31 May 2018
It’s The Afroist’s birthday today, and I am all sorts of emotional having just reread the first post I wrote one year ago. Reading it, I found myself cringing a little at some of the odd phrasing, wanting to edit it, and convincing myself not to, as a pledge to continue to be authentic in the writing of this blog.
I also found myself crying, sad-happy-relief tears. When I started writing this blog, I was looking for a place to write what I thought, as I thought it and the way I thought it. I had no idea, how a year later, that philosophy had started extending into my personal life. This blog, has taught me so much about myself. I have sat up crying over the really difficult posts that revealed the innate parts of myself, the depression that I had hidden. I have laughed and sometimes danced after posting the self-affirming posts that reminded me that I am enough and worthy of my own love.
Reading through these posts now, I am a little surprised at how much I have changed. But mostly, I am surprised at the ways in which this blog, is becoming what I had set it
out to be when I wrote that first post. Moreover, I am amazed at the evolution of my writing, though the writer’s block continues to return in academic spaces. Here on this blog, I am never short of words, of ideas, of the love and the need for healing that leads me to write this blog. The Afroist, is the most authentic expression of myself. And writing it has been healing.
A happy birthday to me!
31 May 2017
Learning to Unlearn: An Act of Becoming
I have been deliberating for years about starting a blog, as a teenager I started one then just let it go. I could never find the time, the energy or the level of commitment required to update it regularly. What I focussed on instead was academic writing in my undergraduate degree and then in the last two and a half years of my post-graduate years. Yet as more time has passed, I found myself disengaged, disenchanted, completely disheartened. I cannot write in academic spaces anymore, any time I try, my words feel stale, unhinged from myself.
See the past two and a half years have been the time of massive internal upheavals. I always believed myself to be “woke”, I was reading all the right things, critiquing white supremacy, and heteronormativity constantly. But nothing could have prepared my soul, for the Fallist era. The day when shit hit a statue! And all of a sudden, being free became more than a state of mind, see I had lived by the mantra “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds” Garvey’s words, popularised by Marley. But still I did not know what living freedom was, not until my soul lived in a protest song. Being free became a state of being, it was no longer just enough to speak and read about freedom, it needed to become a way of life, a way of being.
I now looked around me and I felt surrounded by coloniality, then I looked to myself, in myself, there too I found coloniality . “Coloniality is different from colonialism. Colonialism denotes a political and economic relation in which the sovereignty of a nation or a people rests on the power of another nation, which makes such nation an empire. Coloniality, instead, refers to long-standing patterns of power that emerged as a result of colonialism, but that define culture, labour, intersubjective relations, and knowledge production well beyond the strict limits of colonial administrations. Thus, coloniality survives colonialism. It is maintained alive in books, in the criteria for academic performance, in cultural patterns, in common sense, in the self-image of peoples, in aspirations of self, and so many other aspects of our modern experience. In a way, as modern subjects we breath coloniality all the time and everyday.” Nelson Maldonado Torres.
Coming to terms with the ways in which I had been assimilated into colonial modernity hit me the hardest when I began to look at my academic writing. I saw the ways in which I had been disciplined in the writing of the Political Studies, as a graduate. I saw how my successes in university, where not my own, but a triumph of the system. Me. Having so fully assimilated and learnt its language, I could regurgitate its learnings and reproduce them, I am not quite sure who but a decolonial theorist I read once said “we are the lab rats of modernity, repeating the same patterns” (or something like that). That’s how I started to feel about my writing. That’s how I feel about it now, like I do not own it, that it is a reproduction of a system I had no part in creating a system working against me.
I used to love writing, even as a young child. Not only did I love writing, I loved reading my stories. Now when I read my work, I am hyper-critical, cringing at my grammatical errors, at the illogical flow, the obvious remnants of my being a third language English speaker/writer. So this blog right here, is about getting back to a place where I write as an act of love, I write what comes natural, I write…. as Biko so eloquently put it …”what I like”. I want the words to flow from me as naturally as they did when I was younger, I want to read my words and see myself, not the assimilated shadow of me. This blog is about the constant work that is undoing coloniality. Learning to unlearn!
An act of becoming!