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What is Decolonization?

“Nyasha Williams now pursues social justice, decolonizing work, and creating for her community full-time.”

In describing my current work and soul mission, I ascribe to decolonization, indigenizing, and liberating myself, my mind, and spiritual practices. BUT what does that even mean?

The working definitions I use for the three verbs are the following:

Decolonization: Decolonization is the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches. Decolonization involves dismantling structures that perpetuate the status quo and addressing unbalanced power dynamics.

Liberation: Liberation is founded on the core concerns of marginalized communities in need of social, political, or economic equality and justice. The foundation for reframing our minds should involve deprogramming our minds from believing that anything non-westernized or non-White is inferior.

Indigenization: Indigenization is a collaborative process of naturalizing Indigenous intent, interactions, and processes and making them evident to transform spaces, places, and hearts. In the context of post-secondary education, this involves including Indigenous perspectives and approaches. Indigenization involves valuing and revitalizing Indigenous knowledge and approaches and weeding out settler biases or assumptions that have impacted Indigenous ways of being.

BUT what does the procedure of colonization and decolonization look like?

A Hawaiian sovereignty activist created the framework I base my work in,

. In his framework, he explains that there are five steps to colonization and five steps towards decolonization.

The Process of Colonization:

  1. Denial & Withdrawal

Colonizers deny Indigenous peoples’ culture and moral values, not believing the communities or cultures they encounter have any value to warrant any merit.

  1. Destruction & Eradication

Colonizers work to physically destroy and eradicate all physical representation of the indigenous cultures (Art, God/Goddess, Sacred Sites).

  1. Denigration/Bettlement/Insult

Colonizers institute their systems (religious, health, legal) over the eradicated Indigenous ways of life and work to shame, insult and belittle and practice that is not part of their new instituted systems. Indigenous religions become “demonized,” and Indigenous doctors become “witches.”

  1. Surace Accommodation & Tokenism

The Indigenous culture that remains at this point is given surface accommodation. They are tolerated as an exhibition of the colonial regime, showcasing the “continual ignorance of the Indigenous communities.”

  1. Transformation & Exploitation

Any aspects of the Indigenous culture that have become surface accommodation are now financially exploited by the Colonizers. Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities may commit exploitation at this point.

The Process of Decolonization:

  1. Rediscovery & Recovery

Those who have been harmed and victims of colonization begin to question the place in society they have been given, being seen as inferior to the dominant culture. Time is taken to search and learn about their indigenous roots and history; Many people work to discover lost parts of themselves and their culture.

  1. Morning

This is the stage of anger, processing, and healing from the harm inflicted by colonization and lamenting their victimization.

  1. Dreaming

In this stage, a new social world order is imagined through conversations, discussions, and debates. This stage imagines restructuring systems, institutions, and current power structures to begin expanding our world views towards a better world for all.

  1. Commitment

This stage is about solidifying those dreams into a reality.

  1. Action

The final stage is about putting the plans into action towards building equitable, just, and regenerative systems, institutions, and structures.

Colonization and Decolonization are social processes even more than they are political processes. Governance over a people changes only after the people themselves has sufficiently changed. Your ignorance is the system’s power and works to the advantage of colonization, White supremacy, capitalism, and the patriarchy. The biggest change has to happen in us. Work with our larger conscious community towards freeing ourselves and our minds and me. We need to remember, know and walk in our power. Invest in yourself, taking the time to unlearn, relearn and learn anew. We are a force to be reckoned with. Start believing.


BIPOCs: I run a 5-month group coaching program to help decolonize you, your mind, and your spiritual practices. The next cohort will be July 2022. Watch my socials and this blog for updates on applying to the program.

NON-BIPOCs: I provide individual coaching toward guiding you on your decolonization journey. Various time frames are available depending on where you are on your decolonization walk. Those interested can reach out on my website. I am taking new clients in January 2022.


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