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”
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
4/26: Unsettling Ourselves 42-46, 54-56
5/3: Decolonizing the Colonizer Sakej Ward
5/10: Unsettling Ourselves 90-92, 104-106, 117-118
5/17: Ngugi wa Thiong’o
5/24: Unsettling Ourselves 152-155, 157-158
5/31: Red Skin, White Masks. Unsettling Conversations, Unmaking Racisms & Colonialism Dr. Glen Coulthard
6/7: Unsettling Ourselves 119-135
6/14: The Psychic Landscape of Contemporary Colonialism Dr. Taiaiake Alfred
Weekend Retreat in Sebastopol, May 19 – May 21
artwork by Dignidad Rebelde