Guam and the Mariana Islands are bracing themselves for a tidal wave of change. As the tide rises, we must use our stories as sails and navigate the ocean of our destiny.I just submitted my piece for it over the weekend, it is a several-page-long essay which discusses something I often refer to on this blog, "Future Fighting."
Storyboard, the University of Guam’s literary journal, is seeking stories, essays, art and photography, which address the theme, “Navigating the Future.” Some topic areas to consider include:
The Past • Silence • Militarization • Change • Leadership • Power • Violence • Colonization • Self-Determination • Family • Culture • Language • Knowledge • Transition • The Sky • The Ocean • Island Life • Diaspora • Imagination • Love
For more information or to submit to Storyboard 11 please email:
Or call Storyboard Editor Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero at 735-2747.
All submissions are due by November 11, 2010.
If I could define future fighting in a simple but not so helpful way, it is something which is at the core of decolonization. It is the hope of it and something which is essential for it.
In every long-term colonial instance, where the colonizer is not just passing through, but intends to stay, the world that he proposes is one built on a tendency to see the colonized and the colonizer as occupying radically different parts of time, space, history, the world, and so on. One of the key ways in which this re-mapping takes place is that the colonizer becomes the avatar of the future, the holder of the keys to it, the person who has the means, in whatever form, law, justice, reason, education, the English language, technology, to give the colonized the means to get to that bright future. When I say that the colonizer is the avatar of the future, I mean that he is the embodiment of it, he is a vessel for it, and everything that he says or does is meant to be the means of helping get you there.
The colonized on the other hand, becomes the avatar, the cursed avatar of the past. A relic, or a collection of relics. A being whose skin is riddled with relics, with oldness, with primitivity. The colonized is like a curse, a stench of a world destroyed, gone or better yet gone. The nagging and never-ending references to indigenous people as "ghosts" or as "whispers" from the past doesn't just touch on this, but chokes on this. In a colonial space, this "pastness," this state of both being "stuck "in the past" and having the "past" always "stuck in you," can move in meaning. It can be something better off forgotten, something better off cast aside. It sees all the colonized as having to offer itself and the world as relics and pointless fragments of culture. Or in more liberal and loving societies, it can be majestic and beautiful. It can be something proud and wonderful. It can be something that we should all be happy survived in some form and wasn't lost to oblivion by the racism and violence of the people who colonized them in previous historical moments.
But there is always a limit to this recognition, a limit to this value, as it rarely ever escapes this diminutive, simple sense. It never achieves the complexity or fullness of being something of the present, or more importantly being something which the future can be built upon. Even if it is beautiful and something everyone lauds and loves, and publicly it possesses this incredible and overwhelming fullness, such is a mirage, a trick of the eye, as it lacks the permanence for that rhetoric, i mina'ok. The fawning talk masks the way in which its value is truly very little, how people still see it as an anachronism, a hollow husk of something perhaps once long ago gaibali or valuable, but so out of place in today's world.
The Chamorro language is one such thing in Guam today. Everyone has to say that the Chamorro language is important, that is it bunito, that speaking it is gof maolek, and so on. But how many of those people speak Chamorro, teach their kids Chamorro, how many people and in how many ways do we see that glowing and shimmering rhetoric manifest into something real? Rarely ever. If anything, as the fanciness of the rhetoric in support of the language has grown, language abilities have gotten much worse. The truth of the value lies in not what is said or what everyone says about it, but rather how much or how little it is incorporated into their lives. How much value they pump into it in terms of seeing it as something that holds power over their future over the fate of them or their children?
That is why it is always a mistake to think of decolonization as being primarily about the past. It is not a return there, or a valorizing of it, or an attempt to relieve it or revive it. Decolonization must always be about the future, and there is no set path for how it takes place or what you have to do, but rather it is the opening up of the future, the making of it possible for the colonized.
As I wrote above, the future always appears to belong to the colonizer, especially if as we see in so many cases, his influence is what gives the feeling of globality or modernity. If the colonizer gives you the ability to be recognized by others or by the rest of the world (Guam USA, or Magellan putting Guam on the map for instance), then it is hard to not see the future and everything that actually does matter, as being in the hands of the colonizer, the taking and accepting of the things he offers.
But the radicalness of decolonization is that it is meant to give you the hope of breaking that dependency, of making it possible to rip apart those chains and see the world in a completely different way. To see the future as something else and nto just the following the crumbs the colonizer leaves in his wake.