“The White Man’s Agenda”

One curious idea I have continued to look into is the historical perpetuation of dominant western culture over those they have been deemed as other. Specifically I am getting at the “White Man’s Agenda” as it is historically rooted in colonization and imperialism. This attitude whether we see it or not is firmly rooted in our institutions and in the very language practices we continue to teach and hold valuable. This very closed and rigid system of thinking has continued to benefit only those that have assimilated and or are privileged in their socioeconomic and cultural standings. Why is it that western language and culture is favored over those that are seen as different or separate? It comes down to control or at least a domination of one society/ cultural over the other. Life is too multifaceted for there to be any one or “right” way of existing as our values differ and are subjective in nature.

The Great Divide is of much interest to me because it seems that many oral traditions and cultures have been substituted for reading and writing ones and so it would be in the benefit of the oppressor to say that literate cultures are more intelligent and somehow “better”. How do we as a western society go about reconciling a history of enslavement, oppression, and domination of “inferior” societies? I would say it would have to start with those that possess the power such as the political and educational realms although it appears that they do not wish to change or relinquish their power. Composition is a curious place to begin with because writing I would say, is not a natural ability and that how we speak and communicate orally, does not resemble the same type of work we do when we write. Language has its downfalls, but it also possesses the possibility of expansion and freedom when it can be used to express oneself. If writing is going to be of use, let it be a route through which creativity flows in the same way someone might paint a picture or play a song. Systemization of writing is kind of absurd if you see language as an expressive art, an extension of someone’s feelings or thoughts. Writing has the potential to be a liberating mode into different ways of thinking and yet we teach students that they must adhere to certain grammatical forms and rules and that they must assimilate into the dull beehive of unexpressive and controlled ways of existing. I also believe that any creative or expressive forms of writing get exchanged very early on for the standardized and rigid form of prose we all too commonly know how to write. And its boring. I had an epiphany the other day as to why I got into creative writing (poetry) and I believe that it was my way of taking back my voice and sense of expression that I had lost within years of indoctrination and schooling.

Language, both written and oral, is our gateway into other people, other ideas, and into how we think and perceive. There is no way that any language is somehow “better” than any other and there is certainly no standardized way of determining whether you’re communicating or expressing yourself the “right” way. It once again comes back to who has the power and how are they keeping their power. One major way is through language. If you force someone else to talk like you and to think like you, then you are in turn diminishing their freedom. You are telling them they must look like this, do it like this, and play by these rules. Well I’m sorry but, evolution and change are inevitable and diversity is what allows for the complexity of life. Our differences are what make us whole within the scope of our experiences. I’m just a little pissed off that the blatant eradication of native cultures and language throughout the world even, has kind of just been swept under the rug. And maybe yes, it could be too late to do much about it now, but it’s just as apparent that we are continuing to blindly perpetuate it.

I’m very curious as to see where reading, writing, and oral communication will evolve into next. Will we evolve out of written language and into some other form? It is really hard to imagine right now, but I already see changes in how people are composing with video. I don’t necessarily see the written word going away anytime soon, but rather I see it changing. The white man’s agenda of social and cultural domination, is hopefully on the way out. However, it is up to us as the people to dissent from our history.