Decolonization 101

Straight from “the horse’s mouth”, i.e. a decolonizing Native American activist named Shea Sandy:

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In my experience the Indigenous voice is usually struggling to be heard. Struggling to be heard among the din and noise of the ever-crowding colonists who scream out their theories turned gossip and gossip turned theories as if they are fact and “truth”, pointing to the colonist composed books, media and scientific data as proof of their “truth”.  All the while never once during their studying, deep thinking, data collection and empirical evidence-making do they consider that it all comes from colonist minds filtered through a colonists lens and back into colonist minds. Which would be fine if all they talked about were the ways of being a european colonist but it is not fine at all when it comes to other things.

When it comes to Indigenous americans we are nearly wiped out by genocidal colonization and the blank spaces are then filled in by the same colonists who never think to ask an “Indian”. They never (very rarely) think to ask the very people they are talking about. We are still here. But we don’t have newspapers, encyclopedias, n=1 studies or empirical evidence to “support” our “claims”. The brilliant speakers and writers we do have are not taken seriously and rarely if ever referred to…. except by our own.
If someone wanted to know all about YOU, would you not want them to ask YOU instead of the people that tried to annihilate you?

I think it’s a good idea for everyone to really listen to the [traditional] Indigenous Voices whose homeland you are standing on, perhaps you will catch a glimpse of the Indigenous american lens/world view.

Indeed we are all suffering from the current state of things, brought to us by colonization and industrialization. Let us all pray and take action in our own ways so that the suffering stops and the balance of good life returns.

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Honoring Paula Gunn Allen & the Red Roots of White Feminism

“Without the power of woman the people will not live, but with it, they will endure and prosper.”

One major shortcoming of white feminism is that it talks a lot about what is wrong with our world, but gives not much in the form of solutions or examples of how to live well.  The most popular solutions to fix the fuckery of the patriarchal colonist culture that I’ve heard from white feminists is to castrate or abort boy children, and/or eliminate all males.  Neither of these solutions are realistic or humane.  I’ve noticed that the most sensical and humane solutions come from Indigenous minds like Paula Allen Gunn, who gives us much to think about.  A sample of her views:

Tribal societies [were/are] based on a belief in the central importance of female energies, autonomy of individuals, cooperation, human dignity, human freedom, and egalitarian distribution of status, goods, and services. Respect for others, reverence for life, and as a by-product, pacifism as a way of life; importance of kinship ties in the customary ordering social interaction; a sense of the sacredness and mystery of existence; balance and harmony in relationships both sacred and secular were all features of life among the tribal confederacies and nations. And, in those that lived by the largest number of these principles, gynarchy was the norm rather than the exception. Those systems are as yet unmatched in any contemporary industrial, agrarian, or postindustrial society on earth.

“Feminists too often believe that no one has ever experienced the kind of society that empowered women and made that empowerment the basis of its rules of civilization. The price the feminist community must pay because it is not aware of the recent presence of gynarchical societies on this continent is unnecessary confusion, division, and much lost time.”

America does not seem to remember that it derived its wealth, its values, its food, much of its medicine, and a large part of its “dream” from Native America. It is ignorant of the genesis of its culture in this Native American land, and that ignorance helps to perpetuate the long-standing European and Middle Eastern monotheistic, hierarchical, patriarchal cultures’ oppression of women, gays, and lesbians, people of color, working class, unemployed people, and the elderly.

The American idea that the best and the brightest should willingly reject and repudiate their origins leads to an allied idea—that history, like everything in the past, is of little value and should be forgotten as quickly as possible. This all too often causes us to reinvent the wheel continually. We find ourselves discovering our collective pasts over and over, having to retake ground already covered by women in the preceding decades and centuries. The Native American view, which highly values maintenance of traditional customs, values, and perspectives, might result in slower societal change and in quite a bit less social upheaval, but it has the advantage of providing a solid sense of identity and lowered levels of psychological and interpersonal conflict.

If American society judiciously modeled the traditions of the various Native Nations, the place of women in society would become central, the distribution of goods and power would be egalitarian, the elderly would be respected, honored, and protected as a primary social and cultural resource, the ideals of physical beauty would be considerably enlarged (to include “fat)” strong-featured women, gray-haired, and wrinkled individuals, and others who in contemporary American culture are viewed as “ugly”). Additionally, the destruction of the biota, the life sphere, and the natural resources of the planet would be curtailed, and the spiritual nature of human and nonhuman life would become a primary organizing principle of human society. And if the traditional tribal systems that are emulated included pacifist ones, war would cease to be a major method of human problem solving.  (Source)

The part about  how “civilized/modern” (colonist) culture constantly reinvents the wheel cannot be over stated.  I would much rather have centuries upon centuries of meaningful knowledge and customs passed down to me and live a tradition-oriented, slower-paced life than be faced with the current cultural amnesia I and so many of us have.  There is so much ignorance and confusion that erupted for those of us who’ve severed our umbilical cord to earth and her beings, as Andrea Carmen from the Yaqui nation put it (source):

I think of [feminism] as a white woman’s movement. This was certainly the case when I first became familiar with the term and the “ism” white women identified with. Those of us who were Native American and Chicano women at UCSC felt isolated by that philosophy which seemed to be something that pit male against female, with the primary oppressor being the man. We came to realize that maybe for white women it was the white male that was the oppressor in their culture — but for us as Indigenous peoples it was the entire colonizer and colonizing society, and the male-female subdivision was not a predominant focus.

Our men have been affected by colonization – we aren’t saying we don’t see the violence against women committed by men, or rape, or domestic violence.  However, we see that in a bigger context – we don’t see “men” to be the single primary enemy. [..]  [T]he reason that European men could do this [genocidal brutalities/colonization] to our people is because they had already cut the umbilical cord in their homeland.

I don’t think we need to reject feminism though — I think we need to redefine it, find common points and common ground and involve Indigenous peoples and other communities of colour.  As long as there is mutual respect and all of our cultural and historic realities are brought into the mix, we can create cross-cultural human movements.” (source)

My own Russian Jewish roots were severed when we migrated from Russia to Israel then to Canada and as we took on the euro-western way of life.  Of course, the current Russian way of life is not appealing to me as it is not a tribal/indigenous way of living.  I don’t know how the hell I will (re)learn/(re)connect with my indigenous Siberian roots, but since many indigenous cultures share much in common as far as living WITH earth and its beings, I will continue looking to DEcolonized voices and cultures to (re)learn a good way of life.  I have much work to do.

I look forward to checking out more of Paula Gun Allen’s views and am most grateful for the critical information she has left for us.  I am also grateful for the reminder of the red roots of white feminism, something so often ignored in feminist conversations and actions.  Without respecting and incorporating *traditional* indigenous views into its ideology and action plans, feminism is vastly incomplete.  Whether we are red, white, black or yellow (or a mix), we all come from tribal roots.  Instead of stealing (and usually bastardizing) North American indigenous cultures, those of us who are non-Native have to (re)connect with our own tribal herstories and histories if we want to live a life of freedom, health, happiness and balanced harmony.  For those of us living on stolen Native land occupied by colonist ways of life, we must reject this way and incorporate tribal ways as directed and governed by traditional indigenous people of that land, especially given that non-Natives are uninvited guests/occupiers.  Isn’t this the only fair and logical solution?

“There needs to be struggle in order to lay out a path to co-exis-tence, and that the process of being uncomfortable is essential for non-Indigenous peoples to move from being enemy, to adversary, to ally”. (Mohawk scholar Taiaiake Alfred)

“Western notions of polite discourse are not the norm for all of us, and just because we’ve got some new and hot language like “intersectionality” to use in our talk, it doesn’t necessarily make things change in our walk (i.e., actually being anti-racist.” (Jessica Yee)

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Update: Political Prisoner Lynne Stewart Free on Compassionate Release — Time to Release Leonard Peltier!

On December 31st, political prisoner and radical human rights lawyer Lynne Stewart was released after being imprisoned for 4 years.  She can now spend what’s left of her life free and surrounded by loved ones.

This feels like a good beginning to a new year.  There is so much justice that needs to happen in our world.

Time to Free Leonard Peltier!

I am hoping with all my heart and guts that American Indian activist & political prisoner Leonard Peltier will also be released very soon.  He has been wrongfully locked up and mercilessly tortured by the colonists in charge for the last 37+ years — my entire life, and then some.  He is also ill (has been for a long time);  we don’t know how long he has left on earth.

Compassionate release is the least that can be given to Leonard and the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas whose oppression and continued genocide he was resisting and what got him imprisoned to begin with.  The FBI has stated that Leonard will never leave prison alive, but Leonard and his supporters refuse to accept this fate. As one petitioner stated, As long as Leonard Peltier remains incarcerated, each second that passes results in a new crime committed against Leonard and Native Peoples.

Please sign & share widely this petition to free Leonard.

Here’s hoping 2014 will bring more good things in the name of liberation.  Releasing Leonard Peltier would not right the many horrific wrongs that the US government has inflicted on him in the last four decades, but it sure would be a solid step in the right direction.

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers – 17th December

Feminist Rag:

In the fight to end sexual slavery/commercial sexual exploitation, there are many issues and controversies.  One has to do with power & popularity games that some feminist (and non feminist) “allies” play with survivor-activists.  Another is disagreements existing among survivor activists themselves around how to best eradicate the harm of the sex trade, such as the Swedish/Nordic legal model, which many survivors are pushing, and which survivor Ruth Jacobs informs has some shortcomings and is causing some harm. Read her article to understand why.

I need deeper conversations beyond “abolish prostitution now” because it’s NOT being abolished now and we have a long way before reaching a truly free, safe and equal world for ALL.  Sex trade survivors are the experts of prostitution/sexual slavery, and their voices are diverse.  Non-survivors must listen to and speak with as many survivors as possible for clarity, and we must all act TOGETHER in actions that help and work, not harm or hinder.

Originally posted on Ruth Jacobs:

Every Sex Worker Deserves SafetyI wanted to write something for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers but I didn’t think I could as I’ve been in too much of a dark place these last few weeks with my own suffering from the repercussions of sexual violence. I wanted to go to London to stand in solidarity with sex workers and allies to mark this day, but for the same reasons, tonight, I couldn’t do that either. Then I felt selfish wrapped up with my own pain when tonight there will be women in the sex trade who will be raped, who will be beaten and some will be murdered. So I have to say this…

Violent men think they can beat, rape and murder women in the sex trade because they do not have the protection of the police and recourse to justice. Then there are some feminists who say all sex work is…

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Lynne Stewart: Radical “People’s Lawyer” & Dying Political Prisoner Supporting the Oppressed With all Her Guts

“The Government is masterful at Co-optation, at snatching victory and making it defeat.”

74-year old Lynne Stewart is a rare example of someone with privilege (i.e. a white woman with a law degree) who used that privilege to fight for the rights and justice of humanity with all her heart and guts.  Doing so got her imprisoned on bullshit bogus charges by the oppressive US colonist government and she is now wasting away with stage 4 cancer in Carswell, a women’s federal medical prison in Texas (the only one in the country).

Unjust imprisonment (segregation of people is only ever okay towards those who are a legitimate danger to others) is an all too common tragedy for anyone who is an effective freedom fighter.  Awesome and radical American Indian activist Leonard Peltier comes to mind; he has has been illegally imprisoned and mercilessly tortured by the sadists in charge for the last 37 years and counting.  The psychopathic colonist government does everything in their power to either destroy you or your family if you rock the boat too much and have too many people paying attention to what you say in the name of true freedom and liberation.  The FBI has said that John Trudell, another fierce American Indian activist, is extremely eloquent, therefore extremely dangerous.  This is evidence of how much fear un-mined, thinking minds instill in the violent colonist oppressors so hell bent on control.

Getting punished didn’t stop Leonard or John from fighting for freedom, and it didn’t stop Lynne from fighting for the oppressed using “the law” as her weapon.  Activism is not a walk in the park; it is a very serious and oftentimes dangerous endeavor and one that can cost you your life if you’re good at it.  Luckily Lynne has a lot of people across the world supporting her, so here’s hoping she’ll be released very soon so she can spend what’s left of her life surrounded by loved ones.

From her website:

Lynne Stewart is a radical human rights attorney who has devoted her life to the oppressed – a constant advocate for the countless many deprived in the United States of their freedom and their rights. Lynne has been falsely accused of helping terrorists in an obvious attempt by the U.S. government to silence dissent, curtail vigorous defense lawyers, and install fear in those who would fight against the U.S. government’s racism, seek to help Arabs and Muslims being prosecuted for free speech and defend the rights of all oppressed people. She was arrested in April 2002 and arraigned before Manhattan federal Judge John Koeltl, who also presided over her trial in 2004. She was convicted, and received a 28-month sentence in October 2006. However she was free on bail until 2009, when the government appealed the sentence. In late 2009 Lynne was re-sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. She is now in a federal medical facility for women in Texas, thousands of miles away from her home, family and community.

Please sign this petition asking for Lynne’s immediate release from prison on compassionate grounds.

For any of you who believe in “the law” and have plans to try using it to seek justice, check out Lynne’s words to aspiring lawyers:

I wanted to send you this most important Health Bulletin–Not Personal (pause) but on the steady evisceration of the Right to Counsel, the bulwark of all we do.  Within the last weeks, a suspect was forcibly detained for crimes against the US.  He was taken from Libya to an offshore (ship?) where he was being interrogated, read tortured.  When the Public Defenders of the Southern District of New York, where his case is ostensibly pending, attempted to have counsel appointed for him, they were turned down in no uncertain terms by Judges using the now all too common weasel words.  But this is not a new phenomenon–it is apparent over and over again and the question remains–what are WE, who claim to be the last protection against an overreaching state going to do about it?

How important is this ?  I need to tell a couple of anecdotes about lawyering–my dear deceased friend Bill Kunstler in the tumultuous years in which the FBI-JTTF was rounding up the remnants of the Underground, Sekou Odinga, a member of the Black Panthers and then the Black Liberation Army, related to me that he had been detained in a Queens NYC precinct for many hours, was being water boarded by the police in one of the toilets, and was really feeling it badly when all at once he heard the booming voice of the Great Kunstler echoing through the hallways demanding to see his client and he knew that he had been saved.   The other story was one that I told at an earlier convention and a young lawyer from San Diego wrote to tell me that it had turned her life around.  After my arrest, Ralph and I were stuck in Manhattan traffic, when a bicycle messenger pulled up and tapped on my window.  When I opened it he said in an excited and joyous voice “You THE Lawyer !!  You the LAWYER !!!   Indeed I was and Indeed it was and is my greatest ambition and accomplishment to be THE lawyer.

Back in the day and I mean way back, when this adversary system had its origins, the accused had the right to select a champion to fight for their rights and I mean fight–jousting, swordplay, mace and chain — ok perhaps a little hyperbole, BUT the message is clear–we were hired for our brawn as well as brains, our courage as well as legal acumen.  We need to get courage and creativity in combat, back into the equation.   It’s not about schmoozing the prosecution or the Judge.  How many courtrooms have I walked into where there was not one friendly face–there was just me and the client ?  Even the stenographers were hostile !  And that’s ok because I was there for only one reason, the one I took an oath to zealously pursue, the defense of my client.  Was it fearsome personally?  Of course.  But to do otherwise was more so.

I urge everyone to return to the days of robust lawyering.  Be Bill Kunstler in the precinct.  Be “THE LAWYER” .  Be the champion who defends fearlessly.  When I say that the right to counsel is being eviscerated I mean that the forces of the empire are very busy removing the nerves, the hearts and guts of the Fifth Amendment and leaving it a shell of what it was and can be.  We are the opposition that need to gather our shields and swords in its defense and be selfless and brave. Let us press forward–Instead of the derision we often face, let us all strive to be “the Lawyer” respected and honored.

Lynne is a refreshing reminder to me to fight until my last breath for what is Right.  She also has me re-considering law school.  Not because I believe in “the law” or the psychopaths that create and enforce laws in the predatory colonist culture, but because if you learn the oppressor’s language you can use it against them, in this case their legal mumbo jumbo in their precious court rooms — until they punish you for it.  But we will get punished either way at some point for standing up for what’s right, so then the question becomes “in what way do I want to fight for what’s Right, and what am I good at?”

Good luck to my fellow freedom fighters in our collective struggle for liberation, and good luck to Lynne Stewart in getting out of prison immediately.  Thank you Lynne for showing us what it means to use privilege in a positive way that truly helps others; I hope to see many more lawyers follow in your fierce lawyering footsteps!

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Teen Sexual Violence: What our Media and Culture Is Missing

Feminist Rag:

Excellent article by Nadia worth reading, including some good links provided throughout to learn more, including two pro-active prevention/education programs for this very preventable cultural horror show. We create our culture; it’s up to us to change it.
http://listengirlfriends.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/media-framing-of-sexual-assault/comment-page-1/#comment-719

Originally posted on Listen Girlfriends!:

The year 2013 has definitely brought about a shift in cultural consciousness. For the last year, our culture and media have finally started to critically examine rape culture and the prevalence of sexism, harassment and sexual assault worldwide. We were horrified by the tragic events in Steubenville and New Delhi, India. These assaults touched and angered so many of us and triggered an urgent call not just for dialogue and awareness, but also, for education and systemic change.  To that end, the Title IX movement, which is working to fight campus rape culture, launched earlier this year. Its mission is to work to “support all survivors, to change how colleges and universities handle sexual assault, and to change a culture where violence is normalized.” Survivors and allies have filed federal Title IX and Clery Act complaints at various universities in the U.S. for not providing the needed resources…

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Shed the Cold, Dehumanizing Blue, Build & Flex the Tribal Red

You can learn more about the Anishinaabe 7 Grandfathers’ Teachings here.  Below are short & beautiful descriptions of each (pg.16):

Bravery/Courage
Share courage, not aggression. Share your thoughts and feelings with people who support living good lives. Believe in your love and kind feelings for others. Believe that the work you put into being kind and loving, helps you live a good life.

Honesty
Share kind thoughts or feelings to help you live a good life. Be kind and honest so others might choose to be kind and honest in return. Kind honesty encourages others to consider your words and friendship.

Humility

Be good to all living things, because each has a unique spirit within. Each of us carry special gifts that will help us
live good lives. Know that each of us can make mistakes, and that each of us can learn from mistakes. Each of us can laugh to feel good about life, without hurting others.
Love
Share kindness. Living a good life helps us to care for others, and helps us to feel cared for by others. It is normal to disagree with people who we love, who we care for, or who we are kind to. It is not normal to feel fear, or pain from people who we love, who we care for, or who we are kind to.
Respect
Value others for the goodness they share.  Accept that each of us experience, and understand life differently. Remember that each of us is special. We should never ask or force people to be different for us.
Truth/Honesty

Practice the Seven Grandfather Teachings for a good life. Remember the teachings were given for people to share with each other. Working to live a good life makes you a strong individual.
Wisdom

Share patience. Hold your words and listen before you speak. You might remember better words if you wait. If you are patient with your words you might learn something new before you share. Patience can help you to be safe.
Generosity (by Shea Sandy)
Generosity is vital for us and the web of life in which we live.  There will be times when others need your help and there will be times when you need help from others.  When everyone is as generous as they are able to be, it ensures the well-being and survival of all.  Some ways to show our generosity are by helping those in need, by always giving back to Earth when taking something or some Being, or generally sharing what ever you have with those around you – you could chop wood for elders, teach a skill you know, volunteering, etc.

The Seven Grandfathers are traditional teachings given by the Creator to the Ojibwe to teach them what is important so that they know how to live.  The Seven Grandfathers are traditional teachings on Love, Humility, Honesty, Courage, Wisdom, Generosity and Respect.  Each of the Grandfathers is a lesson that is viewed as a gift of knowledge for the learning of values and for living by these values.  Although each teaching represents a wealth of wisdom on its own, collectively they represent what was needed for community survival.  The Ojibwe were taught that the Seven Grandfathers could not be used in isolation.  To practice one without the other would amount to practicing the opposite of that teaching.  Therefore, to not love is to be fearful; to not be humble is to be egotistical; to not be honest is to be dishonest; to not be courageous is to be cowardly

Central to this philosophy, or worldview, is the emphasis on the larger perspective, the effects on others, the family, the community, the region and the universe, as the Ojibwe (and other Aboriginal peoples) believe that all beings are connected, like links in a chain.  A belief in the interdependence of all living things frames Aboriginal value systems.  Animals are no less important than humans, and plants are no less important than animals.  Water and wind, sun and moon and the changing of the seasons are all related to each other and to humans.  We are all part of one great whole.  As this awareness dictates a vision of the world as a whole, traditional Aboriginal thinking concludes that life forms maintain their health and balance through the focus on harmony as opposed to individual wants or needs.  The Seven Grandfathers were designed to achieve harmony.  Source

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Details and descriptions may differ from tribe to tribe and Nation to Nation but the basic core values are the same.

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International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Originally posted on Rebecca Mott:

Today the UN has stated to be International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women – but as I am in the middle of sending a petition to stop the UN from decriminalising all of prostitution – I would question their commitment to ending all male violence to all women.

This saddened me to the roots of my being – I was brought up to respect the UN and to think it upheld human rights for all.

I was wrong, and I cry as I see my dreams smashed into the ground.

Human rights are not for the prostituted class – the prostituted class do not have the right to be fully human, so why waste human rights on them.

I fully support all women and girls that are covered by this day – all I asked is that the prostituted class are included.

How can it be possible…

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” I was a victim of revenge porn. I don’t want anyone else to face this”

Feminist Rag:

Holy shit. A must read and a must stop, stat!

Originally posted on Anti-Porn Feminists:

In February 2010, my ex-boyfriend, Joey (name changed) and I had a fight over a skirt I wore to work. He deemed the skirt too short. He shamed me, called me a hooker, and accused me of sleeping with all my male friends. After watching his jealousy and possessiveness steadily increase over our seven-month relationship, I was at my breaking point. We were over.

The day after the fight, Joey called me at 11:53pm. He was livid. He said he was looking on my Facebook page and from what he could see it was clear I was sleeping with at least three other guys. I tried to rationalize with him, to convince him he was mistaken. But he was too far-gone to hear me.

He threatened to start an eBay auction. If I didn’t tell him the truth about how many other guys I was sleeping with, he said he…

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Coming Soon: My Talk Show / Vlog Site!

Heyy there!  Its been a while since I’ve blogged so I wanted to give you a little update.

I’ve been growing tired of and frustrated with reading, reading (more reading) and (attempting to!) write about certain complex issues — issues that I feel are much better tackled live and discussed amongst groups of people who care; it makes conversation so much more dynamic.  As such I am in the process of creating a talk show / vlog website where I will have video conversations with interesting people about important topics.  Topics will range from things like opiophobia to the sex trade/prostitution to relationships to sex & gender stuff around lezbo/gay/queer/transgender/transsexuality matters, to name a few.

I want to talk to interesting people about meaningful things and share these conversations with the community so we can figure some shit out that gets us closer to living the safe, free and meaningful life we are all entitled to.  If there are topics you would like to see covered or that you want to engage with me in discussing, please let me know.

I’m a fluid Pisces so I have no formulaic way I’m going about doing this, nor do I have launch dates in mind.  Just know that this is all coming soon and I’m very excited about it!

So stay tuned, my new website will be announced as soon as I work it all out (content is in the works)!  I look forward to sharing and engaging with you in this new way!  Until then, be well, and much peace and power to us all!

NOTE:  I’ll likely be dropping the feminist label because it has felt limiting, suffocating and just not right to me ever since I began using it –  I’ve never wholly identified as feminist anyway but I strongly believe in (healthy) matriarchy and I love being female and the company of females (and other queerios).  (White) Feminism has just left one too many bad tastes in my mouth, though it also opened some wonderful doors and facilitated some amazing womyn connections for me which I am forever grateful for.  It’s just time to free myself from the chains of colonist labels and boxes and have some Real Talk about stuff that matters to me, with people who matter.

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