Decolonizing the Mind

It requires a rejection of what passes for news and conventional wisdom, writes Margaret Kimberly.  

The late queen’s funeral cortege in London, Sept. 14. (Peter Trimming, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Margaret Kimberly
Black Agenda Report

It is vital to free ourselves from belief in the systems of white supremacy and imperialism that are inculcated in the educational system and are affirmed and amplified by the media and establishment opinion.

The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II puts the need for political and psychological liberation in high relief. We are encouraged to admire an anachronistic monarchy, and are exhorted to join in mourning an individual and a system that have caused great harm to Black and other oppressed people around the world.

It is important to point out that British prime ministers are heads of government while the monarch is head of state. Elizabeth bore responsibility for every U.K. government action during her 70-year long reign.

The concentration camps and torture in Kenya during the independence struggle were her responsibility. So was the U.S.-backed decision to undermine the commonwealth nation of Australia, and dispatch Gough Whitlam, the elected prime minister, who strayed too far from the imperialist consensus. The Windrush scandal which deprived Caribbean immigrants of their rights happened under her reign, as did Britain’s invasion of Iraq and support for the destruction of Libya.

Windrush generation street art in London, September 2018. (Matt Brown, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Yet anyone who questions the monarchy’s role as part of the Western axis of domination is rarely given access to media, making it difficult to be free of propaganda that is used to elicit fealty to monarchs, presidents and the people and institutions who empower them.

From childhood we are taught that invaders of other nations, enslavers, and colonizers are worthy of respect and admiration. Centuries of criminality are passed off as benign and we are admonished to remember that the criminals in question were “products of their time” and are to be thought of with fond reverence.

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The corporate media didn’t begin lionizing the queen of England just this month. Her private life and that of her ancestors are the stuff of endless histories that permeate popular culture. Eras in British history are directly identified with past monarchs and called Elizabethan or Victorian or Edwardian. The idea that Americans should also be interested in the royals is the result of heavy-handed indoctrination.

This columnist was the recipient of a Eurocentric education, beginning with an emphasis on European history in high school. College continued this unstated belief in the superiority of the people being studied, that is to say white people who either were from the ruling classes or worked to further their interests.

History lessons were full of emphasis on the blood lines of monarchs, and stories of which king or queen did what to whom were staples of the curriculum. It is a somewhat interesting factoid that the monarchs of Great Britain, Russia and Germany in the early 20th century were all related but that information doesn’t reveal anything about the causes of World War I. The lede was buried under historical fluff but teachers and professors don’t announce that they are brainwashing students.

Deliberate Confusion 

A father in territory then owned privately by King Leopold II of Belgium stares at the hand and foot of his 5- year-old daughter, which were severed as a punishment for having harvested too little rubber, 1904. (Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Of course, that is why the very deliberate confusion continues. The narrative that the U.S. and Britain have a “special relationship” is based on manufactured sentimentality rather than the fact that the founding state acts in concert with its settler colony.

The indoctrination process can be like a sledgehammer, but can also be more subtle. None of my teachers said that the deaths of white people were worse than the deaths of people of color, but the only time I heard the word genocide in a classroom was if the Nazi killings of Jewish people were discussed.

I was taught nothing of Belgian King Leopold’s personal theft of the Congo’s resources or of the killing of some 15 million people there. Nor was the word genocide used to describe the trans-Atlantic slave trade or chattel slavery as practiced throughout the Americas or the deaths by invasion, slaughter, and disease of indigenous people which also took place in this hemisphere.

The elevation of one group as the sole victims of genocide and the erasure of others as not being worthy of the designation sends a subtle message that seeps into the mind and is imprinted in memory.

Decolonization is hard work and serious business. It requires a rejection of what passes for news and conventional wisdom. Of course, its meaning can be changed at an opportune moment, as recently happened when the neo-conservative fantasy of breaking up Russia was reimagined as decolonization. That sort of trickery is proof that political education is key.

Our political education must take place within revolutionary educational structures. If it doesn’t, we will believe that World War II started in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. It actually began in 1937 when Japan attacked China. What ought to be a simple and commonly known fact is lost because white supremacy centers the European experience.

When we learn new information and unlearn falsehoods, the process of decolonizing begins. At that point no one has to direct us to ignore royal weddings or funerals or unveilings of portraits of former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. We know the truth and free ourselves from believing in state propaganda.

Decolonized people know that the prestigious universities they are told to admire receive funds from the Defense Department and the military industrial complex. They know that think tanks that are treated as oracles not to be questioned are also an extension of the state. Corporate media are also compromised.

The publisher of The Washington Post played a key role in Operation Mockingbird , the C.I.A.’s plan to control the media. Of course, the current owner, Jeff Bezos, has C.I.A. contracts through Amazon so little has changed. The decolonized know that the media act as scribes for police departments as much as they do for the state department.

Most importantly, radical and independent media, like Black Agenda Report, are a must for anyone who wants to free their thinking. BAR is one of the few publications, even left publications, which seriously analyzed the NATO attack on Libya, or the coups against the people of Haiti, or the U.S. role that began the current crisis in Ukraine. Reading BAR on a regular basis is an antidote to mental colonization.

So, beware when a narrative is spun 24 hours per day, seven days per week. In all likelihood it is one that must be opposed, and in the best decolonized fashion possible.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly at the Black Agenda Report. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley (at)

This article is from Black Agenda Report.

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12 comments for “Decolonizing the Mind

  1. Jeff Harrison
    September 24, 2022 at 11:05

    The real first step is to stop being captured by the corporate media.

  2. Em
    September 23, 2022 at 19:51

    The supercilious European deception, all along, was that they were bringing civilization and learning to the ‘natives’ of the world. This was the cover for their encroachment on global lands.
    Nothing seems to have changed in the European attitudes, only that the ‘chickens’ have come home to roost in Europe itself.
    Greed is NOT derivative of having more melanin in the skin!
    Today it is America bringing ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ to the ‘uncivilized’ peoples of the world; the pretext and the mission identical: to lord it over others, by way of economic power, backed up by supposedly unmatched military power, by any means necessary!
    The rapine slavery and separatism practices, enforced by white racists in the American South, in the earlier years of the ‘Republic’, against black Americans, was identical to that of the white (European) colonial racism practiced in all of Africa, especially in South Africa, prior to, and during the later era of institutional Apartheid.
    In fact, this ideology of ‘white’ European cultural superiority was the foundational basis for colonial exploitation the world over. It was the overt disguise for carrying out the plunder these ‘people’ had in mind.
    The ‘British Empire’, formerly known as ‘Great Britain’ was, if not the first, and longest enduring, it was the foremost and most egregious of the frauds perpetrated against humankind, globally, by thousand year European (white) hierarchical Monarchies. That is before the US became the dominant Imperial order, somewhere back in the 1940’s!
    Racism was, and is still the linchpin by which this mechanism of enforcement was/is applied, behind this fraudulent capitalist economic system of exchange; being as it is based purely on plunder of others’ resources, be they material or, especially, human.

  3. James McFadden
    September 23, 2022 at 18:31

    Thank you for this. If I may, I’d like to add a couple quotes – the first in memory of the Irish who also suffered at the hands of the British, and the second is from the postscript a most fantastic book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” by Walter Rodney.

    “Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.”

    “Foreign investment is the cause, and not the solution, to our economic backwardness. … The inevitable conclusion is that foreign investment does not only help to undermine our economies by extracting enormous profits , but it does more serious damage to the economies by distorting them into lopsidedness. If the process is not arrested in time, the distortion could be permanent. … The more we invest in export branches in order to capture the “world market” the more we divert away from investing for people’s development and, consequently, the less effective our development effort. Since this type of investment does not contribute much towards the development of a material and technical base internally, our economies are rendered always responsive only to what the Western world is prepared to buy and sell, and hardly responsive to our internal development needs. … Almost without exception, all the ex-colonial countries have ignored the cardinal development demand; namely, that, to be really effective, the development process must begin by transforming the economy from its colonial, externally responsive structure, to one which is internally responsive. Where we went wrong is when we followed blindly the assumptions handed down to us by our exploiters. These assumptions can be stated briefly as follows: Growth in underdeveloped countries is hampered by inadequate growth in exports and inadequate financial resources and is made worse by “population explosion” in these countries. And the solution is prescribed as follows: Step up exports, increase aid and loans from the developed countries, and arrest growth in population. Throughout the last decade our efforts have been to follow religiously the above prescription, and even if our own experience continues to disprove it, we still adhere to it even more fanatically! The greatest need appears to be a process of mental de-colonization, since neither common sense nor sound economics, not even our own experience, is with us in this.” A. M. Babu Postscript to Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”

  4. September 23, 2022 at 16:23

    If only people would stop watching or reading the Corporate Owned News (CON). I don’t believe it is possible to get people to turn away from it, most people I know seem addicted to watching the news. I expect that is part of the process, making news into a reality TV show to keep people tuned in. As long as people are exposed to the endless stream of state propaganda there won’t be any meaningful change. The question is, how do you get people to stop an addiction that they don’t even know they have?

  5. James
    September 23, 2022 at 15:55

    Truly awful, ill conceived article written by someone with a poor grasp of history. Rubbish like this is not worthy of CN.

    • September 23, 2022 at 18:30

      James, you did not make an argument, you just said the article was rubbish. Please elaborate as to how the article was rubbish and provide specifics. If you can’t provide specific rebuttals, then maybe the article is not rubbish as you say.

      • Frank Lambert
        September 24, 2022 at 08:10

        Mr. Moffett: Eloquent reply to James!

        Ms Margaret Kimberley’s article is timely and right on target.

    • Dfnslblty
      September 23, 2022 at 21:18

      Presented is an important perspective and valid history of imperialism.
      Looks like the true calling of Consortium News.
      A credible alternative to govt & corporate propaganda.

  6. September 23, 2022 at 15:52

    In the big picture, in America as well as in Britain, humanity is evolving. We need to be aware of that to put things in proper context. We are on a path of ever more enlightened behavior. I grew up when Indians in all the movies were the villains and cowboys our heroes for slaughtering them and we wouldn’t do that now nor would we own human beings anymore. We’re always getting wiser, and perhaps the whole purpose of human life is to evolve. That would culminate in Utopia, as a cooperative humanity, if we get that far and don’t do what other animals can’t which is to destroy ourselves. Tell children the truth about this. If we want to fool them into thinking of us just as exemplary, they won’t be in the flow of the evolutionary imperative to make things better.

    • Frank Lambert
      September 24, 2022 at 08:32

      Ms Taylor: I certainly agree with your comments. If I may add additional information, it was the Dutch settlers in New York who started scalping the “”Indians” in order to collect bounties, as the Europeans wanted to “clear” the land of those “savages.”

      Also, when the British invaded India and “colonized” it, they destroyed the indigenous economy. Sure, they taught the King’s English to their non-white subjects, but for a heavy price.

      We should be getting wiser, but it seems we’re getting dumber instead, relying too much on technology rather than going “within” (ourselves) and using intuition and analytical and critical thinking instead of the influencing effect of the 24/7 propaganda fabricated by the MSM.

      How nice it would be if our children were taught in school, at home, or in religious or philosophical institutions about striving for a balance egalitarian society, or as it was said; “One for all and all for one!” Would that not be a cooperative community or Utopian type society? Cooperation, not confrontation. But the next “C”word gets tricky, and it’s competition, and where it leads.

      • Em
        September 24, 2022 at 20:38

        Don’t ‘we’ (our been there, done that, supercilious cohort) just love Monday morning quarter backing of how the game should have been played!
        Just what are the facts that you agree with in Ms. Taylors comment?
        Enlightened: having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook.
        Can spending 12 times the amount more than the next 10 most industrialized/evolved nations on the planet do, together, on military power, with the capability of extinguishing all animate life on Earth a hundred or more times over, be defined as rational?
        Ms. Taylor, apparently, still exists in that celluloid world: “I grew up when Indians in all the movies were the villains and cowboys our heroes for slaughtering them and we wouldn’t do that now nor would we own human beings anymore.” ‘We’ don’t??? Another erroneous fact! The corporate state now owns us all, whether ‘we’ are aware of it or not.
        ‘We’ have found others, in other lands, with unlimited natural resources, even less able to defend themselves from ‘our’ more evolved predatory wisdom, who are easier to slaughter, and with less of ‘our ‘ blood having to be shed in the process of ‘our’ bringing civilization, democracy and human rites to the world!
        Obviously Ms. Taylor, in her Ivory Tower bubble of sanctimonious wisdom, believes that there is a stage in evolution which leads directly to an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect!
        “We’re always getting wiser, and perhaps the whole purpose of human life is to evolve. That would culminate in Utopia”, and if they don’t follow ‘our’ exemplary behavioral examples, “they won’t be in the flow of the evolutionary imperative to make things better.”
        And there’s the answer as to why ‘we’ haven’t yet reached Utopia, after all ‘our’ wise ancestors unstinting efforts on ‘our’ behalf!

  7. Abbie Seven
    September 23, 2022 at 15:10

    Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.

    A famous slogan that once stopped an imperial war.

    The first part is up to you, and I fully recommend staying out of jail, but the latter parts meant to “Tune In” to the voices against the war, and which were trying to describe the problems in America. The problems that were summed up by Dr. King as the giant triplets of racism, militarism and extreme materialism. That of course was not the voice coming from the TV sets, so to hear that voice, you had to go “Tune In” to the people who were trying to speak the truth.

    The last part says to decline to participate in the War Machine and the Wall Street Machine as much as you can. “Drop Out.” You both free yourself by doing so, and deny them some of your money. If you know someone who can make you a hand-made shirt, its better to buy from them than to buy at Walmart.

    Of course, Bob Marley got a key first step down in poetry … “Free yourself from Mental Slavery”. Good advice from a subject of the Queen.

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