Rethinking “rural”

What does it mean to decolonize land and one’s relationship to it? Being that so many communities of color have experienced land-based violence and environmental colonialism, what does healing from that violence look like?

Jarabacoa Strawberry field in Dominican Republic from Wiki Commons

- All land is indigenous land, and so urban centers are indigenous spaces as well. The fact that all land is indigenous is minimized and urban centers are seen as non-Indigenous, non-rural land that thus does not deserve protecting and marginalized populations in those centers experience ecological/environmental violence because of this.

-Indigenous people were “rural” people before that term was even a concept as created by the West and have experienced land-based violence thru colonialism, displacement, breaking of treaties, forced isolation on poorly funded reserves and reservations, the violation of their indigenous habitats and land, lack of access to clean water, etc

-People of the African diaspora are also indigenous peoples who have experienced land-based violence and environmental racism (removed from our indigenous lands and forced to work colonized lands stolen from those indigenous to that land) and a continuation of that violence is being forced into urban centers, seen as non-rural, where they are further disconnected from land and experience ecological violence.

-Settler colonialism today is still largely about land exploitation. It is the way that rural communities of color are chiefly exploited abroad (ex : Kenyan farmland still in the hands of English/European control after being bought for cheap decades ago, forcing indigenous peoples away from their ancestral land, forced growing of cash crops like coffee and chocolate and tea for Western consumption that prevents indigenous people from growing their ancestral crops or living on their land, etc). The West benefits from the exploitation of global south rural communities and land.

-Land Conservation efforts are too often the story of: Land is taken from indigenous people, its original stewards and protectors, by white settlers, who tell the original inhabitants do not know how to properly use (AKA subjugate and exploit) the land and then subsequently fuck it up. Meanwhile, indigenous people and other communities of color are forced in slums and reserves/reservations on said land in the worst conditions where they experience the most environmental side affects of white people fucking it up. Lastly, white people claim they have to take it back again from colonized indigenous people because they “need to protect it”. They make lots of money in this whole process and maintain ownership of rural land.

-As mentioned a few times already, the state via policing has been the strong arm of ecological violence and environmental racism in many ways (ie overseers on plantations, militarized presence at Standing Rock, Indian Agents that would prevent Indigenous peoples of Canada who attempted to leave reserves without a pass up until the 1940s, indigenous labor exploitation on farms and in fields, use of prison labor on farms)

-POC “rural” people, here and abroad= global south conditions, not romanticized, seen as backwards and uncivilized. White “rural” people = good hardworking American that Republicans glorify and aim to protect while erasing rural POC here and globally

-Technology and modernity are not the opposite of nor do they need to come at the cost of the earth and her sovereignty and protection. There are many ways we do need to go back & reclaim ancestral connections to land and food and find healthier and liberated alternatives to what hurts and exploits her and ourselves, but the ways we have grown (modern medicine, biotech, agricultural advancements, yes I mean shots and GMOs) have been good for us too and need to be decolonized and liberated from white supremacy and corporate domination, not done away with.



Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email:

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