Monday, October 13, 2008

Columbus Day

Columbus Day. How can he possibly tie in some Green Gangsta-sim Black to Nature stuff on this day? Well first off check out how I got down today over at The Journal of Allah's Five Percent.

In terms of today I have one word that ties in Black to Nature with Columbus, Ecological Imperialism.

From wiki land:

Ecological imperialism is the idea that the introduction of plants, animals, and diseases by Europeans to settler colonies was an underlying factor in the success of the European colonization of the New World, Australia, New Zealand and India.

For example, the conquest of Spaniard Hernan Cortes over the Aztecs was aided foremost by the introduction of European disease into the Aztec population. Many more natives died from exposure to new diseases than died from the guns and superior weaponry of the conquistadors.

So basically with all of the talk of how 'advanced' European society was and how that was the reason they overtook lands occupied by Original People Ecological Imperialism postulates that a major factor was because they were spreading mad diseases and ecological disorder. This is another highlight of how Original People were living in harmony with their environments (even in the midst of their own technologies) while Europeans were destroying habitats (look back at my post on the Gold Rush).

In New Zealand, Tuberculosis was brought to New Zealand by Captain Cook. It and other diseases heavily infected the indigenous Maori population. Pigs, and cattle were introduced during the early 1800s where land was adapted to suit herding. Grass seed was introduced into the biota specially breed to improve the quality of Sheep. Other ecological changes resulted by way of British resource developments such as whaling and forestry which spun out from the economic system forcing Maori to adapt or face significant changes at a disadvantage. Foresty led to an increase in labour and commerce but also housing and thus the development of Pakeha (Maori term for European) settlements that would only grow larger.

The issue of Ecological Imperialism is unique in that it is a continuous lineage that extends into today. It is the policies of the original Ecological Imperialism that enables Environmental Racism to persist today.

This theory has been promoted and put forth by Alfred Crosby and Jared Diamond. The following is from the wiki insert on Alfred Crosby's book, Ecological Imperialism.

Why were Europeans and their plants and animals able to prevail over an environment that had long been established? Rather than give credence to claims of innate European superiority and the like, Crosby and Diamond explain this phenomenon as being a product of biological and ecological processes. According to them, one of the major contributors to European domination was disease, which is a natural byproduct of human interaction with animals. Consequently, when Europeans shifted from being hunter/gatherers to being farmers who settled in large, stationary communities and domesticated small animals, they exposed themselves to conditions that birthed diseases that would later assist them in conquering the Neo-Europes. Some such carriers of diseases were the mice, rats, roaches, houseflies, and worms that were able to accumulate in these urban settings.[1]

Because Europeans were living in an environment where they were in close contact with domestic animals and the germs that accompany them, the same germs that many of the devastating diseases of humans have sprung, they were constantly being subjected to disease.[1] And though millions of lives were lost when diseases ravaged Europe during the Middle Ages, a natural consequence of these frequent epidemics was a population that built up a resistance to these diseases. With each and every epidemic there would be some individuals who were biologically more capable of resisting the virus. According to Diamond, “These people were more likely to survive and have children. In the process, they’d pass on their genetic resistance [to their offspring].”[3] After undergoing this process for a number of centuries, the entire population eventually acquired at least some minor immunological defense against diseases such as smallpox.

However, because the majority of the native populations to the Neo-Europes were still participating in hunting/gathering and did not interact with animals in the same manner as Europeans, they were never exposed to such diseases. Therefore, “When the isolation of the New World was broken . . . the American Indian met for the first time his most hideous enemy: not the white man nor his black servant, but the invisible killers which those men brought in their blood and breath.”[4] Because the Europeans arrived in the Neo-Europes with diseases that were absolutely new to those locations, they had an enormous advantage over the indigenous peoples and the consequences were overwhelming. Furthermore, as Warwick Anderson has argued, “the ‘persisting impact of colonial development policies’ and the ‘lasting effects of agricultural change and human resettlement’ offered a particularly conducive environment for a biological approach to infectious disease.”[5] For these reasons disease was able to spread like wildfire and undoubtedly must have claimed a large number of lives.

I mean, lets remember, RATS came with the Europeans to the New World. Do we even have to speak on the disease spreading vector that they represent? Or that rat infestation nowadays is centered around poor Original People?

What does this all mean nowadays? The policies of corporations (read established white institutions) are the same as Ecological Imperialism. They are not concerned with the environmental justice of original people which is why we must be on our A game.


suzy dangerous said...

true. very true. nice insight. the biggest challenge for me right now is telling my first grade daughter that her teacher is lying to her, without saying, "honey, your teacher is stupid, ignorant, and brainwashed." thank GOD my generation is finally old enough to make change. :)

C'BS ALife Allah said... doubt. It was a challenge for me also. Yet don't they know not to mess with someone named "suzy dangerous"..ha.