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Archived Post: Op-Ed, Decoloniality and Fediverse

This post was originally written in June, 2020

I’m going to begin writing my thesis chapter on decoloniality vs. post-colonialism this week (June 10). Having only learned very little about the former, I am much more familiar with the latter. But in reading yesterday about the differences between the two, I was constantly reminded of the fediverse and hashtag activism, social media history especially in regards to how Black and Indigenous femmes have used these spaces, and more.

A note before I continue, I am currently finishing up a syllabus and plan for the reading group that I have talked about on my TL, and a more in-depth look at these concepts will be done there, for now, we focus on cyber dynamics via the core of the concepts. There’s no presupposition that you as a reader understand everything, I don’t but, I will try to make it a bit general so we all understand what’s happening.

Post-colonialism comes out of a specific Euro-American context in which there’s an onus on institutions that are well established (and also coming out of a settler colonial context) to unravel their colonial ties from the past, and solve the systemic issues they perpetuate. It can also suggest that institutions exist now outside of a colonial context because we are in a time where colonialism is no longer existent, therefore there’s a mild residue that needs to be addressed and for lack of better wording, ‘fixed’.

Decoloniality arose out of a ‘southern’ or Latin American context, connected with African & Caribbean writers, that positions the global politic and economic machine as a colonial organism, a mutated form of the colonialism of the past, operating in the present. Institutions cannot be post-colonial, because that would suggest that colonialism ended. Institutions therefore cannot be saved, they must be torn asunder and something else must be created.

That being said, the fediverse, but especially for people of color and all the intersecting social and cultural identity markers they are in, will never be a space that welcomes them as they are. This is about safety tools, or protocols, but most importantly, as Roland and the rest of us have stated, the insidious nature of whiteness has informed the building of the code and that is reflected in the way users interact with one another. To see the quote ‘For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change”-Lorde is an oxymoron on the fediverse.

There is no forking, no glitching, no upcycling of the fediverse’s code that is possible to enable a space for Black and (visible) People of Color to be safe. Our existence period…is a political act, because we have survived. Although I don’t think that we should have to be fighting all the time, and that the onus on existing in space is on us to be either be happy or fist up all the time either.

Hashtag activism is real; it’s how we have mobilized globally. To reap its benefits and then turn around and deny its importance, and the people that help keep that momentum alive, is a slap in the face to say the least. Most importantly, it is a negation and cynical form of erasure of the Black and Indigenous women working through Tumblr and on Twitter that have done that work online and off. People have died, been sent violent threats, been erased, doxxed, threaten with ICE, plagiarized, hounded and more, for this work and this contemporary movement to exist. Again, to deny that would be, mildly put, dirty. But all this posturing is for the white gaze, “The intellectual who, for his part, has adopted the abstract, universal values of the colonizer is prepared to fight so that colonist and colonized can live in peace in a new world. But what he does not see, because precisely colonialism and all its modes of thought have seeped into him, is that the colonist is no longer interested in staying on and coexisting once the colonial context has disappeared.”-Fanon

The fediverse, to me, is a lost cause. The culture there is not for me, although I have made some amazing connections, over all it is toxic and I fear it is making me toxic with it. I can’t take a post-colonial approach to an institution that negates its own existence as a perpetuation of weaponized whiteness. Nothing demonstrates this as much as the shitposting culture on the fediverse, its nature to deflect, negate, and perpetuate cynicism and white supremacy. That to me is a fact…it allows for anything and everything to be fair game. Which is interesting in this time of an over abundance of BLM posts and ‘spotlighting’ Black users. But if someone criticizes the nature of shitposting or history, you’ve crossed this line that the fediverse wants to maintain.

“The first thing the colonial subject learns is to remain in his place and not overstep its limits.”-Fanon

Decoloniality means that your entire fabric of being, your praxis, specifically as a Person of Color seeking some liberation, means that your life-practice is to resist these technologies of control. I no longer look to “decolonization’’ or spaces that say they’re about decolonizing, it is for me a proclamation that simply provides a facade of liberation in all forms, and I think that's mostly due to so many people naming it but never practicing it. Decoloniality is a praxis; for me, the first step is no longer allowing people to abuse me on a site where I contributed so much. Self-reflexivity though, means protecting myself in a way that does not become toxic. I don’t know what that looks like; I just know that I need to work on that. This sinking ship won’t take me down with it.

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