“Domination of a people or area by a foreign state or nation : the practice of extending and maintaining a nation’s political and economic control over another people or area.”
This definition is unnerving, and yet still sounds so…polished. Its delicate wordplay feels a bit dishonest.
Let’s be for real.
It is not quite indicative of its bloody and predatory nature. It brushes past the permanence and layers of destruction caused by plundering and pillaging, all while using terms to make “invasion of human rights” palatable. It certainly doesn’t capture how in the quest for power, glory, and greed, millions of lives were obliterated. Natural resources, cultures, men, women and children were wiped out in mass.
When I sit with this reality for even just a moment, I find it unfathomable to imagine how the world might be if each of these people had been granted the time and opportunity to make their contributions. For those contributions to have been carried on through their children and cultural traditions. So much has been lost in the name of colonialism.
The colonist agenda was cruel, severe, unjust, and has had a devastating impact on Black mental health. Colonization of the United States involved the capture, enslavement, and transplanting of Africans into America. For those captives whom endured the transition, the goal was submission/oppression through any means necessary. This included forced labor, chattle slavery, harsh punishment including whipping, mutilation, and lynching. Also forced reproduction, raping women and children, and “buck-breaking” of male slaves.
In order to maintain the status quo, laws and rights were established based on race. The deciding factor in the formation of the laws and institutions that are used to govern how this country runs today was that simple, race. It is from this division that racism derives. Internalized racism, sense of superiority, privilege, is rooted in the colonization of America. So too, is the loss of identity, and internalized inferiority.
Although there has been much recognition of the historical trauma experienced by people of color in this country, there has never been a time that these racist institutions have been tossed out and rebuilt. They have only been reimagined and enforced in ways that continue to oppress people of color. Racial inequalities exist in financial, educational, judicial, medical and social constructs.
As Black people continue to live within this framework of systematic inequality, poor mental health issues abound. There is a deep frustration that stems from not being able to move about one’s country with the same ease and freedoms as everyone else. The challenge to deconstruct all that oppresses people of color is immense but not impossible.
A desire to excel “in spite of” has led to a masking practice commonly referred to as the hustle culture. Kinfolk are always “on the grind.” It looks like overworking and intense focus on achievement. Rather than enjoying the process of success, or enjoying the rewards, one might always be focused on the next tangible goal, when in actuality the goal is and has always been to put distance between oneself and being impoverished or feelings of worthlessness.
If you have been functioning from a place of anxiety and hustle mentality, instead of working so hard to keep the rich man rich, pursue stability through increased financial literacy. Embrace and find peace and beauty within minimalism until you get to where you’re going. Engage in rejuvenation opportunities and never give up hope.
You haven’t come this far, only to come this far.
A native of Phoenix, Arizona Aundrea Sayrie is a firm believer in the power of words, faith and a strong spirit. Her greatest desire is to encourage those around her to discover and honor their truth, and to passionately live on purpose.