Andrea Smith’s foreword in Undoing Border Imperialism by Harsha Walia states, “a liberatory vision for immigrant rights is one that is based less on pathways to citizenship in a settler state, than on questioning the logics of the settler state itself.” This expansion of decolonization, a revolution to undo “zones of invisibility, exclusion, and death,” requires a radical vision and daily practice of justice. For those of us who are not indigenous to the nations we occupy, liberation is no longer a theoretical space you can opt in and out.
Undoing Border Imperialism is a collective expression of a migrant justice movement grounded in healing justice. Starting from a place of opportunity, “as a prefiguring framework, decolonization grounds us in an understanding that we have already inherited generations of evolving wisdom about living freely and communally” Walia shows us a future few movement theory books dare dream. Through various entry points in the book, which are beautifully supported by poets, philosophers, and activist’s lived experiences, the reader is profoundly transformed.
Undoing is not used haphazardly nor as a metaphor. We are asked to enthusiastically have a decolonized orientation to self and others. The systems few move through with ease are relational, which is political and embodied. Borders are human-made. That’s one clear justification for resisting violence with nonviolent direct action. If one needs a concrete example, follow #NoDAPL.
Chapter 3 entitled Overgrowing Hegemony: Grassroots Theory puts everything into perspective. Consider this your manifesto.
Given all the power-over we have internalized, traumas we have metabolized, and walls and hierarchies we have maintained between one another, it is imperative that we unravel and confront these effects of border imperialism within our movements as we work to dismantle the systems that propagate it.
Name it. Analyze how power functions and distorts. Commit to steering “movement strategies and relations toward collective liberation.” This requires consent, accountability, and communication that is transformative, not transactional.
We all have a role in this vision.
Strategy cannot be applied in a cookie-cutter approach; it requires collective deliberation, trial and error, and reflection. It necessitates a willingness to experiment, and make mistakes, and humility to change our ways.
Syed Khalid Hussan’s epilogue is a reminder that “our actions are just as much visceral as they are analytical, theoretical, or intellectual.” It’s time to declare that we are no longer obligated to be monogamous in identity, story, or victory. However, we are bound to practice compassion, respect, forgiveness, and evolve our ways of being in community with each other. Walia, and the voices she shares this revolution with, moves us beyond those never-ending conversations that center frameworks (talk). A tactic designed to distract and delay justice. This embodied power is found through a decolonizing praxis that honors generational resistance. To deny this is to remain complicit in settler logic.
We can, as Smith so clearly states, dismantle the logic of the settler state. And in its absence, we move freely with self-determination.
We are a cramp nation. Involuntary, restrictive, a tool.
our periods, collectively, are politically vogue
as gender representation reflects without liberation
we process its reclamation as speculative transmissions
even the clouds
and now their patterns
the simplest narratives are stored in the bends of our flesh
rancor its own habitual expression, a saturation of cultural static
transfigurations of competitive positivity, a sharing economy
Angela Davis said the political reproduces itself through the personal
She maps “squad” as a term and concept to 90s hip-hop culture.
Arriving at a boundary of solidarity, she challenges the reader to not be tricked into defaming masculinity. She connects masculinity to strategies that have avoided “sexual jealousy, emotionalism and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women.” Is this what being a man feels like?
It’s an interesting charge for us to study the “immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history,” which assumes male bonding has been productive and that production has been positive. This is where her contradictory ahistorical argument wanders into abstract proposition.
Yet Paglia’s scolding tone is enticing and visionary. “For women to leave a lasting mark on culture, they need to cut down on the socializing and focus like a laser on their own creative gifts.” Let us be blessed and count our fortune to be in a squad that is “about mentoring, exchanging advice and experience and launching exciting and innovative joint projects.”
What is driving this iteration of the gender wars propensity to want to thrive on grievance? Is it the emotionalism or the sexual jealousy that Pagila names?
Connection, collaboration, and bonding (which requires affection and trust in order to be safe and healthy) are the inherent politics of any community-oriented experience, regardless of gender assignments. It is a shame those practices have accumulated such heavy and fractured gendered prescriptions.
Kept in the Hollywood gaze, as Pagila has strategically framed, the reader is reminded, as consumers of said culture, that supporting girl squads can be a way towards “expanding female power in Hollywood.” Let’s hope that power doesn’t replicate the same product as the boys.