Amar Mergansana, ¡PRESENTE!


The first death in the coming world war, a refugee from Russia who turned himself in at the Tijuana border that is now fully militarized (or why we must remember our dead in order to commit to fight for the living)

SEATTLE, WA November 25, 2018 – Amar Mergansana came to the United States as a refugee, not from the European side of Russia, but from the Siberian periphery. Mr. Mergansana fled from Neo-Nazi’s, sustaining visible injuries to his body and invisible injuries to his spirit and mental wellbeing, but by the time that he surrendered himself to the United States of America on the Mexican border at Tijuana, asking for refuge from the coming war, and was later shuffled by a crooked bureaucracy to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center and in a word, left in a cage to be forgotten.

His spirit did not break.

America First world views must have skipped over the part about the history of Gulags in Siberia, or the ongoing independence struggles that continue to be waged as conflicts intensify in that part of the world. Just today, hours before writing these words on this page, one such conflict between Russia and the Ukraine intensified. Mr. Mergansana was not running simply from white supremacists who wanted to hurt him, he was running from a state with the legal authority to kill populations at a time under the banner of war.

I delivered a lecture last week, and served on a panel later that night on the topic of White Supremacy and how we fight it. I was more interested in sharing with the students and audience, how we continue to win. A hint is that it doesn’t start with nor end with America First.

In my lecture I explained to the students that one of the main interventions that I made in my dissertation work, was that it was crucial for historians and most importantly ethnic studies scholars to scale up.

I emphasized that it is only when we expand our geographies that we begin to make visible the truly global phenomenon of the collectivity of humanity. It is how we are able to weave Amar Megansana’s sacrifice to the collective will of humanity to live and to fight to the death for the living.

Mr. Megansana gave his life to us, people that he didn’t know and the people that were caged alongside him at the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center so that we can have the spirit to win. It is only by looking at his life from a global perspective that we are able to tell the direction that the wind now blows.

In this lecture, I explained that when we expand our temporalities, narratives of loss become narratives of hope.  I shared, you begin to see fierce battles raging simultaneously, that conditions that we thought were only about a certain type of human were conditions that we shared, struggles that we shared with other human beings and you begin to see that the side that always prematurely says it has won to break our spirits begin to flee because of people power. Because of acts of selflessness like Mr. Megansana’s who died of complications stemming from his and his colleagues historic and virtuous hunger strike.

I explained to the class that racism and white supremacy never left the continent of the United States of America, practices of Indian killers, slave patrols, and Lynch mobs rather than fading away were refined and then exported.

Violent American White Supremacy informed the Holocaust, and all of the imperial wars that the United States of America has been involved in ever since, including the coming conflict. Whole schools of warfare were refined by the US as it became an imperial war machine it wasn’t just the weapons, but the method that was exported.

I argued that with Donald Trump and his cronies this history is very clear, that this proverbial chicken has come home to roost.

But I reminded them that it is always darkest before the dawn.

One of the most crucial ideas I’ve ever penned came from our social movements.

Evergreen Lecture 11 14 18 copy

This position against white supremacy, racism and imperialism is the mindset that has helped us to win against all odds. It is the spirit that Mr. Megansana shared, even though he was born, raised and lived in such different circumstances half a globe away. His life shows us that our struggle and our fight is for humanity itself, a fight as our neighbors to the south have said time and time again is of our multiple forces of Life against their singular force of Death.

My lecture was titled, “Life in the face of Death,” my tagline throughout the day and night was that 80% of our work is generative, and only 20% is defense.

Last week I was in Boston, the people there also knew that the world was on the brink of war. Maybe it was the static, but multiple conversations I shared revolved around resistance, refusal and life. Food First: The Backgrounder will publish a related article I recently wrote titled “Immigration and the Food System” that will flesh those conversations out more concretely.

In Boston we noted that Israel, the United States of America, and Saudi Arabia appeared to be up to something, today the news reports Jared Kushner met with officials in Saudi Arabia, a country unwilling to loosen its imperial grip upon Yemen. Hours beforehand, Russia flexed an imperial grip upon the Ukraine.

I think Mr. Megansana’s message was loud and clear to these imperial powers: Our deaths will not save you.

Today, the complete militarization of an imaginary boundary between the United States of America and the United States of Mexico was implemented via a cooperation between the Donald Trump administration and the Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Administration, two settler colonial relics in the 21st century. It is clear, as Amar Megansana’s life illustrates, that the stemming of refugees from across the globe is the priority of that institutional cooperation in the coming world war.

Today, I mourn Amar Megansana’s death and I celebrate his life because I know that mourning softens even the hardest of hearts and sharpens our spirits in the most beautiful ways that we could never imagine on our own. As has the pantheon that came before him that marches with us towards the horizon.

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