By Peter Volkov
“The settler makes history and is conscious of making it. And because he constantly refers to the history of his mother country, he clearly indicates that he himself is the extension of that mother-country. Thus the history which he writes is not the history of the country which he plunders but the history of his own nation in regard to all that she skims off, all that she violates and starves.”
― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
When the Spanish colonizers initially came to the Philippine mainland, the first thing they did was destroy the histories, stories, culture, art and language to remove their capacity to resist and accept a history forced on them.
The same applies to the current assault upon the Black cemetery in Bethesda, Maryland. It is not an isolated case in Montgomery County, but instead throughout this country and practiced by ‘former’ colonial powers. Beyond the use of land and the commodification of dead black bodies, it is an assault on history itself. History is a weapon; it is more than the repetition of dates, events or outstanding personalities.
Moses Cemetery isn’t just about preserving history. It is protection of the stories of those who died at the hands of slavery and why they are relevant to this day. The foundations of US wealth and power are built on the bodies and blood of black bodies. We are not in a post-racial society or one that has made serious progress, despite the small victories of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Structural racism requires a revolutionary response against existing institutions that are rooted in white supremacy & capitalism.
Overseas, colonization is still practiced by Western countries. France, for example, uses the CFA, a particular currency, to dictate the monetary and fiscal policy of fourteen African countries and bind them to the French economy. Now, what does this have to do with regards to the Moses Cemetery and anti-blackness? Debt peonage is weaponized to under-develop countries and reduce them to dependencies through IMF and World Bank loans. This allows Western nations to restructure economies and facilitate entry for trans-national corporations to extract natural resources and prop up an oligarchic class that benefits from the relationship. The land in regards to the cemetery is being sold off as a debt for the benefit of lenders, investors and holders in real-estate stock.
Violence domestically translates to violence abroad, as is evident in the occupation of Palestine. Palestinian and Muslim graves are demolished to expand the settler project, a tactic of displacement that is evident in demoralizing and destroying resistance. This is where the imperial core and the periphery link to one another. It is impossible at this point to avoid the fact that the world is interconnected, and that violence exported by the U.S.A. can be linked directly back to the shorelines. One needs only to think of Martin Luther King describing the Triple Evils, in which he linked together racism, economic exploitation & militarism.