Skip to Main Content

Learn & Unlearn: Anti-racism Resource Guide

Lesson 3: Decolonization

Original post on @saic.maffairs posted 12/7/2020.

Foundation: Power

What is decolonization?

Eric Riskes writes, “Decolonization is a goal but it is not an endpoint.”Decolonization of course is tied to colonialism, but is inextricably linked to matters of imperialism, social justice, power, and White Supremacy (See Lesson: Power). In the ‘Age of Exploration,’ Western countries sought to expand their power through the acquisition of land, ignoring Indigenous sovereignty, stewardship of the land, and their ways of living. In this way, decolonization is political, but it is also economic (in the possession of resources), educational (in the imposition of knowledge), cultural (in the erasure of values, attitudes, language, and beliefs), and psychological (internalization of oppression). (See Lesson: Oppression).

So what is Decolonization? Decolonization challenges, resists, and dismantles the ongoing “artificial disciplinary demarcations of dominant ways of knowing and being” that have been imposed through colonialism by Western powers.2 Decolonization is the ongoing process of engaging and opposing colonialism and must be done through the framework of Indigeneity.1


“Decolonization, which sets out to change the order of the world, is, obviously, a program of complete disorder. But it cannot come as a result of magical practices, nor of a natural shock, nor of a friendly understanding. Decolonization, as we know, is a historical process: that is to say it cannot be understood, it cannot become intelligible nor clear to itself except in the exact measure that we can discern the movements which give it historical form and content.” - Franz Fanon

To Read

To Research

To Listen

To Watch

To Follow

Dr. Jennifer Mullan @decolonizingtherapy
Decolonizemyself @decolonizemyself

To Reflect

  1. Ask yourself, who are the Indigenous peoples that belong to, and have always been responsible for the Lands: You were born on, You live on, You work on, You vacation/play on.
  2. What are my responsibilities, and what is expected of me by sovereign Indigenous Nations as a settler or displaced Indigenous visitor/guest/settler on the lands that they belong to, and that I am occupying?
  3. If this is the first time you are thinking about this, ask yourself why? What might have led to not knowing? How does the colonial system support your ignorance, and what has caused you to not consider it.3

To Act

Start by educating yourself, use this worksheet to learn and reflect on the history of indigenous people and your role in colonization and decolonization. 

In its 6th year, the Decolonization Program is now online. This program is the vision and collaboration of BLK@SAIC, LATINXS UNIDXS, Namaste, and Native American Student Association. View the programs, films, & reading list on


Works Cited

  1. Eric Ritskes, “What is Decolonization and Why Does  It Matter?,” Intercontinentalcry, September 21, 2012.
  2. Decolonization,” Racial Equity Tools Glossary, October 2019. 
  3. Ana Soole, "Decolonization: A Resource for Indigenous Solidarity," Ana Soole, April 3, 2018.