Friday, February 25, 2011

The Practicality of Colonizer being Colonized

I would like to know, is it the case that a white, democratic male colonizer is eternally bound to his superior position in society, despite his mindset AND despitehis actions? It seems a bit ridiculous to me, that "it is not just enough to refuse in your mind" according to Memmi. If that was the case, then wouldn't it also be the case that the Moral Hero would never have acquired the title "hero"? This can be related to the Civil Rights Era as well. There was a number of white males that looked past their own forced superiority and considered themselves to be no more privileged than the Black people (renounce colonial privilege). These men took on the ways of the deprived peoples and marched with them (overcome feelings of alienation), while at the same time adopting their governmental practices and oppressions (resolve his inherent political dilemma). Those men, despite their whiteness, loved the Black people, which is why they fought for their rights, and, in turn, I feel like Black Americans accepted them...truly accepted them and loved them for the changes that they had chosen to make. With that being said, why is it that Memmi, along with some other philosophers, believes that it is impossible to even perceive someone in the colonized group as being accepting of a colonizer - who has denounced himself and his own privileges in order to join the colonized. I think that just refusing in your mind IS NOT enough, but refusing in your mind AND taking action may very well be enough. After all, once the colonizer leaves the colonizing group, he is considered an outsider of some sort. For him to be accepted into the colonized group should be proof enough that he is unanimously "loved" by its people, right? Plus, there are always going to be people who don't like Blacks and people who don't like Whites. Conflict is a part of human nature.

What about the quote, "We come to love that for which we freely suffer?" Could it be the case that the colonizer becomes loved by the colonized because they have freely suffered, psychologically, due to his oppression and in order to alleviate cognitive dissonance, they tell themselves that, in fact, he can become one of them? It seems possible to me anyway...


  1. I've wondered the same thing about Memmi's argument myself, Ivy. Memmi is very extreme in his assertion that the colonizer can never fully join the colonized, but you are right to bring up the Civil Rights movement as a counter example. Not only did a decent number of whites help organize movement activities such as voting registration drives, but many were injured in the process and some were even killed. I agree with you in the sense that it seems to me that to lay one's life down for the "colonized" is tantamount to joining them. However, I can see that from an analytical perspective it is true that a colonizer can never completely divest himself of his inherent privilege.

  2. It is interesting that you brought up the point about the colonizer denouncing their own rights to side with the colonized. This is interesting because it was often seen that these "colonizers" who denounced their power during the civil rights era were subjected to similar, if not worse hate crimes by those "colonizers" trying to assert their power and set an example to those who would go against the racist norm. I think we still see this today (but with a different form of punishment) in the hateful language that surrounds people who stand up for the rights of others, such as the hate that is experienced by straight allies from the GSA.


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