How Do I Decolonize Living Here

A Lyrical Essay-Poem

They stole us from Africa, and then they stole your land, and made us work it, and while I want liberation, what about you? What does my liberation look like for people who they wanted to erase from this land they held us captive on? I realize a relative privilege in being seen, in being heard, in being numerous enough not to have your voices erased, but I also realize the circumstances of being seen and heard are always in relation to my own oppression and never just because I want to be seen or heard. I am confused about how to properly praxis and practice liberation here, in this land of the colonized, run by colonizers with an imperial bent. I am confused about how to rally and how to build a movement of the marginalized when there is so much indoctrinated White Supremacy. When there are enough Native American tribes that practiced slavery and kicked us out to make it awkward to begin. When there are enough Black people who sound xenophobic and who are comfortable with liberation being exclusive to us. How do we effectively decolonize existing as visual reminders of a time when we were property on land stolen? How do we demand land and resources here when it belonged to you first? How do we eradicate the Whiteness from our thoughts about Liberation?

We are so policed, so brutalized, so impoverished, so ignored, so politically pawned that we cannot even throw off our chains without throwing our chains onto you. If intersectional freedom is a thing, it is as tangled as our chains used to be in the hold of slave ships. It is as matted as the hair of the buffalo, and it seems as ungraspable as the sun, because any concept of freedom I have seen is centered around Black autonomy, but that ignores the plight of the Native communities who are still restricted, still barred, still oppressed, and resisting despite the suppression. How do we conceptualize a vision of freedom without decolonialization of our minds? America is toxic to a bold imagination regarding freedoms because it tells us to reward incremental progress, even as it hamstrings the progress it has allegedly already made. So how we all gone get free under this framework? How truly free are we going to be if our liberation exists under a colonized mindset? How do I decolonize here? How do we build a movement toward freedom if we ignore the shared plights of our communities long ignored and long abused?

We must see our freedom as bound up in each other’s ability to throw our chains into the sea in one mass, otherwise we will replicate our oppression, and refocus it onto another group, repeating the ways of our oppressors. We have to be able to reimagine our concept of freedom, so that we can erase oppression completely. We have to see a world where our freedoms exist simultaneously, where our futures are free together, side by side. But maybe I’m just dreaming that our solidarity will move beyond shares and retweets and become unbroken trust between our communities. Maybe I’m just speaking for myself and what I hope to see. Maybe I’m just laying this out, and someone else can pick it up and run with it. We however, must decolonize our minds if we hope to survive here. It is vital to our lives, revolutionary and otherwise.