What does it mean to DECOLONIZE?
“Decolonization is the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches. On the one hand, decolonization involves dismantling structures that perpetuate the status quo and addressing unbalanced power dynamics.”-the internet
I grew up in a small racist town. It was normal to shit talk about any culture that wasn’t white. I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t always have the right words when taking a stand.
It seems the more I learn the more questions I have. Decolonization is an ongoing process. I am so very gratful for the time and energy professors Dr. Tracy Bear and Dr. Gareau have put into their conversations with actor Dan Levy on youtube. These are series of videos where in each episode they talk about, and answer questions from the public about the modules in “Indigenous Canada”- a free course offered by the University of Alberta. The question that comes up a lot to them from white settler folks is: WHAT CAN I DO??
In my last blog entry I looked at Who am I? Where am I from and Who are my people? In moving forward, I continue here with this working list of actions we settlers can do to dismantle the colonial patriarchal capitalist white supremacist paradigm. (By no means is this list finished.. Consider this a chapter in the process of decolonization.)
- Educate ourselves. I’ve been reading, watching, listening – and this Manual for Decolonization I linked above, really speaks to me. It is written in a way that I can immediately feel the information as it sinks in. To me, it is to the point with no bs. We have Indigenous perspective, first hand stories, and understandings. I want EVERYONE to read this. Is THIS being taught in schools yet? (I’m going to research this tangent, but if someone knows anything about indigenous perspective being taught in elementary and high-school, can you please let me know?) How do we get everyone to read this?
- Acknowledge. What happened? What IS happening? Are you curious about what the 94 calls to action are from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Who are the people that make up the Truth and Reconciliation commission? – I’ve been reading up on this, and I admit, I get a little confused/overwhelmed when going through this type of government colonial wording. I’d love someone to tell me a story about the calls to action. (Having said that, I’m not asking anyone from the BIPOC community to learn me. I’ll chip away at this and come back with a story). For anyone who is interested here are the 94 CALLS TO ACTION. Again- Indigenous perspective- Let’s get to the TRUTH of our history, and teach that in schools.
- Ask yourself- WHAT CAN I DO? (do not ask an indigenous person). We all have our own personal gifts- what is your unique gift? What is your skillset you can bring to the cause? I’d love to support an Indigenous person in telling their story- through my skills of theatre creation, movement, puppetry, direction, design, film, editing. Just putting that out there.
- Don’t make it about yourself. Phewf, this one really knocked me off my feet for a moment. Is that what I am doing here with this blog? Dr. Tracy Bear said to “value uncomfortability as a place of learning.” Thank you for that. I’m bound to be making mistakes. In researching further- I’m understanding this is more about NOT CENTERING THE SETTLER PERSPECTIVE.
Because settler colonialism is built upon an entangled triad structure of settler-native-slave, the decolonial desires of white, non-white, immigrant, postcolonial, and oppressed people, can similarly be entangled in resettlement, reoccupation, and reinhabitation that actually further settler colonialism.”Decolonization is Not a Metaphor– by Eve Tuck from the State University of New York, and K. Wayne Yang of University of California, San Diego.
I am going to study this article this week, and see If I can come back with a more layman’s version- for folks like me who prefer a more everyday type language. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the importance of edumacated expression, and I often try the big words for myself- I just don’t always understand. It makes me think about some of the folks of my home town- how could this important information be expressed in a way that would help them take in the information and really think about it.
- Cultivate more everyday acts of practical reverence. Reciprocity through gratitude in action. Again, Braiding Sweetgrass is bringing tears to my eyes with Robin Wall Kimmerer’s gorgeous words and stories:
“The Honorable Harvest asks us to give back in reciprocity, for what we have been given. Reciprocity helps resolve the moral tension of taking life by giving in return something of value that sustains the ones who sustain us. One of our responsibilities as human people is to find ways to enter into reciprocity with the more than human world. We can do it through gratitude, through ceremony, through land stewardship, science, art and in every day acts of practical reverence.Braiding Sweetgrass- Robin Wall Kimmerer
6. Consider this: “We are the ancestors of the future and what we do know will have an impact.”- Yeye Luisah Teish, author of Jambalaya. How can we become good ancestors? I participated as a witness in a powerful on-line “workshop” about Decolonizing the City through a Matriarchal lens. One of the panelists spoke about her indiginous ancestors living and acting in ways that considered us, here and now. What are the ways we can inspire each other to do this?
AND THE ART SIDE OF LIFE
I ain’t kidding when I say making art is what gets me up in the morning. I feel this process of decolonizing goes hand in hand with making art. #artformentalhealth #dowhatyoulove
This week I filmed a new process video for the creation for THE CURE FOR FEAR. In it Loretta tries out and shares a variety of techniques to “lift your facial epidermis”. I’m rather proud of this bit, first of all simply for doing it- for I had felt rather overwhelmed by the state of the world and fell into a sort of frozen lethargy . Once I got started though, I really tickled my own fancy. I now see where I will make changes in this scene, and THAT is the nature of the process.
I am excited to perform THE CURE FOR FEAR as live theatre, but for now I am experimenting with a live digital format. I’m now seeing 3 streams to Loretta’s world.
- Her youtube videos- Here Loretta is “on” and we can glean who she is through what she says and also through what she doesn’t say. Within these films I am experimenting with clowning for film. Once again- Is it still clown if you can’t respond to the audience? I managed to tickle my own fancy here and respond to my response. These scenes I can see playing live, or live stream.
- When Loretta is “off”– This is when the camera to her youtube video gets “shut” off. Still being filmed, we lose the fourth wall and we peek into Loretta all alone at home. How does she act when no one is watching?
- Loretta’s dreams- I have decided to explore making mini pre-filmed fantastical dream sequences. These will most likely be worked out as movement pieces for live theatre, but could also be used in projection, or promo- basically it is not for naught. These surreal dream sequences are being built from the images that come into my own psyche. I hold them up against my North Star and see how they relate. They represent Loretta’s battle with her demons, a sort of emotional processing metaphorically expressed through image. The north star I have been working with is disconnection, connection and embodiment.
Next steps, are about STORY. What is the story that turns Loretta’s world upside down? Story has never been my strong point- I feel my skills lay in the execution- the WAYS in which the story will be told. I know it’s in my body though, I just need to let it emerge from my exploration. I’m searching for the universal thread that connects us. I have a consultation zoom date with someone on Monday to talk about this.
OK. Here is my list of resources I utilized this week.
- WHOSE LAND IS IT ANYWAYS- A manual for Decolonization– as I said above- SO GOOD. Please read this if you can.
- Indiginous Canada– I’m putting this here again because LISTEN AGAIN! I also went back and re-listened to the conversations with Dan Levy, Dr. Tracy Bear and Dr. Paul Gareau on modules 4 and 5 on youtube.
- Giihlgiigaa – a haida weaver, shared with me by another amazing teacher and weaver Nagala Avis O’brian of Nagala Designs. This summer, Avis shared with me how to weave a cedar bracelet and then gifted me some cedar she harvested. I am so grateful for this experience.
- Haisla Collins– incredible prolific artist/beader. I purchased some earrings from her this week- and you can too!
- Decolonization is Not a Metaphor– phewf, I’m going to work my way through this, and I’ll let you know where I get. If YOU have read this and want to share with me your knowledge- please reach out!
- M̓i tel’nexw Leadership Society– this looks amazing, and I am going to take them up on their offers. Their website says: M̓i tel’nexw Leadership Transformation is for leaders** who want to unlearn supremacy and apply Indigenous teachings to their work. If you are ready to see, know, be and do differently, this course is for you. AND- (this is me now) Chief Janis George is one of the founders. I listened to her speak on the panel for DECOLONIZING THE CITY from a MATRIARCHAL LENS- and I fell in love. 🙂
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action– This is regarding reconciliation around Residential School. My homework this week is to read through this, and get a better understanding of WHO makes up the commission, what are the actions, and, how is it being followed through.
- MSTFUTURISM– They organized the amazing event: Decolonizing the City through a Matriarchal Lens. Keep an eye on this instagram page. They are uplifting and celebrating Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh visions for the future of what is currently known as Vancouver.
- Ancestors in Training– Instagram page for inspiration and up-coming workshops.