‘There are days when you wonder what your role is in this country, and what your future is in it’
As a twenty-something, formerly naive student on the cusp of adulthood, it may come to surprise many that I do not share the optimism for the future found amongst many of my peers. It becomes difficult to do so when you realise that your existence, and that of those like you, is compromised by the very institutions you help build. It becomes even more difficult to partake in this joy when you are presented with the task of finding yourself in a society whose institutions claim to be for all, yet not you. The very act of finding oneself is sabotaged as you think you know who you are, until you are confronted by the overwhelming forces of what society says you are, and should be.
This perpetual cycle does nothing but break the spirit. Of course, there has been progress, but frankly, with colonialism (and the like) as a starting point, anything would be. Progress, itself, serves as a buzzword for those who attempt to dismiss your experience as one of the disenfranchised, often pointing to the lack of shackles at your feet and wrists. Ignoring the remnants of more than a lifetime of subjugation which manifests itself as a psychological scar; the kind passed on from generation to generation, one which leads you to detest the darkness of your own skin and crave the fairer for its ‘appeal’.
With contemplative eyes reflecting subtle angst, Baldwin speaks of a moral dilemma which resonates today. Clearly, there is still a ‘death of the heart’ if the privileged can confidently assert that the Empire was beneficial to the suppressed, due to the few schools it left behind. As someone who experienced the lingering effects of colonial education, it saddens me to see how deluded we still are as a society. Some of the privileged have always been, and continue to be, incapable of seeing beyond the surface or physical. As such, it does not come as a surprise if they are unable (or chose not) to fathom the mental scar on a generation, caused by acts like, prohibiting a child from speaking his mother tongue in a classroom, to the extent of whipping them if they deviated from English to speak ‘vernacular’.
It is from this disconnect that a pessimistic outlook on the future arises. Because to the privileged we are now free, the last settler has left, our years of subjugation are over. To them, all we must do is stare at our collective mirrors, dust ourselves off, and move on. But we know it is not so simple, surely, they know this too. Yet the denial of this shows moral monsters exist today, and moral apathy, ever more so.