“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.