Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Heart Doesn't Hurt Anymore
But My Soul Does

Ya want to know what it is like, to be an easily identifiable minority in these United States?
But not to be Black?
Or Latino? Or Asian?

It is to suffer your unrelenting, innocent jokes- "This your little papoose?" "What's in your medicine bag- POT?" or worst, "Is that your Squaw?"

The endless, "well, I've got a little Indian in me, too-" remarks.

Having to hear one hundred million, "Cowboys and Indians"-game stories of your youths.

And yes, I CAN make it rain. Why, can't you?

I tire so easily of you and your stories, to be honest. You wannabes. You nominal, casual racists.
You who seem so eager to abandon your own race for momentary inclusion within mine.

You forget meeting me too quickly, too easily dismissing me. Because I am just an Indian. I feel your dismissal of me deep, in my soul.

We fight within ourselves, the urge to dismiss you in the same way. But we can't.
We're just Indians, afterall, and subject to your beneficence.
To many "Americans", we are children, grown up children. And talked to, as such;
treated as such. Trusted as such.

Never mind that I have a college degree or a superior English vocabulary, as many of my brethren also have; or even, that a full One-third of these United States have Indian names, from 'Arkansas' to 'Illinois' to 'Wyoming'.
We have to learn the White history of this nation; you MAY accidentally hear of ours, but only in passing.

Or momentarily seen, in Hollywood's, White-directed/edited films.

And now, our country is being given away. Piece by piece, bit by bit.
To illegal immigrants who haven't got the balls to fight within their own nations, but instead will work for 2-bucks-less per hour than anyone else,-- because you've made it so damn easy for them to enter here, now.

Rather than work to rehabilitate your Red friends, your Red forebearers, who need the work so badly,
you just open up the floodgates to your dinted and diminished, American dream workplace.

The revolution in this country which I hope for, is NOT the one which you do.
Our grievance is far older than yours. Or that of the Blacks.

1 comment:

Jeffro said...

When the subject of racism comes up, it always occurs to me that I am a racist - I was raised that way. My community was lily white as I grew up and Jim Crow laws were still enforced. I didn't have any Jewish or Black or any other minority childhood pals. In fact, being Roman Catholic and living on a farm put me in a lower class of citizen (because I wasn't Methodist and a resident of my little town), but it was nothing compared to what you have had to endure.

Of course, I've tried to overcome and compensate for my deficiencies over the years. College put me in a far more representative population and while I encountered fellow students with different skin colors, it seemed to me the geographic differences were greater. Someone from the Bronx was really out of their element at a small midwestern Catholic college - more so than a black kid from KC.

At any rate, I've tried over the years to keep an open mind, and judge people by their actions rather than their skin color or some such denominator. But, it's difficult for me, for instance, to hear a New Yawk accent and not get the vibe that they think they are superior to me due to their choice of location. Experience has taught me that. Not to say that is a commandment written in stone, but it is a predictor, and I react to them with caution.

So, perhaps the label for me would be prejudiced rather than racist as far as that goes. I think that is a very hard thing to avoid. I'd have to say there are preconceived notions involving Native Americans such as yourself, too, as unfair as that may be. I'm also quite sure there are similar patterns applied to me - but that generally isn't going to affect me as negatively as you or other minorities.

I have endured reverse racism/sexism as a "white male" working for the USPS - where being a woman or a minority really helps when pursuing a career in management. It also helps if there is a sexual relationship with the person doing the promoting, but that is a story for another time. Even though I have experienced a small amount of prejudice, I cannot say in all honesty that "I feel your pain, brother, because I've been there." I get to go back to my world where I fit in all the time at the end of the day. Big difference. So, ultimately, I do not know what it's like to wake up every day being an easily identifiable minority.

Your command of the English language has me in awe at times. Plus, you are fluent in your native language and have working knowledge of other dialects as well, I imagine. I certainly don't know Irish or German (my ethnic background), and I have no illusions about the likelihood of learning a new language now. Frankly, comparing your intellectual horsepower to mine makes me feel inferior frequently.

I consider you one of my "internet pals" I've never met. I'd like to think we'd get along pretty well, because of our shared way of thinking. I'd like to think our different cultural backgrounds would strengthen a friendship - ya can't hang around identical people all the freakin' time. I guarantee you that you are not "just an Indian" to me.

Plus, I don't understand the constant efforts to erode our Nation. My recent ancestors had to endure hardships to get here, and they were proud to call themselves citizens of the United States, unlike some of the more recent immigrants who obviously won't invest of themselves in our nation.

So, on one hand, I am a part of the "ruling class" that has vexed you and your people all these years. But, I find my individual ruling powers to be pretty limited these days. I don't have an answer for the grievances you have, either. All I can do is acknowledge them - I do know enough history to realize the criminal treatment your ancestors endured, and that treating y'all like children, removing all incentives to succeed, is not an effective resolution.

I can tell you that it hurts me to see you in this pain.