Day One | Colonialism was…

The Rhodes Colossus
Striding from Cape Town to Cairo
Punch Magazine, 10 December 1892

Colonialism was trauma. The type of trauma that immediately followed massive forced migrations that have become the foundation of tense relations across oceans. The type of trauma that your parents and grandparents rarely speak about. The type of trauma that comes with colonial administrators, white settlers, missionary education, and toxic Christianity that tells you that your systems of thought and religion are devoid and demonic. The type of trauma that engrains in you the image of a false savior with a resemblance strikingly similar to the pale faces of those missionaries and administrators that have uprooted your world. Colonialism is the type of trauma that was grounded in the idea of “civilizing” as the “white man’s burden.” Colonialism was the type of trauma that reproduced European-style stratification and hierarchy in foreign lands, the creation of artificial borders forcibly brought people together as to benefit the colonizer’s goal of creating cheap labor forces for the extraction of raw materials. Colonialism was the type of trauma that had your parents clinging to proper French and the Queen’s English. Colonialism was the type of trauma that created and maintained poverty in lands with an abundance of resources.

Colonialism was a trauma that pushed many to migrate to foreign lands in hope of a better future…only to find a “mother” country that didn’t want you, a population that refused to accept and respect you. Meanwhile, as you stepped off of the boat or plane, you couldn’t help but feel a bit of anger walking through the streets of this nation, looking at buildings and homes so lavishly built. You can’t help but think of how these “hard working” white people benefited so greatly from the materials your people unearthed and the labor of your distant relatives in the Americas during slavery.

Colonialism was the trauma that didn’t allow you the time and space necessary for intimacy between family, friends, and lovers. It robbed you of touch, of tenderness. It changed the ways in which you viewed your body, your sex, and your sexuality. What was fluid is rigid and stagnate.

Colonialism was the trauma that was never addressed or redressed, the wound that was never allowed to heal. Colonialism was the chaos of former and developing new nations with debate (that you inherited) weighs you down.

Colonialism was the trauma that still is. It has found its way onto this page, replacing ‘is’ with ‘was’ as if the trauma does not still disturb your attempts to rest and meditate, as if it does not still shadow you wherever you go.

Colonialism is the trauma that lives on in your governments and school systems, still functioning based on models that were never meant to benefit you.

And with each independence day that passes, with the 50th year being marked as triumphant, as golden, you continue to question the strides made forward, the “rising” of nations and whole continents…when so many things remain the same. When missionaries still come and go as they please, when your God has been erased, when your skin is in need of lightening creams to bring out its “true” color, when your distant relatives are less likely to visit your shores than your former colonizers as many of you can’t afford the journey across the Atlantic, when you wonder just what could have been if they had remained on their isles and their barren land.

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