By Ariana Falco
Decolonizing as a whole is a hard topic to explain and one must be in the right mindset to fully comprehend it. The concept of peacebuilding has been around for years but understanding how to break down the systemic issues plays a big role in it.
“We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.” – Kofi Annan
We all know the story of the West colonizing the rest of world and instilling its power over undeveloped countries. These eurocentric perceptions have led the world to put the U.S. at the center of ideologies. This notion is constantly being critiqued by many different perspectives. Galtung’s Center Periphery Model is an example of decolonization. The goal is not to bring people from the periphery to the center, but to expand the center to include the periphery. In Pushpa’s presentation we learned that decolonization is not simply stripping away the common white man’s identity but many other things. Decolonization is a belief that through action, we can bring change. Decolonization is a goal but not an endpoint. These two lines really resonated with me because they show that this is not an easy thing to tackle, but a long journey. Adding onto this idea, we kept discussing chipping away at this process that was put on people hundreds of years ago. This concept of taking away something that has been ingrained in humans brains for years is a big challenge to address. That being said, I believe it must start with education. In order to change these systemic issues and decolonize, we need to educate young people and change the way they think. It is easier said than done, and the adults in the world need to uphold decolonizing views in order for it to work. This will most likely take hundreds of years to do but I believe it is possible. After learning everything from the past few weeks the one thing that sticks with me is that there needs to be a strong sense of hope in this field. If you are the type of person that needs to see immediate reactions and changes, you need to learn patience to strive in this environment. I am dealing with that issue on a personal level with all of these eye opening experiences. Being able to help right away and jump into the issues sounds great, but not practical. This is when the discussion of Lederach’s pyramid comes into play. No matter where one falls on the three levels of the triangle, all of them need help. This idea makes me feel content knowing that if I don’t follow a career in peacebuilding, I can bring these practices into my other jobs. If I can’t change the educational system because I am not on the board of education, then I can be a teacher and contribute that way. If I can’t change the systemic views of misogynistic men, I can use my strategic communications knowledge to make Public Relations announcements to trend to spark a change.
In order to properly decolonize we must define what the center is and then expand it. Decolonizing the mind will be one of the hardest tasks society will have to face but it is necessary to have true peace. This concept is very large but finding the root causes and narrowing it down, helps us to find peace, and begin to chip away at these systems.