James Wong is some sort of Media Presence in Britain:
Not surprisingly, he has Strong Opinions about how English gardeners are racist toward plants.
I was once asked to present a planting concept for E London to a room of (100% white) critics.
Feedback was that international planting ‘didn’t fit the area’ and I ‘should do native wildflowers’
The site was founded by Romans & an immigration epicentre for +2,000 yrs.
— James Wong (@Botanygeek) December 12, 2020
Aesthetics are racist. Diversity, which is our strength, demands that gardens everywhere in the world should look as random as the landscaping of Beverly Hills. *
The only way to beat his anti-English racism is to outflank it to the left: James Wong is an imperialist biological appropriationist. Kew Gardens is an example of the British Empire appropriating the wealth of diverse cultures, just as the Benin bronzes and the Elgin marbles are.
For a moment, I thought I might have made up a new bit of Woke craziness, but … no, it’s a real thing. For example,
The time has come to decolonise botanical gardens like Kew https://t.co/0kt294Eluc
— Steve Sailer (@Steve_Sailer) December 12, 2020
Even the study of plants has roots in colonialism and appropriation. We must face its troubled history and make sure we do something about it, writes Alexandre Antonelli
Alexandre Antonelli is a professor of biodiversity and director of science at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Friday 26 June 2020 16:49
I’ve often struggled to answer the simple question, “Where are you from?” As I was born and raised in Brazil, my origin is mixed – comprising indigenous, African and Mediterranean ancestors – and I dislike pre-defined labels.
In other words, I’m probably even whiter than James Wong, but I’m sure as hell not going to let that self-promoter out-Diversity me in the media.
Having lived outside my birth country most of my life, I have experienced discrimination on multiple occasions. I have learned the history of imperialism from the perspective of a former colony.
At school, I was taught that Brazil was “discovered” in 1500 by the Portuguese. The fact that several million people lived there before that was barely mentioned in our books. We were told of a long history of brutal exploitation of our natural resources, including vast amounts of gold, rubber and timber. All this was achieved through the exploitation of our native people and African slaves – including my own ancestors.
Despite this, I am proud that Brazil is widely known also as the world’s most biodiverse country. It astounded colonial botanists. Charles Darwin was astonished at our “lands teeming with life”, as was Alfred Russel Wallace, who spent years in the Amazon. It is not lost on me that these were both white British men.
And Britain is also where I ended up professionally. After two decades studying biodiversity across the world, I’m now head of science at Kew, responsible for the world’s largest collections of plants and fungi.
For hundreds of years, rich countries in the north have exploited natural resources and human knowledge in the south. Colonial botanists would embark on dangerous expeditions in the name of science but were ultimately tasked with finding economically profitable plants. Much of Kew’s work in the 19th century focused on the movement of such plants around the British Empire, which means we too have a legacy that is deeply rooted in colonialism.
… But as the Black Lives Matter movement has rightly shown, change happens too slowly, or is superficial, or doesn’t happen at all.
In my own field of research, you can see an imperialist view prevail. Scientists continue to report how new species are “discovered” every year, species that are often already known and used by people in the region – and have been for thousands of years.
Scientists have appropriated indigenous knowledge and downplayed its depth and complexity. The first inhabitants of Brazil and the first users of plants in Australia often remained unnamed, unrecognised, and uncompensated. They are quite literally invisible in history. This needs to change.
How exactly Kew is going to go back 50,000 years into the past to identify the name of the Australian aboriginal who discovered the macadamia nut is left as an exercise for the reader.
* Now that I think about it, Beverly Hills’ landscaping isn’t as bad as its domestic architecture. Nathanael West wrote in Day of the Locust:
But not even the soft wash of dusk could help the houses. Only dynamite would be of any use against the Mexican ranch houses, Samoan huts, Mediterranean villas, Egyptian and Japanese temples, Swiss chalets, Tudor cottages, and every possible combination of these styles that lined the slopes of the canyon.
The problem with Beverly Hills’ home designs is too much individualism and creativity. As Paul Johnson pointed out in Art: A New History, the leading residents of Beverly Hills tended to be movie people with active imaginations, confidence in their own genius, an urge to stand out from their neighbors. and the phone numbers of set designers who moonlighted as architects. So the place is a discordant hodge-podge of house styles.
On the other hand, the city fathers of Beverly Hills in their landscaping followed a policy of balancing the craze for diversity with a certain degree of regularity. Their policy was to plant different kinds of trees on each street. Thus Coldwater Canyon features huge pine trees, while Palm and North Whittier Drives feature jacarandas that bloom lavishly in spring.