What is the social commentary in Olive Senior's poem "Colonial Girls School"?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem is about the erasure of native identity that colonial education sought to achieve. "Colonial Girls School" denounces that the subjects treated at school have nothing to do with the geographical and cultural landscapes of the Caribean. Colonialists (identified through the metonymies "those pale northern eyes and/aristocratic whispers) aim to destroy the culture, the behavior and even the physical features of the natives. Elements referring to these multiple destructions are interwoven throughout the poem. Yet, after a list of colonial abuses, the poem cites Garvey, desegregation in the American education system and the Congolese revolutionary Lumumba as evidence of resistance to colonial domination. The image of the broken mirror refers to the breaking of the colonial yoke and the final lines reverse the significance of the word "pale". While earlier on in the poem the word was used as in an expression denoting the power of the colonizers, it now means that their oppressive teachings will one day seem pale (insignificant).