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Decolonizing the Language and Practice of Health Part 1

by Michelle Marcotte HHP MSTOM L.Ac.

Decolonizing the Language and Practice of Health Part 1, MARCOTTE ACUPUNCTURE $20-$40 per treatment in El Cajon, La Mesa. Santee, Lakeside, Jamul

What is health?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)

"Health...  is 'a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.'"

And colonialism, according to dictionary.com is the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people and the system or policy by which a nation maintains or advocates such control or influence.

Colonialism, which is a sanitized term for conquest, has been the primary form of ruling nation creation and the systems that uphold them for centuries. Conquest has one real aim- to win, rule over and exploit resources and labor for the profit of the conqering class. Health care inside this frame is only truly concerned with the conquering classes physical, mental and social well-being. The health of the exploited classes, ecosystems and natural resources is limited to whether or not their health serves the conquerors desires or not. 

The United States was created by the conquest, murder and colonization of Native Americans, the conquest of Mexicans, the capture and enslavement of black people, the claim of ownership over land and people and the exploitation of natural resources. Regardless of the ideal of democracy the conqeror's envisioned, based on The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights, these values applied only to the conqerors. 

And the conquerors, the ruling class of the United States of America, were wealthy, white, land-owning, primarily protestant, publicly straight men. All of our systems and models are designed to serve them, first and primarily.

The rest of us, the exploited, oppressed and enslaved- of different colors, ethnicities, financial statuses, genders, sexual orientations, immigration statuses, religious beliefs and traditions and levels of ownership and freedom have been fighting our way into having democracy actually legally and practically apply to us since the founding of this country. And it is our ecosystems, natural resources and all who are a part of this earth, who aren't human, that are the most exploited and voiceless of all. And health can not exist without them.

Health, as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being for ALL people, ecosystems and natural resources requires valuing ALL life with equity and respect. This primary value, of valuing all life with equity and respect, does not exist within the conqueror's framework, which is why health is something the United States has never truly experienced. Our health care model is designed to serve the conquering ruling class.

Stating and consciously accepting the fundamental truth, that we've never collectively known, supported and experienced health because the conqeror's mentality of our country and its systems are designed NOT to, is a necessary first step to decolonizing the language and practice of health. The next step is recognizing health also requires actual applied democracy, equity and respect for ALL. 

We are on a continuing journey of creating health for ourselves, our community, our systems and of being an active part of sustaining and creating health for our planet and her ecosystems. Replacing the unhealthy conqueror's mentality with a compassionate, sustainable, mutually beneficial vision is the healthy model we ALL need, now.