So I was off work a little early today, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to clarify why I feel the way I do about the post I made this morning
No, I do not condone violence, by any hand. I do, however, understand the power inequity and the blatant injustice of the situation. I am surprised and a little disappointed that people who I thought knew me well would think otherwise of me.
The white farmers in Zimbabwe don't belong there. They have never belonged there. They are colonialists and imperialists, and have no more right to the land than any other colonialists who stole land from indigenous people.
Yes, Zanu-PF is corrupt and violent. No, I don't condone or encourage their strategies, or their use of force, deadly or otherwise. What I do condone is their viewpoint that their land has been taken from them and they want it back.
Yes, as usual, there are many layers to the issue. There are many viewpoints to consider, and many people's welfare, as well. So I need to clarify exactly what I am saying.
What I am not
- The White farmers in Zimbabwe are evil, terrible individuals
- The White farmers deserve violence and/or death
- The Zanu-PF do good, honorable things at all times
- Zimbabwe is a one-issue situation
- This is the only problem there is, and nobody else is in the wrong, corrupt, or violent
What I am
- Colonialism is bad
- Colonialism has screwed over millions upon millions of people in the world, including in North America
- Colonialists need to admit they are colonialists, starting with themselves, and then to the wider world
- Colonialists need to at least take responsibility for the fact that they are colonialists, even if there quite literally isn't anything they can change about it
- Colonialists need to find a way to change it, make reparations to the people they have screwed, sometimes for hundreds of years, or get the fuck out- or maybe a combination of the above
What makes me angry about that article is exactly what sadie_sabot
said in her comment on that post: "She says she's been there since she was 23, but feels she has more right to the land than people who have lived there for may generations." Its not even that she won't leave the land; I understand that it is a complicated issue, and ruining somebody else's livelihood as their penance is not the answer. What makes me angry is her attitude. Maybe she has entirely legal rights to that farm; maybe her father or grandfather legally purchased that land from a long line of people who legally owned that land (going back to non-colonialist times), has legally and responsibly run it for the last seventeen years, and supports the exodus of those who haven't done so. If this is indeed the case, then I have picked on the wrong person; if I find out that I am wrong about her, I will make a public apology about it. But chances are slim that I'm wrong.
The way to fix colonialism isn't always to pack up the colonialists, the relatively recent arrivals, and ship them back to where they came from. Sometimes- maybe even much of the time- it is, but not always. I'm not sure there really is or will be any way to "fix" colonialism, or the myriad of problems it has wrought. What I do know, however, is that we will never
fix them, never have even a chance of it, if we continue to condone it, never call people out on it, never take responsibility for it. I don't have the first clue how to address it in North America, but I am open to suggestions.
I have many thoughts about the use of force and violence by oppressed groups, and someday I am sure I will write a long, thoughtful blog post about it (probably in my new blog), but I don't have the time to gather my thoughts at the moment. It is possible to support a cause without supporting the violence or corruption associated with it; it is possible to say "oh hey, they have a point, even though they're currently being a dick about it". While I think that it is important to discuss that corruption and violence, I often find always coming back to it in the larger conversation to be a derailing technique of the main issue at hand- that being the vast power and privilege imbalance that has been long established and continues to fuck over (I won't cuss in my Big Kid Blog) the oppressed group by the oppressor- in many cases, and in this case, the colonialists.
So no, I don't think this woman and her family should be beaten, killed, or anything like that. Nor do I think the Zanu-PF or any other group like them should be in power.I'm not necessarily even convinced they should have their farm seized. I am not offering a solution. I am, however, offering what is probably one of many starting points. This woman (assuming I'm not dead wrong about her, as I suggested above), her family, her friends, her fellow farm-owners, need to understand that they are, in fact, colonialists, and what that implies. Conversation- blunt, open conversation- needs to happen.
I also feel the need to point out that, for me, these aren't just foreign, distant, abstract concepts that I'm discussing because I don't have enough to do. These are hard, concrete realities, ones I plan to work with closely for the rest of my life. I may not understand all the political and economic implications everywhere in the world, but I do understand that there is racism, sexism, heterosexism, colonialism, classism, poverty, and so many other tools of oppression in the world, and I do not intend to let them pass by unnoticed. I do truly apologize if I hurt anyone in my discussion (and rants) of these things, but quite honestly, I do not apologize for offense. If we have something to talk about, talk about it with me, but do not 1) make assumptions about what I am saying- ask me if that's what I'm saying, instead, 2) put words in my mouth, or 3) tell me I don't know what I'm talking about or don't understand, because I probably actually do, and if you persist in doing this, you will probably get a pretty big Fuck You.
I'm not sure if I have articulated what I mean as clearly as I'd like. Those of you who understand and agree, and have more eloquent words or clarity, please feel free to expound or explain.