The West protests

‘Dominator culture’ and the injustices of climate change, COVID-19 and racism.

 

We are currently experiencing the full brunt of what the writer bell hooks calls the “dominator culture.” Those who did not previously understand this must surely grapple with it now. “Throughout our nation,” hooks writes in belonging: a culture of place, “the dehumanization of poor people, the destruction of nature for capitalist development, the disenfranchisement of people of color, especially African-Americans, the resurgence of white supremacy … has become an accepted way of life.”

Skye Woods, photographed outside Los Angeles City Hall, where daily protests have been part of the international response to police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.

This acceptance has created severe injustices, from the police killings of Black people and others, to the rising death toll from COVID-19, to the suffering that climate change has already wrought throughout much of the world. These issues are inseparable, because they are all the product of this culture of domination — a culture finding renewed strength in the current political environment.

How does High Country News fit into all this? hooks can help, as she offers a counter to dominator culture: the promotion of “a culture of belonging, a sense of the meaning and vitality of geographical place.” One of HCN’s roles, I think, is to help readers understand the Western United States as a place. It is my hope that this will help readers bring meaning and vitality, equity and justice, to this place, to create for all who live here a culture of belonging. We can do this by examining the West as a whole.

Brian Calvert, editor-in-chief
Roberto (Bear) Guerra/High Country News

In this issue, for example, we cover Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the West, while highlighting solutions to heavy-handed policing. And we offer a data-driven look at disproportionate police militarization and violence across the region. But we also explore the climate adaptations forced onto the Inupiat of the Arctic, as well as the coastal cities of California. We follow efforts to save a vanishing species of catfish along the U.S.-Mexico border. And we describe the rise of labor organizing among fruit packers and ski patrollers alike. The issue also features an interview with a founder of #BlackBirdersWeek; an argument for full-time wildland firefighters; and a former insider’s warning of a compromised Bureau of Land Management.

To view any of these stories separately is to overlook the hidden connections between them. Read together, they expose the obvious: Dominator culture has pushed the West — the world — to the brink. It appears that people are now pushing back, and that much of the West has joined them. The question, then, is: What comes next?

Brian Calvert is the editor-in-chief of High Country News. Email him at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSISTANT - (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time Customer Service Assistant, based at...
  • OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    We are a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration....
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Come work alongside everyday Montanans to project our clean air, water, and build thriving communities! Competitive salary, health insurance, pension, generous vacation time and sabbatical....
  • CAMPAIGN MANAGER
    Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting, defending and restoring Oregon's high desert, seeks a Campaign Manager to works as...
  • HECHO DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, COLUMBIA CASCADES
    The Regional Representative serves as PCTA's primary staff on the ground along the trail working closely with staff, volunteers, and nonprofit and agency partners. This...
  • FINANCE AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) seeks a full-time Finance and Operations Director to manage the internal functions of MLR and its nonprofit affiliates. Key areas...
  • DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION
    The Nature Conservancy is recruiting for a Director of Conservation. Provides strategic leadership and support for all of the Conservancy's conservation work in Arizona. The...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • BIG BASIN SENIOR PROJECT PLANNER - CLIMATE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
    Parks California Big Basin Senior Project Planner - Climate Adaptation & Resilience ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our...
  • SCIENCE PROJECT MANAGER
    About Long Live the Kings (LLTK) Our mission is to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1986,...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES GENERALIST
    Honor the Earth is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on identity. Indigenous people, people of color, Two-Spirit or LGBTQA+ people,...
  • NEW BOOK BY AWARD-WINNING WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, BRUCE SMITH
    In a perilous place at the roof of the world, an orphaned mountain goat is rescued from certain death by a mysterious raven.This middle-grade novel,...
  • MOUNTAIN LOTS FOR SALE
    Multiple lots in gated community only 5 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seasonal flowing streams. Year round road maintenance.
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, HIke the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • CAUCASIAN OVCHARKA PUPPIES
    Strong loyal companions. Ready to protect your family and property. Proven against wolves and grizzlies. Imported bloodlines. Well socialized.