photo of black individual standing in the middle of a flooded road with water up to their thighs, surrounded by cars

The word Hurricane comes from the Taino Hurakán. In Taino lore, a Hurakán is a phenomenon unleashed by the God of storms. And there was an understanding of this forcethe velocity and ferocity of which can easily destroy usa respect that Indigenous peoples worldwide, including kidnapped and homeland Africans, had/yet have for Earth and the creatures on it. There was a priority placed on being in relationship, not in opposition or in dominance, with these entities. There was a reverence for its tremendous, supernatural power.

I sometimes make jokes about how humans have lost the right to Earth for forgetting these truths and pushing us to the brink of extinction, but there is some reality in this. Colonizers have exploited the planetdestroyed and violated many communities’ balance and relationship to Earth, done unspeakably horrific things to both the people and the land, and worked to extinguish us. And those surviving colonized communities suffer the most during moments of environmental crisis, upheaval, imbalancewhen the Hurakán comes knocking.

The ruthless destructiveness of white supremacy and capitalistic ownership of Earth manifests in the environmental racism and classism disproportionately affecting the most marginalized in Houston right now, battered by a hurricane exacerbated by climate change, the blazes on the West Coast, the oncoming hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. We can also see this destruction evident in yet another murdered Indigenous woman by the name of Savanna Greywind, and another murdered trans woman by the name of Kiwi Herring. It is in the way that no one bats an eye at the continued rise of men like R. Kelly and Floyd Mayweather as they flood our media feeds and consciousness, and wreak havoc. It is Taylor Swift’s entire career and existence. It is Standing Rock, Oak Flats, and Flint. They may seem unrelated, but they are each a testament to the fact that, in damn near every sense, we are out of balance with Earth, and with one another, and have left the most marginalized to fend for themselves in the eye of the storm.

For those of us seeking to connect with the land and our roots, we must follow the lead of Indigenous peoples and help their fight to protect their lands and people, especially women and two-spirit folks. Protection and restoration are needed for our relationship, not only with Earth, but with women and our LGBTQ siblings as well.

I cannot say what that ideal decolonial relationship with Earth and animal and human looks like, because that ancestral knowledge was lost to me. But it rests somewhere in me dormant, waiting to be re-learned, as it does in all of us who have lost it. It remains alive in global and local resistance to exploitation and destruction of Earth and its people. We must honor these relationships and struggles, restore balance, and challenge each wave of violence however it manifests. We have a right to name the violation and colonization of land and peoples as what continues to kill us during times of environmental and social crisis, and we do not deserve punishment for the sins of the colonizer.


Donate to communities of color in Houston.

Donate to the family and child of Savanna Greywind.

Donate to the family of Kiwi Herring.

Briana Ureña-Ravelo is a 27 year old, queer and femme first generation Afro-Dominicana based in Grand Rapids. She is an anti-racist radical Black community organizer, intersectional feminist, freelance writer, artist, poet, activist, thinker, and dreamer. Briana has also written for Autostraddle and Feminspire. Her interests include music, antifascism and resistance, shows and the all-ages/punk scene, Afro-Caribbean spirituality and culture, radical and community politics, decolonization, social justice organizing and theory, fashion and clothes, cooking, body modifications, her calico cat Shampoo, and sweets.
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