With the Fourth of July, social justice concepts are on the forefront of many minds– is everyone truly independent in this country? When we still have racism, sexism, homophobia– when many of our own people aren’t free– is it okay to acknowledge this country as “free”?
For Gen Z, “decolonization” has become a buzzword related to this holiday on social media, in terms of finding freedom and equality for all. But, before delving into Gen Z voices on decolonization and the Fourth of July, it is important to understand what colonization is and the effects of it.
Breaking Down Decolonization
Simply put, decolonization is about removing colonial or western influences from other cultures that have been systemically oppressed, or overshadowed. However, there is much more that goes into the process. It’s also removing toxic patterns that have existed here for centuries. It’s about destroying the notion that westerners are better than indigenous peoples and reducing the stereotypes and hypocrisy that have been accepted as a societal norm. In fact, decolonization is a complex process that will take much time and effort to even get close to success.
In addition, decolonization is not just for a specific place or culture as a whole; it’s also for removing specific colonial influences from cultural traditions and practices. For example, see below this post about decolonizing foraging, a practice common in indigenous and Black cultures.
Collaborating with and uplifting indigenous voices is a way to work towards decolonization. Leaders need to hear what was taken away from people when colonization happened.
In an interview with Washington Youth for Climate Justice’s podcast, “Gen Z is Angry,” Indigenous Rights Activist, Imani Reyes-Reiss, spoke, “I’m still ever learning about colonization and decolonization, but to me, [decolonization] means listening to indigenous people and giving them back the things that were taken from them.”
Listening to indigenous voices, of all ages, helps provide perspective on what needs to happen to progress with decolonization in a fair and just way.
“Our story remains unwritten. It rests within the culture, which is inseparable from the land,” Haunani-Kay Trask said in “From a Native Daughter”. The late poet, author, and activist was a leader in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
So, what should you be doing?
Whether you’re a Gen Zer or a company, you can still make a large impact. This means including native and indigenous voices in your work. Social media can be a great way to reach these people and listen to them. Read books by indigenous people, and learn from online articles, videos, and panels led by indigenous organizations. There are so many resources out there to become more inclusive of native and indigenous voices– you just have to look.
Be sure to also check out these resources that help guide you on how to support these communities in decolonization!
JUV Consulting is a Gen Z collective that works with companies to create purpose-driven and authentic marketing campaigns that engage young audiences. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn how to reach Gen Z, or sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Screenshot, to get Gen Z insights straight to your inbox.