COLUMBUS AND OTHER CANNIBALS
It seems fitting that there are hundreds of Wetikos armed with baseball bats, hammers, and other instruments of recreational violence hanging around the Christopher Columbus statue in South Philadelphia. Wetiko, an Algonquin term that quite literally means cannibal, was recoined by the AIM activist and poet Jack D. Forbes to describe the mentality that Western settlers brought to Turtle Island when they stole it and then began consuming everything around them.
It seems fitting that these self-described South Philly Italians are showing up to defend this statue of their patron saint to imperialism and thus becoming inhabited by the spirit of violence he propagated during his time alive. This is a person who put the Taino people in bondage, chopped off the men’s limbs, fed women and children to wild dogs, and committed other atrocities that are well documented by his peers at the time. He is a Wetiko on a pedestal that still holds a powerful place in history that continues to shape our society today. Check out Jack D. Forbes’ book, Columbus And Other Cannibals to better understand these terms and ideas.
The reason this is especially dangerous is that a Wetiko is contagious. It is no joke when people compare racism to a pandemic. The Wetiko is the very first virus of our minds. Their rage fuels an echo of rage in those they oppress. You cannot fight a Wetiko. Not head on, at least. They will cough on you and you will get sick. To fight them, is to succumb to the spirit of violence that they propagate. You cannot stand by and peacefully let them conquer you either. They will take whatever you allow them to take.
The approach to reclaim your own body and a collective autonomy on your surroundings, must be a balanced and grounded one. It must seek to subvert the pain and violence that the Wetiko wishes to exert on those around it.
There is an easy antidote to cure yourself. John Trudell, another indigenous poet and songwriter of our time, suggests finding a peace of land and becoming a steward to its existence. The hippy generation suggests making love. Both are active ingredients to separating you from the control of the Wetiko.
But how do you spread this grounded peace to cure the Wetiko?
It takes a level head. It takes a big heart. Perhaps an energetic shield and something carried to ground the activist’s spirit. A handful of seeds? Maybe a flower. There are words that can be spoken that will spread like wild fire. A proper cleanse. So that the land within him will be chased by Fireweed, Fire Poppies, and Whispering Bells.
Kill the Man, Save The Wilderness Within.
Pull down Columbus and plant a tree instead.