White people gleefully reenacting colonialism because, to no one’s surprise, they’re still colonizers
Detailed Lynching reenactment? Plantation wedding? As American as apple pie! And also lynching and plantations.
Y i k e s.
This reminds me of something I recently read about a Black wedding planner venting on FB about how often she gets people (I’m assuming white) asking her to plan their “plantation-style” weddings and how immensely fucked up that is, both in even thinking about doing and asking a whole literal Black person to do it for you.
There’s so much to be said here about how the reenactment and the decision to tell that specific story in that very detrimental way, the behavior of the employees and the crowd, and the lack of consideration towards Native folks who might have been part of the audience or would inevitably hear about the performance later. I want to focus on the colonialist aspects of the reenactment.
The argument that colonialism still doesn’t have mass repercussions to this day is weak one (as is the idea that it ever ended), but most seem to miss the fact that those early days are still so fetishized, re-enacted with little to no self-awareness, plenty of mischaracterization and bias and fawned over, and how that alone is its own re-traumatizing offense, never mind how indicative it is of this settler colonialist country’s mindset.
Today’s Black & Indigenous struggles and the way various arms of the state & its willing and power-filled white citizens act on its behest against them are yet indicative of the slavery/rape/ethnic genocide/land stealing/ghettoization practices of these early days because that shit never ended, no matter how many feel-good buzzwords about progress and democracy and equality and diversity that those in power wanna slap onto this nation. People don’t get mad over things this because they “are overly-sensitive and wanna be mad at something” or “don’t have bigger things to worry about”. This is white people telling Native people the blood-tinted colonizing sunglasses through which they still view and consume them, viciously & self-serving, and after centuries of that shit its understood for what it is, dishonor and racist propaganda.
To understand it another way, let’s just consider one snippet of the particulars of this instance from history-out the gate without being familiar with this case I already know who Mamachtaga, the Lenape man hung in this horrifying reenactment, was guilty (or accused) of murdering was a white man because it often wasn’t illegal (or at least rigorously reinforced) thus punishable in those days & for the longest for Natives to kill other Natives in many places in the country, if anything that served white people’s interests. Also, interestingly enough, a piece from a 1918 magazine characterized Mamachtaga as “the first to be convicted of murder West of Allegheny Mountains” even though naturally tons of slaughter of Black and Indigenous was happening. But again, those deaths did not matter because those bodies didn’t. Also, it was of importance to tell the this story and not of, say, the lives of Indigenous people during early colonial times.
This reminds me of how the primarily white city of Bismark was initially to have the DAPL put through their town and instead DAPL officials advocated for it to be plopped down through a reservation on treaty land because according to them the risk was less, despite the Sioux stating otherwise. It also reminds me of how Alt-Reich White Suprema-Barbie Tomi Lahren recently compared the cold-blood slaughter of nine Black parishioners to the abuse and bullying of one white person.
The white supremacist construct of the God-like value of white bodies and lives above Black & Indigenous ones (& how Black & Indigenous bodies and lands are abused for white gain) was established centuries ago and is yet a violent standard observed & kept to today, greatly reducing the quality life in and outside of our communities. This is just one comparable lesson that can be gleaned both from the history & this reenactment and other instances of the reinforcement of colonial attitudes, histories and values on bodies and communities of color.