When Tears Are Sweet And Sour
Natives who are feeling schadenfreude over white liberals’ reaction to this election should think twice, writes Terese Mailhot:
White people on the left are coping with the realization that America is racist. Aren’t we all tempted—when we see white people in tears over their disenfranchisement—to say, “Now you know”? I wonder what our tears tasted like all these years.
It’s small of me to feel that way. Eventually these white people will learn to laugh at the absurdity and get to their cars safely, and stay on the right side of the street, or know when to walk straight ahead without averting their eyes, or how to comply, or how to distrust authorities, doctors and institutions. I’ve been doing that Indian thing where I disassociate and make jokes until I can commit to life again or resign completely.
Donald Trump is the president-elect. It’s horrible. But my people have had worse chiefs and council members. They disenfranchised their own people and kicked elders out of homes and betrayed their own families. We lived through that and felt worse for it, but we lived. And I know we lost our familiarity with our own languages and cultural affinities, but I don’t feel I’m less of an Indian woman because I’m dispossessed. The elders in my life have told me, with a smile, that had the white man never come, we would still have an ever-changing and adaptive culture.
Enjoying white tears is poison. Personal vengeance isn’t good for the heart. We need our allies, so I’ve taken to letting them in. I retain my humor and my distance. But when white people cry, I tell them I’m here. When I break down, I hope they’ll be there for me. http://bit.ly/2gPDYRi
The Pain And Power Of The Braid
When First Nations boys are teased about their braided hair, writes Carly McIntosh, they need spiritual and cultural aid:
The long braid of a First Nation’s male symbolizes many things: strength, wisdom, identity and culture. Many First Nations people believe that getting their hair braided right before a powwow or a ceremony brings in positive energy and strength passed down to them from their elders and ancestors.
But in Thunderchild First Nation—today known as Saskatchewan—many young boys get bullied for letting their hair grow long and then formed into braids. After a youth is continually teased and harassed in school for a while, he succumbs to the pressure and slices it off.
Recently Michael Linklater, a Thunderchild First Nation father, saw that his two sons were being bullied for their hair. After he heard that other young boys were also being teased, he organized a campaign called “Boys with Braids.” Having once been disrespected in school for his braid himself, Linklater now is not afraid to stand up for his cultural beliefs and give strength to the young who need it. His campaign has been taken to two Canadian cities; many others will see it in the future.
Each day a young boy gets bullied or teased over his braid, one of us needs to stand by our younger brother and support him and not leave until it has stopped. First Nations are meant to hold each other’s hands, and our nations will never give up on each other because together we are as strong as Mother Earth. When our young boys are bullied and teased about their braids, they need the protection of our spiritual family. http://bit.ly/2fXBYlS
Decolonization In The Mind And On The Tongue
The right patterns of thought and language can combat the wrong patterns of oppression, writes Steven Newcomb:
Colonization requires a tremendous amount of skillful mental activity. It therefore stands to reason that decolonization requires the same.
Because our Original Nations have been colonized, i.e. invaded, oppressed, and robbed, we must gain mastery over the invaders’ language system. We must then gain mastery over their system of ideas and argumentation. Then we have to devise our own unique set of counterarguments.
One barrier standing in the way of decolonization is the large number of our own people who have gained some mastery over the invaders’ language system and system of argumentation—and then made a “career” out of functioning within that system, rather than critiquing it. Unfortunately, a great many of us are not willing to engage in the amount of reading and difficult mental work necessary to break free of and challenge the American empire’s well designed construct of ideas and arguments.
Language constitutes and creates reality. So staying within the confines and limits of the colonizers’ system of ideas and arguments—particularly those of the U.S. federal Indian law system of domination—amounts to staying confined.
There is a strange, unstated belief by which many of our own people are subconsciously hindered. Some people have a sense that it’s “against the law” to challenge the domination system. But we ought to collectively convey that there is no such thing as a right of domination. The next four years will make it necessary for our Original Nations to consolidate our efforts and mobilize ourselves more effectively than ever before—as if our lives and our future generations depend on it. http://bit.ly/2gwqzwD