A Town Called White Settlement

The picture is of a silo that reads “White Settlement” followed by an image of a military jet, and below that the slogan “On the Crossroads of Progress”

In Texas there is a town officially named “White Settlement.” Settlers came to this community, now a suburb of Fort Worth, because of economic incentives provided by the settler government. Founder of the White Settlement Museum, Norris Chambers, wrote on the origins of the town’s name that “Because this area was inhabited by white settlers only, it was logical to call it the ‘white’ settlement.” On the community’s website, they assert that Native people in the area gave them that name as settlers start to occupy the area and that the two cultures continued to “live peacefully.”

In reality, the removal of Native people from the area was anything but peaceful. According to The White Settlement Tribune in 1966, the early settlers coordinated attacks against the Comanche. An article on the website of the White Settlement Museum states settlers led a campaign to eliminate buffalo in order to force Native people out of White Settlement. The White Settlement Tribune article also stated that the settlers constructed a plantation and participated in the slave trade. The vile racism of White Settlement continued into the 1960s, as the unknown author of the Tribune piece makes dehumanizing comments at several points comparing Native people to animals. The ongoing colonization of the land White Settlement occupies has involved displacement and dehumanization of the people displaced, and now that it is politically inconvenient, a willful amnesia by city officials surrounding the violence involved the town’s founding.

In 2005, city leaders announced a plan to change the town’s name from White Settlement to West Settlement. In that election, the settler citizenry voted to keep the name “White Settlement” 2,388 to 219. Signs across town urged folks to “Be Proud! Don’t Let Them Discard the Heritage of White Settlement. Vote No!” White pride and white heritage were the slogans used in the successful campaign to preserve White Settlement. “They want to do away with the heritage of White Settlement and destroy the history of White Settlement,” said former City Council member Alan Price. The “history” of White Settlement apparently being reduced to honoring genocidal white settlers. Some residents were so upset at the thought of a name change, they tried to recall the Mayor.

Local liberals have tried to pretty up the community for businesses to invest in the town, claiming the name “White Settlement” no longer represents them. The Mayor who led the name change even said that the city government did not think the White Settlement was racist. Yet recently, the white former City Manager used a racist slur during meetings. Perhaps if the liberals on the city council had even bothered to investigate, they would have realized White Settlement’s history is full of violent racism sentiments still supported by town locals, like during the name change, one resident said, “You shouldn’t be afraid to be white. It’s like showing we’re not proud of our history.” The New York Times reported the negative reaction of one Black woman, Monique Marshall: “They say it’s not racist, but it is.”

Settler colonialism is not just White Settlement; settler colonialism is not just the most naked examples. All of the land currently referred to as the United States is a white settlement. Every community is built on the genocide of Native people and the theft of their land. Occasionally this truth is made plain with a name like “White Settlement.” What do the white masses do? They support racism, overwhelmingly. Some will conjure up different reasons, that it’s “history” or “heritage” but really all they care about is preserving hate – materially, the exploitation of the land and maintaining their access to its wealth. They say it’s not racist, but it is.