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Over the past few months, I’ve been spending more time than I’d care to admit on TikTok. With that, I’ve gravitated towards learning what black TikTok looks like across the diaspora. I’ve seen some amazing content – videos discussing our culture from a myriad of perspectives, on topics that range from food, to comedy, dance, dialects, art and of course an inevitable discourse around chattel slavery, colonialism and the African diaspora.
While most of my interactions on black Tiktok have been good – or neutral, I’ve of course seen the bad, and unfortunately there is quite a lot of it. Social media, isn’t real life, but the content on these apps typically reflect the attitudes that some people – particularly the youth – possess.
A 15 or 60 second video, is no where near enough time to discuss the full complexity and nuances of the African diaspora. In an online world where everyone has a platform, we should have the ability to zoom out and take note that any harmful rhetoric we perpetuate about each other only benefits people who want to see us disconnected.
With all the worrying content the algorithm has been sending my way, I’ve felt a strong push to discuss why we think this way and if not us, where most of our misconceptions about each other come from. This is the first post in a series called decolonising your mind – where I discuss the ways in which people of African descent can begin the journey to healing – learning more about the past and ourselves, so that we can have a better present and future.
What is decolonisation?
If you google decolonisation, you’ll most likely come across this definition – “The action or process of a state withdrawing from a former colony, leaving it independent.”
This is a limited definition. For me, decolonisation not only refers to the historical definition of colonisers leaving formerly occupied lands – but the process of questioning, unlearning and overturning the negative messaging and narratives that so many of us have internalised and even adopted (and normalised) as elements of our culture. It’s also the process of replacing problematic thinking with new ideas that are defined by us and centred within our truth.
A few examples of internalised colonisation / white supremacy are*:
- Idolising the cultures of former colonisers while simultaneously putting down black diasporan / black african cultures
- Patriarchal values + culture
- Building and sustaining exclusively male dominated societies
- Perpetuating individual + structural colourism, classism, discrimination against lgtb+, xenophobia, ableism, ageism, gender based violence and child abuse
- Assuming that whiteness or non-blackness corresponds to intelligence
- Not questioning authority + problematic laws
- Upholding foreign beauty standards, while neglecting or discriminating against non-eurocentric beauty standards
- Only valuing western education and ideologies
- Devaluing indigenous African knowledge
- Individualism over collectivism
- Demonisation of traditional African religions, beliefs and customs while upholding imposed religions
- Religious fundamentalism + claims of religious supremacy
*Some things on this list may have been prevalent before colonisation (e.g. patriarchal male dominated societies) – however certain behaviours and the ways in which they manifest today were adopted from western culture or further cemented once indigenous cultural + social structures were eradicated.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but are things that many of us have internalised due to white ‘supremacist’ messaging.
Why is decolonisation necessary?
In a world that continuously humiliates and disrespects black people across the world – decolonisation is a useful tool to help us move away from living under and according to white supremacy – to freedom in defining how we want to live. For us to begin to move forward, we first need to understand our learned behaviours, where they come from and how we perpetuate these behaviours.
If you’re interested in learning more about colonisation and its effects through the generations, I’d recommend reading these books.
Interested in learning more? Check out some of my other posts here!