Weather with You: Settler Colonialism, Antiblackness, and the Grounded Relationalities of Resistance.
Over the course of the past two years--with debates raging about the removal of Confederate statues, with white supremacists marching in the streets chanting "you will not replace us," 1 and with uninterrupted and daily ongoing police harassment, violence, and killings--the implications for understanding how antiblackness and settler colonialism are indivisible feel more urgent than ever. Even if we all agree that such implications and urgencies are fundamentally nothing new in the long duree of conquest that has defined the Americas since 1492, it seems to me that how we spatialize and theorize now, in the wake of slavery and genocide, has lived consequences for how we enact solidarities across disparate histories and geographies, embody resistances at the intersections of identities, and imagine futures outside the colonial registers of possession and dispossession. And yet it also seems to me that one of the hardest conversations to have at the moment is the one that centers Blackness and Indigeneity at the heart of U.S. empire. There remains a glancing away, an uncomfortable refusal, a too easy gesture of presumed affiliation and equivalency, or a persistent recentering of whiteness that intrudes. The possible conversations remain stymied, half-formed, guarded, and weary, with both sides, as Justin Leroy points out, making claims to an exceptionalism that seeks absolutions in the origins of violence. "Either colonialism or slavery," he writes, "must be subordinated to the other, forcing them into aporetic tension." Neither alone, Leroy continues, can "fully account for the historical messiness of Black and Indigenous encounters with one another and with the US state." What if, he asks, "scholars suspended--even momentarily--such claims in order to consider the impasse of settlement and slavery using historical methods?" (2)
But I wonder if it is historical methods alone that are the problem in resolving the impasse. Outside the theoretical jargon of our highly specialized academic fields, racism and colonialism often continue to function as synonyms, and as settler colonialism gains traction as an "ism" listed in a chain of oppressions, it is not entirely clear that, for all those doing the listing, colonialism in North America is understood as anything other than an afterlife metaphor for something that might have happened at some point in time to make the present possible. Less clear is whether those listing the "isms" understand themselves within the spatialization of that colonialism as the precise ground of an ongoing U.S. occupation of Indigenous territoriality. In the ascendency of what many are now calling the settler colonial turn, Indigeneity can often be lost, or incompletely apprehended, even within the emphases on structures over events that capture all subject positions within empire. At the same time, Blackness, too, is lost, and as Jared Sexton reminds us, "Slavery as the conversion of person into property would simply be an extreme form of colonization. Or, vice versa, colonization would be an attenuated form of slavery." (3) So perhaps Leroy is right and the problem resides in how history disciplines us into methodologically producing evidence and fact...
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