Decolonization, A Guidebook For Settlers Living On Stolen Land

By Tanya Rodriguez, Medium

I learned something yesterday….

When I share with a white person they can not decolonize on stolen land they get really really fragile and pissed that yet again, another brown azz takes away their new shiny thing…


The process of decolonization is a violent, brutal, and involuntary act. It costs lives and destroys cities. Decolonization is the rematiration of tradition and culture to Indigenous people. Decolonization is the repatriation of land and sovereignty to Indigenous people.

It is not for White people, Black people, or P.O.C. people to do while on stolen land.

Decolonization is for Indigenous people only. To assume as a settler, that it is possible to decolonize while still benefiting from systems of oppression, is like the white guy appropriating from the Wixárika people, while erasing their existence by calling them Huichol, and when asked what he does to give back to the people he takes from responds…”I try to sing their songs to the best of my ability” while insinuating he is saving their culture from themselves.

I know I am guilty for using decolonization as a metaphor and the group I am honored to steward, Global Decolonization Initiative, was created traipsing the line of decolonization and social justice. For that I apologize for my misstep, and am doing the work to correct the misinterpretation of the term as well as bringing awareness to the depth of vigilance it takes to keep settler colonizers from colonizing decolonization while completely erasing Indigenous sovereignty in favor of another rung in the race to supremacy.

The more we progress towards collective liberation and the more that I and y’all are learning, the more important it is to give back the term of decolonization to those that have been harmed by colonialism the most-

Us, Indigenous people.

For clarification, settlers can UNCOLONIZE, as that is voluntarily distancing, detaching from colonial moreys. However to truly decolonize, is a commitment I’m pretty sure a very small percentage of you reading this is willing to accept.

Settlers….this is a guide for you. This guide is for you to use as a basic understanding of what decolonization is NOT and how to recognize when decolonization is being used as a metaphor. It is a guide for you to use in being vigilant and humble when walking the path of uncolonizing your inner world and to give space to actual decolonization efforts led by Indigenous people.

This list is compiled from the many ways I’ve seen decolonization being used as a metaphor, as well as those that see the phrase and use it incorrectly as a buzzword for social justice.

Please be mindful of when your triggers come up reading this, as the deep reality of those triggers are that they are coming from a place of domination. Hundreds of years of not listening to native voices, of talking over native voices, of bypassing native voices in favor of a default to a settler colonialist narrative. Which is exactly the reason for the depth of importance and the vital need for this clarification….

Click here to read the full article on Medium

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