Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Deep It Is

I am thinking today about how deep our colonization is, the internalized messages, images, and desires that thwart us as a people. We have been severed from our source and we're trying to find our way back home. Or, we are staying lost. Or, merely blind to how lost we are. Or, confused about what new learning, what kinds of righteous, healing, redeeming consciousness we need to be tapped in to.

I mean can we really talk about Blackness in the Americas without talking about whiteness? The profound assaults of whiteness. Continuous assaults, unrelenting assaults, subtle assaults, embedded assaults. We have been assaulted with white norms of beauty and desire. We are assaulted with a pervasive, persistent, ingrained message that white is right, that white is nice, that white is redemption. Even when we've done some Black power work these notions still seep in. We bleach our skin with skin cream. We (openly) oppress our hair. We (secretly) hate our color. We shape our own internal norms of beauty and desirability on foreign aesthetics, the sensibilities of invaders and stealers, avoiding Black looks, Black beauty.

Black decolonization is hard work. It is an unlearning, a project of everyday study, observation, and reflection, a learning how to be horrified at what has happened to us, a recognition that our grief, our loss is deep, fundamental. What other people got stolen from their ancestral lands, from millenia of culture, connection, belonging to be brought to a place where we have continually lived among our oppressors? Either we live among them or we live with the specter of their cosmology and ontology impressed upon us. We work with them. We see them. They're everywhere. And we only have mere glimpses of another world, another way.

What is a liberated Black cosmology, ontology? What ways of knowing can we access, create, recreate? What ways of seeing, hearing, being, longing can we claim as ours, here as we are in the United States, in Latin America, in the Caribbean? Where is this path of exile leading us?


  1. Hey Indigo Girl!

    I'm really struck by your words below on how can a middle class girl think radical thoughts. How can we privileged people of color dream and write of liberation. I'm currently writing about my life as a mixed race Puerto Rican woman who grew up working class, but am no longer so. Thinking back on my younger days, I'm struck by how far I've travelled. Can one travel and still be there, with those we love? Also, I recognize my very early commitment to freedom, which to me means the ability to create oneself in relationship to our environment. As a spiritual seeker of enlightenment, I wonder what is the intersection between social freedom and personal liberation. My book is tentatively titled Everyday Acts of Freedom, because that's what I care about, the every day---how does this or that belief realize itself in my life?

  2. Sister Indigo!!
    Thank you for sharing this much needed insight on the matter of liberation and freedom. As a child of the African Diaspora (Via the Dominican Republic) I continue to engage the complexity of identity. For example, what it means for me to be Black and Dominican. How the two go hand in hand and not negate one another. My identity as Black is political and radical. It is as you mentioned that we have to continue to decolonize our minds and embrace our Blackness as an act of resistance and I would argue is an act of self-loving. I also wonder how racism has really shifted in this country. And now folks can't tell the difference between covert and overt acts of racism. Shoot..folks don't think anything of covert acts anymore cuz they assume that if one is overt that others can't perpetuate covert acts of racism. And now even folks of color internalize those racist messages and walk around zombie-like spreading that mess. I think now we, as a society, are not able to uncover the ways in which our society continues to perpetuate racist ideologies that we buy into. I see more and more (working with young people) that maybe we have to develop different tools to discuss how racism over time remains but the way it shows its face is very different from the way our elders grew up. so that decolonization is a harder and longer process now but necessary nonetheless. Thoughts?

    In Solidarity,