Operation Blue Skies – a crowd-sourcing competition

Crowd-sourcing Competition Announcement

“Operation Blue Skies”

Awareness of contemporary forms of white supremacy in the Canadian context is beginning to crack the essential imaginary of Settler Canadian identity as “benevolent,” “kind,” and “good.” Anticipating a growing awakening by fellow Settlers to the white supremacy that is foundational to justifying our occupation of Canadian territory, we believe a brilliant solution to stem such an outbreak could cost as little as $25,000. Our aim is to inspire problem-solvers from around the world to generate cost-effective ideas that might prove to be the magic elixir for the ontological security meltdown we are facing as Settler people.

We are launching “Operation Blue Skies” an X-prize type of competition for Settler people to come up with a 2-page sensible justification for the legitimacy of our occupation of this territory that somehow manages to NOT use elements of white supremacist logic. We anticipate that we may be asking for the impossible, so if no entries meet the criteria for success, the prize will be run annually with an increased dollar value. Remember, not only is the $25,000 prize money at stake but your own stable identity and sense of belonging that comes from real-estate ownership is at stake too, so be creative in your word-smithing!

We invite non-aboriginal people to participate, rather than be merely subjected to another plan to address our white supremacy that is imposed from the outside.

It’s a matter of taking on something that could be seen as touchy, or debatable, or contentious. It’s about saying, “Let’s put aside any of that, let’s create slippery rationales for our possession of the land by sourcing those ideas together.”

We don’t have to invest so much time in critical self-reflection and examining assumptions. Crowd-sourcing hasn’t been done in Settler-colonial occupation. Just doing this competition is innovation itself.

I wrote this spoof announcement based on and adapted from an actual article from 2015 published in Global News describing a real competition presuming to “solve” the “First Nations health crisis” in Canada with the same cash motivator. See the article about the original announcement here: http://globalnews.ca/news/1910314/how-crowd-sourcing-may-solve-first-nations-health-crisis/

Re-reading the Global News article recently led to an epiphany: the firm that designed the competition didn’t mean they were crowd sourcing “solutions to the First Nations health crisis in Canada.” If they’d really meant that, the obvious answer from every informed participant would have been simple: start by returning all the stolen land. That’s not a very interesting competition.

But what they really meant by holding this competition was that they were looking for any contrived “solution” that did NOT involve actually giving land back. That realization made the whole competition make more sense to me and led me to try my hand at a more overt and direct version of the same competition, as I’ve printed above. 

As Naomi Klein wrote, righting past wrongs and repairing our relationships with one another is “work that is the bedrock of shock resistance” – in contexts of industry-centered policies being opportunistically imposed on populations after catastrophic disasters strike. Until we begin by returning land we “own” that was stolen from Indigenous people, our proposed solutions to disaster resilience – and to so many other social dilemmas – might just be rabbit trails. 

-Bjorn

Looming Shocks – Part 3: theft of Indigenous land underlies our shock-susceptible racial hierarchies

Referring to increasing “right-wing nationalism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy,” Naomi Klein says the following in her recent article:

“The only way to justify such barbaric forms of exclusion is to double down on theories of racial hierarchy that tell a story about how the people being locked out …deserve their fate, whether it’s Trump casting Mexicans as rapists and ‘bad hombres,’ and Syrian refugees as closet terrorists, … or successive Australian prime ministers justifying those sinister island detention camps as a ‘humanitarian’ alternative to death at sea.

This is what global destabilization looks like in societies that have never redressed their foundational crimes — countries that have insisted slavery and indigenous land theft were just glitches in otherwise proud histories …all of it taking place on the violently stolen indigenous land on which North America’s wealth was built. And now the same theories of racial hierarchy that justified those violent thefts in the name of building the industrial age are surging to the surface as the system of wealth and comfort they constructed starts to unravel on multiple fronts simultaneously.

Trump is just one early and vicious manifestation of that unraveling. He is not alone. He won’t be the last.”

Klein alludes to a connection, here, that is noticeably absent from most conversations about current violence, racism and dehumanization: the connection between ongoing military occupations of stolen Indigenous land and the violence and racism that surfaces in various ways in Canada and the United States of America.

Folks often act shocked or surprised by present-day manifestations of violence and racism here in North America, yet our Settler nation-states were founded on white supremacist notions of terra nullius and the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, casting Indigenous people as sub-human in order to justify our own settlement and occupation of the land.

Canada and the USA, as Settler-colonial states, are houses actively haunted by the ghosts of colonial treachery, and are currently occupied by the descendant beneficiaries of that violence. Why then, do we think we are not going to be affected when we refuse to pay attention to that history and refuse to presently return stolen land to the Indigenous people who continue to exist?

I think the answer is this: it is inconvenient and uncomfortable and would require each of us to give up things we think we own.  That’s no fun, so we figure we’re better off feigning confusion or surprise every time the white supremacist foundations of our land ownership rear their heads again and again in the form of racially charged violence.

As long as we, as Settlers, remain committed to ignoring the ongoing military occupation of Indigenous land in Canada and the USA, our attitudes and hearts likely will not undergo the necessary transformation toward respecting the dignity of all people.

Klein describes the work of righting past wrongs and repairing our relationships with one another as “work that is the bedrock of shock resistance.”

-Bjorn