By Mo Groves
Decolonize (de·col·o·nize) – To Free from Colonial Status. To allow to become self-governing or independent.
As Black women we live in a world where white reigns. There are countless instances where we perpetuate and value European colonial ideals because unbeknownst to us; we have been beaten with messages of self-hate. In growing more conscious I have started to see some of my own behaviors that reinforce the European Colonial Ideal.
I have found myself longing for the curls the mixed girls have. If I could just have that pretty, springy bouncy, loose golden-red curls like Freddie from “A Different World” I’d be in there. That thought reinforces the dogma of good hair vs. bad hair. In my mind I have bad hair because I’m not mixed. I am valuing the whiteness.
I find myself in “professional” settings code-switching because I have been taught that the way I naturally speak is not professional, not appropriate, not white enough. So I over-enunciate things trying to meet the European Colonial Ideal.
Even as a child, Black dolls weren’t readily available to poor black people. It was either a white doll or nothing. The lack of positive images of Black girls and women teaches little Black girls that there is no value in Blackness. You find little girls aspiring to be like their white dolls. Straight hair, light eyes, and fair skin.
Chinweizu, author of The West and the Rest of Us: White Predators, Black Slavers, and the African Elite, wrote: “The central objective in decolonizing the African mind is to overthrow the authority that alien traditions exercise over the African. This demands the dismantling of white supremacist beliefs, and the structures which uphold them, in every area of African life. It must be stressed, however, that decolonization does not mean ignorance of foreign traditions; it simply means denial of their authority and withdrawal of allegiance from them.”
In line with Chinweizu’s position on decolonizing the African mind, Black women must consciously nullify the power of the European Colonial Ideal by embracing their curves, kinky hair, and melanin in spite of societal pressure to act, look and embrace the alien ideals of colonialism. Black women must create outlets and safe places to share positive images, common experiences, empowering stories to invalidate the degradation they suffer at the hands of a Eurocentric world. We must perpetuate our own agenda by living an authentic life filled with self-love, active support of each other, and the constant seeking of knowledge to bridge the educational and spiritual gap between the Diaspora and the essence of Mother Africa.