Learning the language

On the path to decolonization, I like to sort things into either a cardboard box or a circle. Depending on how natural a thing is, it either goes into the box or the circle. For example, buildings go in the box, planets go in the circle. AC goes in the box, seasons go in the circle. I’m always aiming to get closer to the things in the circle, but there are many things in the box that are yet inescapable. The English language goes into the box because it is a forced reality (forced assimilation), one that emerged from the perspective of the white man. Colonization brought with it the idea of limitation and scarcity, where before there was the belief in abundance and communion. Things became a grid, concrete, black or white, a selling point, much like the urban streets we walk on today. This is opposite of the truth of the natural world, where the wild and color live.

Much like the grid, English forces us to cut up our fullness to make it fit into the box that it is. If we think of the richness of Caribbean cultures for example, the warmth, the passions, the vibrancy, the drums, the vitality, where even a death is a party, we can feel these ways within us much more clearly than we are able to verbalize them. And, when we do have the words to describe these ways, it leaves entire groups of people out of the understanding because, English is deeply rooted in classism and access to education. So when we do this cutting of the sun, to fit into the cardboard box, most of the circle, our people, our feelings, our truth, is then missing.

This is why storytelling has been one of the most sacred tools to reach the hearts of all the people. Not only has it traditionally been a way of bringing all age ranges together, it’s been done in circle gatherings. Through jokes, fairy tales, poetry, sharing of knowledge and experiences, we all fit in the circle and have something to take away with us. Storytelling is medicine, a way to heal, to inspire thought and hope, to reconnect with the ancient voices of wisdom that lie within each one of us wanting to shake us free of the shackles of the box.

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Note: As the atabey(r)Evolution journey evolves, so too does my awareness of my sacred responsibility as a story holder and messenger, to create a journey that is accessible to everyone who resonates with my work. I aim to closely monitor my privileges, so as not to leave anyone behind within my own blind spots. I am going to be continuously making the necessary adjustments, to the best of my abilities, to simplify my speech while also remaining deeply anchored in my truth.

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