001: Let Me Go Back to Sleep
Learning about the legacies of colonialism and the role it plays in my life has probably been the best and worst thing that ever happened to me. Both my undergraduate and masters courses taught me the importance of decolonising my mind and questioning what society suggests is a given.
'Wokeness' or 'being woke' are phrases, popularised by social media, that often refers to the awareness of the injustice and oppression in society but it never really meant much to me. Learning about colonial legacies and decoloniality opened my eyes to so much. Decoloniality is about resisting these colonial legacies, rehumanising the people who colonialism set out to destroy and thinking critically how society operates. I was able to draw on first-hand experiences such as microaggressions and the way I have been educated. All the books I read for research called for black people in particular to decolonise their minds in order to achieve freedom but what is the price to pay for this freedom?
I recently had a conversation with someone who is doing the same course that I did and we realised, having a decolonised mind can be very heartbreaking, painful and often depressing. As much as it is important to free your mind from these legacies that have sought to oppress those seen as the 'other', there hasn't been much discussion about the side effects of decoloniality. You learn about the atrocities of colonialism, the treatment and killing then and now of people who look like or think like you and its presence in literally every waking minute of your day. You also learn that ultimately there is nothing that can really be done to change society until everyone has decolonised their minds but how long will that take? It's basically an unrealistic dream.
Colonialism haunts me everyday and sometimes I wish that I can go back to the days where I had no idea that media representation of people works to legitimise their oppression or that many major brands built their foundations in colonialism, profiting from the exploitation of those seen as backwards or uncivilised for example. I wish I didn't have to second guess the way I speak, look or present myself in certain spaces. I wish I didn't know that people hate me or thought I was lesser or ugly because of my skin, hair and body. I wish I didn't know the struggles that I will most likely face in the world of work. It's scary knowing you have to exist in a world that often doesn't want to protect you.
Reading books like bell hooks' Black Looks: Race and Representation inspires and motivates me to reach the career goals I set for myself as an aspiring Director and Producer. I understand the need to bring authentic stories about blackness to the screen that aren't drenched in stereotypes and negative representation. However, I also know that simply because of the colour of my skin, my gender or the fact that I am a black woman will present many hurdles and obstacles on my way to achieving these goals makes me hesitant. I sometimes don't think I'd have the strength to deal with it day in and day out. Sometimes I wish I could go back to sleep and be the naive, unaware girl I was before I started university but I know there is no turning back now. I know that I have to challenge this head on, not just for myself but for others who struggle with navigating a world that doesn't value them simply because they are different.
Books/articles on decoloniality, representation and more:
bell hooks - Black Looks: Race and Representation
Franz Fanon - Black Skin, White Masks
Priyamvada Gopal - Yes, we must decolonise: our teaching has to go beyond elite white men - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/27/decolonise-elite-white-men-decolonising-cambridge-university-english-curriculum-literature
Audre Lorde - The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House
Nelson Maldonado-Torres - On Coloniality of Being
Nelson Maldonado-Torres - Outline of Ten Theses on Coloniality and Decoloniality
Walter Mignolo - Delinking – The Rhetoric of Modernity, the Logic of Coloniality and the Grammer of Decoloniality
Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni - Why Decoloniality in the 21st Century?
Why we need to decolonize education and liberate our degrees | Sussex Students' Union - https://www.sussexstudent.com/news/article/campaigns/decolonize-education-and-liberate-our-degrees/
Malcolm X - Who Taught You to Hate Yourself? - https://genius.com/Malcolm-x-who-taught-you-to-hate-yourself-annotated.