Decolonizing Grieving & How To Lean On The Collective

Decolonizing Grieving & How To Lean On The Collective

By Chief Crisantema


We go through life grieving. We grieve what was taken away from us and our ancestors, we grieve dictatorship over our lives, labor, land, and resources. We grieve the culture, the connection, the freedom.  As Colonized people, trauma is forced upon us regularly and in many forms, whether that’s through lack of access to basic physical or emotional needs, horizontal or vertical violence or anything else, we grieve the people we were before every trauma. We grieve the people we’ve lost to the weight of colonialism. 

Even choosing revolution and committing class suicide requires grieving. We have to let go of the colonial and individualistic aspirations that we’ve been working so hard for, that college degree, the big house, or whatever crumbs they made us believe we could have if we just worked hard enough. We have to move on from people who aren’t willing to leave the colony, no matter how much we love them, we have to be willing to let them go until they’re ready to be won. We must accept sacrificing comfort for liberation, for the freedom of all our people. That takes time, it takes work, and like everything else, it takes the collective. 

“Lean on the collective” is something we say to our comrades all the time, along with “welcome home” and personally, the hardest one to internalize, “you are loved unconditionally here.” There’s a reason all of those things are hard to accept, we are taught that living your emotions out loud is a sign of weakness. We’re supposed to keep everything inside, taught that no one has time or cares to know what we’re going through. This actively goes against our nature. We are creatures of community. We need deep connections to our family, given or chosen. Our ancestors knew the importance of the collective, there is a collective ritual for all loss, for all change, it’s experienced in unity with each other. The colony took that from us as well, or, they tried.

Hammers leaning on the collective for defense, outreach, & serving the masses

Coming into a space like Black Hammer, where Colonized unity is our strongest weapon, can be intimidating. We hear “I’m here for you, if you need anything let me know” all our lives and it’s hardly ever genuine. In the colony, most of us only have a small group of people we can actually be vulnerable with. How do we go from sharing the most intimate parts of ourselves with almost no one to an entire international organization that truly just loves you for being the Colonized person you are? Why is it vital that we do?

Being vulnerable is revolutionary. Giving yourself to the revolution and to the collective will change you. It will change the way you carry yourself, the way you face contradictions, and perhaps most importantly the way you struggle. It will change the way you grieve because you won’t ever have to do it or anything else alone. When you open yourself to the collective, everyone you open up to will take on a little bit of your struggle, your worry, your grief. Now something that would’ve brought you to your knees, taken you out for weeks, if not months, is something you can handle because the collective love is carrying you.

David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896 – 1974) Mexican Muralist, Depicting Collective Struggle For Liberation

As beautiful as getting to that point is, it’s a conscious struggle we all must choose to engage in. To let go of our individualism, of the colonial indoctrination that stops us from accessing the power the collective has to offer. We first have to understand that when we grieve alone, it will take our focus, our strength away from the people, it will hinder the brilliance we have to offer. It will affect the work we do to build dual contending power and choosing to let it do so is individualistic. To choose to be open about what you’re going through is putting the masses at the center. To accept the flood of help that will come from your comrades is strength, it is revolutionary, it is elevating. To understand that you are deserving of the help you are so willing to give is fully uniting to our second principle of unity. If you truly believe that no one should have to struggle alone, why do you allow yourself to? Are you not the masses?

Indigenous people of Fiji leaning on the collective in times of mourning

To continue the immortal legacy of our ancestors and their fight against all things unjust including the colonial system, join Black Hammer today! There is no longer the need to grieve alone, to struggle alone and we hope that you too will pick up where your ancestors left off. In fact it is your duty to continue their legacy; destroying and uprooting completely the largest empire to exist in history and creating a world where no one shall live at the expense of another.


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3 thoughts on“Decolonizing Grieving & How To Lean On The Collective

  1. the colonizer has corrupted everything in our lives, even the way we grieve.

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