“As we come to know, accept, and explore our feelings, they will become sanctuaries and fortresses and spawning grounds for the most radical and daring of ideas — the house of difference so necessary to change and the conceptualization of any meaningful action.”~ Audre Lorde
Lately I’ve been faced with a persistent theme. The need to heal and discard the past’s baggage that I’ve been carrying around for quite a long time. By decolonizing the soul, I am taking steps to reclaim my essence as a black woman who has been faced with multiple layers of oppression, and restoring a deep sense of belonging to something beyond my Self.
For a long time, I've been existing in a grey area of misrepresentation, inhaling the teachings of a system that treated black souls as a surplus which left me drained and gasping for affirmations.
Affirmations that validate my existence beyond the white mediums we've existed within.
"Bag lady you gone hurt your back Dragging all them bags like that I guess nobody ever told you All you must hold on to Is you, is you, is you
The healing quest is one of the most important aspects of our survival. There would be nothing much to look forward to in our day to day living if it wasn’t for this deep desire of transformation and reaching that goal physically, spiritually, or mentally. When I think of this, I can’t help but examine all the different intersectionalities that make me who I am. Womanhood, Blackness, religion and more.
More than often, I’ve been erased due to the limiting societal settings that were aiming to confine me to one dimensional boxes and fit a definitive criteria. For instance, being a Muslim somehow meant subscribing to the notion of Arabness and erasure of my African roots within Islamic spaces. So, attempting to heal any part of me would be absolutely meaningless without connecting these personal experiences to the collective past of the Diaspora. We still carry the burden of generational traumas, and more than any existing demographic, we still face the same systemic abuse! The methods used now differ, but the same context applies.
-Stripping Black people of their humanity-
So how do we navigate personal liberation and healing while actively honoring our ancestral memories?
“Decolonizing the soul” rings out when I’m faced with this thought. Connecting with our estranged roots, however one defines them, and standing firm in that indigenous sense of self! It could be as simple as rocking your Bantu knots to work one day without fearing the all white questioning gaze. Without that annoying, guilty feeling that demands us to blend in and go unnoticed. Authenticity is a heavy workload, yet it demands to be embraced.
Authenticity forces us to face the fact that our whole being will be dissected and examined for daring to be our true selves. In a world that pushes us to be clones, being authentic, original, and reflecting of our indigenous nature is an act of revolution.
White supremacy is a universal drug that we've been swallowing for millennia. It made us doubting our own worth and divinity. By discarding the teachings of such systems we're disturbing the status quo and dismantling the pillars of colonization that stood on the backs of the less fortunate.
“If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”~ Audre Lorde
We’ve been taught to alienate the parts that made us authentic and indigenous since the dawn of non-melanated beings. Before the slave trade and the waves of white “Settlers” invading Africa, I believe that we -black people- stood firm in our power and understood the depth of our roots. We had systems in place that we referred to before taking up the moral syllabus preached to us by these forces which was the spawn of the loss of our collective identity.
This alienation of self is the breeding ground for conflict and inner turmoil. Our souls were put under scrutiny, and demanded us to adhere to the status quo. We were expected to submit to the ideals of white supremacy, as proximity to whiteness was the ever-elusive goal. These forced conditions didn’t leave much room for unique expressions and non-binary ways of existence.
As a third culture kid—one who grew away from my native settings—my early years were nothing short of a struggle. I was trying to fit into a society that had always labeled me as “other” while not knowing much about my homeland “Somalia” and Africa in general. Many of us are still navigating the territory of self realization, and striving to connect to that deep sense of grounding and roots appreciation. This is no easy task. However, there’s no shame in learning, relearning, and programming the subconscious to affect your perspective.
Decolonizing is an active exercise of self preservation and forging identities away from the mainstream, acceptable modes of existing. Realistically, it can be a lifetime endeavor, but this work cultivates the soul. it trumps existing passively in a medium of paleness that doesn't allow your soul to burst into a magical stream of contradicting colors.
The personal is political. In that sense, our collective healing can’t take place without rooting it deeply in our blackness and all the intersectional identities that comes along with it. Every bit of you that doesn't conform to the agreed upon societal conditions can be taken as political.
However, one thing must be understood. There’s no definitive blueprint of doing the work. Healing is a unique personal journey that doesn’t follow uniform rules or agendas. Seeking healing through decolonizing your personal narrative and experiences will definitely be a unique soul print that’s all you.
I believe in the alchemical power of individuality. We, the people who look to Africa as our mother land, must embrace it now more than ever! Magic is but an energy; a focused intent that invokes change. Putting your mind on an idea brings forth a cosmic push and the universe will conspire to create concrete realities out of your mental agendas. Your intentions are the seeds you must tend to, to bring forth healing and decolonization of your being.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to taking initiative regarding our healing journeys and we find peace in different ways. Personally, experimenting with my aesthetic has proven to be therapeutic and balancing. Returning to the minimalist approach as practiced by my mother, and generations of fierce beauties have done for millennia beforehand. That’s how I choose to claim back the bits of me that were whitewashed and colonized under the labels of exotic and foreign beauty. I admire my mom's creativity and the way she slayed with minimum effort, and honestly I didn’t pay much attention to her beauty rituals until recently! The smell of orange peels, the aroma of coconut oil and the bright hue of turmeric masks. It all means something to me now. Coming home to the original essence, tracing back a thread of oneness and unlocking ancient codes of being. By mimicking certain things, I’m deliberately activating parts of me that were once forgotten and that are powerful beyond measure. Creating a sense of belonging and knowing that wherever I go, I carry a piece of home with me. We are our ancestors and we shall once again be unapologetic about who we were meant to be.
“In yourself you stretch, you are well."~ Gwendolyn Brooks
Ahlam Ali is an intuitive empath, seeking to heal through her words in a process of alchemy, inspired by ancestral wisdom and the unique perspective of black womanhood.