Thoughts, Santiago Alvarado, BFA Industrial Design 2022
As a brown person, as someone who is of indigenous descent but facing the after affects, ongoing violence of colonization. Let me begin by coming to a mutual understanding with you of what exactly does this mean to me.
I will say again who I am to remember where I begin to know where I go. I am a Quechua person who’s been assimilated as a byproduct of colonialism and U.S. imperialism. Essentially my abuelos in Peru wanted a “better life” and went to the city (Lima), that was corrupt by instability in government (U.S. imperialism + the after affects of spanish colonization). Then because of the instability of Peru and Lima, during the Shining Path era, my family thought the next “better life” would be the U.S. They move to New York, then Connecticut and now my body exists and takes space on Narragansett land.
It means I was not raised in a community of Quechua people aside from my immediate family. My family’s knowledge keepers have tried to assimilate to U.S. colonialist and imperialist cultures and values to protect my family. This doesn’t work. It’s an ongoing struggle to try to come to terms with the reality that you will never be on the same level as those who the hierarchical institutions was created for. It a discussion-conversation-argument-fight my family and I have presently. Why I feel so far away sometimes. The dissonance in understanding of the systems that we are forced to exist within (colonial, capitalistic, patriarchal, heteronormative systems).
These systems and the people who created them, have a designated place for you and that place is beneath. A system built on coloniality will never recognize the invisible objects that are designated to uphold them. It is important to remember that in the eyes of the colonizer you will always be seen as an object. A token. A commodity.
For colonialism to hear your voice and actually listen, that system must acknowledge every piece of control upheld. Every heinous crime and act it has instilled on nonconsenting bodies, that relies on your existence within it. If they admit this though, everything falls apart. They lose control, lose power, and this is devastating to anyone who is trying to keep the pieces of decay at bay. Grabbing at bones that are turning to dust and calling it a body that works.
You then, are the hand and the pin of a grenade, you are the explosion, everything and nothing. Potential energy encased in a rulebook and that you don’t/didn’t/can’t have words to speak your tongue (yet/still). That you you are expected to play the role and fit the part. Be the thing. These bodies.
To try to exist like this, to meet white expectations is to stick your body beneath theirs, to fit as legs of a table that those above will eat on. There is no seat at the table for you. There never will be. If there is, they have made you believe being a chair is the equivalent of being a person.
In colonialism, you are better seen and not heard, because if they listen they have to acknowledge that every piece of control that relies on your existence diminishes their own power. The solution lies within breaking the table.
This writing of course, exists within said institution, and as such is both for my peers and myself who are existing within this system. It is also for those who aren’t here in this room with me, to the people who aren’t playing the game of academia.
People who didn’t get it, didn’t want to get it. Academia to clarify, is a game– one that was made to make folks feel smart and boost ego, withhold knowledge, push intellect to create hierarchy above you and everyone else who doesn’t get to write this script.
You cannot decolonize a colonial institution. To do so is to undo the institution itself. This relation of submission serves the hierarchy of the institution, and accepts designation, taking away self determination of a sovereign self.