How Black Existence Defies the Colonial Gaze

raised clenched fist
Adé Hennis
January 23, 2024

When we gaze into the eyes of someone, typically, it's out of admiration, surprise, or deep thought. But when it comes to gazing from a colonial perspective, what we see can change drastically.

The colonial gaze is when a Black “subject is positioned as an object and does not appropriate the fantasy of integrated subjectivity.” In other words, the colonial gaze sees us as objects, not as thinking, feeling beings.

Our people have been purchased, sold, and traded. But what’s more important here is that no matter how the colonial gaze has objectified us, our very existence is priceless.

We are a vital part of society, and without us, neither the infrastructure of this country nor the social advantages that seem to escape us would have come to fruition – for anyone. The same is true globally. The entire continent of Africa is plundered each year as nations increasingly take more wealth, rarely replenishing the motherland’s natural, human, or capital resources.

Blackness makes the world go round. Reducing our worth to mere dollars or allowing setbacks to define what is possible in the future keeps us under the colonial gaze. As we continue to fight for our liberation, we must embrace radical imagination, global solidarity, and relentless resistance. Our actions create the link between where we’ve been and where we’re going.

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