Yes, this is the headgear of an early hate group

This hat still casts a long shadow

Okay, honestly, I have issues with words. I admit I commit verbicide.

I especially take issue with the words people use to describe the brutal history of the United States.

The people who terrorized and slaughtered Native people didn’t “discover” anything. I call no one a “founding father.” The offspring of the term “founding fathers” are forgetfulness and revisionism.

When I see the words “colony” and “colonist,” I see words filled with the manure that comes out of the word — colon. Those words led to the foulest shit for those on the receiving end.

Likewise, in the word “explorer,” I see exploitation.

In the word “pilgrim,” I see a grim pillage, and in the word “pioneer,” I see the makers of peons.

It’s horribly insulting to use those pretty words to describe what bad people did in history.

Similarly, I’m unsettled by the use of the word “settlers.”

Not everyone uses the word “settlers” in the same way, and it doesn’t clearly mean the same thing to everyone.

Is “settlers” the best word to call those who invaded, killed, and enslaved people?

What if we only used terms like invaders, murderers, and thieves? At least then, with those words, we’d be accurate and honest.

On adults, perhaps a change of words would only have a small impact. Most adults know the deal, they don’t care, and they are happy with a language that lies.

But a nation that doesn’t want political correctness and also doesn’t want to be honest about its history, will always remain ripe and rife with white supremacy.

If we used the honest words, the largest impact may be on young minds.

In her book, “How to be Less Stupid About Race,” Dr. Crystal M. Fleming says challenging these narratives about America, and its original leaders, is important to becoming less stupid about race and racism.

When we are smart about race and racism, we can’t see George Washington or Thomas Jefferson as great men who deserve statues, monuments, and holidays.

The term “settlers” gives one group of people a Thanksgiving, and another group of people a Day of Mourning.

The word “settlers” is white-centric; it doesn’t do justice to the people who upended everything about life for Native people.

This white-centering and whitewashing injustice happens with other words and terms too.

People have noticed how the phrase “people of color” is incomplete. Often people use the phrase “people of color” as a cover when they mean, and should say, ‘Black people.’

Likewise, people have pointed out how the term, “non-white” really centers white people.

Even the term “white nationalist” is a diluted and preferred name for those who are just white supremacists.

Like most words, the word “settler” has several meanings. One definition of a “settler” is one who “settles” something.

Another definition of “settler” is one who settles a new region or colony. Even the word “new” in the definition of “settler” is problematic.

As a verb, the word “settle” also has several meanings like: to furnish with new inhabitants: colonize, to end something by agreeing, to make quiet or orderly, and to fix or resolve conclusively.

The word “settler” has too many meanings. There are more precise and harder words we can use instead of “settlers.”

The imprecise, incomplete, misleading, and lying words help to maintain white supremacy.

Do you remember what Donald Trump said on this subject?

In a speech at the Naval Academy, in 2018, he said, “Our ancestors… tamed a continent…”

Well, that was Donald Trump talking from his big colon again.

The word “tame” is a lame and lying way to describe the horrors of history.

The invaders didn’t settle or tame anything; they started all kinds of shit.

Today, we need “settlers” who personify the good uses of the word.

The descendants of those who embodied the negative connotations of the word “settler” now need to embody the positive connotations of the word.

America has a moral and physical debt it owes to Native people and Black people.

Even if white people don’t want to call their fathers and mothers invaders, today is still an opportunity for them to become “settlers” in a positive way.

We need more people to settle themselves into the world and the work of social justice. We need people who will settle the old and ongoing disputes and make right what is wrong.

We need “settlers” who will redistribute lands back to Native people, and we need “settlers” who will support holistic reparations for Black people.

If people want to use the word “settlers,” then it’s only fair they do the good work of the word because, as is, the word “settlers” doesn’t work.

Oops, scratch that. Technically, as is, the word “settlers” works.

It works overtime for white supremacy, and I hate it because it works too well.

That’s why I’m a heckler to the peddlers of the word “settlers.”

Please join me.




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Sam McKenzie Jr.

Sam McKenzie Jr.

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