“Decolonization” appears a scary, uncomfortable term. “Global warming” was replaced by “climate change”; “gentrification” replaced by “shifting urban economic landscapes”. Just as these monikers were deemed undesirable and ineffective to be considered important in mainstream news, it seems as though the waves of “decolonization” has also fallen into obsolescence due to overuse and righteousness. So what’s next for this term? The movement? Stay tuned, and mind your canoe!
This is a facebook status I recently posted which was inspired by numerous online discussions I have observed, participated in, and even instigated. Right after posting, I urged everyone to laugh but also really consider where the future of this whole “decolonization” tip is going.
These conversations continue. Just as I encountered more and more people stoked on decolonization and indigenization, what seemed by the masses, I have equally encountered those who shrink back in disgust at its implications. Interestingly, those who are all about it, and those who are naysayers regarding the term, BOTH celebrate cultural customs, and do work to promote ancestral (Filipino) traditions. So why the big fuss? Apparently these terms are giving us a bad rep, painting us as potentially xenophobic, new age brown folks in America. Don’t believe me? Check out Tlalli Yaotl’s blog post on Anti-Colonial Anarchism vs Decolonization, Barbara Jane Reyes’ musings on what it means to Decolonize the Creative Space, or even Michael Dalupo’s questioning of diasporic individuals who “indigenize” but might not actively support and protect the indigenous of the homeland like Lumad’s Quest for Justice. All of these posts hint towards the decolonizing trend being just that: trendy. Does that make us trendy brown people? Of course not, so let’s decentralize some things just a moment –
I don’t believe decolonization and indigenization limits us to just one ethnic group. I do believe that decolonization enlightens us to knowing how systems of oppression/marginalization have permutated over the generations, leading to our internalized oppression and marginalized cultural traditions. Also, “indigenizing” doesn’t have to imply xenophobia where we must choose only one indigenous root; considering we are probably all mixed at this point, the process of ‘indigenizing’ could rather imply embracing the (spiritual) ways of life before Westernization/eradication of non-Western cultural norms. In some circles, it’s merely a frame of mind, or a lifestyle- DISCOUNTING the temporal notion of indigeneity. All things said and done, I like the thought of dissolving Western attitudes towards the Non-West. Surely, we can at least hope for equality and normalize our own traditions.
Don’t let the name scare you off track. Continue the journey and don’t let Western norms make you think being different is bad. Being Othered, however, IS bad, and we should do all that we can to abolish the systems that perpetuate such prejudices. This is, after all, why we do what we do, and we can do it with finesse and passion. Call it what you want to call it, though, right? If anyone has any ideas, comments, or suggestions – PC or Radical – hit me up and share them.