Decolonization: Everyone is Saying it, But Are You Doing it?May 05, 2020
The word “decolonization” has been thrown around A LOT lately, but it’s an unfamiliar or maybe even confusing topic for many creatives who may not already know a whole lot about it.
My own journey into the self-work around decolonization and personal liberation has been a lifelong process, and is something that is very important to me.
I recently sat down with Louiza Doran (@accordingtoweeze on IG and @according2weeze on Twitter), who is an expert on this subject, to talk about decolonization and answer some of the most common questions.
Although there is a recap provided in this article, I strongly encourage you to check out the full video interview for more context and information. ????
To understand decolonization, it’s also important to understand the philosophy of kyriarchy. A term originally coined by Elisabeth Fiorenza, kyriarchy is the concept that we are currently living in a socioeconomic, gender-based, and race-based society.
This system functions and thrives by keeping oppression-based structures in place and active, and we are trying to change that through decolonization.
The Importance of Equity
When it comes to your business (and let’s be real, your life), equity is so important. This is where we’ve gotta ask those tough questions.
- What is your commitment to equity?
- Have you thought about the ways your scholarships are signaling that you’re a safe space?
- Have you thought about how to create that safety?
In order to create a new-paradigm business that ushers in and supports the collective, we all need to do the work of decolonizing our business practices, and most importantly, decolonizing ourselves.
Asking these tough questions a great way to really look at where you might still need to put in the work.
What Does Decolonization Look Like?
There’s no simple solution to the decolonization process. There’s no magic pill to take or one change you can make to suddenly have a decolonized business.
Decolonization work first starts within.
In order to become part of the solution, we start by decolonizing ourselves. You can start this process by unpacking your social identities.
The Sponge Analogy
We swim in the waters of white supremacy and kyriarchy. As we swim, we are inherently absorbing everything around us (white supremacy and kyriarchy), beliefs, patterns, behaviors, etcetera.
If you plug up all the water you’re using in the sink while doing dishes and you leave a sponge in the dirty dishwater, when you take the sponge out and leave it out to dry, it looks fine. But, what you aren’t seeing are all of the germs and bacteria that are now on the sponge — all the things that have been absorbed.
If you then use that sponge to clean something, you’re taking the remnants of all the things that existed previously in the water with it and further spreading the germs and bacteria.
The only way to get that sponge free of germs and bacteria (or white supremacy and kyriarchal) is to put it in the microwave (cool trick to kill bacteria).
That’s what the decolonization work is like.
The work you have to do is the microwave.
That means entering into a container that has been intentionally built to ensure that you are going to slowly but surely remove all of the particles.
When you do that, you do it with a trauma-informed lens. It’s about going through a process that allows you to eject all of the water of white supremacy and kyriarchy that you have absorbed.
When you’re doing the work, you come out on the other side as a decolonized individual. You still get to keep all the things about you that you like, but you’re now at a place where you can start to repattern.
I’m not going to sugar coat it… this process is not going to be easy.
It’s painful, it’s messy, and it’s hard to feel sometimes.
But the outcome, the trauma-informed individual you become, is so worth the whirlwind of emotions.
To really understand decolonization, we also need to talk about trauma. There are four types of responses to trauma.
- Appease (often called Fawn)
We’ve all been unconsciously conditioned in some way to respond to the system, and this response is a bit different for everyone.
White Fragility and White Tears
At its most basic level, white fragility is the fight response to trauma. A common term used to describe white fragility is “White Tears.”
This behavior occurs when a white person responds negatively to or feels attacked by equity.
The big difference between White Tears and other tear references is that White Tears are used as a weapon rather than a coping mechanism.
Next Steps in The Decolonization Process
Once you’ve done all that inner work, the next step is to make your commitments. Your commitments are the easy actionable things you can do that are in alignment with your new value system.
These don’t need to be hard!
Commitments will look a little different for every person, but regardless of the person, every commitment should challenge the status quo. It challenges anything that is not rooted in equity and justice. It challenges anything that causes harm and leads to the dehumanization of people.
It’s so important to start with the internal work before making your commitments because the internal work allows you to develop an equity lens. That lens then allows you to see your own blind spots and take action on those, and helps you recognize harmful behaviors in other people.
By doing the internal work first, you now have a restorative justice framework that allows you to restore the harm rather than cause harm. With that, you can look at your business to make sure all your policies, procedures, containers, branding, and marketing are in service of forward movement toward equity.
More Resources from Louiza Doran
Louiza Doran produces free and paid content around decolonization, anti-racism, trauma recovery, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (just to name a few).
If you’re ready to start your anti-racism journey or are looking for additional resources to support your continued work, Louiza has your back.
Here are just a few links to get you started:
If you haven’t yet done so, watch our full conversation for more information about decolonization.
Looking for additional business resources and support?
If you feel called to join my community of Gaias, I’d love to have you! You can join us in the Wildheart Entrepreneurs Facebook Group. ?
When you join, be sure to let us know your biggest takeaway from this post! ??