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Countering the Effects of U.S. Imperialism

Kaixo/Hola/Hello,

I want to briefly tell you about something that is happening on our RC wide world change e-mail discussion list that affects our relationships and our participation on it. I am referring to e-mails about U.S. internal affairs.

I think this letter can help us to have a wider perspective about what is possible in our mutual relationships. I will tell you about my experience as a person living in southern Europe, in Euskal Herria/Basque Country, who was born and raised in Spain.

When I was a child, news about life in the United States occupied a central place and was highlighted in my country’s media—especially news about political issues, of course. We were much more familiar with the customs and interests of U.S. people (especially through U.S. films, which predominate in Europe) than with the customs and interests of our neighbors in rural areas, for example. In fact, many of us could say the names of dozens of U.S. states and cities while we could barely identify all the provinces and cities of our country. Something similar keeps happening, both in Spain and in the Basque Country.

I’m talking about how U.S. imperialism, coming from the dominant U.S. society, has affected and still affects us.

There are many ways that the e-mails on the RC lists further open the door to imperialism and increase the space it occupies in my mind. I will give you a few examples:

  • They invite those of us who are not from the United States to put our attention on the political, historical, and social affairs of that country, and they assume that we know about certain people that are famous to USers.
  • They refer to U.S. debates and television programs to which probably most of us do not have access (even if we were interested) and that certainly would not be in our language.
  • They move the thinking, perspective, and events of the dominant U.S. white society into the center of attention.
  • They lack a perspective on language liberation. Often they are long and written only in English, use expressions not everyone can understand, mention U.S. social-historical-cultural references, and don’t have an opening paragraph that summarizes the main ideas.

There is something powerful we can do: we can work together so that all of us can understand the e-mails written in English and can also write our own thinking; we can make sure that the participation of non-U.S. and non-English-speaking people is real and equal.

One way to do this is to build the network of people who translate what we write in other languages (like what you are now reading) into English—for example, by giving attention to those who translate into English.

I appreciate your interest in my letter.

Maitasunez eta begirunez/Con amor y respeto/With love and respect,

Juan Manuel Feito Guerrero, Translated from Spanish to English by Terry Fletcher

Bilbao, Bizkaia, Euskal Herria-Basque Country

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of wide world change

(Present Time 186, January 2017)


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00