An understanding of decolonization must begin by focusing on the creative and consistent ways that decolonized thinking shapes and empowers the mind. Undoing the effects of colonialism and working toward decolonization requires each of us to consciously consider to what degree we have been affected by not only the physical aspects of colonization, but also the psychological, mental, and spiritual issues. Kenyan intellectual Ngugi wa Thiong'o, in his book Decolonizing the Mind, describes the "cultural bomb" as the greatest weapon unleashed by imperialism. The effect of the cultural bomb is to annihilate a people's belief in their names, languages, heritage of struggle, capacities and ultimately in themselves. It makes them see their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland. Within the civic engagement discourse, practitioners have created false narratives (whether it be consciously or unconsciously) that preserve colonial attitudes such as pose and privilege. Practitioners who lack an awareness of the need to prepare students and themselves to deal with the colonial underpinnings within civic engagement spaces are doing both their students and themselves a disservice. As noted above, the planting and igniting of these "cultural bombs" has been essential to the colonization process and in this context of engagement within communities is necessary for students' understanding to make deeper meaning of their experiences. Working towards understanding decolonization requires us to consciously and critically assess how our minds have been affected by the cultural bomb of colonization. Only then will we be positioned to take action and understand how to help students process and navigate their experiences. Within this discussion, participants will learn to assess the impact of colonialization within the civic engagement context. Participants will have an opportunity to deconstruct how they approach a decolonizing mindset and ways in which to purposefully work with students in this space.
Speakers: Nicole Webster, Janelle Rahyns