Communiqué from Decolonize Oakland 3.18.12
March 18, 2012
Decolonize Oakland (formerly the QPOC/POC caucus/committee of Occupy Oakland) would like to reintroduce ourselves to you, our communities, as an autonomous collective. We believe that working autonomously will give us the freedom to build power from below.
Occupy Oakland’s failure to fully address the ways that race, gender, and sexual oppression intersect with capitalism in the lives of Oakland’s communities of color has made it challenging for us to work under the “Occupy” umbrella. Moreover, the unchecked race and gender privilege within Occupy Oakland’s organizing structures has made it difficult for many of our members to fully participate in Occupy meetings and events.
By declaring autonomy, we focus our energies on building the collective power of people of color in the Bay Area. We have begun this work by building with our larger networks, whether they are other autonomous groups, community associations and organizations, churches, Occupy Oakland and its committees, our neighbors, our family or our friends.
Following the rich tradition of people of color who have fought for self-determination, Decolonize Oakland aspires to win struggles for liberation by placing people of color, people with disabilities, people who are low income or working class, immigrants, gender non- conforming persons, women, and queers at the center of our collective struggle. In addition, we commit to creating political structures and community events that welcome Oakland’s residents, 75% of whom are people of color. Ceremony, talking circles, encuentros, coalition-based projects and actions, and educational workshops are examples of our approach to building participation within and across communities, neighborhoods, and organizations in Oakland.
We view our collective struggle as one that dates back more than 500 years; at the same time, we see 2012 as a unique historic moment characterized by global revolutionary struggle. As a new collective, we do not pretend that we have the answers to all the problems and injustices that face our communities, nor do we presume to speak for all people of color in Oakland. Instead, we invite people of color and allies to work with us to build relationships, share information and
wisdom, and take action that align with our Points of Unity.
Decolonize Oakland Points of Unity
Decolonize Oakland is a collective of queer people of color and people of color. Descolonicemos Oakland es una colectiva de queers/GLBTQ de color y gente de color.
We decolonize because Oakland is Ohlone land and because the occupation of Oakland continues through gentrification, military occupation by OPD and ICE, predatory practices of Wall Street banks and more. Descolonicemos porque Oakland es tierra de los Ohlone y está sufriendo de la ocupación intrusa de la gentrificación, la policía e ICE, los bancos, y más.
We decolonize because our current system was founded on settler colonialism, genocide, and slavery. Descolonicemos porque el sistema actual fue fundado en el colonialismo invasor, el genocidio y la esclavitud.
We decolonize because communities of color, women of color, and queers of color have been on the front lines in the centuries long struggle against State violence, patriarchal white supremacy, heterosexism, capitalism, and colonial exploitation. Descolonicemos porque nosotros somos comunidades de color, mujeres, gente queer/LGBT y llevamos
siglos luchando contra el violencia del Estado, el racismo patriarcal, el heterosexismo, el capitalismo y la colonización.
We decolonize because any movement that doesn’t confront the continuing force of colonization, patriarchy, hetero-normativity, and white supremacy replicates these oppressions. Descolonicemos porque cualquier movimiento que no enfrente al colonialismo, el patriarcado,la heteronormatividad y el racismo, continuara apoyando esas mismas opresiones.
We decolonize to claim spaces for the self-determination of communities of color in Oakland. Descolonicemos para reclamar lugares para la autodeterminación de las comunidades de gente de color en Oakland;
We welcome collaboration with any group—including Occupy—on any and all projects that coincide with our core values—that is, the radical (to the root) project of decolonization, liberation, and self-determination of communities of color, with a particular and non-negotiable commitment to women of color and queers of color within those communities.
We can be reached at: email@example.com or (510) 969-9745
Our website is:http://decolonizeoakland.org/
Decolonize PDX Focuses on Prison System
New group organizes events linking modern jails to enslavement
Bruce Poinsette Special To the Skanner News March 22, 2012
Read original at HERE
When law enforcement cleared Occupy Portland demonstrators out of their downtown camps last fall, many worried that the movement would falter.
This spring in North and Northeast Portland, a handful of new activist movements against racism, homelessness and foreclosure have been joined by Decolonize PDX -- which is placing the prison industrial complex front and center.
The group -- all activists of color -- have been mobilizing through the winter to highlight the connections between the prison system, racism oppression, and colonialism -- in which a conquering force takes land and freedoms away from an oppressed people.
"It is doing exactly what it was intended to do," says Walidah Imarisha. "Prison is a direct descendent of slavery. There is a loophole in the 13th Amendment. Slavery is prohibited, except as punishment. With the increase in people of color there is an increase of people looked at as bodies."
According to Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Blacks and non-white Hispanics made up over 60 percent of the prison population in 2010. Whites, whose data included Hispanics, made up over 32 percent. In comparison, Blacks and Hispanics accounted for a total of 28.9 percent of the general US population while non-Hispanic whites were 63.7 percent, according to the US Census Bureau.
Incarceration legally strips prisoners of rights such as voting, living in public housing and receiving welfare as long as they are in state or federal custody. It also allows employers to discriminate against them when hiring. According to BJS, there were 7.1 million people in the US correctional population in 2010.
"The system is set up so people go back," says Imarisha. "People who don't have folks incarcerated don't know how it works."
Imarisha and Eliana Machuca have both had incarcerated family members.
They have differing accounts of exactly how Decolonize PDX came together but both say it was a response to the lack of specific action targeting prisons in the Occupy movement.
It is one of many decolonization movements throughout the US but is unique because it's the only one that is autonomous from Occupy.
"Frankly, Occupy was very white," says Machuca. "We saw that there were other radical people of color trying to start things around decolonization and joined together."
According to Machuca, Decolonize PDX currently has a mailing list of 50 and a core group of 15-20 active members.
The group has released online statements and participated in public actions to raise awareness.
On Dec. 31, members of Decolonize PDX rode the MAX with an empty picture frame with the caption, "Should the cops have the right to murder me?" They had riders pose with their faces in the frame and used the visual to discuss police brutality, specifically the shootings of Oscar Grant, Jackie Collins and Aaron Campbell.
On Feb. 20, the group partnered with Portland Community College's (PCC) Black Student Union to screen "Three Thousand Years and Life." The film examines how prisoners ran Walpole State Prison with no violence and how the return of guards brought back negative prison conditions.
"It shows that there are alternatives to the genocidal prison system," says Imarisha.
She says there has been a positive response to Decolonize PDX's actions, with people acknowledging that the current system doesn't make them feel safer. According to BJS, only 7.9 percent of sentenced prisoners in federal prisons were serving for violent crimes in 2009.
The group sees the push to criminalize more activities as a means to fuel an increasingly privatized and corporate supported prison system.
They note that private prisons are only accountable to shareholders and many corporations have access to cheap prison labor.
"When you used to call TWA, you were talking to prisoners," says Imarisha. "Companies like Victoria's Secret, Levi's and IBM use prison labor and the list goes on."
In late February, Decolonize PDX participated in a larger action to raise awareness of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is a group that partners with corporations to draft legislation on issues including law enforcement.
Leah Yacoub Halperin notes that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) played a major part in drafting Arizona's immigration law, SB 1070, which calls for police to check people's immigration status based on suspicion. It also allows the police to detain undocumented immigrants despite the fact that undocumented immigration is only a misdemeanor, according to federal law.
"They have memos that specifically target immigration detention centers as a source of profit," says Halperin. "It's so ingrained in our society to not look at the humanity of people."
Imarisha says that the legacy of colonization and genocide plays a major part in dehumanizing targets of the prison system.
"You can't take everything someone has without dehumanizing him," she says. "It's a lot harder to throw people away if you know they're human and need support."
Check out our Prison Action done on Feb. 20th as part of the National Callout to Occupy For Prisoners.
A film about the uprising at Walpole Prison in the early 70's, where prisoners ran the prison for three months! Decolonize PDX was honored to show this film Feb 20th in solidarity with Occupy For Prisoners National day of action. http://occupy4prisoners.org/
NEW YEARS EVE ANTI POLICE VIOLENCE ACTION VIDEO! Check it out!
Check out our Statement on Prisons released today!
_Decolonize PDX is a collective of people of color.