Wilderness is a racist construct

Of all the causes out there, it is the abuse and genocide of indigenous people and the theft of their land that triggers me the most.

Genocide perpetrated by empire, whether left or right.

I’m kinda done being tolerant.

Tolerance is a morality of empire sold to people trying desperately to please this abusive parental substitute.

You don’t tolerate genocide.

You hunt the killers down and bring them to justice. In whatever way you think justice needs to be served.

I’ve personally witnessed empire’s violence on indigenous people first hand. How empire destroys cultures.

Empire is a brilliant storyteller.

And one of its biggest, most accepted stories is that of wilderness.

It rattled me when I woke up and realised I was running on this myth.

That it was deeply embedded in my worldview of nature.

And what freaked me out more, is I see my friends and colleagues running on this same lie.

Non of us our innocent. We have all unconsciously colluded and perpetrated the myth of wilderness.

And what’s sickening, is how racist this word is. The worldview it perpetuates.

Wilderness = Genocide

That’s an outrageous statement, right?

Does wilderness really equal genocide, Robin?

I didn’t want to believe it myself when it was first pointed out to me by Stephen Corry, former CEO of Survival International.

It rattled me. As the word is bandied around everywhere in conservation, nature connection, environmental worlds.

Yet it has a deadly, dark underbelly that people need to wake up to.

Read Erfan Daliri’s brilliant expose: The Colonialist Subtext of the word “Wilderness”.

Salient points he makes:

  • Some of the terms used in modern environmentalism that come from this colonialist lexicon are still acting to reaffirm the colonialist-capitalist worldview and way of thinking.
  • The word wilderness is only used by a person who sees themselves as separate from the natural world, and it is not used by those who consider this so-called wilderness as a part of themselves, their identity, their society or their home.
  • Apparently, there was no civilisation in Western Africa when the Portuguese began enslaving people in the 1400s, only wilderness.
  • As the high school textbooks try to portray it, it seems Columbus ‘discovered’ America and there were no civilised people there at all, only “wilderness and savage natives”.
  • This so-called wilderness in Australia, in the Americas, in the Kingdoms of Africa, are the homes and communities of people, their societies and their civilisations, but because it did not fit the coloniser’s idea of a city or town or kingdom, they deemed it as empty and its peoples as less than human. That is how they justified and glorified the enslavement of people, colonisation and genocide.