Colonial mentality

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A colonial mentality is a conceptual theory around feelings of inferiority within some societies post-European colonialism, relative to the values of the foreign powers which they became aware of through the contact period of colonization. The concept essentially refers to the acceptance, by the colonized, of the culture or doctrines of the colonizer as intrinsically more worthy or superior. The subject matter is quite controversial and debated. Colonial mentality in men can be displayed in higher or lower valuation of a partner based on skin color or race. It can also be displayed in insecurity about the affected individual's own ethnicity. Colonial mentality, as a phenomenon, is largely a subconscious state of mind, and one which can cause inflamed situations if brought to the surface.

English-speaking societies

Indian subcontinent

Some critics have stated that Rudyard Kipling's portrayals of Indian characters generally supported the colonialist view that the Indians and other colonized people were incapable of surviving without the help of Europeans, stated further that these portrayals are racist.[1] Examples of this racism are mentioning "lesser breeds without the Law" in "Recessional" and referring to colonized people in general as "half-devil and half-child" in the poem "The White Man's Burden".

The term Macaulay's Children is used to refer to people born of Indian ancestry who adopt Western culture as a lifestyle. The term is usually used in a derogatory fashion, and the connotation is one of disloyalty to one's country and one's heritage. It derives from Thomas Macaulay, the 19th century British historian and colonial administrator who regarded British culture as inherently superior to the Indian one, and who was the prime mover in replacing Indian languages with English as the medium of instruction.[2] This process is often referred to as Macaulayism.


In areas where the indigenous nations were decimated by epidemics and their cultures, suffered generations of set-back the settler societies quickly outnumbered the colonized. In these cases, including much of North America, and Oceania, decolonization is now taking the form of indigenous decolonization in bringing back traditional cultural knowledge in the new society.


The idea that some Quebecers hold a colonial mentality, due to the conquest of Quebec by the British and subsequent domination by English Canada is prevalent in a segment of Québécois intellectual thought, notably within the Quebec nationalist and independence movements. These theorists characterize the relationship of Canada and Quebec as a dominant-dominated relationship, and often consider the Quiet Revolution an event of decolonization.

Those who are in favour of independence hold that Quebec sovereignty is another necessary decolonizing step. The colonial mentality concept has also been used to criticize the relationship some Québécois have with France, as Quebec was a colony of France in the era of New France.

United States and black America

The race-conscious society of the United States is often cited as a prime example of colonial mentality. Numerous examples included the one drop rule and practice of the "Paper Bag Test", where African Americans were allowed or denied entry in Black-only social institutions (bars, night clubs, cinemas, sororities, fraternities, etc.) based on how light the skin tone was when compared to a brown paper bag. Those African Americans with skin tones the same or lighter than the paper bag were allowed entry. This practice of institutionalized colorism and favoring degrees of "whiteness", was exemplified more so by "The Blue Vein Society".

Black is Beautiful

In the late 20th century, the "Black is Beautiful" movement attempted to counteract the colonial mentality among African Americans by promoting dark skin and African features as ideals, with varied success.

Spanish Empire

The former subjects of the Spanish Empire in Hispanic America and the former Spanish East Indies are the most commonly cited examples where the phenomenon of colonial mentality may be found. Spanish conquistadors, the first European settlers in the New World, divided the conquered lands among themselves and ruled as feudal lords, treating their Amerindian subjects as something between serfs and slaves.

Many Spaniards, however, objected to this encomienda system, notably Bartolomé de Las Casas, who insisted that the American indígenas (natives) were human beings with souls and rights and were, in the words of Queen Isabella I, "to be treated with justice and fairness".[3] Serfs stayed to work the land and imported African slaves were exported to the mines, where large numbers of them died. Largely due to the efforts of Bartolomé de Las Casas, the New Laws were adopted in 1542 to protect the Amerindians, but the abuses were not entirely or permanently abolished.

The Spaniards were committed to converting their Amerindian subjects to Roman Catholicism, and were quick to purge any native cultural practices that hindered this end. However, most initial attempts at this were only partially successful, as Amerindian groups simply blended Catholicism with their traditional beliefs. On the other hand, the Spaniards did not impose their language to the degree they did their religion, and the Roman Catholic Church even evangelized in Quechua, Nahuatl, Guarani, etc., contributing to the expansion of these Amerindian languages and equipping them with writing systems.[4]


Prior to colonization by the Spanish (1565-1898), the Sulu Archipelago (located in southern Philippines) was a colony of the Majapahit Empire (1293–1527) based in Indonesia. The Americans were the last country to colonize the Philippines (1898–1946) and nationalists claim that it continues to act s a neo-colony of the United States despite its formal independence in 1946.[5][6]

In the Philippines colonial mentality is most evident in the existence of favoritism for Filipino mestizos (primarily those of mixed native Filipino and white ancestry, but also mixed indigenous Filipino and Chinese, and other ethnic groups) in the entertainment industry and mass media, in which they have received extensive exposure despite constituting a small population in the country.[7][8][9]

The Cádiz Constitution of 1812 automatically gave Spanish citizenship to all Filipinos regardless of race.[5] The census of 1870 stated that at least one-third of the population of Luzon have partial Hispanic ancestry (from varying points of origin and ranging from Latin America to Spain).[10]

Of the current demographics of the Philippines, the combined number of all types of Caucasian mestizos or Eurasians is 3.6%, according to a genetic study by Stanford University.[11] This is conflicted by another genetic study done by California University which stated that Filipinos possess moderate amounts of European admixture.[12]

There is evidence that fair skin was a characteristic of the cloistered binukot, who were often kept indoors from a very early age. In historical epics of the Philippines their fair skin was presented as a standard of beauty among the upper class.[13]

Physical consequences

One of the more adverse physical consequences in the idealization and acceptance of the racial concepts of colonial mentality can be seen in the high rate of consumer demand for skin bleaching products used by some indigenous women, also with a smaller percentage of indigenous men and brown-skinned mestizas and mestizos, in the Philippines.[7][14] Skin-whitening creams have for a long time been popular and widely used in much of the Philippines for the lightening of the skin tones in order to achieve the so-called "Mestizo look".

The products are believed to be used primarily by women who have succumbed to the Filipino ideal and colonial doctrine of the idealization of mestizo beauty to the greatest extreme. The consumers of these products, whether conscious or subconsciously, are following the dangerous edict on beauty by continuing to use those products despite the extremely hazardous side effects to their health, including a high risk of various cancers due to many of its active ingredients, including mercury, and most important cancer, skin cancer, because of the lack of melanin that is the natural skin protection from the ultraviolet rays.

These skin products' sale and demand in the Philippines and in some other tropical countries continue to be widespread.[15] Another thought to achieve the so-called "Mestizo look", some indigenous Filipino men and women of all classes dye their hair auburn (reddish-brown), golden brown, or blond, and/or changing their noses to aquiline, and/or enlarging their eye shapes.[citation needed][citation needed]

Latin America

Colonial mentality can also be seen in somewhat the same form across Latin America. The demographic reality of Latin America is that around 36% is white and over 50% of its population is of part-white mixed race, either Mestizo (mixed white and Native American/Amerindian) or Mulatto (mixed White and black) or triracial (of mixed white, black and Native American).[16] The percentages vary widely by country. Argentina, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica have large White majorities, and Cuba and Chile are majority-White per some sources.

Many countries in the region have large white minorities, and a few have small white minorities. Amerindians, Asians, blacks, and Zambos (mixed Black and Amerindian) make up the remaining 14% of Latin America's population. In some Latin American countries, the "Ideal of Beauty" is not to be of mixed European and other ancestry, as most Latin Americans already are of that ancestry, but rather to be purely of European ancestry. The same ideal is prevalent among Hispanic and Latino Americans, Latin American Australians, Latin American Canadians, and Latin American Britons.[citation needed]

The Latin American entertainment industry is saturated with white actors, with some mestizos, few mulattos, and almost no blacks or Amerindians. Many white actors have Nordic (Northern European) features: pale-skinned, blond and blue-eyed.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24] An occasional actor of Asian ancestry can be seen as well. The same situation happens in U.S. Hispanic entertainment industry.

This European idealisation of beauty has also led to a condition of racial forgery[clarification needed] among many Latin Americans. However, in contrast to the Filipino experience where the majority is composed of unmixed native Filipinos of whom some attempt to claim mixed European blood, in Latin America the norm is for some within the mix-blooded majority to concentrate on attempting to diminish, hide or deny any non-European admixture.[citation needed] These people will then often claim to be pure Spanish or other European ancestry in their attempts to conform to the idealized pedigree dictated by their Spanish-Latin American socio-racial hierarchy. To achieve the "pure European look", many mixed-race people in the middle and upper classes use skin whitening products[14] and dye their hair blond, golden brown, auburn (reddish-brown), or red. Some members of the non-mixed races and non-white race engaged is similar practices, dyeing their hair, use skin whitening products,[14] and/or enlarging their eye shapes and/or changing their noses to aquiline, in the case of Native Americans, black Africans, and Asians to claim pure white race or partial-white mixed race.

Racial forgery in Latin America is often accompanied by handed-down but unproven oral accounts of a presumed Spanish great-great-grandparent and a Spanish surname. Most mixed-white race and white people in Latin America have Spanish surnames inherited from Spanish ancestors, while most other Latin Americans who have Spanish names and surnames acquired them through Christianization and Hispanicization of the indigenous and African slave populations by the Spanish friars, especially in order to ease record-keeping and tax collection, in the case of the Native Americans and Afro-Latin Americans.[17] The preference for fair skin in Latin America is seen as more attractive and more related to higher social status.[25][26]

A common joke in the United States, among both Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike, is the presence of more blonde and blue-eyed presenters and actors on US-based Spanish-language television networks such as Telemundo and Univision than on the English-language networks such as NBC, CBS, ABC, or Fox; but many Americans are critical of having a predominance of blond and blue-eyed presenters and actors on US-based Spanish-language television networks.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24] These issues are also addressed in White Hispanic and Latino Americans and Race in the United States.

Arab world

Nada El-Yassir comments that "in certain areas in the Arab world; the lighter you are, the more beautiful you are considered." She also says that it is common that women in the upper classes dye their hair blond, and may use skin-lightening products,[14] like in some tropical countries. In some countries the implications of this hierarchy go so far as to affect one's social class and job opportunities.

Iman Al-Jazairi says "Looking at Arabic poetry and novels, it is interesting to see that pre-Islamic poetry up until western colonization at the eighteenth century, women were always described as having long, wavy, black hair, brown skin, black eyes with the white of the eyes very white. The body proportions were also bigger. During the later part of the nineteenth century and until very recently, light skinned, blond women have usurped the beauty standard in modern Arabic literature.[27]

See also


  1. "Kipling comes under review". BBC News. 10 September 1999. Retrieved 30 April 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Text of Macaulay's "minute on education" arguing for the use of English in India
  4. Eliane Karp: pasado y presente [Voltaire]
  5. 5.0 5.1 Gómez Rivera 2000
  6. García 2009
  7. 7.0 7.1 American Chronicle | Brown Is Beautiful
  8. "Is the 'racist' BAYO advert real?". 6 June 2012. GMA News Online. Retrieved 24 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "The semantics of 'mestizo'". 27 July 2012. GMA News. Retrieved 24 August 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Jagor, Fëdor, et al. (1870). The Former Philippines thru Foreign Eyes
  11. "A Predominantly Indigenous Paternal Heritage for the Austronesian-Speaking Peoples of Insular Southeast Asia and Oceania" (PDF). Stanford University. Retrieved 20 February 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. *Institute for Human Genetics, University of California San Francisco (2015). "Self-identified East Asian nationalities correlated with genetic clustering, consistent with extensive endogamy. Individuals of mixed East Asian-European genetic ancestry were easily identified; we also observed a modest amount of European genetic ancestry in individuals self-identified as Filipinos". Genetics Online: 1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Abrera 2008-2009
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Counter, S. Allen, Whitening skin can be deadly, Boston Globe, 16 December 2003
  15. The Beauty In Me
  16. Lizcano Fernández, Francisco; See Latin Americans#Ethnic groups.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Quinonez, Ernesto (19 June 2003). "Y Tu Black Mama Tambien". Retrieved 2 May 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 The Blond, Blue-Eyed Face of Spanish TV
  19. 19.0 19.1 Blonde, Blue-Eyed Euro-Cute Latinos on Spanish TV
  20. 20.0 20.1 Latinos Not Reflected on Spanish TV
  21. 21.0 21.1 What are Telenovelas? – Hispanic Culture
  22. 22.0 22.1 Racial Bias Charged On Spanish-Language TV
  23. 23.0 23.1 Black Electorate
  24. 24.0 24.1 POV - Corpus Film Description
  25. "Documentary, Studies Renew Debate About Skin Color's Impact". Pittsburg Post Gazette. 26 December 2006. Retrieved 9 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Is Light Skin Still Preferable to Dark?". Chicago Tribune. 26 February 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. the peak (4/5/1998) features: The colour bar of beauty


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