Banner drops with banners that have rad messages are awesome! But a banner, at Columbus Circle, reading “DEBT IS THE NEW COLONIALISM” which purports to be a
“solidarity message,” is disappointing, to say the least. Disappointing, but not surprising, as the action and messaging seems to originate from at least some of the all too familiar cohort of political gentrifyers who time and time again, AND one year later, refuse to relinquish their “weird tunnel vision” and decenter white middle-classness. But instead INSIST on promoting “ethical solidarity between the ideological polar extremes of Whiteness.”
Why do people refuse to take pause? Who is being served and what is being gained by conflating consumer/student/mortgage debt with the so-called “old” colonialism? Why couldn’t folks challenge themselves as to how to get the point across that debt is bad! Student loans ARE bad. Health care bills ARE bad. Foreclosures ARE bad. But debt IS NOT the new colonialism! I’ll just say, let folks, as an example, go by the J. Marion Sims statue or the African Burial Grounds and drop a banner reading “DEBT IS THE NEW SLAVERY.” Or go by a prison and drop a banner reading “DEBT IS THE NEW PRISON.” FOH! (Affinity group or no affinity group!)
Debt is debt… it is an oppressive system, but it is not THE “new” anything. Not the “NEW COLONIALISM” or “NEW SLAVERY” or “NEW PRISONS.”
If debt is the new colonialism, then what’s colonialism? Here’s a tip: anytime you’re doing what you’re calling a solidarity action, run the message by the people you’re trying to act in solidarity with. Make sure it’s cool by them. The key word in solidarity action is solidarity.
Also from a design perspective, this venue and the timing are pretty sweet but are completely wasted on this illegible banner. When you put in the effort to do a banner drop (and I LOVE a good banner drop) (but key word is “GOOD”), make sure people can actually read it easily.