Black, Indigenous & People of Color must also take the responsibility to heal dysfunctional patterns and daily ways of life that no longer serve us.
The issues that have arisen with the pandemic Coronavirus speak to the very issues social justice & equity activists have been addressing all along: the need to consider and accept that we are all connected; that the world has an abundance of resources and no one group should be marginalized and pushed into a deficit existence. Central to this, is the urgency to examine the way people of color are treated and for there to be just and equitable treatment of Indigenous peoples worldwide. Pivotal in this discourse is the need to design and sustain a harmonious relationship with the Earth, a philosophy that remains central to the worldview of Indigenous peoples. Like the fires that ravaged Australia recently, this pandemic is calling on world leadership to give thoughtful consideration to the way First Nation Peoples/Indigenous Peoples have been treated and to open up their perspective to incorporate philosophies of respect for the environment and communal living that are so central to Indigenous epistemology. Leading agenda items include climate crisis, global starvation and food injustice, deforestation, and digging up of burial sites and sacred land. Respect for the land and the reverential treatment of the environment are part of the ancient philosophy of First Peoples including the Aboriginals of Australia, the Maroons of Jamaica, Native Americans of North America, and the Maoris of New Zealand. Beginning with the advent of slavery though to emancipation and Jim Crow & neo-colonization, racialized communities-of Black, Indigenous & People of Color-disproportionately struggle with environmental racialization and its geographic manifestations. It is time to loosen the grip of First World arrogance and allow for an inclusive perspective to take the lead in cleansing the moral, philosophical, environmental and medical disaster that has overtaken our globe. Black, Indigenous & People of Color must also take the responsibility to heal dysfunctional patterns and daily ways of life that no longer serve us. It is then that we can begin to translate the human experience into a global narrative of brotherhood and empowerment.
In Between the Cracks of a Global Crisis, the Coronavirus Exposes the Far Reach of Race, Politics and White Privilege Dr. Marcus Woolombi Waters
Watching, as old people and pensioners who can afford only this essential item go from one empty shelf to the other with nothing in their trolley, holding back tears, demonstrates the individualistic and self-centered nature of our society. The Prime Minister declaring that it’s “un-Australian” ignores the reality of the country he and others have created - a country of privileged, self-entitled, rapacious individuals who care not for those around them.
The global spread of the Coronavirus has exposed the fragility of modern life as we watch on social media people fighting over toilet paper and meat in supermarkets that now have limited purchases to one per customer. Indeed, the line of privilege between developed countries and the Third World has now become blurred. Manufacturers who depend on sourcing their commercial goods in far-off countries have been forced to consider their participation in the global assembly line that divides the world’s richest nations from the poorest. Why? Because with trade across borders comes fear of the pandemic.
It was White Privilege that ignored the Coronavirus outbreak in China, the largest economy in the world, until Europe and the US were infected, and then, and only then, did we see markets take a major dive, losing $6 trillion in the final week of February. This is testament to both the persistence of the disease and the incompetence of international leaders that again, through denial and a racist perspective, ignored the problem. They continued trading heavily with China and it was all but ignored until it arrived on their shores.
A number of international organizations including UNICEF has called into question the widening gap between the world’s rich and poor countries. Even the International Monetary Fund has acknowledged the impact this inequity has had in driving economic globalization to its peak. Having reached its peak, means we either have to invest in a new system or begin the spiral towards collapse or, as we are witnessing, increase denial, and re-invent identity politics in such a way that people of color and non-whites are the problem. This means building not only walls but also fear in those who now feel impacted by a disease they cannot control. The failure of the global community to establish new rules for the economy, the environment and social justice is creating a perfect storm of international dysfunction built on race, politics and White Privilege where Corona Virus has exposed the cracks.
History has emphasized how diseases have been transported across nations with deleterious effects on people with no immunity. The Age of Discovery, the European era of invasion and exploration, was the first to bring to unsuspecting peoples an era of near global genocide. Invaders to the New World brought with intent, diseases like smallpox and measles that were purposely introduced to our mob here in Australia, Turtle Island, South America, Polynesia, New Zealand and Africa with devastating effects.
The colonial invaders subjected our people to war and slavery – but it was diseases
largely responsible for a catastrophic reduction in the world’s populations with as many as 100 million people, a near 25% of the world’s population, dying due to colonization. (There is no real clear estimate as population numbers were not recorded because we were considered less than human, but what estimates we do have state the mortality rate for Aboriginal communities across the world was an astonishing 90% during this period.)
In coming into contact with Aboriginal people around the world, rather than share in our wisdom and knowledge, the white cultures of Europe stole our land through forced occupation and bloodshed. They drained entire continents dry, not understanding the sustainability and environmental knowledge embedded within our way of life as they unleashed diseases and created poverty across the world and erected monuments to capitalism. The only reason these diseases are considered worldwide diseases today is because Europeans introduced them to the world. These global malaises-poverty-disease-capitalism-individualism-exist today because Europeans introduced them to the world. As the Coronavirus seeps through the cracks of this tightly constructed world order, what we are witnessing now may just well be the retribution.
This article is an edited version of content published in the Koori Mail, Australia’s largest and longest running independently owned Indigenous Newspaper. Marcus is a Kamilaroi man, professor, screen-writer & author of Indigenous Knowledge Production: Navigating Humanity within a Western World (Routledge, 2018-Open Access).
Not for a moment within the discourse of breaking down barriers, of living within a border-less world, did we ever imagine that globally, we would be united in this way.
THE TRUTH OF OUR EXISTENCE
The only truth attainable to man is that life is meaningless. I once wrote my version of this quote from Tolstoy to my dissertation chair many years ago during a rough time in the doctoral process. A man of deep faith himself, Jewish, with an understanding of triumph over suffering, he responded to emphasize the beauty and the power of life. And I agreed with him, yet, I still held on to what I presumed Tolstoy meant. That life is fleeting and, in the end, the materiality of it all will vanish and there will be nothing left. In the midst of the global upheaval over the Coronavirus, this quote came creeping into my thoughts reminding me of the value of finding, upholding and celebrating true meaning in our lives. These thoughts took me back to my childhood where our father raised us to think that we were wealthy and had everything that we needed, despite the fact that we lived in a modest home with very little luxuries. Whenever we came home from school or the neighborhood and complained about any challenges, he would remind us how fortunate we were and that we had everything we needed to succeed. Meanwhile, my gentle, gracious mother, raising six girl children (and two boys), sewed our dresses and dressed us up everyday in the cutest of outfits that drew the attention of everyone around us. She instilled in us a strong sense of fashion and the desire to always put our best foot forward. And in the midst of all of this, my parents’ marriage was already falling apart. The meaninglessness of life. Yet, at the same time, they both imbued in us a sense of the beauty and the power of life; the capacity to drink from the well and nourish ourselves. Today, we continue to live in this crucible. And I for one, enjoy the simple pleasures of Nature; the birds singing in my backyard, the sun that rises every morning, the waves ebbing and flowing at the ocean-side and I feel that yes, indeed, I am wealthy! Despite all the turmoil and the ups and downs I have experienced on the journey; I have come to accept the challenges as pivotal to the journey. I have come to accept the strength and the beauty of friendship. I have come to accept the temporality of life and have recognized the imperative of tapping into its beauty and celebrating my existence by using my talents and gifts to give back in ways that are meaningful to me which allow me to experience the beauty and the power of my existence. I hope that there is meaning in the phrase, This too shall pass, as we hunker down and face head on, the Corona Virus and its global outreach. Not for a moment within the discourse of breaking down barriers, of living within a border-less world, did we ever imagine that globally, we would be united in this way. What, I ask myself, is the message here? What truth is this telling us about our existence on this globe? What is our call to action? Can we rise up together and through our words, our actions and our deeds give expression to the beauty of life and shine forth in our own goodness? Or, are the words of Tolstoy simply applicable to our existence, weighing in the balance as we are in this global dilemma?
“The only absolute knowledge attainable by man is that life is meaningless.”
Leo Tolstoy, A Confession
A SHARED IDENTITY by Joshua Waters
The Eternal Struggle for Meaning & Actualization
“Do you consider yourself militant?”
“I consider myself Malcolm.”
This response has always held a firm place in my heart for a few reasons, but primarily because it was one of the few times that we got to see him genuinely smile. He was always a charismatic man, outgoing, thoughtful, quick witted and extremely intelligent. However, the racialization of our society has proven to be a major deterrent from genuine happiness and joviality for many people of colour.
Toni Morrison once said, “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.”
This is resoundingly true for many of us, especially in the context of First Nations people in Australia. It’s a constant battle for balance between being happy, even being okay with being happy, and fighting every day to be seen, heard and having our collective humanity recognised and respected.
We - especially those doing the work in this space - often don’t get to smile, or feel any kind of good for that matter. Even with our wins there is always something, always cause for justifying who we are, where we come from and what we need and expect from the wider public to achieve equity and self-determination.
Some would say, “just choose to be happy,” but it’s not as simple as that, and who is going to foot the bill for racism, if not us? White people? The ones who created this entity and benefit from its monstrosity? Black people, who are just expected to clean up these messes that we didn’t make and certainly didn’t ask for? None of us can afford to step away for too long, and any time that we do, we are reminded of exactly why the work is needed in the first place. It’s such a damaging cycle.
Admittedly, we have support from small pockets of white people and allies from other ethnic backgrounds but we all are still the vast minority of people committed to the betterment of the lives of oppressed groups of people all across the world.
Malcolm didn’t choose the life that he lived. He wanted to go to college to be a lawyer, and might have very well done so if it weren’t for his 8th Grade teacher who told him it wasn’t a “realistic idea” for a black man at that time. I also recently heard Tanehisi Coates say that as a child he wanted to be an astronaut, but instead became a journalist and writer who speaks to racism and racial justice.
I personally could have been so much more than what I am. I was always incredibly creative, I had lots of ideas, I knew things that most children my age shouldn’t have. Every teacher said I had potential to be anything I wanted, but I have a distinct gift in absorbing knowledge and providing clarity and advocacy for issues and barriers that hold our people back, so here I am.
This, I know, is the case for so many of us.
Potential medics, technicians, sailors, pilots, astronauts, artists, film-makers, movie stars, etc. all having their dreams snatched away by having to combat, deal with and address issues that the majority of the world chooses to ignore or refuses to touch.
As powerful as Malcolm was/is, and what he achieved in his life, I have sincerely come to mourn the innocent spirit that was so unfairly disregarded and suppressed by the pervasive and insidious presence of racism in his country.
I, for one, will continue to do the work required of me, but I do hope that this changes in the near future, so that our children do not have to keep sacrificing their dreams to live in a nightmare. JW
Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me.
Zora Neale Hurston
More than twenty years ago, during a graduate course at Florida Atlantic University a fellow Anglo student asked me, why are you so preoccupied with slavery? Much younger, outspoken and effusive, I gave him the full weight of both my knowledge and my emotions in an attempt to emphasize the violence of hegemony, the social and political economy of slavery and the wrath of its aftermath on the present. Today, the caption for the Arc of Return offers a simpler calmer response: Acknowledge the Tragedy, Consider the Legacy, Lest We Forget. http://www.rodneyleon.com/the-ark-of-return
5 January 1869, the boys stood around for their photo to be taken after they had just
pushed one by one, 128 men, woman and children off a cliff to their deaths at the Ngatapa execution. For this act of terrorism, they look so proud of themselves: "God save the Queen long live the British empire"
Courtesy of Joe Trinder-Face Book
March 18, 2020
Professor Opal Adisa Jamaican Writer | Director of Gender and Development Studies
At the Institute of Gender Studies, RCO our focus is about gender equality and bringing
Gender Awareness mainstream across the society. Our motto is Research- Activism -Community- Engagement and Education(RACE). My focus is on Domestic Violence and Child Abuse. I seek to implement strategies to end these two social ills through education and engaging the community in focus groups and helping to create policies that make GBV and Child Abuse, both physical and sexual, punishable crimes. However, I believe the only way to uproot these behaviors is to go to the root, the cultural norms that make them acceptable and let folks understand the long-lasting psychological impact that becomes learned behaviors over time.
LET'S START A GLOBAL REVOLUTION TO BRING AN END TO GENDER BASED VIOLENCE (GBV)
The discord and upheaval in our world today, reminded me of the thrust of Fidel Castro to offer an alternative to developing countries to move away from capitalism and build a community based on the simple life affirming philosophy, I am my brother’s/sister’s keeper. Speaking of Fidel, an endearing and equally controversial figure, Alice Walker has noted, history speaks of him today-(Fidel-Netflix Documentary 2014). Today he remains a symbol of resistance and social justice. Of the racist and inequitable conditions in Cuba at the time of the revolution, Castro noted, “it requires revolutionary action.” One of the most significant revolutionary actions he carried out was the education of the entire country. In 1961 Castro declared the year as The Age of Education-and thousands of young people set out into the countryside to educate the people resulting in a 99% level of literacy to this day. In schools, children learn the tenets of the revolution at the same time they learn their alphabet and arithmetic. The essential message of their instruction is simple: All are equal. Marva McClean
Words! Powerful Words!
Empowering Soulful Words.
Inspiring Remembering Our History Words.
Celebrating the Voice of Youth Words. Uplifting Heart Wrenching,
Let’s Celebrate Our History Words.
Our History, Our Story Words!
February 28, 2020! Florida Institute of Technology Fifth Annual African American Read-In. A memorable celebration of the power of the written word spoken by Black authors, writing competition winners and professors from the college.
My message, inspired by guerrilla warrior, Nanny of the Maroons:
WE ARE THE REASON FOR TOMORROW!
History comes to us with the force of a whirlwind, reminding us of our fragility as human beings; altering our lives in the most profound ways. Life is ever changing. Our mortality is a given. We are the only ones who can liberate us from a life of fear and insecurity.
Today we are called to rise up to the highest level, to pull in our selves from our normalized practices and then to pull up ourselves, personally and collectively. In taking these steps, we are raising our own vibration and the vibration of the world. Word!
I give you this poem
poems will help to heal us
poems will help to remind us
that after COVID19 has passed
we must continue to honour
friendship and goodwill
sing the names of trees
thank the birds and insects
salute the heaven and earth
applaud the seas and rivers
bless all things that grow
and pay homage to all who die.
We need poetry to line the streets
balladeers to croon them to wake our children
artists to paint them on billboard and murals
doctors to offer them as a necessary medicine
to heal our mind and spirit.
We need poetry to remind us what’s good
to feed our bodies
which negative thoughts to avoid
how to ensure that our lives are
balanced harmonious and filled
with positive energy.
The other night a poem dreamed me
it gently nudged me on my back
guided me to breathe deeply
encouraged me to smile frequently
advised me to forgive myself and others
seventy time seven
and to trust that i know what i know
and leave fear in the dark place
where it grows.
The poem comforted me
assured me that COVID19 was soon
going to be merely a memory
a historical marker of when
the world stopped
to remember that life
was the most important gift
given to us and that god is a poet
Opal Palmer Adisa © 2020