Last November, I was truly honoured to participate in a conversation with incredible colleagues Dr. Sadiah Qureshi, Suzanne Dhaliwhal and Persephone Pearl as part of the 2020 Remembrance Day for Lost Species Online Gathering. This talk kicked off a weekend of fascinating events examining the role of race, colonisation and oppression in what Western science calls ‘extinction’. Our conversation focused on contextualising, critiquing and reframing the term ‘extinction’ in terms of violence, and interrogating its use in white and Euro-centric discourses to invisibilize, justify and even promote colonial acts.
The theme of the RDLS Online Gathering reflects a commitment by RDLS organisers and ONCA to centre diverse, racialized and marginalised voices and the intersectional forms of oppression that drive ‘extinction’ and responses to it; and to continually critique whiteness within RDLS spaces in order to make them more safe, inclusive, welcoming and celebratory of diversity. It was wonderful to spend time with a group that is actively and reflexively working towards these goals, and I learned a great deal from the conversation.
One important thing I reflected on after the talk is the potentially negative impact of using terminology from one region when one is a guest in another region, especially as a white person engaging with issues of racialized oppression. Specifically, I regularly use the term “BIPOC” throughout the talk to refer to Black Indigenous People of Colour communities, a term frequently (although of course not universally) used in Turtle Island/North America. However, through conversations following this talk I learned about important #BAMEover movement in the UK, which contests the use of acronyms that, amongst other things, erase the diversity and specificity of peoples affected by racism, entrenching racial inequalities. The movement also points out that ‘BIPOC’ reflects specifically North American histories, presents and struggles, and should also not be used in a universalising way. I apologise for the uncritical use of this terminology, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn more about this struggle against structural oppression.
I hope you enjoy hearing from these amazing thinkers as much as I enjoyed talking with them!