Why Venice History Matters
“People don’t need your approval to move to Venice.”
“Who cares how long you’ve been here.”
In the same arrogant spirit of their colonizer archetypes and ancestors, dismissive gentrifier remarks like the ones above should come as no surprise. Ironically, many of them even have their Westward Expansion styled mustache and hairstyles to go with such mentality for additional colonizer effect. In fact, most of the injustices you see happening here in Venice are right in pattern with the ill mindset that landed on this continent in 1492. Albeit, in a more deceptive and adapted form.
Gentry responses such as the ones above are usually iterated after Venice natives like myself question other self- proclaimed “locals” who claim Venice heritage, or instances where Venice natives voice our displeasure about unfavorable gentry attitudes or unrighteous provenance here.
“Who cares how long you’ve been here.”
Those are the types of things Columbus said to the Arawaks. That Cortez told the Mexihca (Aztec). That Pizarro told the Incas. What Custer told the Lakota. And it’s now what gentrifiers tell Venice natives. I have have even engaged with gentry who use, almost verbatim, language from political officials of the 1800s who made reason for displacing plains Indigenous peoples.
Being FROM Venice is a priceless blessing. Especially for people like myself who’s roots run mad deep here. Whose ancestors are the culture bearers and creators of the world renown culture, style, and spirit of Venice. There is a distinct difference between us who were grew here and the ones that flew here. Between us natives and those who, in colonizer spirit, now come to usurp and exploit our culture, not contribute to it. It is only natural that us Venice Originals are critical and protective of our legacy. Especially in the midst of this colonizing gold rush that has adversely affected our beloved town since the 90s.
Venice gentrifiers often express their elitist, privileged viewpoints with indignation. They imply that the burden of systemic displacement falls on us, the Venice natives, labeling us as “emotional.” More accurately, these newcomers are unsettled because they’re confronted with the origins of their presence in Venice. They’re forced to examine the roots of their comforts and privileges in our community.
I believe that when we assert truth and share the history of our community, it impacts the newcomers’ subconscious. Whether they are consciously aware of it or not, it instills in them an understanding of the dishonorable circumstances that led to the displacement of long-time residents, and which faciliated the context for them to secure their homes or businesses in Venice.
Similar to how the current wave of gentrification in Venice evokes the historical traumas of past displacements experienced by my ancestors, it is my hope that the continued sharing of stories and perspectives from us Venice Originals will encourage self-reflection and promote a sense of accountability among the gentrifying members of our community. This, in turn, may lead to a deeper understanding and sincere atonement for their role in the ongoing homegenization of Venice.
During periods of colonization (gentrification), history and native centered narratives are often undervalued or seen as a threat by the colonizers. This is why the Spanish burned the Maya codices, and why the U.S. targeted historical museums in Iraq (Sumeria). In it is also why in Venice, gentrifying forces attempt to rewrite history by rebranding and changing street names. More specifically, individuals like the Penskes, along with their allies such as Will Hawkins and George Francisco, aim to erase the legacy of Black history by opposing the preservation of the historic First Baptist Church of Venice. These actions highlight the importance of Venice Originals safeguarding our community’s history in the face of ongoing modern day colonization.
People are often drawn to the Indigenous or Venice Native who shares stories of culture, unity, and spirituality. However, most gentry try to erase and gaslight the native who reminds them of the historical pattern of White colonizers and capitalists who deceived and manipulated their way across this continent to achieve their goals, and who continue that colonizer spirited pattern today in Venice.
By understanding and acknowledging the historical connections of our current issues, we can work towards addressing and resolving them. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this shit. History has shown that colonizers and like oppressors won’t change their harmful behaviors on their own. Change can only be achieved when Venice Originals step up and assert our protective roles and responsibilities. As the original culture bearers of these territories, it’s crucial that we confront these neighborhood colonizer attitudes and policies, holding them accountable for their actions.