Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.
— Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
We live in a nation founded within a prevailing story line that characterizes the United States as being an exceptional, enlightened and charitable nation. A nation that is a “beacon of light…in every corner of the globe,” generated by the ethos of the American Dream, based on the values and ideals of liberty, justice, fairness, equality and democracy for all.
We also live in a nation that was established to be an empire, whereby imperialism and settler colonialism are endlessly justified and promulgated by an underlying cultural narrative which ascribes whiteness to morality, and by extension a nation bestowed with a divine right to lay claim—at will—to the lands, resources and bodies of Black, Brown and Indigenous people. A nation where private property rights are akin to natural rights, therefore framing capitalism, no matter how brutal, with benevolent intent and thus inviolable. These structural foundations, which are rooted within the barbarism of chattel slavery and the brutality of gender oppression, constructed an enduring national culture defined by genocide, dispossession, white supremacy, anti-blackness, heteropatriarchy, misogyny, social inequity and wealth inequality. Over three centuries…