Reckon with the Past To Decolonize the Future

Cecil Rhodes cartoons and statues.

Left to right: Caricature of Cecil John Rhodes (CC0); Cecil Rhodes statue in Cape Town. Fritz Joubert(CC BY-SA 4.0) Photo illustration by Mark Riechers.

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The phrase "decolonizing the mind" has been used in a lot of different contexts, maybe most famously by Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o. Many contemporary debates are rooted in the legacy of colonialism and its racist underpinnings. Questions about identity, history, language, policing, what should or should not be taught in school — these are all debates about decolonizing the mind and confronting our past. Political theorist Adom Getachew says many of these issues were debated in Africa more than 60 years ago, and those ideas are still reverberating around the world today.