by Ricardo Levins Morales
During the same years that Simón Bolivar was warning the newly independent nations of Latin America that the greatest threat to their sovereignty was U.S. imperialism, and urged a strategy of unity and cultural independence in order to prevent a reconquest, the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa were warning the indigenous people of North America of the same dangers, and built a Pan-Indian alliance to unify the Native nations, restore indigenous cultural and spiritual values, and oppose U.S. expansion.
Two hundred years later, U.S. capitalism and imperial domination continue to be the greatest threats to sovereignty, democracy, economic, social and environmental justice inside and outside its borders, in Latin America and the world. The revolutionary processes now taking place in Latin America represent the most successful opposition to that threat, and have made it the most hopeful place on earth in a time of tremendous danger. The support and defense of an integrated, independent, egalitarian Latin America capable of withstanding U.S. domination is in the highest interests of all people, but especially of the people of the United States, whose liberation has always been deeply entwined, whether we knew it or not, with that of all of America. At the same time, everything we are able to do to weaken U.S. imperialism has impact around the world, but especially in Latin America.
I have learned over long, hard decades, the power of a personal story deeply embedded in context. What I am setting out to do is to tell the story of my body, my aging, ailing, female, Caribbean Jewish, immigrant, disabled, queer, art-making, epileptic, childbirth-scarred body—and to deepen that story with history and widen it with ecology and global vision, until in encompasses everything I am burning to write and speak and make art about.
And the vision of what I want to do has changed the shape of the house, the strategy for funding it, the network of collaborators I’m building, and what I dream about at night. But most of all, it’s given me back that sense of anticipation, of knowing that I’m living inside an epic tale of adventure, where messages and teachers are everywhere, and neither time, nor effort, nor any experience at all, is ever wasted.
This time, though, I’m not setting out alone. At fifty-seven, I exist in a rich, dense mat of relationships, able to chart a course in which adventure co-exists with planning, where amidst the magic of happenstance, messages can also be asked for, and teachers encountered by design. The encounters I am planning for are with people whose passions overlap with mine, with organizations that can make good use of my brief presence, with archivists and librarians who can put their fingertips on things I need to know, and also with landscapes, from the closest we have to pristine, to those as scarred and ailing as the sickest among us.