Thursday, November 27, 2014

Disposable Culture

Today is know to most people as Thanksgiving. To many American Indians, it is a day of mourning for the 100 million indigenous people who were killed in the US. Today I posted something on facebook about this which of course means backlash from people who deny their white privilege. Facebook has been an experimental grounds for me to apply conflict resolution principles to a space where emotions run high and autonomy allows for people to lash out without consequence. I find myself considering what it means when so many cultures are now diasporas. When we can instantly connect to each other over skype, chat, cell phones, etc. Our communities are becoming more complex. My community involves people who are queer and american indian and now live in New Zealand. My community is mixed race and people of color who are also queer and disabled. We are a community that is not so big. Conflict can cause alienation that could be a barrier to access to resources and much need support community. Queer radical native folks are in the same category, we cannot have conflict because we have no one else. Our cultures are now colonized and whether or not our nation/tribe was originally queer accepting or not, most are not so much today.

But for most folks this sense of ever expanding new people causes a culture of disposability. This means that the divide between those who have privilege and those who do not is more apparent based on how those folks engage in conflict. People find facebook a retribution free space where they can bully and attack others without ramification unless you have multiple marginalizations then social networks become another space where you must watch your tongue while dealing with an onslaught of microaggressions. The question then becomes how do I stop these people from attacking me which is the same question marginalized people ask themselves every time they deal with a microaggression in offline. We can look to indigenous tribal nomads for insight into what makes the culture different. The biggest difference I can see is that these cultures did not see any individual as disposable. This was their dominant paradigm, the nation-tribe also needs the individual to survive as much as the individual needs the tribe.

We live in a disposable culture. When we have conflict with someone we dispose of them. We unfriend them. We put them in prison. We alienate and isolate them from our community. Maybe, probably, they move to another community and do the same thing until they get kicked out from there. Restorative Justice at its root is a means to change this paradigm back towards one that is more innate to us. One were we have innate value as individuals. Where our value is not decided by the color of our skin, our gender, our sexuality, our religion, our ancestry, our beauty, our size, how much money we make, etc.

Another complication is around colonization, imperialism, which utilizes divide and conquer tactics along with corralling peoples into nations within nations in order to continue to colonization. It is necessary for these ghettos to be impoverished and overpopulated. This causes infighting which causes civil unrest and thus the people will not organize to overthrow their captures. It is the basis of psychological warfare, of colonization. In order to decolonize we must deconstruct these systems. There is an organization in Baltimore that works to pull violence prone individuals off the street, teach them facilitation – mediation techniques and then sends them back out on the streets and also pays them to deescalate conflict.

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