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Blog:Unlearn the Colonial, Transactional Mindset

Manny Becerra as a child

July 2009

Wherever you go in society, especially as a minority person, like myself, it's easy to notice how our culture in the US is based on a what can you do for me? mindset, which I find and have found troubling since a child.

This mindset focuses on keeping resources and power concentrated amongst a few, instead of equitably and collaboratively. Together, we can all unlearn and grow away from the colonial mindset, and strive for a way of thinking and behaving that ensures everyone has their human rights met.

When I was younger, I don't think I would have used the word, troubling, as my vocabulary was much more limited, but the experience nonetheless felt off; it felt confusing to me, especially when compared to how I was raised, in which, my parents and family modeled helping others whenever we could regardless if we received anything tangible in return. My family helped because another person was in need and we were in a position to offer some human connection and assistance, even if small, like inviting someone to have a bowl of soup or beans with us.

This mindset is reflective of how white explorers have historically treated the People they came across, and eventually colonized, as they migrated East and West; and, this mindset is what tragically remains prevalent in current society.

Being older now with a few more words and experiences, I can say with more confidence that I find this way of thinking as troubling. I even dubb it, Colonial, transactional mindset, or just Colonial for short. The reason I label it this, is because this mindset is reflective of how white explorers have historically treated the People they came across, and eventually colonized, as they migrated East and West; and, this mindset is what remains tragically prevalent in current society. It's a mindset that seeps deeply into all aspects of life, from social-to-business, which focuses more—even solely—on oneself instead of others in the process. This colonial mindset is dangerous, and unsustainable to society and our world at-arge. This mindset keeps racism cloaked and thriving in all aspects of our lives, which keeps people from reaching their fullest potential and from living full, healthy and whole lives, particularly people of color.

This mindset keeps racism cloaked and thriving in all aspects of our lives, which keeps people from reaching their fullest potential and from living full, healthy and whole lives, particularly people of color. And this is not just in the community at-large, this mindset is unfortunately prevalent in colleges and other institutions of learning.

This mindset allows people in power, often white people, to be the ultimate authority figures on what social norms are considered acceptable and which are not; who is considered learned and a professional, and who is not; and, who is seen as safe and someone to be protected, and who is deemed a likely threat and not to be treated justly. And this is not just in the community at-large, this mindset is unfortunately prevalent amongst colleges and other institutions of learning. This mindset focuses on keeping resources and power concentrated amongst a few, instead of equitably and collaboratively.

Replace this colonial way of thinking with human decency, kindness, and compassion. If you can help someone out, please do, regardless if others take notice or not.

With that in mind, I challenge you fellow reader, like I do with myself on a regular basis—even if you consider yourself progressive—to continuously unlearn and critically question the ways of the colonial, transactional mindset that saturates our everyday lives. Replace this colonial way of thinking with human decency, kindness, and compassion. If you can help someone out, please do, regardless if others take notice or not; do it, because it's the compassionate thing to do, not because you may get something directly out of it, like helping you climb the work or social ladder. Together, we can all unlearn and grow away from the colonial mindset, and strive for a way of thinking and behaving that ensures everyone has their human rights met.

Manny


I am human, a father, and a problem solver: a tech and people leader with a passion and proven track-record in building and leading compassionate, productive teams—remote and on-site—within a continuous learning culture. My teams and I champion usable, inclusive digital products and online experiences. My work, passion and intentions also intersect with advising small businesses and political campaigns, life-long learning, outdoor advocacy, community building, and uplifting others. Learn more about Manny