I feel like sighing. For real. This is such an old story and I have been accused of “looking for racism.” Because I take such a stance on it. Time I embarrassed my kids. “Mom, don’t go getting fired up.” They would say that when I would hear something stupid like a teacher calling them an “Indian giver.” No, it’s not ok.
If we keep going through life thinking it is ok that if someone is ignorant and stupid enough to judge you by the color of your skin, we would not have many of the rights we have now. We would not be able to vote, practice our spirituality or religion. There are people in history who have stood up to racism, discrimination, and prejudice. If it were not for them, where would you be now?
I try to bring awareness time and again about the racism in the state I live in. It is just as bad to the north of us in North Dakota. It seems as if the residents, mind you not ALL the residents but few whose IQ’s are low enough to make it known of their hatred for us Indians. That is not to say there are no closet racists who will move away from you in line, have the audacity to stare at you and your kids with disgust, and make a point to be rude for only one reason. Hatred. Of course we all know this type of hatred is learned, from home most of the time. Children have it right until their parents teach them wrong. I am not saying I am perfect or the perfect parent, I may have acted out in retaliation of racism with hatred myself. I get tired of the bluntness of it and tired of the shadiness of it. Maybe it is better they be blunt about it than pretend to like you to your face and hate you when you turn away. Either way this shit is messed up.
I wrote of my first experience with racism being at age six. I never really wrote about when I was 18 and we moved to Rapid City, South Dakota. My step dad was a lawyer and wanted to live off the reservation because he had many jobs that took him all over. My mom found a really nice house in a historic district, right off West Blvd in Rapid. We moved in, all happy, my grandma loved the house. Told us back in the day it would have been considered a mansion. As soon as we moved in my mom decided we needed new furniture. We were hauling the old furniture out the back door by the garage to take it to Salvation Army for donation later. A young Native couple was walking by and noticed the furniture. The young man talked to my stepdad and inquired about the furniture. My stepdad said they can have it if they can haul it. He said not to get rid of it, they had a new apartment and baby on the way and they would take it. It took him two days to get the furniture sitting on the side of our garage. They were so happy and hopeful. But in those two days, we recieved an anonymous letter in the mail. I remember it because it was like a gut punch to y 18 year old self. “You dirty Indians had to move in and act like this is the reservation. Pick that trash out of your yard because you are showing everyone where the prairie niggers live, or go back to the rez.”
Of course it was anonymous. I was so mad. My stepdad was out of town. My brother was out being his 16 year old self. It was just my mom, me and my younger siblings home. I took the letter and went knocking on doors. Of course no one owned up to it, but I wanted them to see our welcome to this neighborhood. Even though I was crying and trying to be pissed off at the same time, wiping tears and snot and ranting. No one owned up, everyone acted shocked. The next day we had a bunch of people in the neighborhood come over with food, casseroles and fudge and cookies.
My mom threw the food out. The cookies and fudge were gone before she could throw them out. Little bro and sis found them. She wasn’t beiong rude by throwing the food out, she was scared to get poisioned.
I think other than our skin being the beautiful shade we are, our biggest downfall with some of the ignorant people here is that we were always here.
Indians were here first. Our ancestors fought long and hard to continue the way of life that in todays world makes so much sense, honor the Earth, treat people as if you are going to ask them for a favor. We had doctors and societies to care for the old, societies to protect the people, societies to hunt, we had a democratic system of choosing the next Chief. It wasn’t royalty. women were not considered equal but were considered so much more powerful than a man, she was given the ultimate respect for her role in life. Respect, humility, courage, honor, were all virtues. We had seven virtues rather than seven deadly sins. We held land and water sacred. Greed was never welcome.
The fight for our land became harder and harder as settlers started killing our buffalo. Our way of life. Today we still fight for certain things like protecting our water and land from Big Oil. Our struggle today is about making the world understand that if they didn’t kill us off in five hundred years, they will never succeed.
So when someone in these two states make a strong statement of their hatred for our people. I will not look the other way. I will not ignore this and love and forgive you. If I pray for you, I will pray that none of my brothers, uncles, or male cousins find out who you are and that you are ignorant enough to write racist shit like that about some of the strongest people on this planet. People who lived through more than you would ever know, more than racist ass remarks can hurt, people who will continue to warrior up for eternity. We know we have a spirit world that is better than here and this is why we are such warriors. We know our ancestors are behind us.
Take your can of spray paint, your little permanent marker, and your stupid ass racist remarks and continue to hide until you feel safe enough to do it again. I will throw it back in your face and show you what a damn coward you are to write on a trash can and on a bathroom wall in the middle of the night when no one is around.
You would never live a day in the life of any one of us Indians from any era.