The following piece is a piece I wrote for our Winter Zine - if you like it and want to get your hands on the whole zine wither head here to buy one or email us at email@example.com for a free one - big love, Rob 🔥🌱
So, are you like me? Born and raised middle class, racialised as white and here living at the heart of empire. Have you also stepped into the knowing that our lives here, ones of material comfort, stability, and crippling alienation from self, are founded on and perpetuated by genocide? That the stones of London drip with the blood of enslaved Afrikan ancestors? Can you see the slaughter in the spices you use every day? Does the very word ‘English’ make you wince? In short, are you like me, ashamed of your imperial legacy?
Well, good. You legit should be, its deeply deeply fucked. We should all be working everyday to interrogate how empire has shaped and continues to shape our lives, rooting out its doctrines of separation, domination, and supremacy. This rejection is essential work. And yet, as we dig out these blistered festering roots, we must not be blinded by shame. Eyes clouded so, we may pronounce our entire root system rotten and in so doing, in shame filled rejection, fall into continuing the work of Whiteness.
For the system thrives not just in convincing those of us racialised as white to accept their stories as our own, but in convincing us they are the only stories out there to be known. This is ‘History from Above’. The idea that kings, conquerors and ecocidal merchants, even when viewed with disdain, are all that History has to offer us, especially as ‘white people’. This is the story we leave unchallenged when we reject our root systems outright. Yes, we have learnt to see the violence and here rejection is needed, but what about the resistance?
What about the ‘white’ female abolitionists of Bristol? The ‘white’ accomplices who went undercover in Apartheid South Africa to support the ANC? The grandmother who escaped abuse and raised her children as best she could? The weavers from the mills of my hometown in Stroud who rose up to throw ruthless mill owners in their own ponds? These stories, these people and their resistance is also our inheritance – they are the stories that ‘History from Above’ is terrified we’ll learn about. For they are ‘Ourstory from Below’ and so as we can struggle to live beyond simple rejection, we must dare to reclaim these stories as our own.
For they are the roots we must protect and nurture, yes we'll dig out empire every step of the way, but know that many like you have walked this path before – reclaim their names, reclaim their deeds and let their resistance live in you. We will need these roots for the struggle ahead.