I am glad both of these articles were assigned with each other. Laenui’s seems so simplistic and hopeful and that is countered by Tuck & Yang’s saying that all of those metaphors are a bad thing. Not to say that Laenui only spoke in metaphors; I think the stage of mourning was very concrete. But the stages of rediscovery/recovery and dreaming are pretty out there. All the while, I see why they are so necessary. In her intro, Alysa wrote about how decolonization cannot occur if we are using the same templates that the oppressors have created. I could not agree more.
After reading both articles, I am hesitant to pinpoint where I am in the decolonization process (after all, the Tuck & Yang article said I would be). I feel like me talking about decolonization is as inauthentic as it gets. I am white, I am privileged, and I feel like I do not deserve a part in any of it. In essence, I am harming others just by being “me”. Reading both articles took me back to a Peace and Justice studies course I took at Tufts in undergrad. I vividly remember talking about the injustices of the world (I understand that making it a metaphor further perpetuates the colonizer mindset) and looking around the room and realizing that it was such a one-sided conversation with a bunch of yuppies “playing Indian”.
Sure, I would love to be a part of the conversation. And yes, I think I have something to offer as, sometimes, my conscience is burdened with these thoughts. I honestly don’t know if decolonization makes sense for me at this point in time. Whatever I try to do in the process of decolonization will never be enough and will never be seen as being truly authentic. My son was given a Hawaiian inoa by my aunty (my best friend’s mom) who is Native Hawaiian. I’m not native Hawaiian and neither is my husband. Although we were born and raised here, and my husband’s family has been here for 7 generations, it still seems like a farce to call him by his Hawaiian name. To me, this is sad because we were given it at a gift and the meaning has really grown on him. And yet, this will always be considered cultural appropriation to most.
I also think of the de-occupy movements and where I fit in (or don’t fit in for that matter). If you’ve ever lived on Oahu, you have seen those green “Keep The Country, Country” bumper stickers created by the Defend Oahu Coalition, which campaigns against aspects of colonization. I love this organization and am very close friends with some of its founders. In high school, I had that bumper sticker on my car and proudly drove it around. Meanwhile, my dad was the primary investor in the Turtle Bay Resort, one of the main things the Defend Oahu Coalition was against. The money he made developing that project is what bought me that car I had the sticker on and sent me to school for all these years. How can I reconcile wanting to be a part of the movement if I am the number one thing exploiting it?
In short, I don’t think I am in any process of decolonization. I am realistically still in the first stage of colonization. I am aware I’m the problem and yet, totally perplexed as to how I can be a part of the solution. Perhaps, my idealist actions like having a Hawaiian name for my son or putting that bumper sticker on are more steps towards reconciliation than decolonization. As a colonizer, it almost lets me get away scot free as if I am doing something to help mend the problem. Part of reconciling is wondering where, exactly, do I fit if decolonization means getting rid of me.
One of my favorite sections of the Tuck & Yang article talked about colonizers’ modes of control. There are many, ranging from prison to common core curriculum, but the one I’m really interested in is the medical system. I wrote about being a birth enthusiast in my introduction blog and a little bit in Joshua’s. His daughter’s birth story is an amazing example of decolonizing birth (Josh, can I please share the link to the story April wrote?) I believe natural birth should be normalized (think of this as a “de-occupy my uterus” movement of sorts) and medical birth reserve for true emergencies. This doesn’t necessarily mean taking down the medical industrial complex (another day), it just means a re-awakening of control and power, taking back birth to a normal, everyday event. Over the last century, the Western medical system had dictated how women should birth and now, slowly, there is a movement to transform birth back to how it’s been since the dawn of time: with women in the driver’s seat. That is just my little spiel about babies… I find that taking the information from this class intertwining is with other aspects of my life helps me to process it a little better. Hope this works for you too!