‘Rick’s Column’

Erasing American (National Security) institutional racism in the Marianas


Joe Biden took the helm as the 46th President of the United States last week. He steps into a deeply divided American imperial landscape, with millions out of work, a worsening COVID-19 pandemic, a capitol that was recently assaulted, a democratically controlled U.S. House of Representatives, a tied U.S. Senate and a minority of recalcitrant Republicans and Democrats. Mr. Biden brings to this chaotic environment a much-needed tempered disposition, decades of experience as a lawmaker, eight years as vice president, an exhaustive policy agenda, and the first woman vice president. 

One item on the President’s to-do policy list is the call for racial reckoning. Institutional racism and all its darkness have constituted America’s Achilles heel. Institutional racism has produced cascading effects that have brought about tremendous damage and destruction for citizens across the empire. The President knows that the country needs to put its own house in order and calling out institutional racism as something that needs to be reversed is an act of courage by Mr. Biden. 

What it looks like

American institutional racism has been the bridegroom of U.S. national security and military sponsored statecraft behaviors throughout the Marianas Islands chain region for a long time. Institutional racism’s face has many hues that include some of the following: Chamorro family land takings; ongoing and ironclad control of the production, inclusion, omission, timing and decision making power to disseminate information; control to unilaterally disrupt, damage, and destroy ancient rare environmental and Chamorro human cultural resource corridors; and, unilateral control of activities that present additional long term dangers of poisoning on and offshore areas and terrestrial subsurface freshwater supplies without full community input.

American institutional racism overflows into other spheres as well such as Congress’ unwillingness to formally acknowledge and pay in full the $1.4-billion bill that is owed the government of Guam for costs incurred and related to the Compact of Free Association. The outcome of institutional racism is this: American lawmakers and military decision-makers have become comfortable and adept at making unilateral decisions about the future of the Marianas Islands, accentuating institutional racism in ways that continue to introduce new varietal risks to our total environment without taking into full account our Chamorro families, our collective human health, and our collective long-term concerns. The result has been and continues to be unnecessary and unneeded distrust and mistrust being produced at many levels. 

Reversing American national security institutional racism in the Marianas

The above examples provide the catalyst for our people to consider organizing in ways that we may not have seen before, doing new things to make a great leap forward toward extinguishing American institutional racism. If we do nothing, we risk watching our total environment becoming more damaged and poisoned for generations to come. Our families will be well served by moving away from being unabashed. Asking questions on matters of great consequence should be given a second or third look, because the legitimacy of America’s ideals and commitments to move toward a more perfect union or arrangement in the Marianas Islands remains elusive.

Moving to reverse American institutional racism is no easy task, but it is attainable. Guam and the CNMI can find common ground amongst the governors, the legislatures, and the two congressional delegates to forge ahead on policy agendas that directly respond to Mr. Biden’s invitation. Our people can create for ourselves, a position of greater power that would garner more attention needed to generate the necessary traction to move forward along this path.

Depositing these difficult and dark topics into a collective memory box to be opened decades later isn’t in the long-term interest of our families because we deserve not just better, but the best. Our families have paid the price in blood, sweat, land, lives, and tears to protect and defend the American imperial nation. We can no longer remain a complicit and objectified sacrificial Pacific Islander civilization and blue ocean region for U.S. imperial and multilateral machinations for war and its preparation, because ours is much more than what American national security institutional racism suggests.

Self-delegitimization: The American national security way in the Marianas

The existing institutionally racist frameworks do not support the long-term interests of the United States, in part because America has and continues to delegitimize itself in the Marianas through its behavior. The Pentagon delegitimizes itself when it takes Pagan against the expressed opposition of the Chamorro people. Joint Region Marianas delegitimizes itself when it holds information close and doesn’t openly share more of what it has. The Navy delegitimizes itself when it desecrates rare ancient Chamorro human resource corridors without the prior consent of our families; and the American national security state further delegitimizes itself when it remains unwilling to clean up the total military sponsored environmental mess that it has produced from past and present actions. 

Mr. Biden, the second Irish Roman Catholic U.S. president of Atlantic Ocean Islander ancestry in American history, is correct: now is the time for the United States empire to reckon with institutional racism and democratic regression in all its ugliness and self-destructive proclivities. 

Anything less is institutionally unjust, racist, and a disgrace to fundamental American democratic ideals.

Rick Perez (Special to the Saipan Tribune)

Rick Perez used to serve in the U.S. military and has work experiences in public policy research and public affairs. He is passionate about national security and geopolitics and runs a newsletter called Guam Affairs at guamaffairs.substack.com. For questions or comments, contact Perez at rickp7839@gmail.com. 

Rick Perez (Special to the Saipan Tribune)

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