31 January 2016


by Sophia Terazawa

“Decolonizing Touch” is a monthly column about love and intimacy. If the revolution will not be televised, then the erotic, the heartbreaks, and interpersonal relationships most certainly will go unseen. But I believe that what happens in private is the most radical space of all. What does it mean to desire the Other? How does it feel to need the oppressor? I hope to answer these questions (and more) in my column.

What's Love Got to Do with It?

What's Love, Sophia Terazawa
What's Love Got to Do with It?, Illustration by Sophia Terazawa

He was nothing more than a street cleaner, but he sang beautifully―with such gusto and dignity, in fact, that no revolutionary could help but fall in love with this man, who swept Saigon’s dusty avenues by day and led Party rallies by night. If Uncle Ho had a canary, this man could lead an entire choir to liberation. He sang for the hearts of many. He sang for dear Vietnam. But why did he have to go and marry my sister, too?

Thus began my mother’s dreadful story of how romance should claim no space in war.


My aunt, the stubborn second daughter of a wealthy businessman, was much like me, or so I have heard. Her tongue was quiet but stung when needed, and she never cried during a beating.

She also believed in equality. Not the normal kind, my mother shook her head. She wanted to fight for decolonization. This brought her to the streets. This brought danger to our family. My mother paused and stared into my eyes as though to emphasize this point. Our family.


True, there was danger all around. My mother already knew how to load an AK-47 by the time she was 16, and she already knew how to fire it, if necessary (with mami eyes, closed, she added with a giggle), but my aunt carried a bullet in each eye and a pin in her chest. My aunt was deliberate, her convictions for the Party, righteous. This was a dangerous time, indeed, to have a revolutionary as a sister, and when she married, we knew it was over.

At this point in the story, my mother sighed and looked into her open palms on the table between us.

Sophia, understand what mami try to say, she asked. And I said, yes, mami. I understand.


I understand that history works in more intimate ways than we realize. I understand human touch as much as I understand grief. I understand the painful act of self-healing because I have spent my childhood watching my mother fall apart. This country fall apart. And I understand change.

It works in the heart. It can only work through melody or a serpent’s bite, the ambiguity of metaphor, madness, and matrimony. The whiplash of protest. Demands. A barricade. And I am not speaking of what happens in the open. For the people. The People.


He was nothing more than a man, but really, this was the story of heartbreak between two sisters. My mother started to cry as though to say, and that is when I lost her. As though to say, and now I will lose you, too.

Sophia Terazawa

January 2016

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30 January 2016


Source: occupywallstreet.net

This month's word is settler colonialism.

Settler colonialism (noun): The systematic invasion and forced occupation of a territory by a foreign power. Where other forms of colonialism seek to exploit the labor and natural resources of the native, settler colonialism seeks to eliminate the native completely and ultimately replace the native. Settler colonialism will apply methods of mass genocide and massive relocation in order to displace and erase the native from the land that is being colonized.

Settler colonialism in a sentence:

For centuries, United States settler colonialism has and continues to displace the indigenous peoples of North America.


January 2016

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29 January 2016


by Ariel Lawrence

Source: Wikimedia.org

It is imperative that we first acknowledge we are in fact children of the Post-Colonial. Our proximity with colonization can not be compared to that of a century ago. The beast has reformed and reshaped itself, not to the point where it is unrecognizable, but distorted and normalized. The influence of colonial discourse shapes the very way we begin to think about oppression, whether it be of others or ourselves. Its discursive language mandates how we name ourselves, its mythological imagery paints our bodies and manipulates our self fashioning; its past, successes and failures, frames the view of our futures.

Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a view of colonialism in antiquity when "vegetation rioted the earth and the big trees were kings." Society no longer permits its members to speak of the landscape and cultures of colonized peoples with the same brutal honesty as Marlowe narrates. Since the emergence of colonialist critique, Africans are no longer just "savage," no longer described as "black shadows of disease" with "faces like grotesque masks". However, the sentiments which shaped the structures that permitted such language have not died, nor have they been subdued by the might of academia. It continues to thrive, and it thrives on its children. David Spurr concludes his text on colonial discourse in journalism and travel writing by citing that the ultimate resistance to colonialism requires the "intervention of forces outside of the West" meaning "new structures that combine and transcend what already exists."

The reason why we cannot imagine a world beyond those structures is because as a collective, the Post-Colonial has been robbed of its histories. Colonialism feeds off the idea that Empire is eternal, that it has, in our History, always been there and always will be. This broken historical imagination entraps both the colonizer and the colonized in dehumanization.

Although we are aware of a time when colonialism did not exist, that time, for both the colonizer and the colonized, is placed on the pedestal of antiquity, unable to be touched or approached. Despite the celebration of the colonizer's past or the exoticization of the colonized's "premodernization", neither period is functional for either group today. "The liquidation of colonization," Albert Memmi writes, "is but a prelude to complete liberation, to self- recovery" (Memmi, 151) and while colonial discourse moves the process forward another step, it brings the Post-Colonial society no closer to its ultimate goal. The need is to imagine beyond colonialism in order to remember past the West.


In Ithaca, we wade through a field of leftist colonizers. Color blind Ideology and the myth of the "post-racial" society has created a wave of disavowal for this country's racial history and its imperialist present. The word is synonymous with "racist" and, in looking at the reaction of someone after they have been accused, it is almost the worst thing that you can call someone.

"In Ithaca, we wade
through a field of leftist

The image of the colonizer has been strategically distanced from society's self perception, it is pulled backwards to the proud steel-breasted conquistador or the leather whip wielding plantation overseer. These Historical images acknowledge the existence of the colonizer but present it as an abstraction. It is the same blurry image of "The Man", the white patriarchal ghost in the night that takes responsibility for the genocide, rape and terror that so many people want to forget.

As Memmi states, the colonizer retains a certain power, divorced from mere politics or economy, that is inherent to the colonial situation; the colonizer maintains the power to attempt refusal. Memmi writes "the colonized is not free to choose between being colonized or not" (Memmi, 86), the only choice provided to the colonized it to accept or die. To be white in this country, and to be "the one who knows" about colonialist discourse, it is a given that they will identify with the colonizer so as to not be seen as ignorant of their privilege. Many students on campus project the persona of the leftist colonizer, they just call themselves liberal. 

It is this student, educated in a school system that celebrates Black History Month despite never having to confront the (usually brown skinned) working poor in their neighborhoods; who were raised by parents that taught them to be "hardworking" and "open-minded" individuals like their ancestors; the student whose understanding of colonization is that it was simply an occurrence of the past which can never be repeated. It is these students who, while in the comfort of the collegiate atmosphere, protest for the first time in their lives, mimicking the photographs of the 1950's and 60's despite believing that the work of those decades in fact solve most of society's flaws.

These students, take on the role of the colonizer because they can, because it is their burden and discomfort to "refuse [colonial] ideology while continuing to live its actual relationships." (Memmi, 20). The urgency to help oppressed people is an attempt to rationalize their existence, the "destiny" of the colonized matters to the colonizer because "[they] hope to go on living in the colony" (Memmi, 36). While it is acceptable to permit the freedom of the colonized, it is not acceptable for this to exist outside of the narrative of home that is so familiar to the colonizer.

One of the most extreme images of the colonizer is that of the paternalist, whose rhetoric, while seemingly toxic, has been completely normalized in the Post-Colonial. Memmi describes the actions of the paternalist as "charitable
 racism" (Memmi, 76). An offset of "white man's burden," the paternalist sees any contribution to liberation as "gifts and never duties" therefore acknowledging that in the colony "[they] have no duties and the colonized have no rights" (Memmi, 76). In his chapter on appropriation, Spurr cites a description of one colonial officer witnessing the native peoples of the Congo shopping in a European established market place, a sight which moved the officer to become "endowed with the honor of paternity" (Spurr, 33). This perpetuates the idea that colonized people, "acquiescence to the colonial system as approval of Western ideals" and that "a colonized people is morally improved and edified by virtue of its participation in the colonial system" (Spurr, 33).

How often does this idea still rear its head in current political rhetoric? In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, President Barrack Obama stated in a Newsweek article "above all, we act for a very simple reason: in times of tragedy, the United States of America steps forward and helps. That is who we are. That is what we do." He soon after contends that the U.S does not "use our power to subjugate others, we use it to lift them up." In this statement, which on the surface is a moving comment on the distribution of international aid, becomes inherent to the rhetoric of this country but only segregated from its history of oppression. Attitudes around Haiti, which stem from the language of paternalism, perpetuate the heroics of the colonized and deny the villainy. Instead of acknowledging that the fact that the "more freely he breathes, the more the colonized choke" (Memmi, 8), the paternalist colonizer sees only the lack of the colonized and fancy's themselves vital to the colonized betterment.

What is least apparent to the colonizer of the Post-Colonial is their own imprisonment within colonialism. Whether or not the colonizer chooses to refuse or accept it makes no real difference as the "distinction between deed and intent has no great significance in the colonial situation" (Memmi, 130). Spurr begins his book by exemplifying the "unevenness of exchange" in colonialism which becomes endemic to the vantage of the colonizer. While Western ideology promotes that the gaze is “an active instrument of construction" (Spurr, 15), colonialism demands that the gaze must first destroy what is already there in order to recreate it in the colonizer's mind.

The colonizer is then, always blind to the humanity of the colonizer and crippled to see his own humanity outside of the identity as colonizer. Spurr quotes George Orwell to say that "when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys" (Spurr, 191), that is the freedom to see the world outside of the colony which he is the supposed ruler of. Despite the allure of social, political and economic advantages of colonialism, "colonization can only disfigure the colonizer" (Memmi, 147). To use the example of Marlowe, he describes his loyalty to Kurtz as the "nightmare of [his] choice" (Conrad, 64). After witnessing the "brutal instincts" and "monstrous passions" of Kurtz, Marlowe does not betray his name after death and lies to Kurtz's fiancé because confronting the truth would be "too dark altogether" (Conrad, 65). The colonizer who refuses is forced to leave, and the colonizer who accepts must constantly debase the colonized to justify their actions; neither one is at peace.


I pondered for a very long time whether any "colonized" people actually existed in the Post-Colonial. It seems, especially as a middle class Black woman, almost insulting to call myself colonized when I take into account all of the privileges which I have from being a US citizen. There are many living in countries the US deems "Third World," who at first glance would incur images of sugar cane and tobacco fields, whose brown limbs toil in unbearable conditions so that I can purchase bananas at 32 cents per pound, whose lack of access to basic health care and running water would harken back to the experiences of the colonial period.

It would be arrogant to think that i maintain the power to remove myself from them. Although I represent the pacified version, I too remain the distorted image of Kurtz's African lover drenched in "barbarous ornaments", "savage and superb. wild-eyed and magnificent" (Conrad, 60). I remain stuck in that image because, like many others, I lack the ability to assimilate.

Memmi brings to reality that assimilation is not based on the colonized's desire but in fact the "colonizer's rejection" (Memmi, 124). Spurr cites the paradox which assimilation creates within colonialism: "the desire to emphasize racial and cultural difference as a means of establishing superiority [conflicts with] the desire to efface difference and gather the colonized into the fold of an all-embracing civilization" (Spurr, 32). Assimilation is detrimental to the colonizer because to change the colonial relationship in any way would undo the colonial situation.

So, without the ability to assimilate without the colonizer's acceptance, and without the economic means with which to live outside the colony, the colonized is only left to revolt; however even that action has been co-opted. Despite Marlowe's fear that the cannibals on his ship have the capacity to devour him, he is still served by their "savagery." Memmi writes "the colonized fights in the very name of the colonizer" (Memmi, 128). After attempting to refute all connections with their own culture and traditions, after embracing the tenants of the West better than the colonizer, the colonized is met with rejection and revolts, but unsuccessfully as colonialism "is the only act he understands" (Memmi, 128).

Therefore the colonized, even in the act of revolution, is always speaking back to the colony. Without any customs of their own legitimized in the eye of the colonizer, and having only been exposed to the legitimate rule of the colonizer, the colonized has no culture it can recognize itself. Without the space to exist outside of the colonizer, the colonized still exist today. Their suffering is measured on scales of politic and sentiment which are never coherent, they are constantly told that they no longer exist. Yet, the colonizer would have the colonized believe that because there are no iron shackles around their [the colonized] neck that there is no pressure there as well.

As a child of the Post-Colonial, I am simultaneously a child of Post-Civil Rights. Since the colonized "continue to think, feel and live...in relation to the colonizer and colonization" (Memmi, 139), a fully matured revolution has never taken place. However, with the weight of the civil rights era's "successes" on their head, the “American Negro” is not able to openly blame the colonizer for its oppression, and so the hatred turns inward. A generation of colonized people exists today who "give into the intoxication of fury and violence" (Memmi, 139) that results from impotence. A lifetime of bellowing, not having the language with which to articulate the pain, leads the colonized of the Post-Colonial to submit to ambiguity and hopelessness.

Ariel Lawrence

January 2016

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28 January 2016


Photo via rollingstone.com

Gil Scott-Heron was one of the most important spoken word poets of the 20th Century. Born in Chicago, Illinois and later relocating to the Bronx, NY, Scott-Heron was deeply influenced by the jazz and blues traditions. His writing opened a window into the conditions of Blackness and poverty in America. One of his biggest influences was Langston Hughes. He is best known for his piece "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," which became an anthem in Seventies Black America. He is also known for the blues "Pieces of a Man."

Decolonizing Culture

January 2016

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27 January 2016


Photo by Sipho Mpongo


Students of color at Oxford University have been calling for the removal of the Cecil Rhodes statue on campus and have demanded Oxford to acknowledge its legacy of colonialism. Sizwe Mpofu Walsh, a founding leader of the movement, continues to speak out about Oxford's systemic racism and colonial domination: "we think that Oxford is institutionally racist and throughout its history it has significant biases towards Black people. The first Black student was only accepted in 1938." White supremacist and Oxford University Chancellor Lord Patten has responded to the campaign by stating anyone uncomfortable with Cecil Rhodes legacy should "think about being educated elsewhere or go to China."

Photo by Jake May, The Flint Journal


The enormous amounts of lead contamination found in the water of Flint Michigan has sparked outrage. People of color make up over 57% of Flint's population and about 40% are living in poverty. In 2014, the city announced its switch to river water in an effort to save money. Today it is estimated that over 9,000 children in Flint have dangerous levels of lead poisoning in their blood. On January 5, 2016 Governor Rick Snyder finally declared a state of emergency in Flint. Yet, information has surfaced that Gov. Rick Snyder knew of the water contamination years before and took no action. On January 14, 2016 residence stormed the Sate Capitol Building demanding that Snyder be held responsible. A rally at the State Capitol will be organized on January 19, 2016 to demand Snyder's removal. The rally will be held during the governor's State of the State speech.

Photo via cornellsun.com


On January 14, 2016 in a historic turn of events, President Tom Rochon announced that he will be "retiring" from the Ithaca College presidency in July of 2017. The news comes after much organizing and agitation from POC students, walk-outs, occupations, and rallys. Up until his announcement, President Rochon has been insistent on remaining in office despite the mountain of disapproval from the campus body. This landmark victory for students comes on the heels of a new Spring semester. However, Rochon mentions that he will be leaving in 2017, which gives him one last year in office. He has manipulated the circumstances of his exit so that he may negotiate a retirement package with the board of trustees. Most importantly, he has not headed the students demand for his immediate exit. The 2017 date is close to his actual end term and he has intended to pacify the people.

Photo via Twitter


The Laquan Mcdonald cover-up sparked a massive walkout of over 500 people on December 18, 2015 in downtown Chicago. Following the release of the Cedrick Chatman video, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel has known about for some time, there has been an even greater push for Emanuel's resignation. On January 14, 2016, in response to the release of the video, a small group of protesters marched outside of the Mayors home in Ravenswood, Chicago calling for Emanuel's resignation. On January 15, 2016, Emanuel attended an MLK breakfast that was interrupted by protests inside and outside the building. Armed police officers guarded the event as demonstrators locked arms outside of the building demanding Emanuel's resignation. Inside, Rev. Matthew Ross interrupted the proceedings chanting "16 shots and a cover-up."

Track the Movement

January 2016

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26 January 2016



This Netflix original film tells the story of Agu, a young boy from West Africa who is forced to survive after civil war ravages his country. Agu is then indoctrinated into a rebel military faction and becomes a child solider. While Agu fears his commander and many of the men around him, his fledgling childhood has been brutally shattered by the war raging through his country. Based on the 2005 book by Uzodinma Iweala.

Decolonizing Culture

January 2016

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“We had fed the heart on fantasy,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare.”
-William Butler Yeats

By Taylor Graham

Humanization is the original vocation of the people, affirms Paulo Friere in his formative text, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” Conversely, dehumanization is a distortion of this practice of becoming more fully human. For Freire, however, this does not make dehumanization any less real, for dehumanization is a historical fact. The practice of dehumanizing and the state of being dehumanized stem from an unjust order. In this climate of dehumanization, Freire proposes his pedagogy for the oppressed, a method of humanizing through which "the oppressed liberate themselves and their oppressors as well” (44). Freire’s path for illuminating and changing reality can be criticized as overly idealistic, and, in fact, the author admits as much, affirming that his pedagogical approach stems from his "trust in the people” (40). Yet, the process of becoming, as outlined by Freire, serves as a method for restoring humanity in the structure of domination that exits today in the United States.

In his preface to Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth,” Jean-Paul Sartre named North America the “super-European monstrosity” and anointed what exists there as “racist humanism,” for "the European has only been able to become a man through creating slaves and monsters” (Fanon 26). Here we have a complication to the traditional notion that humanization within the colonial situation exists in a binary: on one side, the oppressor holds all of the humanity stolen from the oppressed, who exist at the other end of the pole, dehumanized.

Sartre suggests the humanity of the oppressor is distorted, wretched and impure in the ways in which it was obtained and maintained. Freire, it seems, would agree that "no one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so” (85). This stands on a premise that one is not born fully human, but gains humanity "through humanizing actions that, in turn, affirm men and women as beings in the process of becoming”—that they are unfinished and so then is their reality (84). In terms of the United States, two different realities emerge, both resulting in dehumanization: humanity stolen from the oppressed by systems of domination, and a distorted humanism gained by the oppressors through the same structures.

Historic oppression pervades within the United States and affects its citizens in widely different ways. The experience of the indigenous community varies from that of the black community, which differs greatly from that of the white community. Therefore, it is important to make clear that humanity in the United States has historically been stolen from marginalized communities through domination. To deny suffering to anyone or to measure one’s pain against another’s is to deny the other their humanity, and withholding humanity from the other is inherently destructive and dehumanizing to the individual doing the refusing. Therefore, each individual in the United States experiences a wretched form of humanism as a result of the country’s dominating structures.

In its international dealings, the United States has created itself in the "image of a monster” and continues to exist in the midst of its colonial domination. It has risen to such hegemonic power that it might as well have enslaved the entire world, as it continues to enslave and dehumanize those who are lashed to its systems internally. If the colonizer "owes the fact of his very existence to the colonial system,” the United States owes its humanity to the colonization of its land and its continued imperial domination in far corners of the globe.

This false humanity is solidified, in part, because the United States exists as an ahistorical society. It is apparent to those who study the brief and violent history of the United States that a very small faction of its population has constructed its history. This alienates a large portion of the country’s population from its history, an act that dehumanizes those who are excluded. It also separates those writers of history from a truthful historical reality because they have engaged in a process of mythicization. The narrative of the United States has been obfuscated to a degree that no one could name themselves within a truly historical reality, a necessary requirement for someone to exist as a full human, according to Freire.

Freire suggests that the act of humanizing is a collaborative process that takes place through the "naming of the world,” or the defining of reality. Naming the world, for Freire, means gaining the understanding of one’s realistic place in the world in order to transform reality and liberate oneself. He insists that banal monologue and mechanical action bookend the struggle for greater humanity. Hence, his course for regaining humanity takes a path between these two extremes. His process of naming the world takes place in partnership through the act of dialogue, which finds balance between "action and reflection.” In its authentic form, dialogue, as "an encounter between men, mediated by the world,” has the power to transform reality. Through the process of naming the world in dialogue, of revealing it, the various limit situations presented by the colonial superstructure are faced. Dialogue becomes the method for gaining political consciousness and, in a truly revolutionary sense, becomes difficult and painful work.

On his deathbed in Washington D.C., Frantz Fanon lamented that "Americans are not engaged in dialogue; they still speak monologues.” It is true that the very same conditions, which have led to the dehumanization of the people of the United States, also hinder their ability to dialogue effectively and authentically with one another. According to Freire, dialogue requires certain preconditions, notably: humility, faith and a profound love for the world and for people, which is impossible within the structure of domination in the United States.

Yet, there exists a chance for fostering Feirian dialogue in the United States. That chance at dialogue, which in turn is our main hope for renaming a world of domination, resides in love. For Freire, love is the perpetual force animating all processes of liberation. True love takes one outside of oneself into dialogue with the world, and is anti-individualistic at its core. It requires an encounter with the other, and inspires both oppressor and oppressed to exist beyond what the system has given them and has told them to be. This process of loving in order to dialogue serves as our only hope to rename the world in which we are dominated. To love is to meet domination with optimism. Such love does not constitute a naïve, Utopian faith in the future; rather, it indicates a form of active, uncompromising hope in the possibilities of what humans can do in dialogue with each other.

In the face of oppressive domination that has stratified the United States, love, containing a powerful faith in people and the world, is the only hope for liberation. The revolutionaries "must [affirm] their love of life” because it is love that will guide them and exist as the reason they struggle.

Taylor Graham

January 2016

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22 January 2016


by Jie Wu

"Boatman Crossing the River" by Jie Wu


It’s almost Eid, I thought to myself: I need to go across the river and visit the teachers and students at Talimi Haq School. The school is a non-formal educational center run by Howrah Pilot Project in an industrial workers’ settlement, populated mostly by Muslim households, in the city of Howrah, India. Here, students and volunteer teachers address each other as sister and brother, using the Urdu terms “baji”(sister) and “bhai”(brother).

A few days ago, Amina baji had invited me to school for the upcoming Eid-al Fitr festival. Eid, also known as the "Feast of Breaking the Fast,” celebrates the completion of – the twenty-nine or thirty-day period of fasting from dawn to sunset undertaken by many Muslim residents in Priya Manna Basti, where Talimi Haq School is located. During Eid celebrations, people eat special foods, wear new clothes, offer prayers, share gifts between friends and family and go to attend Eid fairs.

In 2014, I had the chance to celebrate Eid with the students and teachers at Talimi Haq School. For more than six months, I had been working as a volunteer English teacher and researcher there. As a researcher, I looked into how residents from Howrah and Kolkata (cities on opposite sides of a river) related to the river Hooghly (also known as the Ganga, or Ganges) that flows in between. I had hoped to be able to grasp the complex relationships between people and the Hooghly river in the contemporary context of globalization. I alternated my time between the roles of researcher and English teacher in the school.

After three months of difficult research work, I had hit a major wall. I started questioning myself and the motivations behind my research. Would my work at all benefit the students and teachers of Talimi Haq School? Sometimes the answer seemed to be no, and so I dedicated more time and effort towards my other role as an English teacher in the school. I thought that perhaps I could contribute more to the students by teaching them English rather than selfishly collecting data for my personal study and possible publication.

It was during my short stint as an English teacher in Talimi Haq School that I came to realize that I was infected with a dangerous syndrome – the White Man’s burden. This syndrome can be described as a seemingly selfless desire (in reality being selfish because it is a personal desire) to "civilize" and save the non-white peoples from their perceived savagery and ignorance.

The British novelist and poet, Rudyard Kipling, popularized this term after writing the poem "White Man’s Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands”. In this poem, Kipling called upon the U.S. to take on the burden of empire, similar to what Britain and other European nations had done, in order to civilize and save the non-white peoples, whom he referred as "your new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child.” Although I am not "white", I could see that my privileges as a Chinese American, brought up and educated in Portugal and later in the U.S., led me to becoming infected with the White Man’s burden syndrome.

I arrived in India proudly armed with a Cambridge TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. I thought that this English teaching certificate and my previous experience as an English tutor for a literacy NGO made me more than qualified for the new teaching assignment at Talimi Haq School. I saw myself as the foreign teacher who would "save" the students from their chronic English learning problems. Direct in-field experience quickly proved to me how unqualified and untrained I was to teach the students at the school. For instance, my inability to speak Hindi or Urdu, communication failures and cultural differences made it very difficult for me to teach the students at this center. I also saw how local teachers could teach the students in a much more efficient, sustainable and culturally specific way than I could. I was humbled and thus began my ongoing effort to cleanse myself of the disease of the White Man’s burden.

My teaching experience at Talimi Haq School taught me about how there was nobody and nothing at all within my sense of ‘I’ – the egotistical teacher, to "save."

It was only my mind that urgently needed to be saved from its teacher-and-savior complex, something ingrained in the global system of neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism. English teaching, if not carefully and consciously undertaken, is a powerful tool of submission, domination and colonization of non-English speaking peoples, which in most cases also means non-White people. After slowly discerning the imperialism of English teaching, I took up the role of an assistant to the local teachers and helped them in whichever ways I could. I observed that the change in my attitude made it easier for me to get along with the other teachers, but I could still sense there was some kind of gap or invisible barrier that prevented me from fully understanding and connecting with the teachers and students of the school. I thought about this often. I would ask myself: What it is that separates me from the students and teachers at Talimi Haq School? Is it language, culture, class, caste, gender, privilege or religion that pushes us away from each other?

As time flowed by like the river Hooghly these existential questions lay unanswered in my consciousness. After a nine-month stay in India, doing research and English teaching, I returned in December 2014 to visit my family in Lisbon, Portugal. Back in Lisbon, the memories of India being with the teachers and students of Talimi Haq School kept returning to me. I tried suppressing them but all my efforts were in vain. What it is that separates me from the students and teachers at Talimi Haq School? Is it language, culture, class, caste, gender, privilege or religion that pushes us away from each other?

Continue to Part 2 here.

To support the project that Talimi Haq School is currently undertaking led by the local teachers, please visit their Indiegogo page here.

Jie Wu

January 2016

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19 January 2016


Albert Memmi

A timeless classic in the study of colonialism, this ground breaking work by Albert Memmi explores the physical and physiological relationship between the colonizer and the colonized. First published in 1957, this book was confiscated by colonial police around the world. Memmi captures perfectly the contradictions of the colonial relationship and offers no escape for the two protagonists other than the complete end of the colonial situation.

Decolonizing Culture

January 2016

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18 January 2016


by Dubian Ade

It was nearing the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898. After 400 years of Spanish colonial domination, Spain had finally granted Puerto Rico it's autonomy through the Carta de Autonomía. As the United States closed in on the island, The Macheteros de Puerto Rico, a loose band of Puerto Rican militants fought to defend the hope of a new nation. With relative success they were able to repel U.S forces.

Spain however, lost the war. With the signing of the Treaty of Paris the U.S laid claim to Puerto Rico even though it was no longer a Spanish territory. Puerto Rico was immediately annexed and without any elections Charles Herbert Allen was appointed the first U.S Governor of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico was now a United States colony. At the expense of the Puerto Rican people, Allen opened up the island to U.S business ventures. Allen himself resigned in 1901 so that he could be president of America Sugar Refinery Company, which soon became the largest sugar-refining company in the world. In a 30 year period most of Puerto Rico's arable land had been converted to sugar plantations. American Sugar Refinery Company, which would later be renamed Domino, owned virtually all of these plantations.

A group of members from the Union Party of Puerto Rico separated from the party and joined with two pro-independence organizations. On September 17th , 1922 the Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico was formed.

Pedro Albizu Campos

Internal strife between leaders over how the party should be run weakened the organization for some years until Pedro Albizu Campos was elected president in 1930. Campos would hold the position until his death in 1965.

Under Campos' direction, the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party became unwavering in its stance for independence and nationalization where other organizations lightened on their views. The Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico advocated for the independence of Puerto Rico by any means necessary, including armed force. The Party's revolutionary position would come to have a profound affect on the Puerto Rican people.

17 January 2016


Now is the time of year when we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Liberal white supremacists come out of the woodwork to perpetuate colorblind racism. Uncle Toms gather around to talk about how far we have come. Middle class people of color tell youth to pull their pants up.

MLK celebrations happen all across the country. Everywhere people are holding hands and sing "this little light of mine." Program agendas ask "what would Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. say if he could see us today?"

It has become a day to celebrate progress. Yet you couldn't hear freedom ring if it came out the barrel of a gun shot in your head handcuffed execution style.

From Birmingham to Selma we remember Dr. Martin Luther King's adventures. Place him next to Gandhi and Jesus. Burn candles and sing for King's second coming. Oprah Winfrey dips into a bowl of croutons and laughs. Al Sharpton holds his hand to his heart and sobs.

There is talk of Obama and marches on Washington, and freedom coming down like a mighty stream. The Black elite blow their noses and pay homage to the Dream. Stepping on the necks of poor Black people "If it wasn't for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I wouldn't be where I am at today."

White supremacist want to be judged by the content of their domination. They regurgitate MLK quotes to keep people of color in place. "Now remember, boy, Dr. Martin Luther King said, 'hate cannot drive out hate.' Now wait a minute there, boy, Martin Luther King said, 'an eye for an eye will leave everyone blind.'"

White liberals in Martin Luther King tee shirts sing "we shall overcome" loud enough to drown out the cries of black people dying in the streets.

This January 18th, The Decolonizer says: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hates you.

The Decolonizer knows there will be a rush to social media to post your favorite MLK quotes, wait at your computer for likes, and feel good about your complacency in white supremacist settler colonial domination. Here is an alternative list of #QuotesbyMLK:

"The activity of Negro forces, while heroic in some instances, and impressive in other sporadic situations, lacked consistency and militancy to fill the void left by government defaults."

"The principle of self-defense, even involving weapons and bloodshed, has never been condemned."

"When the Negro uses force in self-defense he does not forfeit support- he may even win it, by the courage and self-respect it reflects."

"It is unfortunately true that however the Negro acts, his struggle will not be free of violence initiated by his enemies, and he will need ample courage and willingness to sacrifice to defeat this manifestation of violence."

"Over the last few years many Negros have felt that their most troublesome adversary was not the obvious bigot of the Ku Klux Klan or the John Birch Society, but the white liberal who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice, who prefers tranquility to equality."

"The amazing thing about the ghetto is that so few Negros have rioted."

January 2016

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