"[T]he responsibility of the exploited and underdeveloped of the world is to eliminate the foundations of imperialism: our oppressed nations, from where they extract capitals, raw materials, technicians and cheap labor, and to which they export new capitals — instruments of domination — arms and all kinds of articles; thus submerging us in an absolute dependance [sic]."
- Che Guevara, "Message to the Tricontinental" (1967)
As a black feminist, my life practice centers anti-imperialism, the rejection of and resistance to global capitalism characterized by the U.S. and select European countries' (alternatively referred to as "the State") monopolies on raw materials in the Third World/Global South, exploiting the labor of people of color, especially women, in the process; and as a parent, keeping my child alive and content is 99.9% of my life practice. Starting with this introductory post and continuing for the next several weeks, I will be publishing a series about my and a few guests' explorations in anti-imperialist parenting. From cloth diapering to carcerality, the series will include personal narratives, theories, and tips for everyone - non-parents included - to become and to teach children how to be more independent of the state in both thought and action.
Anti-imperialism is a constant exercise in relinquishing our dependence on the State, organizing to subvert our exploitation, and hopefully.. someday... maybe... no pressure but pressure... eliminating capitalism and redistributing wealth and life chances. The conveniences on which we've come to rely, from gas-powered anything to plastic to smart technology, are soaked in blood. The blood of the people killed by the Imperialists' "human rights interventions" that justify occupation of other countries and gain access to raw materials; as a result of the environmental degradation of extraction, manufacturing, transportation, use, and disposal; by starvation as a result of forcibly maintained underdevelopment; by each other as we contend with the trauma of economic abuse. To rely on the conveniences used to comfort us from our exploitation is to be complicit in the violence that the Imperialist state generates in order to make such conveniences available to us. To exercise independence from the state, loosening our dependence on the conveniences it grants us, requires time, a luxury that a lot of parents, particularly those at the intersections of being black, Indigenous, poor, and/or woman, don't have. Across the board, including in our child-rearing, we're encouraged to save time to maximize our labor capacity, from spanking to microwaving meals, often with no thought about how these actions are born of our experiences as subjects of the Imperialist state and how they will shape our children's relationships with the Imperialist state. Nonetheless, I believe in us - black and indigenous peoples, women, poor people, and everybody else too. I'm a 25-year old, low-income, black, single mother with little outside support - if I can do the bit I do (which is, admittedly, far from complete independence), you can do something.
The first rule of anti-imperialist parenting is to accept that we're not raising anti-imperialists. We cannot make our children embrace anti-imperialism. In other words, the first rule of anti-imperialist parenting is to practice consent.
The denial of children's right to consent is the basis of white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist empire-building. Describing all the dark-skinned peoples of the world whom they encountered as childlike (and feminine), European colonizers justified their murders, the theft of land and resources, the erasure of cultures, and the exploitation of labor. Reclaiming consent for children (or perhaps more accurately reclaiming our ability as adults/parents to respect children's right to consent) is a fundamental prerequisite to thwarting imperialism. Parenting a child does not mean we own them and can turn them into reflections of ourselves. We do, however, wield a lot of influence, and that influence can be detrimental if we teach them in word or action that what they do or don't want doesn't matter to us, their primary caregivers, when in actuality, what they do/don't want has material consequences for people all over the world.
In the next post, I'll be writing about my experiences of consent, my approach to practicing/learning to practice consent with my ten-month old, and the decisions I've made for our family in his pre-verbal stage to minimize his complicity in the evils of imperialism (to which he most certainly did not consent yet). I'm also hoping to include ideas and experiences from parents with older children - holler at me if you'd like to share.
I feel crazy as hell for writing this. But I like it.