A decolonized mind defends its cultural roots, By Isaac Giron
The term “decolonized” is popular among activists of color, yet is very loaded and hard to pin down. It has been used to free minds, but it also has divided communities.
I used to view the world in terms of opposing powers struggling for dominance. I thought I was proud of who I was, but now I see that all the Brown Power talk regurgitated the White Power history I bought into. Pride in our people shouldn’t stem from the fact that we used to be a great empire before the white man came, but from the fact that we stand as a great empire regardless of that conquest. Aware of the injustices our ancestors faced, I reciprocated that anger towards white European Americans. But the process of “decolonization” should not place colonization as the central point of our culture, nor should it romanticize our indigenous past. These trains of thought perpetuate the point of view of the dominant culture of today. Rather, “decolonization” should be a process of changing the way we view the world.
Frantz Fanon wrote, “Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land and from our minds as well.”
Separating an individual from their culture and family was the tactic used by the conquistadors to subjugate a whole continent and to enslave parts of another. Many lingering affects of colonization impact our communities today. For example, people who deny their heritage or who take on the dominant culture while they reject imperialism embody these effects. Such individuals are those who went against the interests of their own community by promoting a bill that sanctioned racial profiling even though it would affect them negatively. Another example are Chicano activists who rigidly define what it means to be a Chicano. Sometimes in our urge to break free from mental colonization, we become ensnared in the same thought processes of the people we despise. An example of this are the cultural nationalists. Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party said that “cultural nationalists are concerned with returning to the old African culture and thereby regaining their identity and freedom. In other words, they feel that the African culture will automatically bring political freedom.”
Cultural symbols do not decolonize our minds. Wearing olmec jewelry and sporting native tattoos does not mean your are decolonized.
The residue of colonization allows for the continued stratification of people. Rejecting labels, selfishness, egotism, a black and white binary, discrimination and judgments are, instead, traits of the decolonized.
A decolonized mind defends culture by defending the root of who we are. The family unit is the center of our culture. That’s why the destruction of family has been the mainstay of oppression. Even today, the separation of families is still the number one way of colonizing our community, exemplified by the anti-immigration fervor favoring deportations and incarceration. The high prison rate in black and brown communities also showcases this. Division of the ethnic family unit is the tool of choice for the colonization of our people and men of color must especially strive against these forces to be the defenders of the family.
A person with a decolonized mind accepts their past, loves their present and creates their future, regardless of what stands in their way.