They Owe Us
Fuck paying your debt. They owe us land. Land became property, real estate to be bought and sold, people displaced from land and forced into labor. Out of the vast wealth produced through the exploitation and genocide of our peoples, came the banking and financial systems that own our debt. Taking these ongoing histories seriously urges us toward a different set of solutions, grounded not just in fighting debt, but rather the defense of the land and bodies, attacking this shit at the source. The real debt is with the land. Despite our sometimes fractured relationships with it, we are the land, and our roots will always be more powerful.
Wake up. Commute. Clock in. Sell your time and energy for a paycheck that never seems to be enough. Clock out. Commute. Doom scroll until you fall asleep. Repeat. Shit can feel so bleak sometimes huh? The cycle feels inescapable; fantasizing about breaking out of this is a luxury most of us can’t afford. Credit cards, student loans, medical debt–the weight of what we owe ties us down to a lifestyle none of us asked for… but one we’re all supposed to desire. We’ve come to accept our indebtedness as ‘just the way things are,’ a pothole in our road towards attaining ‘success,’ in building the ‘generational wealth’ that’s been denied for so many of our communities. So put your head down and work hard. Buy a house (and get in more debt). Start a family. Produce. Consume (by getting in even more debt). This is the dream we’ve been sold, a debt most of us will never be able to pay back. Why do we continue to play along? Is this the dignified life we all deserve?
Anger, sadness, despair; We feel the consequences of these debts in our minds, our bodies, and our relationships. Under the weight of all of this, many of us have forgotten that our roots run deeper than these conditions we’ve come to accept.
Yet, this unignorable and inescapable debt isn’t the source of our misery. Forgiving student loan debt or paying off your credit card isn’t a magic fix that will restore the dignity that they’ve stolen from us through more than 500 years of the expansion of a system built on wealth accumulation by any means necessary. Land became property, a commodity, and real estate to be bought and sold, people displaced from land and forced into labor. Taking these ongoing histories seriously urges us toward a different set of solutions, grounded not just in fighting debt, but rather the defense of the land and bodies, attacking this shit at the source. The real debt is with the land. Despite our sometimes fractured relationships with it, we are the land, and our roots will always be more powerful.
So what if it were different? It was once. It can be again.
What if dignified work meant labor in and towards generative, life giving practices?
What if we felt nourished and fed by the things we did with our lives?
What if our societies were based in dignity and mutual aid rather than extraction?
Our futures are rooted in practices older and deeper than debt, older than mortgages and land ownership, older than credit cards and capitalism.
Our roots are more powerful than debt.
So fuck your debt. They owe us. And it’s up to us to collect.
If we are the land, then we must defend her/ourselves. Land defense means building autonomy, self-determination, regenerating reciprocity.
Defending the land means defending our communities, our families, ourselves, and our bodies from bosses, landlords, police, prisons, and the state.
Defending the land means fighting patriarchy and gender-based violence, mending harm, transforming inequality.
Defending the land means reclaiming and returning ancestral territories to their original caretakers and engaging Indigenous leadership.
Defending the land means creating community-based solutions to protect our water, our air, our earth and all of our relatives.
Defending the land means living differently for a possibility of surviving and building another future.
Action is the antidote.
Who in your territory is leading the way back to balance with the land?
What can you do to support?
No matter your territory, things are already in motion. Plug in. If you can’t find groups engaging in land defense locally- then create one!
We owe it to each other, ourselves, the future.
Life is more valuable than debt.
The debt is to the land.
We are the land.
They owe us.
Defend The Land.
Back to the Land was born after 5 months of the ‘Territories of Transition’ narrative lab, where 28 land defenders from Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Alaska, Canada, USA, México, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador gathered to hack the hegemonic narrative around land ownership. We used the Culture Hack method to co-create this narrative and campaign. #BackToTheLand is under Creative Commons Non-Comercial Share Alike 4.0.