What is it like to be a black criminal lawyer in a white supremacist racist colonial system? How can one exercise a decolonial critique of this system knowing that fair treatment is not be found within its bounds? Further, what does it mean to practice law at all when this system is the predominant incriminating agent of non-white people, chief pretender to be the unquestioned dispenser of justice, and historically sanctions the violence of ‘law enforcement’ all at once? Helping us think through these questions is Kevin Bismark Cobham who is a Cambridge educated criminal defence lawyer who also defines himself as a movement lawyer, Pan-Africanist and community activist based in London. We also discuss a notion of ‘political blackness’ which is peculiar to the UK and look at its origins, goals and limitations in the context of a global understanding of blackness as formed by the violence of modernity, ‘the bowels of the slave ship’, and ‘the furnace of the plantation’.
Today Vitamin D welcomes for a second time Dr. Ramon Grosfoguel with whom we recently caught up at a function he was attending in London. Following from our last chat with Ramon he speaks to the contemporary political applications of decolonial thought this time around. What does decoloniality demand of the traditional white left? What is the role of the ‘nation-state’ in the global project of decolonization? How have our politics of liberation been historically co-opted to reproduce the same colonial logic they set out to thwart? In his usual gracious spirit and dedication towards the decolonial project Ramon tackles these and other topics including the necessity of disenchantment with the white man for any decolonial politics to bear fruit, the importance of having a critique of the state from an indigenous perspective giving the examples of Ecuador and Venezuela, the colonial relationship that connects police brutality in the U.S.A to the occupation of Palestine and much more.
In today’s podcast Vitamin D reached out to Dr. Roberto D. Hernandez of San Diego State University to talk about the concept of decoloniality and the history of its emergence within the context of his own political formation as a Chicano activist raised in San Ysidro – blocks from the U.S.-Mexico border and the site of the busiest port of entry in the world. In what is hoped to be the first segment of a two-part discussion we touched on the post-1992 quincentenary protests of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas as a rife period for reformulating questions of colonization. Roberto talks us through the novel and radical sentiments informing the political movements of that time and how they tie in with emergent theories of European Modernity as coloniality. We also discuss Chicana/Chicano identity, the thought of Anibal Quijano, the synthesis of major third world theories into an analysis of decoloniality, and Roberto’s work on border logic and indigenous knowledge systems.
This podcast constitutes as part of Vitamin D’s commitment to introduce the concept of decoloniality to listeners who may or may not be actively studying or engaged in the politics of liberation through a colonial lens. Roberto helps us think through the differences between decolonial thought emerging out of the Latin-American context in the late 1980s and the existing schools of South Asian subaltern studies and theories of Orientalism, as well as between colonialism as a relationship between a colony and its mother nation predicated on notions of territorial sovereignty and coloniality as a globally operating logic of power. We learn that decoloniality as a novel theory of liberation of oppressed people emerges as a synthesis of existing models of liberation such as dependency theory, internal colonialism and world systems theory – all of which are defined and explained by Roberto in today’s pod. Lastly, we touch on the colonial knowledge systems that have given us, among other things, national borders and how mainstream discourses of immigrant/emigrant serve to perpetuate and further entrench the logic of borders. This latter area is what will be the topic for our second part of the conversation in the near future.