05 April 2017


(a quote by Patrick Wolfe)



By Rebekah Garrison
As settlers, we should stand with native peoples. Please come to the Respect the CHamoru People rally on April 7, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Adelup.

Arnold "Dave" Davis, Paul Zerzan and Ron McNinch are three white men who do not represent all non-CHamorus calling Guam home. What they do represent, however, is a dilapidating colonial structure based on racist foundations that gains power when (white) settlers, like them, deny indigenous communities their basic human rights as first nation peoples. When settlers pluck legislation from a constitution that does not fully apply in Guåhan, hoping to flood the CHamoru quest for self-determination with people who should not be voting, it is easy to see how settlers imagine the CHamoru community as less valuable than their own. Yet, I believe it is the settler responsibility of all non-CHamorus, white or otherwise, not to block or throw rocks along the decolonial path of CHamoru self-determination.

US imperialism at work

The Davis ruling does not just highlight the intricacies of U.S. colonial rule over Guam in the 21st century, but also, that narratives of white privilege continue the work of U.S. imperialism around the world. As demonstrated by Davis, settlers do not just command islands from Washington, D.C. – through the Pentagon and various departments – they move to U.S. island colonies, like Guam, with their own sets of values and norms. Promoting the normalization of U.S. national – i.e. continental – principles, rather than helping challenge the racism and systems of oppression that led to the U.S. and others colonizing Guam and the CHamoru people, Davis, you are assisting in its continuation. CHamorus are not just another racial group among the many others in Guam, they are indigenous to Guåhan, and accordingly, are granted "rights" beyond the narrow constraints of U.S. law, a framework invented by white settlers for white settlers. As respected by international law, it is not racist for CHamorus to seek self-determination, it is their basic human right – a right your self-interest, Davis, looks to marginalize as less worthy than your genealogical inventions of manifest destiny.

It is important to remember that no matter what political frameworks or legal structures have brought us all to this moment, settlers are foreign to CHamoru lands. Settlers, white or not, should not be able to vote in a plebiscite meant to correct the historical injustices and cultural atrocities brought to Guåhan by genealogies of settler colonial violence. Confusing the people into thinking that settler communities should be allowed a vote in a future plebiscite for CHamoru self-determination – not Guam's self-determination – demonstrates how settler colonial violences continue to usurp CHamorus from their lands and waters.

A malleable and dynamic force

In a decolonizing Guåhan, however, we must challenge each other to see the many ways in which colonialism is not just situated in the past, but rather, is a malleable and dynamic force that persists into the contemporary moment, shifting according to the whims of U.S. plenary powers and settler desire. As settlers, we should stand with native peoples. Please come to the Respect the CHamoru People rally on April 7, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Adelup. This rally is for CHamorus and settlers. Don't be afraid to learn more. Don't be afraid to take settler responsibility.

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