2016-06-14

Dear White People

When I talked about being able to return one day and be at peace with my culture of origin, I did not know how that was supposed to happen, with all the mess it had created in me and in the world; at the same time, how could I ever be truly at home in the foreign place I went to?
My studies pointed out answers rooted in Zen Buddhism and non-dualistic philosophy. Yet another, deeply compassionate answer has been provided by Bayo Akomolafe, a westernized African academic living in India, if I may attach some handy labels for convenience.

In his open letter of this month, "Dear White People", he came to astonishing conclusions. Astonishing because, despite so many words, they are so simple and obvious.

He is speaking about how indigeneity has become a concept to the taste of the Western mind, how it serves to perpetuate the dualistic paradigm, how humankind could actually decolonize the world, and what true indigeneity would look like:

"The much hated neoliberal capitalism and the techno-utopic longings for permanence, for abstraction and dominance are just as indigenous (and ‘natural’) as naked dances by moonlight (and other such spectacular ways Hollywood likes to depict non-western people). [...]

 A different way to think about decolonization is as intimacy with where we are. It is accounting for and opening up to our embeddedness, not grappling for a Plato-nic identity or transcendent quality. [...]

We are constantly touching each other, infecting each other, so that it is impossible to trace out an original point. This suggests that my ‘blackness’ co-arises with your ‘whiteness’ – and that we are hyphenated aspects of each other. [...]

What changes when the anxiety of ‘arriving home’ or ‘becoming indigenous’ is replaced with a studious slowness and a curiosity about where you are? [...]"

This last question points out that, actually, Akomolafe is not so far from Buddhist views, in that he indicates contemplation and meditation on reality-as-it-is were a way forward. Which does not mean, and you can check that by listening to other messages from the author, that we leave the state of affairs unchanged, but that, by staying open to the suggestions a change of mind brings with it, we change our ways in harmony with what we find in and around us.

No comments: