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5 things you can do to decolonize

Nia Eubanks-Dixon Photo: / AFSC

STOP.

Are you ready to go on a journey?

A journey of healing, discovery and connection 

It is time to make New Agreements with ourselves. We have been told a lie and are living in an arrangement that is going to kills us all and hurt our planet. We have to rethink everything that we have been taught in our schools, homes, media outlets and other platforms. WE HAVE TO DECOLONIZE OUR PRESENT SO THAT WE CAN BE IN EQUITABLE RELATIONSHIP WITH OURSELVES, OTHERS, AND OUR PLANET.

Colonialism was and is one of the most decisive political and economic phenomena of the last five centuries. It has created upheaval, death and large-scale political, economic and social reconfiguration. 

            Colonialism is not simply complicit in how we come to know ourselves and its politics. It also establishes sustainable hierarchies and systems of power. It scripts and violates the colonized as the violent other in contrast to the colonizer, who is pitied as the innocent and benevolent imperial savior. The historical relationship of the colonizer and the colonized continues to this day. It shapes and informs identities by re-creating colonial ideologies and mythologies. 

            Since all people have ingested colonial ideologies and mythologies, it is important to think of the internal and external work that must happen if we are to decolonize our future. Decolonizing our future will take a daily commitment to changing the power dynamic between the colonized and colonizer on personal, cultural and institutional levels. To start that process, we must go inside first, making new agreements. Here are 5 suggestions for reconnecting with our whole selves, our beloved communities, our earth and the cosmos:

1. I am in relationshipo with the land and other living things.

Colonial thought dictates that land is to be taken, extracted from and/or usurped. Changing our relationship to the land and other living creatures is extremely important if we are to decolonize our future.  

Together we say:  “I /we belong to the land and am connected to all things. The land does not belong to me/us. All people have access to the land.”

2.      I am in relationship with myself—decolonize our hearts.  

Colonialism has disconnected us from ourselves. Because of colonialism, we have gone away from our homes for a long time. This has caused neglect, loneliness and desperation.  

Each day we must make an intentional commitment to “go home” to ourselves. A decolonizing framework is one of holism: an understanding of personhood, a connection to the body, mind, and soul, and an accompanying awareness of and respect for the wholeness of others. 

I 

say: “Today I take the path back home. I can sit with myself and accept the situation as it is.  I know it is a mess in there, but I am here now to tidy it up.”

3.     

I am in relationship with others.  

One of the manifestations of colonialism is the ideology of isolationism and individualism.

Augusto Boal describes this as monologue vs. dialogue:  

      “All human relationships should be of a dialogic nature: among men and women, races, families, groups and nations, dialogue should prevail. In reality, all dialogues have the tendency to become monologues, which creates the relationship oppressors- oppressed.” —Declaration of Principles on Theater of the Oppressed  

I 

say:  “I am taking intentional time to be in an accountable honest relationship with others.”   

 

4.     

I am manifesting and acknowledging the enoughness and assets of myself and others.  

The idea of not-enoughness is spread globally by the ideology of colonialism, upholding false perceptions of scarcity and emptiness.  

      To resist this, we must acknowledge and walk in an understanding that you and others are enough and come to the table with assets, history, culture, traditions and creativity.  

I 

will say:  “I am enough. I am light and give myself permission to walk in my light. I see the light in others and speak and act from that place. I will not spread ideas of emptiness and need but abundance and creativity.”

5.     

I am entering into and sustaining accountable and responsible partnerships with people and communities. 

To enter into accountable and responsible relationship, there must be a commitment to decenter whiteness and western thought. We must welcome, accept and center ideas, thoughts, history, perspectives that do not place white people and their ideologies at the forefront of conversations, decisions and laws. To do this, there is a need to be clear on our intentions when communicating the potential impacts of our actions to the communities we work with. This is especially true for people who have come to be known as white in relationship with communities of color.    

I 

will ask:  “Who holds me accountable for my actions and who am I accountable to?”

 

 

See afsc.org/notatrisk for an anti-racist decolonizing framework for talking about youth that came out of the We Are Not At-Risk Campaign.