Sunday, May 17, 2009

And the Conversation Begins

“So Bianca, what would you choose?”

As we were navigating through the never-ending stretch of asphalt known as “Back Road,” my mom and I began a casual conversation concerning the 2ND Chamorro Summit. We were one of the few participants that sacrificed a perfect Saturday morning to confront an issue that, until 2008, had never been resolved. With epiphanies about our disrepresentation amongst the Washington-folk, plebiscites, the three choices outlined by the U.N. Decolonization Committee, and a clear definition of what this movement really is about, we were shocked that an issue as important as this was not being addressed more openly amongst our people.

But enough about that. What was my answer?

“I don’t know what I’d choose,” I replied honestly.

And that answer still sticks with me until this day.

The year is 2009, and since the 2nd Chamorro Summit, my mother and I still don't know what we'd pick, and there is no doubt that we are not the only individuals amongst our Chamorro people to not have an answer.

Before I reached this epiphany at the Chamorro Summit, I was never fully aware of what the concept of "decolonization" entailed; does it encompass a bunch of crazy people banding together, demanding we go back to grass huts and skirts?

Well, before I went to the Summit, that's what I thought, and I'm pretty sure I was not the first nor the last individual to view the concept in that light. So, what is decolonization?

In my own interpretation, decolonization is the process that calls for us to redesign and make clear our relationship with the colonizing power.

However, decolonization is NOT:
  • Some racist, anti-American campaign; the individuals that I've spoken to have not expressed any biased views or stated "down with America," or what have you.
  • Some way for people to gain more federal money, or a platform people use to blame the Feds.
  • Independence. One of the choices is independence, but its meaning is not immediately equated to independence.

According to the U.N.'s Committee on Decolonization, this relationship can evolve into 3 forms:

  1. Immersion with the power (in Guam's case, statehood)
  2. Free-Association
  3. Independence

The relationship would be determined by the indigenous peoples of the area in question, in the form of a plebiscite, and the existing colonies must render a decision by a certain date (in this case, around 2011 or 2012).

However, there is a problem: nothing's happening. Or at least, until now.

There are a few individuals among my island community that have realized the deadline, and want to do something about it. With the military buildup, a strategic relocation of thousands of Marines with no input or say from our island community, the talk of decolonization has evolved from whispers among the outdoor kitchens or the barbeque to full-on forums and gatherings.

This blog will cover the progression towards my final decision on the matter, as well as the events, opinions, and circumstances that contribute to my decision or lack thereof. But that's not my only goal with "The Decolonization Conversation;" I also want you, the reader, to write your thoughts as well, so that we may actually turn this monologue into useful dialogue. Should we try? What if there won't be a chance for all of us to speak our minds in regards to this matter? What if there isn't a plebiscite within the near future?

Perhaps the best thing we can do is just speak out anyway, and let this conversation begin.

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