9 actions and resources for Thanksgiving, from Catalyst Project

Poster by Dignidad Rebelde

Today as many people around the country are gathering and sharing food, many more are also talking about the origins and mythology of thanksgiving, a feel-good story of settler benevolence designed to obscure the real history of land theft and genocide.  More than any other time, except perhaps during the 1970’s and the height of the American Indian Movement, people are talking about and showing up for Indigenous struggles. Imagine we all did the work today so that future generations look back on this time as the moment when non-native people changed our understanding about our history and started to take Indigenous sovereignty seriously.

This time last year so many of us were in deep support of Standing Rock, a struggle that at its foundation was a movement for Indigenous Sovereignty. Indigenous sovereignty would mean that the U.S. government would honor its treaties and recognize the Lakota nation as a sovereign nation like France or Brazil.… Read more

Ask First! A Better Practices Guide for Indigenous Engagement

Sneak peak with context and description by Dixie Pauline:
This Better Practices Guide is a collaborative effort between event producers, community organizers, and Indigenous leaders. It’s still in DRAFT form and only a portion of it is presented here so be sure to keep an eye out for the document in full released this December.
Gatherings * Festivals * Conferences * Action Camps * Ancestral Arts * Protests * Ceremony * Water & Land Protection/Defense * Climate & Environmental Justice * Antiracism * Human Rights * Sacred Sites * Permaculture
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are always in relationship with Indigenous peoples by living in and producing events on their ancestral homelands. Regardless if tribes have recognition status, or if particular sites fall under tribal jurisdiction or band council, the entirety of North America (Turtle Island) is made up of distinct and overlapping Indigenous territories. There are hundreds of tribes working to reaffirm their sovereignty and protect their cultural practices, traditional lands, waters, and natural resources.… Read more

Racial and Gender Justice Halloween Action Toolkit!

Ah the beginning of fall. The air is a little colder, the colors a little more orange, and there is no shortage of pumpkin flavored products. Yet there is one sign of the turning seasons that is truly unwelcome…racist, sexist, heterosexist, and colonialist costumes — already in full force in stores around the country. Enter into any Spirit Halloween store and you will find the full gamut of costumes perpetuating cultural appropriation, racist stereotypes, Indigenous erasure and hetero-misogyny.

At a time when Black Lives Matter has become a resounding movement pressing for the safety, humanity and freedom of Black people, the corporate costume industry is supporting mass consumption of Black face and racialized prisoner outfits.

As indigenous people from across this land join together at Standing Rock to resist the continued desecration and destruction of homelands, culture and even their physical existence, this colonialist culture perpetuates indigenous erasure with images of “Indian headdresses” and “Warrior Princesses.”

After a year of watching rape cases on college campuses hit national headlines and heroic womyn speak truth to power in the face of continued slut shaming and objectification, the amount of “sexy” costumes on shelves remains dizzying.… Read more

The Wolf I Feed.

The replacement of real indigenous stories with Christian-influenced, western moral tales is colonialism, no matter how you dress it up in feathers and moccasins.  It silences the real voices of native peoples by presenting listeners and readers with something safe and familiar.  And because of the wider access non-natives have to sources of media, these kinds of fake stories are literally drowning us out. – âpihtawikosisân

There is a story that we keep getting told. A lot. It is about two wolves. In different spaces- as a student I was recounted this by a teacher, now as a teacher, I have heard it several times from students. In yoga classes, in spiritual, psychological self-help and healing curricula, occasionally by a friend or acquaintance. Perhaps you have heard it too. It goes like this:

(big meaningful inhalation)

Once upon a time, there was a Cherokee grandfather (or Navajo grandfather), who told his grandson, “Grandson, there are two wolves inside of me.… Read more

Liberate Halloween Action Kit!

They’re ba-ack! (shudder)

With Halloween quickly approaching, and costume shops like Spirit Halloween opening their doors, many of us are cringing at the thought of another Halloween full of racism, sexism, heterosexism and the full range of offensive apparel we annually witness.

In response, we offer up a toolkit to those who wish to be a part of resisting the dominant paradigms that plague this season. Let’s make this be a season to reclaim and expand our expressive imaginations from being steered into narrow, tired, offensive and uncreative marketing channels.

Not sure what exactly is so offensive about certain Halloween costumes? 

The Issue of Objectifying Other Cultures

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“There are many good reasons not to wear a costume that relies on racist stereotypes or caricatures. Costumes like these communicate negative ideas and assumptions about people of that race or ethnicity, and as this year’s posters say, that stigma stays with people of color long after you take the costume off.… Read more

A Letter to White People Using the Term “Two Spirit”

Thank you for taking the time to read this. This letter was written by white allies in support of certain Native members of our community who have already put a lot of time and energy into trying to explain why it’s a problem when people without Native/First Nations heritage use the term “Two Spirit” to describe themselves.

We know that you care deeply about this issue because you are still reading this letter. This means you have not yet closed your mind to what we are saying. Let us begin by acknowledging that we live in a world in which we collectively face so many adversities – wars, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and the list goes on. One of the hardest challenges we face is understanding our privileges in the face of our oppressions.

In our culture, trans and gender non-conforming people have very few options with regards to how to identify.… Read more

Confronting Thanksgiving

“The killings became more and more frenzied with days of Thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre.” (Susan Bates)

This is an updated repost from last year, to continue our commitment to raise awareness about the actual origins and impact of this holiday that many of us celebrate without a second thought and to confront the mythologies that encourage us to ignore the real history of Thanksgiving:

no-thanks-no-giving2

We often think of Thanksgiving as a time of family, football, giving thanks and gorging. I used to be of this mindset until learning more about some of the actual roots of this holiday. What I learned was that Thanksgiving has little to do with an amicable meal shared between the Pilgrims and Indians. While there is a documented meal shared at one point, and this is often what is referenced, the “National Holiday” was originally a marker of the celebrations of the massive genocide of Indigenous peoples across the Eastern coast of the US. … Read more

Halloween Action

This Halloween, the White Noise Collective conspired to take creative action to counteract the unquestioned, blatant, “it’s-just-a-joke-can’t-you-have-a-little-fun!?!” racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and cultural appropriation that parade as “costumes” in consumerist capitalist culture.  Drawing on our Liberate Halloween Action Kit from last year, this year we came up with a design-your-own creative costume station, with the intention of setting up in front of a local Spirit Halloween store (one of the most obvious corporations perpetuating oppressive stereotypes through the mass sale of highly offensive costumes).  We would invite people to our station, distribute literature about cultural appropriation and the harms of choosing an offensive or oppressive costume for Halloween, and provide an opportunity for people to tap into their own creativity and create their own alternative (free) costume!

The idea for this action emerged from our October Dialogue, which focused on “moving toward action” in the face of the anticipated “horrors of October” (“Columbus Day” and Halloween being the two most egregious examples).  … Read more

Liberate Halloween Action Kit!

They’re ba-ack! (shudder) With Halloween quickly approaching, and costume shops like Spirit Halloween opening their doors, many of us are cringing at the thought of another Halloween full of racism, sexism, heterosexism and the full range of offensive apparel we annually witness.

In response, we offer up a toolkit to those who wish to be a part of resisting the dominant paradigms that plague this season. Let’s make this be a season to reclaim and expand our expressive imaginations from being steered into narrow, tired, offensive and uncreative marketing channels.

Not sure what exactly is so offensive about certain Halloween costumes? 

The Sexy Debate

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The “sexy” costume phenomenon is complex. On one hand, women ought to be empowered and have the freedom to dress as they wish without fear of the all-too-common repercussions – slut-shaming, violence and objectification. We ought to be able to dress as we wish without having to fear that we are reproducing tired, binary gender stereotypes.… Read more

On “Sh*t White Girls Say…” : Making Microaggressions Conscious

A Youtube tsunami of sh*t all kinds of people say (and birds and wookies and beyond) has been flooding the internet.  Ranging from hilarious, brilliant and edgy to somewhat tired at this point, this formula has been a tremendously generative capsule to fill and spread, making us crack up by hearing things we’ve heard so many times with new ears, giving the familiar an anthropological twist.  One version of this creative phenomenon, “Sh*t _____ says to…_____” has also taken on a digital wildfire life of its own, sparked by graphic designer, video blogger and hair stylist Franchesca Ramsey, whose “Sh*t White Girls Say…to Black Girls” was the first viral video of 2012, now reaching over 7 million views.  Seven million views. Clearly a massive nerve was touched, and there have been waves of commentary and controversy, with high praises, gratitude, and, predictable accusations of “reverse racism”, or the “blacklash” as Ramsey has dubbed it. … Read more

“Appreciation or Appropriation?”

Every year at the How Weird St. Faire in San Francisco, several Howard St. blocks transform into a magical sweetly freaky village of dj stages/floats, art in alleys, local designers, mythological realms, fabulous costumes.  Streets taken over for public creative expression, dancing on the concrete in the sunlight is a beautiful thing. One of my favorite things. This year, amidst the dazzle of many outfits, I was repeatedly struck by how many people were wearing large feathered headdresses (along with hot pants, platforms, ironic t-shirts, etc.).  White people dressing up in Plains Indian style war bonnets – what is going on with this costume choice? What to say? I was recently discussing this phenomenon (its many manifestations and the sensitive discomfort of calling it out) with a friend who is a long time solidarity activist with Native land-based struggles, and she and a colleague have just created a fantastic pamphlet on exactly this!… Read more

the april dialogue: understanding our ancestry

At our second White Noise monthly dialogue, we delved into the topic of ancestry with the intention of looking at how the histories/legacies of our (white/female) ancestors connect to the larger discussion we’ve begun. We began by checking in with affirmations about ourselves and about white women – something we committed previously to doing because we recognize how easy it can be to go instantly into denigrating ourselves and feeling over-responsible for all the problems of the world (something we, as women, have been very effectively trained to do — see the previous blog post for more on this subject).
 
After this round, we read an excerpt from an article (Indians’R’Us) by Ward Churchill that spoke about the need for white folks to reclaim and learn our own heritages (he states “we are all indigenous somewhere”) in order to more effectively combat larger waves of colonization. It spoke to the fact that the white-washing of our personal and cultural histories leaves us more prone to steal traditions from the indigenous folks that remain on the lands we occupy and continue to perpetrate cultural genocide.… Read more