Traverse City: The Dangerous Intersection of Bourgeoisie White Liberalism and Colonial “Land Conservation”

Traverse City, Michigan is a dangerous place.  White liberalism is dangerous.  White liberalism is colonization and therefore Traverse City, Michigan is full of the bourgeoisie colonial White liberals.  If the folks in Traverse City want to poke fun at Manistee, Michigan then at least the folks in the sticks down by the river are outright racist rather than pretending they are “do gooder White liberals.”  If there is a hierarchy in racism – pretending you are not racist is far worse.

The disease of colonization has White liberals believing that their hands aren’t dirty.  Go to Africa and bring colonial help instead of empowering Native folks right in your own backyard.  Open a co-op in a so called working class neighborhood in lily White Traverse City and please don’t feel good about yourself.  Do bike lanes make you feel even better?  Too bad your liberal city is the most sprawled out in Northern Michigan.  Conservatives pretty much run Grand Traverse County so liberals really don’t have power. 

ThrasedbyALadyCyclist.jpg

Bourgeoisie White Liberalism

Liberalism wants to not identify with conservatism.  If you are talking about the majority culture colonial politics in the United States then these are two sides to the same coin.  Good luck challenging the system by believing in the system.  Therefore, bourgeoisie White liberalism is colonialism and believes in the current system.  

Shut down Line 5?  What about help others choose recovery in your own backyard as environmental justice?  Or bringing a migrant farm worker family some clothes or decent housing that isn’t filled with mold?  If you drive a car then there is no reason to fight big oil?  Have plastic in your home?  Then get rid of everything that is associated with oil.  A partial list of products made from oil.  I am pro-industry but I believe the patriarchal industry needs to change.  I am pro-industry for the working class people.  I am pro-industry for the workers and the bread on the table.  I am from a working class family with UAW and CWA roots.  We need to change our ways but change and transformation takes time.  This downplaying of the poor and working class (who are mostly Native and People of Color) degrades the wealth and time of labour.  I am akin to the worker because it is in my blood and soul.  The sweat and tears for family and community instills a pride in labour.  Bourgeoisie White liberalism wants to end this labour without many solutions and doesn’t take into consideration colonial resource extraction in Indigenous communities to make their so called “environmental friendly,” Prius.

“Eco-consciousness” and “green living” are centrepieces of product branding for the Toyota Prius. But that feel-good packaging has rapidly worn thin for members of the Algonquin Nation and residents of Kipawa, Quebec, who are now fighting to protect traditional Algonquin territory from devastation in the name of hybrid car battery production.
In 2011, after nearly two years of negotiations, Matamec Explorations, a Quebec-based junior mining exploration company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Toyotsu Rare Earth Canada (TRECan), a Canadian subsidiary of Japan-based Toyota Tsusho Corporation. The memorandum confirmed Matamec’s intention to become “one of the first heavy rare earths producers outside of China.” In pursuit of this role, the company plans to build an open-pit Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE) mine directly next to Kipawa Lake, the geographical, ecological, and cultural centre of Kipawa.” - Toyota Prius Not So Green After All

Water is life but that sounds like pro-life.  How about water is love?  Water is healing?  Water is scary!  Have you ever seen 15 foot waves on Gitchee Gumee (Lake Superior) in November?  That is life but it is also death.  See story on the Edmund Fitzgerald

Colonial Land Conservation

There are White environmental groups who plague the city.  This money is funneled from White conservation foundations who grant to White environmental organizations to save the bay or save the bike lane.  There is an outright discrimination in philanthropy towards Native led groups as well.

“Over the past decade, U.S. foundation support benefiting Native Americans declined from 0.5 percent to 0.3 percent of total foundation giving. According to Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples, total grant dollars targeting Native Americans dropped 30.8 percent in the latest year, compared to a 14.1 percent overall downturn in foundation giving. This report was prepared by the Foundation Center with Native Americans in Philanthropy.” – Report: Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples, by Native Americans in Philanthropy & the Foundation Center (2011)

You don’t see White environmental groups prioritizing Indigenous communities or talking about that colonization is still taking place through their work.  They just tokenize Indigenous people and usually Indigenous men to maintain the stereotype of the strong Indian man warrior.  Because warriors aren’t women or Two-Spirits, right? 

Summer Tourism

The worst place to go in the summer is Traverse City swimming with a sea of tourists from Midwestern cities fleeing their colonial suburban homes. They want their taste of northern Michigan with easy access to overpriced shops and food snobbery.  What you get is people who want easy access to consumption tourism.  They don’t want to be where there is nobody or no sound – that’s too frightening.   

Take Off the Mask

You might as well take off the mask Traverse City.  Your true colors don’t have much color.  You look a little peeked, pale, and famished.  You have a problem and that is your provincial bubble of so called “liberalism.” But you are surrounding by red as a beet conservatism in Grand Traverse County. 

The attitude from Traverse City to Manistee or any place else is arrogance.  Just because the White road of success was laid out so you can have a cozy White life doesn’t mean you bash the folks who were born in dire poverty down by the river in Manistee.  Your bourgeoisie Whiteness makes you a racist asshole.  Many of those folks born down by the river happen to be Odawa Native American.   

Racial Justice

White liberals in Traverse City don’t care about addressing racism.  Having a “Human Rights Commission,” doesn’t mean much when there is discrimination in housing, work, and other areas in your city.  Nothing to pat yourself on the back about.  You have a lot of work to do.  Tokenizing minorities in the workplace is racism. 

Bad Medicine in Traverse City

I am pointing the finger at you and your nasty city.  Most every person I have ever met from Traverse City with the exception of a very few has bad medicine.  Every meeting I have gone there from work has turned to shit because the people are shit.  I’ve heard “Manistee-tucky,” and “we are better than Manistee,” from mostly White hillbillies who think they are somehow above the realness of Manistee.  I was there one time for work on my car and a White guy said, “you don’t look Native American, you look Pakistani.”  Do you get out much from your White town?  Then he went on to say, “the Native people around here are fat.  They are lazy.  They don’t live the culture.”   The town is so full of racism that my list could go on and on. 

From my point of view, the excessive amount of money (i.e. – Old Mission Colonial Peninsula) taints the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.  Members of this tribe are influenced by the gentry and bourgeoisie White liberalism that taints the land.  The culture is not strong nor is it intact.  The patriarchal Christian White influence has infiltrated the tribe.  Money is driving the band and if you have money before culture you lose the people.  My tribe is very poor but the culture is intact.  There are many many many sober community members who do the work and help other community members heal across Anishinaabe Aki.  This bad medicine in Traverse City has tainted any sort of centering Anishinaabe people in the region.  I will not do work in Traverse City and avoid that place like the plague.  If we have a meeting you can meet me in real salt of the Earth places such as Manistee or the anywhere in the UP! 

Defending Manistee

Not revealing too much about who we are one thing I can know is Manistee is real.  Manistee is far more diverse being inside the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians reservation.  My friend visited from Detroit and was happy to see Black and mixed families in Manistee.  We are real and not fake.  Manistee is not without problems.  Conservatives in Manistee here have encouraged my work on racial justice.  They are acquaintances at the park and friends.  When I first moved to Manistee I was impressed with Odawa kids playing with mixed race and Polish kids.  There is racism here too and White liberals who deny there is a problem.  Some have gone to Africa to paternalistically “help.”  Some who say they are Christians when they find the biggest sand dune and bury their head in it when racism is in their own backyard.  Manistee is working class and real.  Thank you Manistee for creating allies with conservatives and doing community work with people that is truly inclusive.