Get ready, get set…
Today is February 24th, 2014. I have now been in México for almost three months, having arrived in Mexico City on November 30th, 2013. Although I have been keeping a daily journal, including that which I can recall of my dreams, I feel I haven’t had much time to reflect on my intentions and experiences thus far, not to mention the mass of unprocessed life experiences leading up to my journey here. So I thought preparing some things to share publicly might help. I suppose I should like to begin with a deeply heartfelt thank you to all of the folks who have made my travels financially possible in the midst of a capitalist world with all of its barriers to movement, and also to all the folx who have supported me in other ways. Your love, care and support is felt and reciprocated in, at the least, my heartbeat and these words. On the financial note, I have been keeping a rather meticulous record of all my expenditures and will share that with whoever upon request—although it shows a bit more spent in the realm of sweets and junkfood than I can claim to be proud of, more on the theme of colonial alimentation, counterinsurgency and food addictions later.
I suppose it would serve to begin with reflections of my departure and arrival. I will stick to the recent past for this piece, reflections on a more cosmic scale, birth, childhood, schooling, other travels, Decolonize/Occupy Seattle, National Rainbow Gathering 2013, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America Peace Camp 2013, my last trip to México and the National Indigenous Congress will all be discussed in forthcoming works.
I spend the last three weeks before my departure in Seattle, having decided to come back from Oakland sometime after the ACAC 19 trial has ended instead of going directly to Mexico from there as I had planned. My time in Oakland is extremely valuable. I get to know a bit of the Albany Bulb, a rather inspiring land takeover of a peninsula built of capitalist/industrial waste. I touch base with the Trayvon 2 case. And, of course, I get to kick it with the homies. I am able to make it home to the Northwest—Cascadia, some call it, or occupied Coast Salish Territories—thanks to the Homeward Bound program which apparently exists to ‘clean up the streets’ of downtown San Francisco by giving houseless folx a free bus ticket to any destination in the USA and $10/day for food, so long as someone will say over the phone in the destination city that they are willing to put them up (boo gentrification, but thanks for the free bus ticket!). Thanks for answering the phone and obliging, friend. I am extremely glad to have some time in Seattle before leaving.
I get back just in time for Samhain where my grandma helps me out with a spider costume and that night I reconnect with a compa from Who You Callin Illegal who lets me know of an anti-deportation action the next day. “DON’T DEPORT JOSÉ!” “¡NO DEPORTA, NO JOSÉ!” What is initially intended as merely supporting the family while their father/husband/friend is being deported turns out to be a successful anti-deportation action. All DHS workers inside hear us chanting the whole time, knowing there are mainstream media news cameras on the scene and it turns out they allow José’s case to re-enter the appeals process rather than just deporting him that day. I La Colectiva Legal del Pueblo. I spend the latter two weeks getting some rather quality time with my mom and her long time frenemy delivering phone books. I am also in town when I get the news that Africatown is evicted from Horace Mann school building on November 18th. Thinking of #More4Mann coalition as I write this. Then there was this Idle No More rally to SAVE THE INDIAN HERITAGE PROGRAM on November 20th, which apparently yielded positive results as far as some organizers are concerned. I guess we have yet to see how the same school district resolves the grievances of the #More4Mann coalition regarding Seattle’s racist schools.
Soon we arrive at Thanksgiving/Thankstaking where I do not fast as do many friends of mine but instead join my settler and non-settler family and friends for the feast. I do avoid the material component of turkey in the ritual commemorating the Pequot massacre (also see pequotwar.org, mashantucket.com, and easternpequottribalnation.com) and I end up being silenced by my grandmother “2 seconds” (to speak) as our singular indigenous table guest holds a paper from her that reads “Justice” and I hold one that says “Focus.” Hmmm. The following day I hold a going away party/despedida/encuentro. My intention is to get all of the people that I know from various circles all in one place at the same time to be able to say peace out and also to get them all connected with each other and existing/future projects. It turns out well enough for the first objective but I could have perhaps have facilitated the fulfilment of the latter a little more. I seem to have a, possibly unfounded, fear of alienating myself from much of the folx I grew up with by being too serious or formal. In any case I am extremely happy with how everything turns out: potluck, great food, great peeps.
My first arrival at the airport I barely miss my flight because the baggage check computer says I am two minutes too late. Luckily my mom and I have a great conversation with the United Airlines lady and she hooks it up with a new ticket later that evening. Cool, now I get to go kick it at my favourite cafe in Seattle, Black Coffee Coop. Ending my time there with a game of Jenga, a friend of mine drives me to the airport. My flight path is: Seattle to San Francisco to Mexico City. Boarding my flight to San Francisco there is a US agent of some sort (ICE? Customs? DHS? I am not sure) prodding a brown skinned male-appearing person onto the plane, saying several times, strictly in English “Don’t come back, or I will arrest you. Don’t come back, or I will arrest you.” You would think living in land stolen from Mexico this officer would have the courtesy to learn Spanish. Yet, I suppose I don’t speak any form of Salish or any other indigenous language of Turtle Island and there are many other languages preceding Spanish that we could point to in California and other areas of Mexico, but in any case I want to take the opportunity to make a jab at the whole “If you gonna be in Amerikkka you best speak English or get out!” by pointing out the ignorance and contradictions built within. In any case, as I board the plane to Mexico with this scene upon my entry, I am forced to reflect on my passport privilege: I can pass into Mexico for 6 months legally as a tourist and return to my family and friends in the US, this person is being exiled from the US by force of arms and threat of detention, never allowed to legally return to see whatever family and friends they have within the US borders, despite the fact that for thousands of years prior to the creation of the US empire people, plants and non-human animals travelled through these lands without such a border incarcerating the masses of land. I guess I should say I don’t know much about how migration functioned prior to the existence of the US empire in that area, except that the border area appears to be out of the official range of the Mexica or Aztec Empire. In any case, my critique of the U.S. Empire and its borders is more pertinent to the present conditions and not intended to legitimize any other empire. I enter Mexico, a grand neo-colony of the U.S. Empire, with an official US passport, the seal of the empire and quotes from its “Founding Fathers” all throughout the inside.
[image from Wikipedia]
A few weeks in a city of 33 million…
[image: Tenochtitlan (what Mexico City is built on top of) from Wikipedia]
[image: Mexico City pollution, from Wikipedia]
My first couple of weeks in Mexico City are very calm. I mainly stay in my room, sleep a lot, read, write and study my Spanish textbooks. I actually successfully begin a solo yoga practice for a full week, which has since deteriorated again to the occasional bits and pieces. When I do go out, it is mostly to visit the local Tianguis, a sort of grassroots marketplace. More festive of the various Tianguis’ is the Tianguis Navideño, or Christmas Tianguis. At some point amidst these days, a friend takes me along to this giant place called Mercado Sonora where we shop for components that we eventually put together in a concoction meant to help remove my kidney stones.
[Mercado Sonora, photo from Wikimedia]
He says it is a curation he knows from his grandmother who is from the mountains. I end up not consuming the concoction though, as it contains a bit of petroleo (petroleum oil), which he assures me is okay because it is so little but insists it is necessary to remove the stones. I later ditch the concoction in the trash.
Walking around Mexico City, there is plenty of creative rebellion expressing itself, often in the form of murals:
But, at least this December, also in the form of direct action against the rise in Metro prices:
Yet while resistance and creative rebellion are quite present in Mexico City, so too is the legacy of colonization:
While not being Catholic, or attached to any particular religion myself, I very much enjoy attending the Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe on December 12th. This is a day where every year, thousands of people migrate to Mexico City and take over the streets for the night, sharing free food and drink, and sleeping together outside. One side of me is very strongly critiquing the whole scene from the inside, i.e. “so many people coming out for this colonial catholic holiday, far outnumbering those in the streets for real life causes where they are needed, like fighting fascism, militarism, genocide and ecocide.” Then again, I have also been told of the indigenization of the Catholic church in Mexico, a very interesting concept to me that I still do not fully grasp. In any case, the free food, drink and company are much appreciated, despite the authoritarian image and voice of some Catholic bishop or pope projecting from a big screen and speakers. I have trouble lending any shred of legitimacy to the Catholic church given their (continuing) role in colonization of the Americas, sexual abuse, various genocides, and legacy of patriarchy. Yet I also recognize that people’s beliefs and practices are rather flexible and that Catholicism or Catholic identity is not a homogenous thing. For example, Liberation Theology
[photo found @ windinthetower.wordpress.com]
played a significant role in the initial uprising of the Zapatistas in 1994
[photo found @ blackflagtheology.wordpress.com]
and is clearly distinct from the sort of Catholicism-from-above which is the authority responsible for the crimes just listed.
Coming up in this series:
- What I Learned at Z Little School
- Meeting Universidad de la Tierra, Oaxaca
- Kickin it on the beach!
- A Week in a Liberated Plantation
- Kickin it with the Brujxs
- Food, Drugs, Addiction, Counterinsurgency, Plants and Revolution
- AND MORE!
Also, I am still in need of finances for continuing this journey and especially for getting myself home to the Pacific Northwest in May. Although I have been baking cookies and soliciting donations, it is simply not enough. If you are able to help financially, please see my YouCaring page (youcaring.com/codyunitierra) or email me directly at email@example.com for info on how to deposit into my bank account. Your patronage is much appreciated.
PS- I just caught this news as soon as I finished publishing this post for the first time. So proud of Seattle fam right now 🙂
Photos from National Day Laborer Organizing Network‘s Facebook Album “Seattle to Tacoma #ShutDownICE Action Blocks Deportations”
For more background on the Northwest Detention Center, see the following ~5minute docushort: