Spring 17: Decolonizing the Mind

Decolonizing the Mind

April 5-June 21, 2017 (12 weeks)

Wednesdays 6-9 PM PST

In accepting the premise of colonization and working towards decolonization, we are not relegating ourselves to a status as victims. On the contrary, we are actively working toward our own freedom to transform our lives and the world around us. The project that begins with our minds, therefore, has revolutionary potential.

Waziyatawin & Michael Yellow Bird, “Beginning Decolonization”

Course Description

What do contemporary processes of decolonization, self-determination, and sovereignty look like? How can we literally decolonize social justice and revolutionary movements? And all of the spaces and places within this imperialist settler colony, for that matter. This is one of the most important learning edges of our time. The very health and continued existence of the Earth and all our relations depends upon on our immediate attention to this matter. This course centers Indigenous voices, cosmologies, and social and political movements in order to begin to answer the above questions. Through film, poetry, news clips, music, essays, and other forms of storytelling, we will develop tools for understanding major issues and current controversies involving the struggle for the self-determination of Indigenous peoples within the territorial U.S. and the land bases effected by the reach of U.S. empire. Overall, this course offers a site to get your mind right. Let the unlearning, remembering, and imagining begin.

Note: You might not ‘get’ everything we cover this season. That’s both okay & to be expected. We’ll try to honor cultural & other forms of incommensurability (i.e. that not all meaning is translatable). Also, not every resource will likely be as evocative or as impactful to you as all the others. After all, this season invites us into a solidarity practice with integrity. So it’s not all about any one of us. Indeed, we shouldn’t each be the intended audience nor center of every resource. If you feel like a piece doesn’t ‘speak to you,’ please take this as all the more reason to try to learn from it. With this possibility in mind, let’s try to expand our horizons together.

Assignments (All optional & strongly encouraged)

Food

Feel free to bring plant-based nourishment to share during our weekly classes.

Setting the Space

Participants are each invited to share an opening for one gathering of the season. They should be about 5-10 minutes; please time your opening beforehand & remember our remote participants. One purpose of the offering is to intentionally ground folks and set the space for the beginning of class so that we can be as present as possible moving forward into our dialogue. You can share a writing prompt, poetry, a song, a question for reflection, an invitation to stretch, breath work, or movement from your ancestors, a guided drawing, etc. Please see this assignment as an opportunity to build your facilitation and space-holding repertoire. We’ll pass around a sign-up sheet during week 1.

Weekly Readings

Please read as much of the assigned materials as possible before each gathering. Give yourself time, as some of them include suggestions for supplementary activities and they all merit close attention. If you’re not able to complete the entire assignment for a class, feel free to still attend, though. If there are words or concepts you’re unfamiliar with, try to look them up. Please consider watching the films with others (documentary night!) to spread awareness & dialogue. Feel free to jot dot questions that arise while doing the work.

Retreat Offering(s)

Every participant is invited to submit an idea for an offering to share during our retreat (ex. a dance class, photography, some skill-share). Please make the most of this invaluable opportunity to polish and refine a gift of yours in a supportive context that you’d like to be able to share with your communities. This is a space for you to workshop a workshop you’ve been dreaming of, pilot a dialogue you’re developing, try out a new recipe or meal, offer up a few hours of childcare, etc. I can share whatever level of feedback you’d like as you vision/plan an offering and afterwards so that it can be the most educational and beneficial experience possible. Please email me your retreat offering idea(s) by April 26 for the purposes of ensuring an appropriate fit, overall program balance, and to finalize the schedule.

Attendance

To ensure the potency of our collective knowledge-production, (un)learning, and community building, no new participants will be able to sit in after Week 2.

Please let me know at your earliest convenience if you plan to be late or miss a gathering so that we can plan accordingly. Also, please bring a journal and something to write with each week.

Recording* This course will be audio recorded, primarily for folks who may miss a class so that they can access the recordings before our next gathering. Feel free to take this into consideration as you share with whatever level of discernment you prefer.

Schedule: (subject to change) in Occupied Huichin (aka Oakland)

4/5: Introduction to season

4/12: Unsettling Ourselves: Reflections & Resources for Deconstructing Colonial Mentality p 1-11

4/19: Hawai’i vs. US ImperialismJourney to Justice: A Conversation w/ Dr. Haunani Kay Trask (videos)

4/26: Unsettling Ourselves 42-46, 54-56

5/3: Decolonizing the Colonizer Sakej Ward (video)

5/10: Unsettling Ourselves 90-92, 104-106, 117-118

5/17:  Radio Bikini & 13 Things I Learned at Kaho’olawe (videos)

5/24: Unsettling Ourselves 152-155, 157-158

5/31: The Psychic Landscape of Contemporary Colonialism Dr. Taiaiake Alfred (video)

6/7: Unsettling Ourselves 119-127

6/14: Red Skin, White Masks. Unsettling Conversations, Unmaking Racisms & Colonialism  Dr. Glen Coulthard (video)

6/21: Decolonising the Mind Intro Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (audio)

Weekend Retreat in Bolinas, May 19 – May 21

decolonize-oakland poster

artwork by Dignidad Rebelde


As I sit and reflect on my favorite aspects of our Liberation collective…Consciousness raising. Love. Positivity. Awareness. Sharing. Nourishing. Consideration. Powerful. Soulful. Openness. Safe. Dedication. Helpful. Knowledgeable. Supportive. Information. Connection. Revolution.  Awakening. United. Accountability. Community. Uplifting. Respect. Liberating. Diligent. And Effectiveness are a few characteristics that flow through my mind. We are new wave feminist. We are activist. We are artivist. We are environmentalist. We are on a path of spreading righteousness. I deeply feel this is just the beginning…

I feel utmost grateful for the resources and personal experiences that are constantly exchanged during our gatherings. From the care we put into nourishing one another to a member intentionally initiating our spark of the evening, each session is truly therapeutic. Meeting with these lovely folks is the highlight of my week. We are jointly deepening our understanding of systemic oppression, the hurtful effects of colonialism, capitalism, imperialism, and removing the layers of mental slavery.

Our main facilitator is a breathing and high vibrating collection of encyclopedias. This phenomenal woman’s wealth of knowledge is as deep as Badwater Basin, high as Mount Whitney, and wide as the Milky Way. Anjali’s dedication to educating is a blessing and inspirational. She is deeply in touch with her existence and ancestry; superbly supportive in our individual awakening journeys as well as collectively. She has been a pivotal partner in my journey of uncovering and relearning the history of my ancestry and my power. I feel eternal gratitude for this collective.  – Tyler Morgan

tyler