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Open Letter from ‘Wretched of the Earth’ bloc, London, December 2015…

'Wretched of the Earth' bloc at Global Climate March London.

‘Wretched of the Earth’ bloc at Peoples March for Climate Justice and Jobs, November 29, 2015. London, UK.

The Wretched of the Earth are a collective of over a dozen grassroots Indigenous, black and brown organizations representing diaspora from the Global South. Over the past few months, we have fought tooth and nail to lead last weekend’s London climate march alongside Indigenous delegates from frontline communities on their way to the Paris climate summit. We know that our presence was only allowed so the NGOs could comfortably check the ‘diversity’ tick-box. While we knew it would not be an easy space to be in, the violence and hostility we faced on Sunday was worse than we expected.

As Wretched of The Earth speakers fired up the 50,000-strong crowd with a message of decolonization, delivered from a crane above them – another hard-fought-for concession – the march organizers carefully plotted for their animal props to move ahead of us via a side channel. With minutes to go, the mainstream banner suddenly appeared in front of us for the press photos. We stormed forward and unravelled our own banner, only to realize it was a stand-off. They wouldn’t begin the march unless we put our message behind theirs; theft of narrative – in some cases literally, as banners were physically pulled from people’s hands. From that point until the end it was a violent tussle to lead the march.

NGOs summoned the police on our black and brown bodies. Re-read that last sentence. Suggesting that our symbolic coffins – calling out BP and BHP Billington for the blood on their hands – were health and safety hazards, they attempted to remove them. Our placards placing British Imperialism in the framework of Climate Injustice were radioed in to be taken down, as they ‘didn’t fit the message of the day’. They tried to recapture the front of the march by stopping it in the middle of central London and moving their banner back. They then slowed down the rest of the marchers that followed us, effectively separating us off. But we stood our ground, together. We write our own rules.

The NGO narrative appealed to the perpetrators again, asking them to ‘do something’. Their narrative read ‘We do this #ForTheLoveOf Skiing’. Our narrative is one which has a context wide enough to contain the solidarity needed for systemic change. It is one which doesn’t compartmentalize the struggle into climate, racism, migration. It acknowledges that to be truly insurrectional, one must be intersectional.

We held placards and gave speeches that explained clearly that another war in Syria is a war on Mother Earth. That war and corporate climate genocidal mega-development is the main driver behind forced displacement and the migrant ‘crisis’. That the white-hetero-patriarchal-imperial ideology which premises this continued climate colonialism is that which perpetuates racist and patriarchal policing, prisons and austerity in the Global North.

Many of the major NGOs and March organizers went on a self-congratulatory tirade, talking about ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’, conveniently forgetting that – whether on the march or in the lead up – it was Avaaz, Greenpeace and cohorts who created obstacles for our communities to lead. Something needs to be made clear: the global climate movement starts at the frontlines of corporate colonialism, in Indigenous territories, where black and brown communities fight back against European-sanctioned climate genocide. And that’s why our placards read ‘We die first, We fight first, We march first’.

‘People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.’ The revolutionary Assata Shakur said it.

We ourselves in the Wretched of the Earth bloc have had to decolonize our minds in order to recognize the shackles on our bodies, in order to recognize the insidious and acute nature of our oppressor. We therefore have a duty to up the ante where the stagnant water of colonialism has trapped the fight for justice from flowing toward freedom. The Climate Movement needed the medicine, and we have the remedy.

‘The white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro, but pretend that they are smiling’. Malcolm X said it. Colonized peoples rising up recognize a forked tongue by necessity. We see the liberal foxes prowling between the ranks of the NGOs, dangling carrots before the people, knowing that the millions in their coffers are not for systemic change, but for their liberal methods of teasing people toward an empty empathy. The behavior of the NGOs – Avaaz at their head – on Sunday showed why climate campaigners need a decolonization treatment.

Now more than ever, we know that not only do we have to fight against climate change and the capitalist-colonialist system which it hails from, we also have to fight against the UK’s whitewashed colonialist climate movement which perpetuates the oppression, erasure and brutality we face daily.

The march organizers, ITV, BBC, all of the echo chambers of the status quo will have you think we weren’t even there. Yet ’Still fighting Co2onialism’, was the banner leading the Britain’s biggest climate march, because we can no longer afford to place the onus on people recycling and expect the polluters to lead us to liberty. Neither the government nor the NGO liberal line will lead us to justice. This is a war of narratives, and ours is decolonial.

This article was amended on December 3, 2015 to better reflect the role of different NGOs in these events.

 

 

99% Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film (still)

“I’m not interested in your creative commons bs (which those of us who actually work in media refers to as amateur licensing)” -99 Percent Films/Audrey Ewell

What’s wrong with this picture? 99 Percent Films calling Creative Commons bullshit and amateurish? And then threatening to sue an Occupy Mash-up Artist for using parts of their trailer in a remix video.  (see email exchange here: Occupy Film Threatens Lawsuit [pastbin])

Somehow this doesn’t surprise me. Since being involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement for the past 365+ days  I’ve noticed two camps, those who practice the change they want to see, and those who brand themselves and act otherwise. I’ve even seen commons focused websites enclosed with Copyright…I’ve seen groups raise over $80,000 and set up top-down companies where they expect free labor at the bottom… I’ve seen non-profits supporting workers labor rights but at the same time hiring unpaid interns.. .I’ve seen protest groups take money from the organizations they are protesting… the list goes on…

Around December of 2012, an Arts & Culture initiative that would hope to prevent these type of content copyright issues was started but very few groups participated. It was a program that would encourage content sharing within for Occupy Wall Street groups called Share OWS. Although it went through several rounds of revisions in working group meetings, very few people signed up or even wanted to help with the project. To this day, what would seem like an obvious thing -that the whole Occupy Wall Street movement is a commons to be shared and maintained by all participants – I still don’t know what people where thinking. Did they think occupy was immune to enclosure?  u at the epicenter of capitalism, Wall Street NYC, commoning is a job, it doesn’t just happen.

Kale & Columbia Rambler at El Sol Brillante Garden

Taking home kale on Columbia Rambler from El Sol Brillante Gardend

Some of the perks when organizing with community gardens is that sometimes you get free veggies. The members of El Sol Brillante in the East Village had just pulled up bunches of kale. When I was leaving they asked if I wanted to take some home, I said yes, how could I resist. I also got to take home some nettles.

Wall painting of the Sleeping Bachanite: Baccanate Addormentata, 6th century A.D., Pompeian, Greco-Roman fresco preserved at the Museo Nacionale Di Napoli. image from Artship.org

Over and behind the nettles was a giant fennel bush. In fact I had seen fennel in several other gardens that day. Fennel is one of my favorite veggies, and every-time I eat it I am reminded of Promethues’ humility towards the mortals, having seen them suffering, he has sent down some fire inside the hollow stock of fennel. Zeus didn’t like that of course.

Apparently Bacchanalian wands of the god Dionysus and his followers are coming also from the giant Fennel plant (above). Interesting..

More info on  Occupy The Land unconference can be found in this post: http://bureaux.petitemort.org/2012/05/occupy-the-land/

takeshi miyakawa in his studio in new york city image © designboom

takeshi miyakawa in his studio in new york city image © designboom

“At night, when it’s hung, it looks like the bag is glowing,” Lim said. “The reason he did this was to lift people’s spirits. He was simply trying to say that he loves the city and spread that attitude around.”

Artist Takeshi Miyakawa hangs a light art project on the street in Brooklyn and gets “charged with two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, two counts of placing a false bomb or hazardous substance in the first degree, two counts of placing a false bomb or hazardous substance in the second degree, two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and two counts of second-degree criminal nuisance.” [...] “A judge ordered him held pending a psychiatric evaluation.”

takeshi miyaka - I heart NYC bagsThis is absurd, please sign the petition to release Takeshi Miyakawa:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/525/661/531/demand-justice-for-artist-takeshi-miyakawa/

Complete article on Huffington Post:
Takeshi Miyakawa Arrested By NYPD For Hanging ‘I Love New York’ Artwork In Brooklyn (PHOTOS)
By MEGHAN BARR 05/21/12 05:55 PM ET AP

Pruno Postcard #1: Orange & Apple Pruno

Postcard #2: Ketchup time!!!

Pruno Postcard #3: Masters' Original Pruno & Grape Pruno

I picked up a couple of books to donate tonight to the people at Books Through Bars. I rummaged through a couple of dollar bins at Strand for these… After doing a quick search for book reviews on these titles it turns out that these are decent selections, I actually wanted to keep a couple of these for myself and had to reason myself out of it. I’ve access to so much literature via the New York Public Library System that is shouldn’t hold back from donating anything I come across.

Books through Bars is an organization that helps to fill prisoner request for books. There are splinters of this core idea throughout the US. I actually thought they were connected to the Books Through Bars branch in Philadelphia… But it turns out the Books Through Bars organization here in New York is only related through concept and nothing else. I meet some of the people from the NY group, some of who were also connected with the Prisoner Reading Encouragement Program and I plan to eventually learn more into how they function.

In case anyone is thinking about donating to a local books for prisoners program, it’s good to know what is on top of the request list. Photos of my used book selections that I felt met most of the requirements are beneath this list:

* African-American history, especially 20th century
* Native American history
* Latin American history
* Radical politics
* Social sciences and psychology
* Dictionaries, thesauruses, and Spanish-English dictionaries
* Learning world languages
* How-to (drawing, chess, sign language…)
* Mayan and Aztec history
* Memoirs and fiction by people of color
* Mythology
* Poetry anthologies



Red Power: The American Indian’ Fight for Freedom by Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. Published by McGraw-Hill Paperback. This is an earlier addition published in 1971. There is a newer expanded addition.

After Image (New York art exhibit, group show,  exhibit of propositions, written & realized, painting, sculpture, photography, video, flyers, documents)

After Image (exhibit of propositions)

PROPOSITIONS: ‘AFTER IMAGE’
Written + Realized: Documents, Objects, Flyers, Sculpture, Video, Painting, and Drawings.

(i) Is there any rest from images? In abstraction and representation? The attempt to deny the image is but just the most instinctual of all responses we can have to the image: shut it off. I am a bit confused to what you mean by shutting off the image? A way to think about it is like turing off the lights. Reading into it or not? Overlooking its formal qualities? Or it’s purpose of depicting something?. Both form and message, the next line answers states this…

After Image, April 23rd, 2009

As of this post, After Image is requesting propositions from:

[X] HSIAO CHEN • [   ] ZOE GHERTNER • [X] AMA SARU
[X] ANTONIO SERNA • [X] SUZANNE SONG • [X] PEGGY TAN
[   ]
ARTHUR OU • [X] MATTHEW WILSON • [X] JOHN MONTEITH
[   ] KELSEY HARRINGTON • [   ] KEITH RILEY • [   ]HONG-KAI WANG