Feb. 4 marks the beginning of Philippine Solidarity Week, an annual week of programming to commemorate the Philippine-American War. The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) will be holding events to raise awareness and support for the Filipino people’s persisting struggle for national liberation. These events include a People’s Rights teach-in at The Seattle Public Library’s Columbia Branch on Monday, Feb. 6, at 6:30 p.m., and a film screening of Revolution Selfie at The Beacon Cinema on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 5 p.m.
Since colonial control was wrested from Spain in the “mock” Battle of Manila Bay on Feb. 4, 1899, U.S. military presence has continued to oppress the people of the Philippines. After the U.S. rejected Philippine independence as declared in 1898, the Spanish-American War ended with the revolutionary Filipino government barred from treaty negotiations and struggling against a new colonial adversary: the United States. The subsequent brutal Philippine-American War led to the deaths of 200,000–1,000,000 Filipino civilians over the following decade. Yet over a century after the Battle of Manila Bay and technical independence from imperialist Japan and the United States in the wake of WWII, genuine Philippine sovereignty is still undermined by the colonial influence of the United States.
As a Black male in the United States, the concept of generational wealth has been as foreign to me as knowing the original language of my ancestors. The forethought to look beyond present circumstances and financially plan for the generation of family that will come after you is a privilege. One typically reserved for those who don’t share the same skin complexion as me and those among us who the American dream was actually meant for. The concept of generational wealth reveals a universal truth among millions of Black people in the United States — a devastating history full of violence, purposefully lost history, white supremacy, and unfulfilled promises. A history that has prevented Black people from looking to the future with the hope that their next generation of family would be financially taken care of.
Since time immemorial, Indigenous people have celebrated storytelling as a way to connect the present to past lessons and future dreaming. Narrative sovereignty is a form of land guardianship, and Nia Tero supports this work through its storytelling initiatives, including the Seedcast podcast, as well as in this column for media partner the South Seattle Emerald.
Indigenous peoples often share that throughout the world, storytelling is a foundational part of culture and kinship, a way to express and share knowledge across generations and communities. Indigenous stories are also a form of environmental justice work. Stories are culturally and bioregionally rooted parts of knowledge-bearing systems that tell us about ourselves, each other, where we’ve been, who we are, and even where we may be going, as seen in a number of “futurism” movements. Stories can also shine a spotlight on histories and lineages, draw us into each other’s ways of being, and provide a guide for treating the Earth with respect.
(This article is copublished with The Seattle Times.)
I’m not exactly sure what it says about a city when some of its youth believe they must beg to be heard. That puzzle is what landed me inside Rainier Beach High’s cramped library Jan. 18. The occasion was the second student-led town hall on gun violence in as many weeks, a dialogue with Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz to discuss how violence had eroded their mental, physical, and emotional health.
I am walking toward the tall wall of seemingly endless rows of barbed wire. I see each step of mine, the foot of a child, exposed, frail and swollen. My fingers graze the fence as I begin a frantic climb. Advancing upward, my hands are shaking as each new grasp cuts abrasions into my skin, widening and deepening with each fresh slice. My head gets light, and blood drips from my palms as I clamp down to muffle screams of pain. I hear shouting in the direction of the guard tower, followed by a gunshot. Then, another. My body freezes, my muscles are shocked. As I fall, everything turns black. Abruptly, I wake up. This is always where I wake up.
Recently a friend forwarded me a Seattle Metarticle titled “The Politics of Paying Real Rent Duwamish” and a subsequent Reddit thread, along with an eye roll. The author successfully dumbed down the extraordinarily complex issue of federal recognition of Native tribes — to some distortion of reality where appropriative white people intend to open a casino in Seattle city limits to steal money away from other tribes in the region. This is unequivocally anti-Native racism.