Posts tagged ‘language’

October 6, 2011

Language and Colonialism

The collective recently posted our first protest. It was a great learning experience for us, as we are still relatively new to this whole organizing thing.

And in our fumbling attempts to create an inclusive event we fell into the trap of exercising our privilege. Fortunately, we caught it fairly early in the process and were able to correct the mistake. However, that we made this mistake is a function of our privilege.

What was the mistake? This is especially topical given the current media hoopla concerning the Occupy Wall Street protest currently happening in New York (and occurring in other places). Our mistake was to have a reclaiming space event without acknowledging that we have zero right to this space. We didn’t (initially) acknowledge the fact that the space we wanted to reclaiming was space belonging to the First Nations of Canada. That the only true and just reclamation of this space could be by the first people of this land.

Our solution was to recognize that the space we were discussing was fictional and created in moments of shared community. That it is transient and wrongly claimed space stolen from other communities. Communities that continue to suffer from the occupation of their land. That we are, and continue to be, part of someone else’s colonial problem. That we benefit and are privileged by this continued occupation and oppression of the First Nations.

While we are glad to have caught this error early on in our organizing, we are still chagrined that it happened in the first place. It is a reminder that privilege must constantly be checked, lest it get out of hand. That true justice takes work and commitment.

So, I’m taking this moment to apologize to the First Nations people. I’m sorry that I allowed my privilege erase your continued struggle and history. I hope I do better in the future.