Dear Decaturish – U.S. territories shouldn’t be an afterthought in Black Lives Matter coverageProtestors filled the Decatur Square during a peaceful demonstration organized by the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights on June 7. Photo by Dean Hesse
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One talking point through the past week has been how the protests sparked by the racist murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are across all fifty US states and abroad in eighteen other countries besides.
People in the Northern Marianas Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico held protests, too. Neither US states nor other countries, the five are so-called US territories that could more accurately be called colonies, and are usually absent from US self-consciousness unless US possession of one of the five is threatened.
The soundbite makes clear the support for protests for Black lives and against brutality. It also obscures the histories of US empire in North America, in the Caribbean, and in the Pacific, and erases the US territories.
Besides perpetuating US territories’ invisibility, the “fifty states” line also implies that the US is simply a neat, consensual union of fifty peer polities. It omits the US’s imperial history, and hides from view its near and overseas possessions to this day.
Regardless of one’s own stance, nationwide US news coverage should always include the US territories, because US territories are a part of the US.
– Arron Luo
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