Decolonial vs diversify
A decolonizing challenge – but doesn’t it first need a definition? What exactly is decolonial and when is everything decolonized – what is the aim of it and what does it have to do with me?
Diversity is a term that is used more often – a term that primarily refers to how companies, associations or campaigns are composed in Capitalism. Thanks to Prof. Dr. Auma I came closer to the term decolonize, finally a word that gave my belly ache conserning the term diversity space.
But then why doesn’t my challenge begin with the one right, credible, and substantiated definition of the word?
For this, a much-quoted game of thoughts, e.g. cited in the Film”Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution“:
Imagine a dark room with an elephant in it. 5 scientists are waiting outside, they all work to the highest standards. They have never heard of an elephant, let alone seen one.
Now they enter the room one after the other – they feel a shape and experience: this is an elephant, describe it!
The first scientist felt a foot and says: An elephant: this is something rough, barrel-shaped, terribly difficult to lift and is all round.
The second scientist, on the other hand, is certain: An elephant, the one in the room, is something as thin as a flap with a thick edge, the shape barely noticeable but it twitches when you touch it, he had felt an ear! The next the trunk (has two holes unbelievable long, almost like a snake but rather arm thick) and so on. All have written their definition based on their evidence, they assume that it can be done again.
But decolonial sciences say: it is not about true and false, it is about understanding definitions as situational understandings. No, no fear, this is not the end of science, but it helps us to understand definitions again for what they are: tools to describe something that can be expanded or even corrected at any time by more knowledge. But due to colonization, a definition has become something powerful, rigid and unchangeable, which is why it helps to replace the word and to speak of understandings.
So I am not providing a definition of Decolonize because it would not serve the cause. Instead, I would like to convey approaches in the 4-week course to enable decolonial thinking, to train the muscle, to strengthen the questioning.
That’s exactly what decolonize is, and that’s why it’s hard to describe it in general. Decolonize sport can be e.g. to question body images, goals, methods, places and group constellations. Who teaches why what for what purpose and who has which capacities and accesses, where is the colonial vein that runs from the past into today?
Decolonize education can mean: how does the university reproduce, produce and create spaces in which colonialism, extractivism and capitalism are morally legitimized and made socially feasible? Can it be done within the university to decostructure colonial continuities or does this have to happen outside? What was the function of the university in pre-colonial times on the African and American continents and in Europe? What function did it perform during and today? Why does school-based learning seem essential to us? The book Escaping Slavery can be read, in which Francis Bok reports how his life was fulfilled even without schooling, how the Dinka succumbed to colonial endeavors precisely because of this satisfaction.
Decolonize work (spaces) can be questioning the concept of work vs. not working, or to ask who is allowed to work as what due to which colonial continuities? How are capitalism and colonialism related?
You may notice – decolonize does not give answers to practical questions, but questions too short answers (a police chief only has to be black to make it work! No, because the police is a colonial continuity from enslavement to today’s mass incarceration).
The nice thing about decolonize is that the the more you allow it, the less it hurts. It has no goal, meaning you don’t run along a path, but try to perceive the world around you more realistically. You try to name the layers of the entanglements of violence due to colonialism. Your team may be diverse, they correspond to the number of minorities in society – but that doesn’t make it decolonial. Decolonize would ask: who makes money from it? Where is the money generated from, who does this knowledge come from? Who does this diversity serve the most? What about repairs based on salary structure? How are today’s colonial mechanisms included?
A company can never be decolonial, but it can throught thoughts like these question, readjust, and try to reduce its own part in colonial continuity, knowing that in a non-decolonized world there are always complex pitfalls that ask for readjustments.
Decolonize art can look very different in the actions from decolonizing schools: it is not about the attitude practices of it, it is about the thinking movement, which is why Prof. Dr. Auma called a class decolonize MOVES . Thought movements that initially sound like an awful lot of change, become a habit and learning to celebrate life in change as thought training towards decolonizing everything.
Diversity is more popular because it follows the western logic: problem, path, solution. There are also clearer rules about who is to be diversified where and when, as long as capitalism is our framework for action, this figure, this goal that can be achieved and fought for is also helpful. But Minneapolis and the precinct where the murderers of George Flyod were employed is the best example of why “diversifying police” is not enough! Blacks and First Nation people had risen to leadership roles here, there were many attempts at reform, but the consequence remains: a policeman with 17 reports of violent behavior murdered a Black man in full daylight in front of his colleagues. Only 3 weeks later the supreme Cort decided not to re-evaluate the immunity of the police. The certainty that even this time his violence will not have any consequences, which was reflected in his face. The country is trying to reform, diversify police stations, but something that has been created to restrict black people must become decolonialized. Defunding and abolishment are not the most extreme, but only the first goal in my decolonial thinking movement.
Our colonized ideas about the value of black lives can only be recalibrated if the damage is no longer exercised. I hope we then find that abolishing the police was the first of many steps, I see reparations there. I also see many question marks, as other suppression mechanisms that can lead to violence in communities can be reduced. Decolonizing means to imagine what seems unthinkable, which is why this week there was this wide range of tasks.
Decolonizing is to go into the deepest pain, to decolonize what already looks diverse and then to dream in the highest notes what seems unthinkable.
A muscle that I also have to train a lot still.