Decolonize the 99% to Liberate the 100%

Clyde Grubbs /Photo by Matthew J Shochat

On February 27th, over 100 people attended an inspiring Community Gathering hosted by the Decolonize to Liberate Working Group of Occupy Boston. The Gathering was convened in order to help the Occupy Boston community understand the meaning of Decolonization and how the story and goals of the Occupy movement are related to centuries of indigenous resistance to colonialism.

The large group gathered on Monday sat in a large circle around the hall of Christ Church, in Cambridge, a venue which heard the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King in April of 1967, when Harvard wouldn’t let him speak (about protesting Vietnam). The evening’s program started with a jubilant blessing and an introduction to the founding of the working group and the meaning of “decolonization.” “Decolonization looks different for each person, and it’s an ongoing process. If we’re going to create a society that works for everyone, we need to reexamine the cultural programming and assumptions we received through colonization.”

Laurie Leyshon /Photo by Matthew J Shochat

Attendees were then brought through the history and context of colonization of the land now called Boston. They were reminded the origin of many local cities and streets: Chicoppee, Mashpee, Mattapan, Shawmut. A traditional oration was broken up by several multi-media “episodes” looking at specific instances of colonialist exploitation and resistance to it, including a live painting depicting the history of the slave trade, and a dramatic telling of the massacre at wounded knee. The overarching story gave attendees an understanding of the legal foundation for the ongoing exploitation of indigenous populations and their land.  The Doctrine of Discovery, is a Papal Bull from the 15th century that was expounded by the U.S. Supreme Court – the imperative and legal justification for the occupation of indigenous lands by Christians. The presentation shared this story and several ways to understand how the history of indigenous resistance relates to that of Occupy, a now global and popular movement for justice and an end to corporate exploitation for profit.

The Community Gathering in itself was listed as part of the “#F27 Occupy your Food Supply” international day of action, in which more than 60 Occupies participated. Event attendees were greeted with a generous offering of good, whole and local foods. As a petition for labeling of GMO’s went around the circle, people were reminded that “the commodification and exploitation of Mother Earth and all Life for profit, what’s being carried out by companies like Monsanto, is a continuation of a long history of colonialism.”

After a round of lively small group discussions, the evening ended with one large circle, holding hands.  It was an incredibly informative and moving Gathering which clearly demonstrated why the work of Decolonize to Liberate is such an integral part of Occupy Boston.

Clips from the evening can be found herehere and here. The groups wiki, which contains many resources, links and updates, is found here.

Additional edit and contributions provided by Martin Dagoberto of the Decolonize To Liberate Working Group.