Kitanya Responds to Comments — 23

This week’s edition is going to be much more contentious than usual. I’m breaking one of my rules, and I’m hoping I won’t regret it.

I’ll start with the reply from Jeremy Huf to my piece on Elizabeth Warren’s DNA debacle and its deeper implications with respect to the Cherokee Freedmen — the descendants of slaves owned by the Cherokee.

I dont suppose you find the irony that has been presented in your article, perhaps it was intentional. Here you decry an obvious example of “cultural appropriation” which was and is egregious at best. The senator, caught in a lie which grew to epic proportions decided to hold fast to her mistake instead of exercising some much needed humility early on, also she seems to be perpetrating this fraud for her own aggrandizement, nothing more.

I can’t speak to Elizabeth Warren’s intentions. I think she believed what her mother told her, because what child wouldn’t? However, this has mutated into something else, and she should have admitted she was wrong and apologized long ago.

While I can readily agree that the senator’s actions are deplorable they are her’s alone. Attributing her behavior to “white peoples trying to exoticize themselves” seems to imply that these actions are somehow shared among all whites. This dubious assumption may have gone unnoticed were the rest of the article not littered with words like “appropriation” and “white peoples” which in my opinion expose the obvious agenda here.

Don’t bring that #NotAllWhitePeople #AllLivesMatter nonsense around here. It’s nakedly disingenuous, and everyone with sense sees through it.

You, by admission are a Jamaican national, parading as a black american which you clearly are not. I could expound the obvious but I hardly consider it necessary. I know not the reasons you have chosen to vehemently pursue a political topic for which you could lend so little credibility.

Masquerading in the drag of a black american to boost your street cred is horribly tacky even if you were doing it for the greater good. Otherwise, your research did unearth some very useful information, which seems to have been squandered race baiting your readership. I can conclude that whatever your motivation may be, the actions are yours alone and not shared among all Jamaicans.

How can I be masquerading as Black American, when in the piece you’re discussing, I clearly stated my heritage, discussed my education in Jamaica and how it shaped my views on the matter, stated that I left Jamaica for the United States to attend university, and framed my point of view as that of an outsider? “You admit you’re Jamaican and are using that experience to shape your perspective. Aha! That proves you’re pretending to be American!” Did that actually make sense in your head as you were typing it out? Bruh…

You’re the one with the agenda, but you haven’t taken the time to employ basic reading comprehension, rudimentary reasoning skills, or put together any kind of sensible argument. If you want to say only Americans should be allowed to talk about what happens in America, just do that and go. But at least be honest while you show yourself out and admit that you mean Real Americans™. Stop pretending to care about “[B]lack [A]merican drag.” You’re not fooling anyone, and it’s incredibly gross. You’re actually the one who’s hiding behind Black Americans, because you’re too much of a coward come out and say what you really want to with your whole chest. I do that every time I post. Project much?

Those of you who follow me may be wondering why I chose to respond to this comment when I’ve been adamant about ignoring #AllLivesMatters derailment tactics. It’s because the clownery above raised an issue that deserves more attention than it gets: Black Americans who are the descendants of chattel slaves held in the Thirteen Colonies then the United States are a unique class of American citizen, and that often gets ignored or used cynically to score cheap points (like it was by the commenter). Not everyone who is Black in America shares this particular heritage, and not everyone who is Black in America respects it.

Jamaica was a British colony until 1962, and racial oppression was quite onerous, but slavery ended decades before it did in the United States, there was no Civil War, and we didn’t have anything like Jim Crow or the Klan. I am the descendant of chattel slaves, but I am not the descendant of American chattel slaves. The claims of my people for reparations, etc. go to the British Crown and government. The overwhelming majority of Jamaicans are Black. We have our own country. I understand what a privilege that is, and the older I get, the more grateful I am for it (in spite of all the problems). Jamaica is a very colorist and classist society, and there are problematic and sometimes contentious racial divisions, but they aren’t as stark as they are in America. In addition, Whiteness is much more elastic. The ever-mutating Apartheid Black Americans are trapped in stands out in sharp contrast. There are currently attempts to make this Apartheid even more vicious. I think it’s important to speak out against that, so I do.

I’ve written a lot about America’s ongoing collapse into fascism. Part of the problem is capitalism, which I’ve discussed. But the White supremacy part of fascism gets tap-danced around a lot, and that’s what makes it difficult for me to be optimistic. Look at how offended the commenter is by me using the word “White” to describe a group of White people flexing the entitlement their Whiteness grants them at the expense of Native Americans. How can you have any kind of sensible, adult discussion about race with someone that fragile?

I believe one thing that may help save America is some honestly conducted form of Truth and Reconciliation and restorative justice around the nation’s crimes against its Indigenous people and the descendants of its Black chattel slaves. America can’t be allowed to collapse, because it’s too racist to do better. The country is too powerful. It’s too large a part of the global economy. It has an ungodly number of nuclear weapons. I believe this is one of those times where as many people as possible have to speak up. The worst case-scenario seems to be playing out, and it has to be stopped. This is all bigger than what’s happening inside America’s borders. The consequences could be catastrophic for the world.

My most-read article by a huge margin is my piece on hip hop, capitalism and Jay-Z. In it, I reference my Jamaican heritage and how it shapes my strong views on climate change. Most of the people who’ve found me on Medium came through that piece, and I may have been mistaken in thinking most of my readers would have picked up that I’m Jamaican. Upon reflection, most of the other pieces where I talk about being Jamaican and how it’s shaped my worldview haven’t put up very big numbers, and not everyone who reads my work follows me closely.

If you are among my Black American readers, and you feel I’ve misrepresented myself and not been clear about where I’m from and how it shaped my perspective, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize and say I’ll try to do better going forward. Part of the reason for any misunderstanding is because I’m super-private, so I haven’t shared many personal details about myself. Not sure if I will going forward, but I’ll try to make my background more transparent. My personal background doesn’t arise organically in everything I write, but I do everything I can to be respectful and rely on facts while drawing some harsh lines in my writing. I actually understand if people think it’s not my place to talk about some of these issues, and I should be quiet (a lot of people have ranklingly uninformed opinions about Jamaica), but I’ve decided I won’t be, so we’ll just have to agree to disagree about me shutting up.

Sparking this discussion is the main reason I responded to that comment. I think it’s an important topic that doesn’t get enough airtime. Black Americans who are the descendants of the nation’s chattel slaves are a special class of American citizen to whom a very large debt is owed. Even if you are born Black in America, foreign parentage exempts you from being a member of that class, and you have no claim on that debt. There are, of course, wrinkles to this. Foreign parentage doesn’t stop police bullets.

I also shared the comment to show you that I’m not dodging well-thought out rhetoric or trying to avoid being dunked on when I don’t respond to some of the criticism I get. I just don’t want to waste my time with foolishness. The comment is a pretty good representation of the pushback I get: No reading comprehension skills, no engagement with the facts, arguments that don’t make any sense, accusing me of things they’re actually guilty of, and removal of context abound. The biggest red flag not to engage is the dishonesty underlying them that the people who write them can’t tell is there. Hence, all the projection. There’s a psychology grad student’s Ph.D. dissertation in there somewhere. Going forward, I’ll stick to my rule and ignore them.

Moving on.

In my piece, I wrote of Warren’s DNA test, “That isn’t how tribal identity is determined.” Amanda Roze wrote in defense of Senator Warren:

But she was trying to establish descendancy, not tribal identity.

This is one of the sticking points with Warren’s defenders. As I said above, I can’t speak to Warren’s intent, but I would be much more inclined to buy this line of defense if Warren had never held herself out to be Cherokee. She did, though. And she’s never really provided a good explanation as to why. Warren’s impressive legal background is the main reason I’m less forgiving. She understands how her statements go to Native American citizenship and sovereignty issues in a way the average Oklahoman wouldn’t.

In addition, Native Americans’ concerns about DNA tests being misused and misinterpreted are valid. Taken by themselves, those concerns were a good enough reason for Warren not to have done this. If she didn’t consult with anyone who could have informed her about these problems, that’s political malpractice. If she was told and went ahead anyway, I don’t have much sympathy to spare. I think Warren unwittingly painted herself into a corner with choices she probably didn’t think mattered very much early in her career. She was trying to get out of that corner with this DNA test, and it backfired spectacularly.

The Dawes Rolls are the elephant in the room Warren is lucky most people don’t know about. When she realized she didn’t have any ancestors listed, she and her family should have considered that her mother may have been mistaken about her Cherokee heritage and tried to walk all this back. Oral family history is a long game of telephone, and plenty of mistakes get made.

As I also mentioned in the piece, even if Warren were trying to prove solely descendancy, the DNA test doesn’t accomplish that. It’s why I can’t figure out what the strategy was behind releasing such a weak piece of evidence with so much fanfare. As bizarre as it might sound, taking a page out of Trump’s book might have been in order. Do you ever notice that there are certain people or topics he hasn’t engaged with or responded to when everyone thought he would? It’s because he knows he can’t out-troll to win. He always punches down, hence all the racism. There really wasn’t a way for Warren to win here. I think she eventually would have had to address the issue (I wouldn’t have until I was backed into a corner on the debate stage), but she shouldn’t have tried to launch her campaign on this. I think we can all agree that was a blunder.

Trump and the Republicans are a racist, fascist mess, and Warren is leaps and bounds above anyone they could offer, no matter the metrics being considered, but I think she’s damaged herself. The 2020 election is eons away in political time, so it may not end up mattering, but I suspect it will. As far as personal integrity and credibility go, Democrats are held to a much higher standard. Warren hurt her credibility with this move.

I also wrote about climate change this week (something I’m committing to doing more of). Marley K. shared some of her personal experiences with not just climate change, but other environmental malfeasance.

I live in FL and I can tell the difference in storms, animal behavior, etc. We have more red tide, huge fish kills, and for sure stronger storms because of warmer waters and runoff/pollution flowing from farmlands into streams, then rivers, and into our oceans. The state’s conservative leadership seems to not mind it one bit either. I feel like it’s a form of population control with a side of capitalism. Who stands to gain when locals lose? Rich people!

There was an article this week saying that the frequency and strength of storms are now beginning to convince conservatives that climate change is real. (I neglected to bookmark it, so sorry I can’t share the link). It’s here, and people can see it, so maybe there’s a way to galvanize enough people to demand the necessary policy changes.

There is something incredibly sinister underlying the way the mismanagement of environmental resources is discussed. The population control argument Marley K. raised isn’t some nutty conspiracy theory people should ignore. Poor, vulnerable people are the ones who end up being poisoned en masse, because they’re seen as dispensable. This week, Bill Gates did an interview with Ezra Klein for Vox, in which he touted his foundation’s work in Africa. Gates reiterated something he talks about a lot: the growing population in Africa and what a threat it is to the environment. There is no population explosion threat. Managed properly, the resources of the Earth could support 10 billion people. The problem isn’t poor Africans with too many children; it’s wasteful Westerners. The blame is being shifted by incredibly powerful people onto some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Given some of the forces rising to power around the world, we can’t ignore what history tells us about how this can go: forced sterilization, engineered famine, outright mass murder.

FL politicians just keep touting tourism (which generates a different type of pollution), ignoring the environment and taking money from fuel company lobbyist, etc. If the storms continue, we won’t be able to live on the Gulf Coast. ..or it will only be accessible to the uber wealthy. Climate change is real. It’s only a matter of time before we all feel it.

Pretty soon, huge numbers of middle class people will abandon the Gulf Coast and similar vulnerable areas to move inland. Catastrophically severe storms are becoming too frequent. Insurance is going to become unaffordable (if it hasn’t already). Then there’s the psychic stress of having to evacuate then coming back to see your home damaged or outright destroyed. It’s too much to ask people to go through every few years. Many people who can afford to leave will. The poor will be stuck. The extremely wealthy can build structures that can withstand the onslaught.

Mass migration is going to happen because of climate change. Some places are going to become outright inhabitable. All those climate refugees are going to have to go somewhere, and they may not be welcome…

In more pleasant news: one of my readers, Rico Ross, is considering taking up writing, and I wanted to offer my support and encouragement. It’s quite a crowded, competitive space, but I was serious about as many people as possible needing to speak up and speak out. One of the reasons I started writing essays and posting them was to put myself on the record and say that I’m against what I see happening. It can be quite scary to hit the “Publish” button. Nevertheless, I’d like to encourage anyone who’s sitting on the fence to give it a go. You never know what might happen!

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy what I have coming up next week.

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*squinting in Nanny of the Maroons* | Read my essay collection, DISPOSABLE PEOPLE, DISPOSABLE PLANET: | IG: kitanyaharrison

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