Statement made at tonight’s GA

Categories: Discussion, Open Mic, Reflections

I am not from the Bay Area. Neither are a lot of folks that I know. Transient is a word often used to describe this place. In fact, the term is of tremendous importance to this debate.Because it is our ties to a place that cement our commitment to its well-being. To say that the Bay Area has a transient population invisibilizes the many communities that have resided here for years- particularly communities of color who are most directly supplanted by new comers- in a process many of us recognize as gentrification.

A connection less often asserted is that gentrification is a form of colonization. Which in turn should lead us to consider the original inhabitance of this land that was first colonized by the Europeans. Where we now stand is the ancestral home of the Ohlone people. That they, like many other Indigenous peoples, have been invisibilized and relocated for centuries does not in any way sever their investment in this land- and its well-being.

To consider invoking a name that will recognize the history of this place and its original inhabitance, is to simultaneously acknowledge forms of colonization, such as gentrification, that are rampant today- due to foreclosures and other exploits of the so-called 1%.

Though some may feel an attachment to the name occupy, I ask you to consider: can your investment in this term, one often used by invading armies, really trump a request by people who have a permanent connection to this place and for whom the term “decolonize” becomes a first step towards the recognition of all that they have faced to remain here?

-Michelle Steinberg


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