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Decolonization is not a metaphor

Javney Mohr

June 21, 2021

Across Turtle Island, photos of honouring, solidarity, resistance, resurgence, rematriation, courage, power. Can struggle and integrity in the face of oppression be fathomed?
Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life. "Decolonization will require a change in the order of the world," wrote Franz Fanon in 1963. Indeed.
The metaphorization of decolonization and the settler proclivity towards comfortable "reconciliation" language makes possible a set of evasions, or "settler moves to innocence", that attempt to reconcile settler guilt and complicity, and rescue settler futurity. Reconciliation is about regenerating settler hierarchy and morality through fictitious national narratives of “diversity,” “kindness”, “human rights,” and “feminist” Prime Ministers. Symbolism, tokenism, statements and tears are modern day settler tactics in the continuation of assimilation and genocide. Gestures absent of action permit the most vile devolution of the human species: the simultaneity of a moral self-regard, while directly benefiting from ongoing oppression.
The mass murder grave sight of 215 precious Indigenous children on the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation is Canada's history and present. Genocide did not end. There was not an end to “the dark chapter.” This is Canadian history and ongoing reality. By design and definition, the settler-colonial project that is Canada is white supremacist, happening today with the tax dollars and cooperation of every Canadian citizen, existentially tied to the continuation of land theft, extraction, poverty, unpaid labour, and injustice of every kind. Settler colonialism is not an abstraction. It is a physical structure of hundreds of genocidal institutions behind which thousands of people actively make decisions and/or remain silent. Settler colonial states are entirely human made, maintained, and in Canada’s case, democratically elected. As Indigenous scholars Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang outline, settler colonial states are built (and are being built) upon an entangled settler-slave-native triad structure. Accumulation occurs via dispossession. Settler accumulation is by the dispossession of categorized others. Settlers “property" is stolen, sacred Indigenous land. “Ownership” of Mother Earth?
Genocide will continue, the policies that operate its relentless theft and murder will merely shift terminology and context, more reporting will be called for, and another decade, another decade, another decade, another decade will pass until and unless the entirety is dismantled. Abolished. Done.
Nation-states are but centuries year-old constructs in a land of Ever.
And that, that end of violence, is singularly the responsibility of non-Indigenous people. Call your MP and everything else. Do not sleep. Do not rest. Do not stop until every TRC and MMIWG call to action and justice is implemented, until UNDRIP is law, until the Child Welfare system is abolished, until all land is returned, until all individual and corporate wealth is redistributed, until the statues are toppled, until the rivers run clean, until the languages are spoken, and so much more. Till its done. Till the world is good again.
To what else are we called during the lifetimes we are given than to love the hell out of this world? And love, being justice.
Decolonization, rather than reconciliation, is not obliged to ask or answer questions that center the settler concern. Decolonization is accountable to Indigenous sovereignty and futurity. Decolonization is climate justice. Decolonization is the abolition of slavery in its contemporary forms. Decolonization is the dismantling of the imperial metropole. Decolonization "here" is connected to anti-imperialism elsewhere! A material paradox beyond modern conceptualization! It is solidarity.
"Justice is what love looks like in public," declares Dr. Cornel West. Indeed. May it be so.
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