A LOVE LETTER TO LEANNE BETASAMOSAKE SIMPSON: A Filipina’s Indigenous Resurgence: A Practice of One

Leny Strobel
35 min readJun 6

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance, University of Minnesota Press 2021

Dear Leanne Betasamosake Simpson,

As We Have Always Done. You did not write this book for me. You wrote it for your Nishnaabeg people. Yet there is something here that stirs me deeply. I’ve been needing this book: its language, stories, voice, theories, call outs and call ins, and challenges. So thank you so much!

I am a 40-year settler on Wappo, Southern Pomo and Coast Miwok lands. I am Kapampangan from the Philippines and came to live on these lands 40 years ago; I was 30 years old when I came to settle here. I have not always called myself a settler; I called myself an immigrant. When I started to read about settler colonialism a decade or so ago, it made me realize that the concept of immigration, too, must reckon with the assimilative imperative of the settler state. This awakening experience is what makes me write this love letter to you.

I’m an academic walk-out who taught Ethnic Studies for over two decades at a public state university in California. I’ve been educated and socially conditioned within the settler colonial system on Turtle Island and before that in my homeland’s neocolonial educational system in the Philippines. This neocolonial system is what shaped my early consciousness — this identification with the U.S. and the desire to be whitened. Although I eventually learned how to refuse assimilation; learned how to deconstruct imperial and colonial narratives as a postcolonial subject; learned how to develop decolonizing and decolonial practices — I acknowledge that this is all still within the purview, control, and surveillance of the settler institution of higher education.

Still, I took pride in my academic focus on the decolonization process for Filipino/a/x/s in the diaspora using Paulo Freire’s framework in the Pedagogy of the Oppressed along with other postcolonial and postmodern discourses. But there also came a time when I no longer felt that these discourses were satisfactory to me. I felt they didn’t somatically resonate within me in spite of the power of abstraction and cognitive brilliance…

Leny Strobel

Leny is Kapampangan. Settler on Pomo and Coast Miwok lands. Founder and Elder at the Center for Babaylan Studies. https://www.lenystrobel.com/