Chapter 6

Internalized Colonialism

Memmi, Fanon and Friere, the three most often cited post-colonial scholars, all agree on the concept of internalized colonialism: the eventuality that a colonized person believes the inferiority of their identity and develops a desire to rid themselves of such identities and to emulate the colonizer. In order to emulate the colonizer, the person must reject their culture and adopt that of the colonizer.(1)

Over time the feelings of inferiority, self-doubt and identity confusion lead to internalized hatred that is experienced at the individual level, the family level and at the community level. At the individual level the anger is redirected toward oneself, and manifested in suicide, violence towards self, risky behaviour, substance abuse, and self-denigration. At the family level, the anger toward the oppressor is redirected to anyone that reminds him/her and to someone that is seen as less of a threat, and manifests in domestic violence, homicide and sexual assault.(1)

Internalized colonialism is interchangeable with internalized oppression, the oppressed will oppress one another; this is lateral violence. In places where the oppression is consistent and aggressive, the negative stereotypes become incorporated into the cultural values and traditions. Oppression becomes a cultural norm and is transmitted across generations, often times it is so long-standing that it becomes an unconscious, involuntary response.

The following video provides a very good definition of lateral violence:


In present day, the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological manifestations of internalized colonialism are seen as an everyday occurrence in many Indigenous communities. So how do Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples decolonize themselves?


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(1). David, E. J. R. (2014). Internalized Oppression; The psychology of marginalized groups. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Co.

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