I’ve been asked about Thanksgiving a lot these past few weeks. A lot. I lost count in the upper-30s, but I think I’m just shy of 50 now. Always white people, and their questions range in respectfulness, but all came with a lot of presumptions about what my answer should cover.

Even with that many prompts, I’ve found it really hard to give anyone an answer. And so I’m drafting this letter. I spent two days thinking about what I’d say here, but I haven’t really thought of much. I talked it over with my partner, and they had some good things to say. But me? I’m still not sure.

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“Hail, hail, what’s the matter with your head? Yeah, hail, hail, what’s the matter with your mind? And your sign?” – Redbone, “Come and Get Your Love”

I slept well last night, though with many meaningful dreams to unweave this morning. But my spirits feel high, and I’m excited to be writing to y’all, though I’m not yet certain what I’ll say.

I live far from Hé Sápa, my chosen center of the universe. In fact, I’ve only seen them once, driving by in the backseat of my mom’s adoptive father’s Buick car, while his wife read Reader’s Digest in the passenger seat. I would’ve been 10, and my dad had gifted me a Palm m100 – a PDA; precursors to smart phone. I used it to meticulously write out dialog for a simple role-playing game whose source my dad had shown me how to edit and compile. All that to say, I’ve never really been there.

Yet sometimes there are little bits of serendipity that let me feel like that place, and the people of that place, are “home.” Now, I don’t reckon it’s anything mystical. Spend half a decade reading texts about a philosophy, with the intent of culturally, if not physically, immigrating, and you’ll probably develop a bit of a cultural “accent.”

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For some of us, it has been a frustrating week, and I am tremendously grateful to those who sought and developed community these past few days, cautiooning against celebration and rest. For many, Biden’s victory has relieved an anxiety present since Trump’s inauguration.

But – and I know I am repeating a refrain – those fears existed before Trump. What changed was that Trump marred the petina covering the kyirarchy in a brilliant neoliberal verdigris, and even those not directly harmed by its violence had to reckon with it in ways new to them.

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Hey folks, sorry for the delay in sending out an email. First, my laptop’s harddrive died, then the operating system I installed on the replacement drive was very very hard to use (laggy, glitchy,) and it’s only yesterday I got that replaced (with Debian 10, for the curious, and Fedora 33 was laggy and glitchy. Running KDE Plasma and first Gnome then LXDE on Fedora.)

Since I had a few days without a computer around, I actually have written up the next couple letters I plan to send y’all by hand – expect them probably over the course of the day.

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I was asked two questions, from different folk, that have ended up tying together:

  1. “Would you please define ‘indigenous,’ as you use it?”
  2. “Is it really fair for you to keep referring to colonial society as though it’s not your society?”

But first I’d like to thank everyone who has been reading this newsletter so far, and has offered feedback. I especially appreciate y’all bothering to read because, so far, I haven’t taken tremendous pains to edit what I’ve been posting, and that ability to write fairly spontaneously has really helped this feel like communication, not broadcasting.

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Land back. Water back. Medicine back. Ceremony back.

  1. Land back. Return control of the material world to all those existing in it. No more rulers, no more prioritization of human needs. Mitakuye oyasin: we’re all relatives, all of us on this Earth, and it’s only by establishing that as our explicit relationship that we’ll be able to adapt.
  2. Water back. Once we’ve taken control of our material world, we have the freedom to shape it in ways that benefit us all. The ecological projects of Indigenous peoples dwarf the engineering of colonial cultures in longevity and scale: let’s get back to actually developing our planet as a home.
  3. Medicine back. With control of our material world and the ability to change it, we can finally start working to build up “medicine:” for our physical bodily health, but also all things we might need medicine for. In some implementations of Lakota belief, all things are medicine: they help or hurt our health, as a person and as people. This doesn’t clash with many colonial philosophies, which say that all that happens in a world, and all the actions a person takes, helps shape that person’s identity. But unless we’re in control of our world and actions, we can’t really start to shape our own identities. Without land and water back, we can’t really make good medicine.
  4. Ceremony back. Sometimes when talking to despondent colonists I’ll highlight that in some ways, it’s never been easier to be a human person: with the human-caused collapsed of our climate, the “meaning of life” is self-evident: mitigate that disaster. Even the most anti-human humans are motivated to act against it, enough to prevent the extinction of all life on Earth, and most of us are motivated to act against it because we think human life is worth continuing into the future, for various reasons. But this “meaning of life” is hopefully, temporary: it can be fulfilled by the return of indigenous ways of handling land, water, and medicine. With its fulfillment, we’ll again have a terrifying freedom to seek out our purposes, as individuals, community-members, and a species: to develop our own ceremonies that impart meaning into our lives, based on our lives, not (once again) the needs put on us by either an exploitive group or their emergencies.

 

Listen to your elders. Before I go further into the above, I want to pause and offer some words of caution, for those who are preparing to start performing some form of one of the four actions above. That is, if you’re, today, starting to change your relationship with the kyriarchy: listen up: listen to your elders.

There are a lot of people in the same position as you, who are going to reach that same conclusion, today or sometime this week. And with the exact some confidence as they endorsed things like electoralism and reform, they will now endorse radicalism. They won’t stop and talk about how they’ve changed their mind, because they probably don’t see it as a change of mind: they see it as the external world having changed.

I’m afraid that wasn’t expressed clearly, and it’s an important notion for me to convey here, so let me try again: People who are radicalizing this week believe that the world has changed, this week, in some way that means reform is impossible and radical action is what can work. This implies that all existing radicals are still wrong, because they radicalized “too soon,” and it doesn’t consider what’s far more likely: we all have different knowledge and experience that informs how we view the world, and there’s no real “too soon” or “too late” to radicalize.

Unfortunately, these new radical folk are going to be very enthusiastic, the same way almost everyone who’s discovered a new trendy hobby is. Their approach to discussing this issues is likely going to treat everything as new and surprising, and will erase the perspectives of others, that these are just continuations of systems that have been in development for centuries.

Try… not to give them too much of your attention, as loud as they are. Listen to the folk who have been rejecting reform and working toward radicalism for decades: they’ve got experience and knowledge that y’all, no matter how enthusiastic, aren’t going to have. I don’t necessarily even mean stuff like how to treat tear-gas; that stuff can be learned from a pamphlet.

I mean how they choose to frame the contemporary events in their town; how they talk about the new buildings, how they talk about TV shows, all of it is going to be fundamentally scoped by their experience that means it will all be… different than what new radicals are saying, which is, despite their sudden shift in opinion, still coming from a person informed by years of active Collaboration.

And beside: these new radicals who were advocating to vote yesterday… were wrong. They were consistently wrong about many fundamental claims about our world, down to the legitimacy of the U.S. as a government. And now they want you to listen to them like they weren’t loudly wrong just yesterday.

Anyway: I’ve been an on-the-ground radical for like, three presidents, and I see this every time there’s some push into fascism that even the most patriot American can’t help but feel funny about. Folk who were so adamant that they were right about reform are now going to be very adamant they’re right about shit like y’all getting mass-arrested, or some other nonsense. They’ve made their persona or career around being loud, not right: tune out and pay attention to who’s been calling this shit the longest. (Hint: it ain’t me, I can just type fast and turn a phrase. Seek out and listen to Indigenous Elders, especially women: they’ve been actively tasked with keeping their heads on straight no matter how wonk our society gets.)

Now, back to the topic-at-hand: a step-by-step guide for going into our future.

I know it might seem silly to say that there’s a four-step plan we can follow to fix the world, but… I don’t think it is: the world is… if not simple, it is finite. In truth it’s actually just two steps: fix the Earth and fix our relationship with it.

And thanks to the anthropogenic dissolution of our climate, fixing the Earth is… if not easy, it’s hard to do wrong, and we have a convenient step-by-step for getting started there, too: 1) Reduce, 2) Reuse, 3) Recycle.

But that’s only half the picture: to reduce material use, we have to innovate new ways of using what we have; to reuse waste we have to innovate new ways of repurposing scrap, and to recycle we have to innovate new ways of deconstructing materials, which might mean innovating new ways of constructing things. (And I’m looking at genuine reuse here: using produce crates to hold dirt in place, , not taking an old hubcap and turning it into a clock that requires a new little plastic and metal timekeeping mechanism.)

So, let’s bring it all back together:

How can you work to take or return control of the material world to its peoples?

If you’ve got land, give it back. If you’ve got money, gift it back. If you’ve got hoarded wealth, relinquish control. It is time y’all reckon with that shit. I know white queers looking to buy land; Looking to buy more homes. Y’all better be turning around and giving y’all’s other homes back to the folx whose land you’re occupying. If not, you’re trying to make a profit and keeping access to housing away from those who can’t afford housing. If not, you’re keeping land and housing away from Black and Indigenous people. And y’all have excess money. Y’all have excess land and homes. Excess is capitalism. Hoarding resources is colonialism. Take the financial hit and gift land and homes to community. We know y’all will be fine without that money. And even if you’re not, you’ll be fine long-term becuase you still have acess to jobs, land, housing, healthcare, and resources that we (the queer BI people) would never have. So y’all better re-think putting that house for sale. Y’all better rethink buying that other house on stolen land. Y’all better rethink buying stolen land. Y’all better rethink that savings account. – @phaggotplanet@Instagram.com

And to cut off the people who read that and immediately go “I won’t put myself in poverty for social justice,” here’s an anonymous quote:

“This is about reparations and understanding that the comfortability afforded to you by your savings account is not about you pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and then donating to “marginalized communities” (as if we depend on you to donate to us to keep us afloat) – but that your ability to save and hoard wealth, while not the same as the ultra-rich, is still part of a settler colonial framework that is built on stolen land and labour and ultimately protected by violent forces such as the police, borders and military. If you can’t understand that your hoarding of wealth is not benign but rather a part of an overall project, then I’m not sure where to begin. No one, I assure you, is asking folks to enter willingly into poverty. What is asked is simple – to examine the ways that you are able to build wealth on the backs of others & recognize that if you are truly in this for change and not just talk, then that comes with relinquishing of comforts that you may take for granted.”

Now, I recognize, a lot of people reading this probably don’t have much, if any, hoarded wealth. But some of y’all do, and a lot of y’all are living lives that are set up to protect you from poverty only by participating in a system that lets others hoard your wealth.

But to the rest, “give up your excess” borders on a rude suggestion, I think, so thank you for bearing with me while I got it out of the way. (If you do have some excess, I’ll happily take it.)

A lot of y’all are trying to figure out how to build wealth, not just without choosing to build it through the exploitation of others, but because you cannot access those opportunities. I’m in a similar position, but I’ve been in it for, well, two presidents, so I think I can help. I think I know a lot of things y’all should be learning to do, if you want to take control of the material world around you, regardless of what control others give you. Learn to make fires, clean water, save seed, make dirt, cook a meal for a hundred people, tell stories, keep a child company while others look for their guardian. I’m working to create resources that will encourage the development of that knowledge.

But, I’ve been in this position for two presidents: I’ve lost a lot of that novice perspective, and I’m not sure what else folk might need to know that I’m forgetting. So, I’m asking all of you who have the energy: think about what you reckon I might know, that y’all might want to know to improve your future. And let me know what you come up with.

“There’s no petition we can sign to end poverty, or to make ‘no’ a word with teeth. I know there’s not enough windows to break us a free, but maybe one would be just enough for some dignity.” – Pat the Bunny, “A Glorious Shipwreck”

There were once three people who, through their patronage of the same salon, became friends. Two worked within the city’s university, and one lived just outside it.

These three friends had similar goals. One of the students wanted to share stories kept inside the university’s walls with everyone in the city. The other student wanted to help people in the city share their stories with the university. And the third wanted to leave the city, and see who was telling stories that no one knew about.

So that is what they all did.

The university and the city did not like any of this. They went to the friend who was sharing the university’s information, and threatened to imprison him unless he helped them capture the other two friends.

The friend was distraught. Either way, they could no longer share information with the people of the city, and either way, the city would probably capture their friend. Maybe if they agreed to cooperate, they could warn their friend.

The next time the other student came into the university, bringing stories from the city, their friend was waiting for him. They tried to warn them, but the whole thing was a trap, and both were captured.

Both were threatened with imprisonment unless they helped the city find the third friend, who had left the city many months ago. They could not help, even if they wanted to: they didn’t know where their friend had gone.

While waiting for their trial, the friend who shared information from the university killed themself. This drove the other captured friend into a rage, and doctors from the city gave him a treatment which permanently calmed him.

Without their friends and anger, the friend was let back into the city, and they never tried to share stories again. A few years later they also committed suicide.

The third friend, hearing all this, vowed to never go back to the city, and stayed in distant lands forever.

I’m excited for the relative silence of the next few months. The city is a metaphor, and in its reality, it doesn’t have a boundary you can step past, at least not right now. And I am so tired of having to listen to the din of “cityfolk” living their “city” lives, despite wearing my rejection of their ways on my sleeve. (Literally, if you look close at the symbols on my bracelets.)

Nearly everyone around me put a hold on their community work to refocus around the election, and I am excited for a few months without having to deal with folk like that while they keep to themselves, distraught about the election results.

They’ll come back next spring, talking about how All Cops Are Bastards and smashing the state again, “organize” of the local mutualist actions, and things will be very supportive of the status quo again.

But for these next few months after the election, all the faux radicals who burnt themselves out on reform are going to be asleep, and I’ll actually get to see who’s still around packing up boxes of food and medicine for the community.

As soon as Bernie started campaigning, people wearing anarchy patches on their thrift store coats stopped showing up to meal distributions because they wanted to support that campaign. People come when I’m distributing food to hawk their favorite candidate, and get pissy with me when I tell them they’re voting over stolen land and I don’t want to hear about it.

There are so many many people out here working toward a better world, with no shits given toward petitioning the US state, and I haven’t been able to hear them all year over the cacophony of election fever.

‘Round here voters got pepper-sprayed standing in line for the polls a few days ago, we’ve had conservative judges for decades removing folks’ right to vote and establishing gerrymandering, we’ve repeatedly had our voter rolls purged.

If a “legitimate” election is one where all the folk who are promised the right to vote can vote and those votes are counted proportionally…

We haven’t ever had a legitimate election, and I really don’t know what could change by the end of today that will somehow make that clear.

If decades of disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, and physical violence, after decades of Jim Crow, after decades of other voter suppression, didn’t make you honestly consider that voting might be a poor use of your time compared to almost any other community action you could take, then I really doubt whatever today brings will.

To folk who will continue to pitch reform: have fun posting petitions for Congress to do some white-people magic to try and give Biden the presidency or whatever it is y’all end up doing: I for one will be thankful you’ve accepted your role as a Collaborator and hope you can join me in accepting that as your chosen role, because it apparently is the defining aspect of your political identity, and it is very tiresome that you speak through leftist metaphor.

And, to the people who are planning on radicalizing tonight, after the election passes your “red line” for “illegitimate:”

Ew, gross. You’re willing to fight cops to secure the right to pick the military commander of an imperial state existing on stolen land, but not to keep your Black neighbors from being murdered by that same state?

What the fuck is wrong with you. I don’t want you in my Bloc, y’know, if you’re only here to re-secure your privilege.

That might sound like I’m telling people not to radicalize if they haven’t already.

No! Please, please, stop Collaborating with the kyriarchy! But do it in a way that recognizes you’re joining a complex confederacy of intersecting radicalism that stretches back literally my entire peoples’ history.

I welcome anyone to stop Collaborating, at any point. But I also welcome them into the wider community of those who have, and those who never started, and those who never had the opportunity.

I think maybe Christian imagery encourages folk to envision themselves, if they are leaving their status quo, to envision themselves as a lonely individual, walking into the desert, maybe a staff in hand, maybe wearing robes.

That’s not accurate. There are vibrant and thriving communities on nearly every inch of space outside the metaphorical city of Civilization. You won’t be alone, unless you work to make yourself that way.

You’re radicalizing, and it’s important to recognize that starts with your own thinking. It starts with recognizing your own cultural myths, and how they help or hinder what you actually want to accomplish.

And as those bougie jetsetters will tell us, exposure to other cultures is a great way to develop a clarity toward one’s own culture. So learn to see the cultures that already exist around you, that your Collaborationist habits have so far excluded you from.

And, welcome to the community. I know it might seem contradictory to welcome you while also saying you’re gross for just now radicalizing, but I think it makes sense:

Part of radicalizing, in a way that recognizes you’re joining a community, means really grappling with the fact that yes, it is ew, gross, that you didn’t radicalize earlier, and figuring out why that is.

Was it due to misinformation? Then you need to be developing methods to prevent such ignorance in the future.

Was it due to financial stress? Then you… have a good excuse, but please radicalize quick because in my experience mutualists can meet one’s survival needs (excepting shelter) a lot better than capitalism, so it’s a fiscal savings to be mutualist.

Was it due to a commitment to career? Then you’ll have to reckon with that before really getting involved.

And so on. How you got here is very important in defining who you are, and where to go from here. We’re all, y’know, unique and dealing with unique situations.

A few months ago I heard people now casting ballots repeating the words of Assata Shakur. It seems that they’ve been forgotten by a lot of folk, so let me bring them forward again:

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

 

Photo above is of some of the plants I gave out to neighbors this summer, hinting at the next email, where I plan on giving some advice on how to get started actually engaging in self-emancipation: consider this a delayed Settlerday post, because really, what’s more Settler than the election?