resources in maintaining the list.

Computer software that manages email databases is cheap and easy to obtain. Computers come with database software. There are countless ways to maintain your contact list. Check out programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact.


New and unexperienced organizers are often lazy in their mobilization. They think because they have created an email list with hundreds of addresses or a webpage that everyone who needs to know now knows. Ask yourself; do you email everyone? Does everyone you know read all their emails? More importantly and take a moment to consider this. Does everyone who might be interested in what you are doing have email or access to the Internet?


In this day of social media and email there are a million ways to avoid actually talking to another person - a simple phone call might be much more appreciated.


Within each organization are individual members that will serve as contacts or liaisons for your mobilization effort. These individuals are very important. When experienced organizers talk about having good relationships with different organizations what they really mean is they have taken the time to cultivate strong relationships with certain individuals within that organization. Business people call this networking - if it works for them why not us?


GET ON THOSE PHONES. 

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