Colonial mentality

From Academic Kids

Colonial mentality is a term that refers to one of the following:

  • A cultural notion of inferiority sometimes seen amongst populations previously subjugated and colonsed by foreign entities.
  • a willing within one nation to expand its own culture and its political and economic control in other countries.

The term is a highly colored expression and not propitious for a neutral historical analysis except of folkloric perceptions.



When a colonial power is strong, and cannot be effectively resisted, often a population may have to simply accept the rule of the foreigners as an inescapable reality. As time progresses, these colonised natives will sometimes procede to mimic the foreigners in power as they begin to perceive the "foreign way" of doing things and acting as different, and since the foreigner is also in power, the foreign way comes to be seen as the "better way". The foreign way is then held in a higher esteem than previous native ways.

In much the same fashion and with the same reasoning of "better-ness", the colonised soon equates the foreigner's racial strain itself as being superior to the native strain. The native soon strives to "marry up" and give their children a better standing in life than just their native genes.

Colonial Mentality in the Roman Empire

Colonial Mentality in Islam

Colonial Mentality in Spanish Empire

The Spanish conquistadors, the first settlers in the New World, divided the conquered lands among themselves and ruled as feudal lords, treating their subjects as something between slaves and serfs. Serfs stayed to work the land; slaves were exported to the mines, where large numbers of them died. Some Spaniards objected to this encomienda system, notably Bartolomé de Las Casas, who insisted that the indigenes were humans with souls and rights. Largely due to his efforts, the New Laws were adopted in 1542 to protect the Indians, but the abuses were not entirely or permanently abolished.

The Spaniards were committed to converting their Amerindian subjects to Christianity, 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 Catholic Church even evangelized in Quechua, Nahuatl and Guarani, contributing to the expansion of these Amerindian languages and equipping them with writing systems.

Conquistador, trader, and settler men took native wives and concubines; the children were often lost to their maternal tribes. There was also a great deal of intermarriage between indigenes and imported African slaves, leading to further dissolution of native communities. The new, mixed communities developed their own cultures in many cases, cultures estimable in their own right, but still a displacement from the aboriginal point of view.

Colonial Mentality in Latin America

Colonial mentality can also be seen in much the same form across Latin America. However, despite there existing a large minority (30%) of Latin Americans of unmixed Spanish ancestry, the demographic reality of Latin America is that much of its population is comprised of a majority that is either mestizo (Caucasian/Amerindian) or mulatto (Caucasian/Black) that together account for approximately 50% of the total population.

In the Latin American context, the "Ideal of Beauty" isn't to be of mixed European and other ancestry - as most Latinos are this - but rather to be unmixed European. Here the Latin American entertainment industry is saturated with Spanish Creoles and consists of very few mestizos, basically no mulattos, and much less unmixed Blacks or Amerindians.

This has also lead to a condition of ethnic forgery among many Latin Americans. However, in contrast to the Filipino experience where the majority is composed of unmixed native Malays of whom some attempt to claim mix-blooded status, in Latin America mixed European and other ancestry is the norm, so the Latin American forgery will concentrate on the attempt to diminish or hide any non-European admixture. These will then often falsely claim to be pure Spanish in their attempts to conform to the idealized pedigree dictated by their Latin American socio-racial hierarchy. (See also Passing - Race)

A common joke in the United States, among both Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike, is the presence of more blonde and blue-eyed presentors on US-based Spanish language television networks such as "Telemundo" and "Univisión" than on the general public networks such as "NBC" or "CBS". In Mexico the joke is made by suggesting the re-naming of "T.V.Azteca" into "T.V.Blanca" [WhiteTV], because in a country of over 100 million, where 60% is mestizo, 30% Native American and 9% European, almost every single presentor is a Spanish-descended European, with almost no mestizos and absolutely no natives after whom the network is suposedly named after, the Aztecs.

Really, the abundance of blond women in Television or any other Latin mass media, is not a consequence of preaching of the spanish priests in the New Spain or the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It would be a consequence of mass media influence from the United States which they imitate, as the journalistic format or that detail of white, high and blond women. However, this preference occurs in Japan and all the Western World, including France, Italy or the own Spain. This beauty canons are not a invention of Spain or the United States. See Black Legend and antiamericanism for further information.

Colonial Mentality in The Philippines

In the Philippines colonial mentality is most evident in the biased favouritism for Filipino mestizos (mixed Caucasian/Malay or Chinese/Malay) in the entertainment industry and mass media which they have saturated disproportionately despite being the smallest minority in the country.

Of the current Philippine demographics; Caucasian-based mestizos account for only 1%, those with significant amounts of Chinese ancestry to be classified as Chinese-mestizos are estimated at around 2%, while unmixed native Filipinos constitute 95% and number over 80 million.

The biased favouritism responsible for their overwhelming presence in film and television is deeply-rooted on established Filipino "Ideals of Beauty" that are determine based on the possession of at least partial European ancestry, an ideal that stems from colonial concepts first introduced by over 300 years of Spanish colonial rule, then by a further generation of Anglo-American occupation.

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 in the Philippines. Skin-whitening creams have for a long time been popular and widely used in much of the Philippines for the lighting of Filipino skin tones - a South East Asian Malay people - which is inherently darker, in order to achieve the much sought after "mestizo look". The products are 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. These products have been banned in the USA, but their sale and demand in the Philippines continues to be widespread.

Pedigree and Forgery

Colonial mentality is also at the root of a long established Filipino tradition of ethnic forgery used in the attempt to conform to the idealized mestizo pedigree dictated by the former colonial Filipino socio-racial hierarchy.

This ethnic forgery is characterized by the habit of many Filipino families and individuals claiming mestizo status. It is often accompanied by handed-down oral accounts of a presumed Spanish great-great-grandfather or mestiza great-great-grandmother with no evidence other than a Spanish surname. However, unlike the people of the Hispanic world, of the millions of Spanish-surnamed Filipinos, few families in the Philippines actually received their Spanish surnames from an actual Iberian ancestor. The overwhelming majority of Filipinos with Spanish surnames acquired them as a result of the "Catálogo Alfabético de Apellidos" ["Alphabetic Catalogue of Surnames"] decreed to be imposed on the enitre Filipino population by the Spanish royal courts in order to facilitate record-keeping and tax collecting.

This preocupation among Filipinos with identifying as anything other than Filipino also takes on a new form known as IMSCF Syndrome among Filipino Americans in North America and other western countries with expatriate Filipino communities.

Colonial Mentality in the British Empire

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

Colonial Mentality in the USA (Black-America)

In the the United States, when disserting on the colonial mentality experience in the African-American community, the concept would more correctly be referred to, and is more commonly known, as Slave Mentality. Although the latter term serves as a synonym of the very same concept of colonial mentality, the differing appelation is used to placed emphasis on the root of the mentality. The prior being a result of colonization of indigenous natives, and the latter originating from the slavery experience of Africans transported to the new world.

Though not as widely practised or institutionalized, slave mentality was once common among African-Americans. During the years of sturggle of the American Civil Rights Movement, the discrimination and mentality of "White is Right" of whites against blacks was well known and practiced, however, many of these concepts had also been adopted by people of colour. Here, the discriminated and discriminators were all people of colour.

Examples included the 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 Blacks with skin tones of same colour or lighter than the paper bag were allowed entry. This practice of institutionalized colorism, favouring the degree of "whiteness" among colored people, was exemplified moreso by the "Blue Veins".

The "Blue Vein Society"

During the years when slavery was in its fullest swing, an African-American society known by the name "Blue Vein Society" came into existance. However, membership was open only to a "select" few African-Americans (ie. those who were of mixed White ancestry).

The original "Blue Veins" were a small society of colored persons organized in the north. Its main purpose was to establish and maintain correct social standards among a people whose social condition, by virtue of their mixed White blood, presented almost unlimited room for improvement. The society was composed of individuals who were, in all essence, more white than black.

Some envious outsider made the suggestion that no one was eligible for membership who was not white enough to show blue veins. The suggestion was readily adopted by those who were not of the favored few, and since that time the society, though possessing a longer and more pretentious name, had been known far and wide as the "Blue Vein Society," and its members as the "Blue Veins."

It is interesting to note that Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Malay, etc) prefer to have fairer skin, while Westerners like to tan their skin. This could explain why whitening creams are especially popular among tropical Asians. The former is considered colonial mentality while the latter is not.

See also


IMSCF Syndrome

Passing (Race)


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