How to decolonize your mind… your curriculum… your bookshelf. We’ve all seen these articles make their rounds. In the midst of this summer’s protests against racism and police brutality, one organization after another released statements apologizing for past behavior and promising to do better by decolonizing their spaces. The word decolonization has become a whitewashed catchphrase used by universities, museums, and other ”prestigious” institutions steeped in settler colonial frameworks. These institutions try to remove the colonization they’ve built and sustained by adding new diversity requirements. They don’t understand that you can’t truly decolonize without listening to and uplifting local Indigenous voices.

In Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang’s famous paper Decolonization is not a metaphor, the authors explain how harmful it is to use the word decolonization without care for the input of Indigenous people, specifically the sovereign nations and urban Indigenous communities who were forced, relocated, and displaced from the land where such institutions are now housed. In higher education, this harm is perpetuated by colleges and universities that dismiss Indigenous knowledge systems furthering the intergenerational trauma experienced by students from our communities. This trauma is reinforced when campuses don’t provide spaces for students to express themselves or to recreate systems of relationship-building and knowledge-sharing found in our communities—systems that show respect both to those who are teaching and those who are learning.

True decolonization means genuinely listening to Indigenous community members and creating shifts in the power dynamics.

Read the full article about decolonization by Owen Oliver at The Aspen Institute.