Colonialism has settled in the minds of many and “today we know that in the first phase of the national struggle colonialism tries to disarm national demands by putting forward economic doctrines” (Fanon 199). In an attempt to take over people, colonizer has to make them believe that they need help. The idea was to “drive into the natives’ heads the idea that if the settlers were to leave, they would at once fall back into barbarism, degradation, and bestiality” (Fanon 201). The indigenous people have to believe that they are in need of help in order for colonization to create a lasting effect. However, the ones telling them that they are “barbaric” are those Western entities who believe that their laws, religion and social structure are the only way of life.
We lose a sense of who we are because we don’t know. Our lives have been dominated by imperialist thoughts and logic because that’s what we’ve been exposed to the majority of our lives. We must be professional. We must be proper. We must be well mannered. But what does that look like? I honestly have the slightest clue because I am positioned in the “Black community” of American society. But, I couldn’t even tell you what the Black community is and where it is positioned. However, there are some politicians and rulers who believe to know. We are looking for ourselves in the eyes of others. But, we are not realizing that we may never be able to find ourselves because our cultural ancestry has been eradicated. The history books and all the geographic findings are not enough to return people back to their indigenous cultures. So, who are we?
If we look at what’s going on in today’s world, the first thing that comes to mind is “Let’s make America great AGAIN.” Trump’s slogan to his campaign for presidency leaves and everlasting disgusts in many Americans. To say that is to say that America was never great in the first place. What was wrong with American society that he has to be made great AGAIN? It’s clear that the “threat” of America not being great evoke a lot of fear and confusion within people. Just look at what’s going on in politics today. Americans didn’t question “Let’s make America great again,” they believed that it needed fixing and not growth.
In addition, who is considered American and what is America? You’ll hear people say that America is a great nation. However, for a place to be considered a nation, the people have to be homogeneous. There has to be so unification linking its people. According to Griffiths, “…nations are not ‘natural’ entities, and the instability of the nation is an inevitable consequence of its nature as a social construction” (167). If a nation is not developed naturally and cannot exist independently, how can we consider any place a nation? If we think about the definition of nation and apply it to America, American society is constructed of multiple nations. However, these nations have adapted to euro-centrism.
I know many of you remember this book. This is the cover to the social studies book that many American schools use. As a substitute teacher, I see this book all the time. Whenever I search through this book trying to figure out what to teach students, the sections on minorities or different countries are always present as needing to be saved. I never really looked at this as a form of colonialism until now. It saddens me to know that the school system is feeding kids unfinished stories. However, this is no surprise.
There’s an unconscious cultural understanding that the European way of life is normal. This comes from colonialism. Fanon says that “colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content” (200). Various cultures have been destroyed because of these and those who seek to “extract [their culture] from the past to be displayed in all its splendor, is not necessarily that of his own country” (201). It’s hard for people to try and display their cultures because of how dismantled their ancestry have become due to imperialism. Jameson believes that “we would do better to confront the honestly the fact of fragmentation on a global scale; it is a confrontation with which we can hear at least make a cultural beginning” (67). Many cultures are fragmented and scattered across vast seas. Almost every culture has some sort of double consciousness amongst its people. This consciousness is a fight between nation and imperialism. However, “going back to your own people means to become a dirty wog, to go native as much as you can, to become unrecognizable and to cut off those wings that before you allowed to grow” (207).
If we analysis the Black community within American society, there have been several attempts were various groups have tried to revive their ancestor’s culture. However, some believe their attempts to be inauthentic. However, the problem with such claims to cultural authenticity is that they often become entangled in an essentialist cultural position in which fixed practices become iconized as authentically indigenous and others are excluded as hybridized or contaminated. If we look at past movements from Black American women, the natural hair movement has swept many Black communities. Black women have begun to accept their natural curls and began to stray away from weaves, wigs, and perms as an attempt to connect with their ancestors. There’s no shame in loving your skin and natural hair. I to have stopped applying chemicals in my hair to make it straight. I have been natural since I was 18. I never like the notion that my hair wasn’t acceptable because it wasn’t straight and long. My mother was the one who believed that and tried to embed that belief within me.
Because many struggles to revive old cultures, a third world is created. According to Aime Cesaire, “anticipating Fanon’s famous proposition that ‘“Europe is literally the creation of the third world”’ … the colonizer’s sense of superiority, their sense of mission as the world’s civilizers, depends on turning the other into a Barbarian” (9). I have to agree with Cesaire because much of the world has been described as barbaric and we only know the single story on how Western empires saved them from suicide. It never dawned on me that the imperialist influence created the third world. After reading this week’s reading, I realized that I am living in a third world who wants me to be a part of their nation (sometimes) but, who also wants me to thank them for “saving” me from my own “barbarism.” But how can I thank you for abolishing what makes me beautiful?