Opinion - Gunpowder explosions at costumed re-enactments is the most blatantly racist Elk Grove city ordinance to date

By Michael Monasky |

Ed. note: These comments were submitted to the Elk Grove City Clerk regarding Item 10.4: Public use of gunpowder for education and entertainment on the Elk Grove City Council's January 10, 2019 agenda.

There is a long historical record of genocidal and racist fear-mongering by colonial whites against native aboriginals and enslaved, imported former inhabitants of Africa. Whether by depriving them of their land by homicide or their freedom by forced labor, indigenous peoples here and abroad were used by the political and economic system of capital accumulation to enrich and empower adventuresome, chauvinistic, colonial white males. They accomplished these aggressive acts with steel and gunpowder: with their axes, they took trees; with their knives, they took red skin; with their gunpowder, they inflicted fear among primeval peoples unacquainted with such technology.

There is nothing educational about observing a historical re-enactment of a revolutionary or civil war battle, nor any socially redeeming value, entertaining or otherwise, in experiencing a pair of gunslingers in a quick-draw shoot out. If that were the case, TV cowboy shows and civil war flicks would have informed us that there was an established civilization here long before the arrival of Puritans at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

In fact, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution memorializes this behavior. Militias were well established throughout the original colonies and perpetuated in the great westward seizure of land. Bounties were paid by surveyors and then states for the skins of indigenous persons up until the late 19th century, including California. Non-whites, including blacks, Chinese, and brown-skinned persons were threatened and controlled by armed white persons.

Hollywood contributes to the trove of mythology regarding the handgun. Movies would have us believe that they had an individual ethic that railed and rebelled against the forces of civilization. Clint Eastwood and Kris Kristofferson lionized these stories in larger than life characters on the silver screen. Outlaw Josey Wales, Pat Garrett, Billy the kid, and Jesse James were all militia men who scoured the landscape for skins and bounties.

What’s wrong with pursuing these tales is that they were meant to inflict fear in blacks and indigenous people. What is entertaining for ignorant white folks is fear-inducing to the originally intended victims of violent brutality. It’s the reason why the names of some sports teams, such as Indians, Braves, Chiefs, and Red Skins are meant to conjure the old hatreds with which they are intimately associated.

The city proposes to allow discharges of gunpowder in historical re-enactments which could be performed in public spaces, such as parks and retail venues. Such performances are feckless reminders of our sordid past indiscretions. Outright felonious behaviors, which enslaved, controlled and eliminated entire cultures and the people associated with them, are to be eschewed and not embraced.

Steel and gunpowder served privileged whites to impose fear upon blacks, browns, and The Other. Government-sanctioned fear-mongering with public displays of white people in period costumes blowing up gunpowder is just that. What about the Black Panther Party and its bold demonstration of power at the State Capitol on May 2, 1967? In the name of education and entertainment, would the city police department allow a group of black folks to dress in long coats, wielding long rifles, and coursing through the crowds shooting blanks at the next Western Festival?

This proposal, to allow gunpowder explosions at costumed re-enactments of historical fear-mongering, is the most blatantly racist city ordinance to date. There remain, however, municipal codes with occult racist intentions, such as housing and employment policies. Those are the laws most in need of your attention.

Post a Comment Default Comments

Follow Us



Elk Grove News Minute

All previous Elk Grove News Minutes, interviews, and Dan Schmitt's Ya' Gotta be Schmittin' Me podcasts are now available on iTunes

Elk Grove News Podcast