Decolonize yourself

jessicajiminez_online

All the colonized people are searching for their way home.

When my family came to this country in the ‘70s, they struggled with being accepted into American society and fulfilling their “American Dream,” as my family from Michoacán, Mexico were all exploited laborers in the California strawberry fields. My family from Jalisco all scrambled to search for work anywhere they could to make their way, all the while struggling in my home of Santa Ana.

A few members of my family came to this country with the mentality that whiteness was something to aspire to. Whiteness can seem like the only form of success in this country. Some want to marry white people and have white babies and live in white neighborhoods.

I understand the burden of assimilation that nonwhite people carry in this country in order to be accepted, to avoid discrimination and prejudice. For many, assimilation is for their own safety.

But, for people like me who grew up low-income and are searching for a greater life than the ones we know, we can get lost in the sauce and caught up in making money, making our family proud and having people tell us that we are fulfilling the “American Dream” that our family came here for.

At Christmas last year, y’all told me that I should study abroad in mother fucken SPAIN because it’s a beautiful country and very similar to Mexican culture. I told y’all I wasn’t gonna go there because that’s the land of the colonizer, and we didn’t have a choice if we were gonna share cultures, because they were scalping us. Y’all told me I should stay open-minded, that you used to think like me. I wonder what happened in between the time that you cared about the freedom of your ancestors and believing that murder was aesthetically pleasing for the culture.

You gave up searching for your home by trying to gentrify your own story. You chose aspiring to whiteness over aspiring to something greater than yourself.

Instead of searching for liberation, you search for recolonization. We must decolonize our goals, our means of success, and our mentality.

We know how we got here as a people. We were colonized by the Spanish and Portuguese. There was genocide, slavery and immigration over centuries. Now we’re here.

We fought for our spot on this campus. But there are some who co-opt their own identity and use it only when they find it useful.

It’s impossible to count my fellow Latinx folks at this institution who are only about making money, denying their heritage, marrying into whiteness and ignoring their less “respectable” family and friends.

You grew up in a hood that you hate and now you’re pro-gentrification because it’s “cleaning up” your city. To you that means getting rid of the eloterx, cholxs and people of color. It means cleaning your community out of their home.

You shame your own family because they have a criminal record despite knowing what determines being “criminal” in this country. You pretend you don’t know them, and you think you’re better.

You lie and pretend you didn’t live off frijoles like the rest of us. You tell that to the white people you’re trying to impress, and you tell your friends you’re trying to marry a white person to have a white family.

You co-opt your own identity, your race and class struggle when you apply to your fancy internships, because you know you have a good come up story — you just hate that it belongs to you.

Stop aspiring to whiteness. What is that doing for the ancestor who lives deep inside your soul, who fought so hard to be alive so you could be where you are today? You’re here because your ancestors didn’t give up. They wanted their predecessors to carry their name and legacy long after them. Stop trying to recolonize yourself.

After you are able to support yourself, stop trying to achieve a set of standards that was made exclusively to create a vicious cycle of oppression towards our people. You keep trying to accumulate a disproportionate amount of wealth that creates a large gap between you and your own community, hometown, friends and even family members.

You’re not better than where you came from. You represent where you’re from. Start embracing it, not erasing it. You’re not better than those who are incarcerated. You’re not better than people who are homeless. You’re not better than the ones who got pregnant in high school. You’re not better than those in continuation school, getting their GED, or those at community college.

You’re not better. Stop abusing your own respectability politics to compete with everyone around you. There’s no winners or losers in community.

I hope someday you can respect yourself and you find a better path to lead you towards liberation. Until then I’ll pray for your journey there.

Off the Beat columns are written by Daily Cal staff members until the fall semester’s regular opinion columnists have been selected.

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  • Marie Svette

    Lost in her instructions to self-decolonize, Ms. Jimenez inadvertently raises an issue — upper caste members of an oppressed class benefitting from low caste members’ oppression — that’s been studied by sociologists (esp. in South Asia) and should be more broadly discussed here in North America. Certainly, in the LBGTQ community, gay marriage has become a vehicle for upper class, often white & male to, as Schulman points out, align with a heterosexual construct that generates the availability of certain types of protections (yet realms in which LGBTQ are different, there is no protection.) AKA, deal with the devil, capitalism being a central element of the never-ending conflict that Ms. Jimenez seems unable to address, instead resorting (much like a politician dropping “g’s” in their speech) to the language of the ghetto & lower class with which she retains a sentimental affiliation but not actual membership.

  • SecludedCompoundTTYS

    They chose to be exploited. God, they could go home?

  • Kiley Brett

    So… you are essentially equating your “roots” with teen pregnancy, GED’s, and criminal records? I don’t know how that is helping your cause…

  • Ian Benton

    I don’t understand why the children of immigrants ALWAYS radicalize in their late teens, and come to hate the culture and system of government that provided an opportunity for their family. It’s an amazingly consistent phenomenon.

  • Killer Marmot

    So the Spanish are colonizers, are they?

    Well, not really. Their ancestors from many generations back were, but today’s Spaniards colonized no one.

    Through what mechanism is guilt passed down through the generations? How does that work? And what word do we describe those who judge others by their ancestry rather than by the content of their character?

  • Killer Marmot

    One of the problems with poorer neighborhoods is that those who “act white” are often ridiculed and bullied.

    But “acting white” usually means seeking a good education and career, obeying the law, having a traditional family rather than being a single mother, and so on — all of those things which help people avoid poverty.

    Jiminez may want to consider the possibility that her attitude is a major part of the problem.

  • Killer Marmot

    I can see that Jimenez is oppressed, forced as she was to choose between studying in Spain or Berkeley.

  • ShadrachSmith

    I like America a lot more than you do.

  • thompson_richard

    More people speak Spanish in the United States than there are Spanish speakers in Spain.

  • lspanker

    All the colonized people are searching for their way home.

    Head south and walk for about 500 miles, and you will be there…

    A few members of my family came to this country with the mentality that whiteness was something to aspire to. Whiteness can seem like the only form of success in this country. Some want to marry white people and have white babies and live in white neighborhoods.

    Racism much?