Pathetic and Dense; You HAVE To Be an Indian

There comes those moments when you sit back and assess why you do what you do.  I’ve done this recently in response to the reactions on my posts and comments about Indigenous Peoples based issues.

I originally started writing to throw out my views on general life events.  I worked around what I might write and I settled on the concept that my son would know his mother as a multi-dimensional being.  For the day that he realizes I am an actual person, I want him to know what I stood for outside of “dinner’s ready and is your homework done”?  I want him to know what I learned about the entire human experience.

I wanted to fill in as much of his background for him, in order to spare him and other children in our family, any moment of the emptiness I felt while growing up. There was little knowledge of my family history beyond the shame of what we experienced and what was said to define us.  A number of those experiences were based in the fact that I was born an Indigenous person.

I’ve written about some of my childhood and what it was like to grow up facing some of the ugliness of people who had no desire to hide their disdain for Indigenous anything.  I was called names that I knew were about disparagement of my culture before I had any idea about the concept of racism.  I was only about four or five years old when I first recall being called some of those names:  savage, squaw, whatever it was, I knew enough to know it wasn’t good.

That was far from the last time I’d be called those sorts of names and treated with equal disdain.  Those overt efforts to denigrate me didn’t end until I was in my teens.  It was most likely the fact that public awareness was growing around the concepts of political awareness and correctness.

It would be three decades before the same kind of voices and sneers would come at me again.  I suppose I could count my last posted column to be the first instance of the return events – which caused a loss of some followers of my blog and my Twitter account. The most recent occasion was this past weekend.   I wasn’t called a savage, dirty redskin or a filthy Indian this time; they went for my intelligence and mental stability levels before they finished off with a reference to my ancestry.

This foray back into the dark happened while I was engaged in an online conversation.  It was within the comments of a national newspaper about the current call for an inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women.  The comments began mostly as denials for any need for inquiry, because the recently published RCMP report seemed to have all the answers already, despite the many calls showing the disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal women as victims overall.

The reasons for denying an inquiry have been solidly reported already, so I won’t repeat them, but it didn’t take long for the conversation to move from that topic to how it was about time for First Nations to take control of their own lives, to get over the past, and to get off the backs of taxpayers.

In defense, I began in earnest to answer the questions and reply to the statements of derision as quickly as they were being posted.  With each question, I would get another question or asked about something completely unrelated – the old, deflect to another point to avoid having to admit first point trumped – tactic.

With every answer I gave came the demand for proof, and when I provided reference links to support my statements, I was hit with personal aspersions.  Four people at various points each let me know that was I was unaware of what planet I lived on, that I was “dense”,  “dumb”, “pathetic”, a “nutter”, and finally in  summation:  “You HAVE to be an Indian”.

National Post  Missing Women Sept 18 2014-3aNow, I don’t have a problem with being “an Indian”, even the sort that man was insinuating; I don’t deny my moments of mental densities, but I survived the years four, ten, twelve and the three plus decades with heart and soul intact.

While, I mostly repelled the sting of those arrows, they did make me question whether or not I was subjecting myself and possibly my son to potential harm down the road. Was I going to lose more people within my friendship and supporter circles?

I am prepared for any lack of interest or opposition to my views, but I can still be surprised by who those contradictions may come from.  It is painful to find out that people you thought gave a damn about you actually didn’t.  It is saddening to learn that people you counted on didn’t really have a backbone of their own, let alone your back, and that even people you admired can walk away with each step feeling like a slap to the face.

Here’s the thing about that stronger constitution I now own – it takes a lot less time to get over the hurt of crossing paths with those sorts of people.  Now I realize I am losing nothing except future moments of wasted time.  Whatever our purpose was to that point, it was served and now, time to move on, God bless.

I wrote a while ago that this was my tap dance, and part of that song is my ancestry.  The fact that my ancestry happens to be tied to very real and important issues for my country matters.

I will continue to write of human experiences, of my own triumphs and failures; I will write about what I find humorous, and I will continue to write about affairs Indigenous.

In fact, my next post is going to be about the answers I gave that caused those biting heads to explode in that online discussion. The part about how taxpayers do not support First Nations people and in fact, why taxpayers should be saying a hell of a lot of thanks instead.

I hope you’ll stay tuned.

RL

Posted in Aboriginal Peoples, Blogging, Discrimination, First Nations, Life, Native Americans, Writing | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Washington Redskins Racism Cuts Far Deeper than Wanted For the Team Fans

It’s all so simple really, what’s at the bottom of the fight over changing the name of the Washington Redskin’s football team.  The real deal point that hits home the hardest about the debate is the word racist.  Not racism; it’s the full-on, take it personally, title of racist.

The idea that they have, for generation after generation, celebrated and cheered a term built upon the bloodied bodies of human beings is incomprehensible.  It should be.

After all, regardless of the mouthpieces who speak in support of it, another truth is that the New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09majority of those team fans are really just your average, basic, decent citizen and neighbors.  They’re the same people who’d help you shovel your walk; they’d rush to help someone in an accident.  They send donation after donation to help people devastated by wrath of nature disasters.  They’re the same people you’d likely enjoy a coffee with at a local school or church event.  Like most anyone, they will move heaven and earth to protect and cherish their children and community.

They will also do the same to protect that inner sensibility to remain good people.  Good people are not racist.  Therefore, that “R” word is the issue, but not really the term itself; it’s about the people who are changing their truth’s history of it.

The campaign to bring out that ‘truth’ is everywhere.  Social media is fully covered by various groups in support of the talking points put out by the team’s organization.  They include the origin of the term, the number of teams with the name, the original honor intended, and so on.  The team has put up a page on their website dedicated to the issue.  There are constant interviews given by their P.R. reps in radio, podcasts, TV, and newspapers.

The team owners created a charitable organization dedicated to the plight of Native Americans – although the altruistic intentions are vociferously debated given the timing of the new generosity and the requirement of highly visible team branding attached to what is given.

The information available for the entire issues’s history is ample and readily accessible, and yet its existence is denied over and over.  The engagement of hundreds of Native American tribes and groups is almost wholly ignored. The organization at the head of the issue, the Change the Mascot organization is never referenced.

The irony in the labor to ignore the voices of Native Americans by declaring this is only an effort by white liberals serving a politically correct agenda is completely lost on them. They’ll state sadness and regret about the Trail of Tears, but if there is such a thing as opinion genocide, there is a good case for this being an example at work.

How do decent people seemingly willingly embrace racism?

redskins fan trail of tearsHow is all of this even possible by these same decent people of regular everyday life?

To get an idea, we’d have to ask what it would feel like, within the dawning of the realization, that what Native Americans are saying, is true.  What does the evidence of horrible realities behind nearly 80 years of mythical stories of supportive honor do to the average heart?

What does it mean and what does it say about everyone who ever supported the team?  What does that make every celebrating and cheering owner, employee, player and fan over those nearly 80 years?

Despite a likelihood of racism within some of the mindsets, for the most part, for the rest, in a word, it would have to be: ignorance.  We’re talking about mostly just ignorance.  For over two centuries there has been a deliberate effort to hide the history of Native Americans with even more fervor than the attempts to silence them today.

The concerted work to erase the attempted genocide of the America’s Indigenous Peoples includes omitting and revising facts in school history books.  Governments even today will avoid the word genocide despite loads of buildings holding their own records detailing:

  • the creation of reserves, reservations,
  • the breakup of families and the creation of residential schools to break the cultures and assimilate them,
  • the demand to manage virtually every aspect of life on those reserves and reservations.

The most the average citizen learned about Indigenous people amounts to pemmican recipes, tipi making, and how they caused great harm to the poor besieged settlers on their land.  This is just fact, and in truth, because of that even many of the Indigenous peoples have yet to learn their own histories.

So, it is in these cases, that we can say to people:  we understand. We can’t condemn someone for racism unless they are informed and educated about the point of issue.  To be sure, there has been a lot of informing going on and the aid of social media has been helpful in spreading the news even faster.  There have been a good number of successful inroads because of this, but make no mistake, there is still a huge amount of ground to cover in North America.

For those informed and educated, but still insist on the old beliefs, I suppose the notion of change itself is even harder to embrace.  There’s not much that can be done about that by us, but for all the rest, the truth of the words by slave abolitionist, William Wilberforce stands in this as much as all inhumanity:

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you didn’t know.”

RL

Thank you, to Mike Wise – Washington Post Sports Writer, for sharing this piece at CSN Washington Post.

Thank you, to my readers who have shared their own experiences and/or views in reply to my previous piece detailing many of the specific arguments,

Posted in All-Time Top Ten, Life, NFL, Washington Redskins | Tagged , , , , , | 32 Comments

Light Late Summer Musings

You know those times when your mind is just flooded with inspiration, plans, the memories of great events – all great blog fodder and you think, I’ve got to write some of this stuff down, but you don’t because there is just so much that, you haven’t got a clue how to get started?  Yes?  Well then, you don’t even have to read any more and I appreciate any commiseration and sympathies you might be willing to share with me.

Pirate sweet talk… Uh, pirates tend to speak with their hands.

I’ve had a really wonderful month of August by spending most of it in the fabulous maritime province of Nova Scotia. This visit really is worthy of several columns, but I suppose until I come up with some unique-ish perspective on all of it, it will all end up just sounding like those old vacation videos everyone used to cringe at when invited to watch them.  Oh, don’t breathe out too much of a sigh of relief just yet; there is definitely one or two of those coming.  ……..

It also happens to be the time of the year when the to-do lists begin to pile up for fall work promotions and kick-offs, the requests for volunteering needs, and oh yes, school prep.  That is, if school is going to start any time soon in our area.  I came home to the news that the school strike/lockout from June is expected to head into late September and possibly even October.  That certainly explained all the parental teeth gnashing, and possibly breakage, I kept hearing while finalizing my plans to fully unpack.  

Then some cretin, formerly known as friend, sent me one of those countdown to Christmas memes. Had me pondering how seriously and how far I was willing to take my Jason costume idea for Halloween. (Well, there is a prize for most committed at the annual party).

Time, oh time, where ‘for art’ thou?  Why hast thou forsaken me?

Then there are the social causes I support of which lately, there seems to be a lot of developments that capture my attention and emotions. … Now that I think about it, I guess I have done a lot of writing lately, but that’s been copious letters to the Editors or in reply to other reader comments.  There’s no shortage of sources of misrepresentation or outright fabrications for virtually any topic in news sources. Actually, this writing activity has also been a lot of fun. There is something empowering and de-stressing when getting to counter misinformation with fact.  Enlightenment lightens! That’s my August guru moment.

Carrying on, facts tend to be a kind of conversion stopper for some, but they can also send another kind of mentality straight into Loony Town.  Not that, that’s my intention, mostly, but drawing out the argument is an irresistible opportunity to correct even more fallacies. Plus, no matter how much someone debating you wants to discredit your views, what you’ve written will always be there for other eyes open to um, informal learning.

Hey, that’s really not unlike our blog posts.  So, despite feeling like I was falling behind on one of my most cherished activities, I really have loads of posts already published for world-wide viewing.  Oh why oh why didn’t I sign them with my blog name? #missedopportunities. Sorry, I’ve been tweeting with the zeal of the newly converted too.

So, it’s confirmed then, I’ve been writing all along, even through all the extra inspirations, plans, and memories of great events.  Now, must add the latest item on that to-do:  catch up of fellow blogger posts.  Can’t wait!

RL

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

That Time Political Correctness Landed on Its Ass

They say it’s best not to write something when you’re angry.  How about when you’re perplexed, confounded, immersed in the phrase – WTF!!??

I’ve had plenty of discussions around the idea of political correctness over the last year, in particular for how it’s been used in various topics on Aboriginal issues.  In these cases, I believe the correct usage of the P.C. definition applies.  That is, as defined as this, the result of a simple Google search:

po·lit·i·cal cor·rect·ness

  1. mad donkey 2the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.
  2. … Or the more urban version:  when the desire to be offensive at the expense of someone in a weaker position socially, economically, or in health is taken away thereby making your own offensiveness day less easy or fun.

It’s a short diatribe, but to me it’s one loaded with worthy points to ponder, particularly for the idea of feminism, and women’s rights to complete equality with an equal dose of general respect. And please, haters of the word feminism, please stop equating it with a request to ignore simple manners and common courtesies that everyone should be employing regardless of gender.

The story that began this moment of umbrage is also short.

I had to change a password used for a national alarm security company. I had to change the password that I’ve had for eight years up to this point because it was recently declared offensive. The word(s) of offense was: fat ass.

Like many people, I grew up understanding that donkeys are asses, and that’s what we called them.  However, for the purposes of this note, I don’t think the other version helps their case either.

The reason the alarm company thought it was offensive?

“Because if a ‘woman’ had to call me to check on a possible security breach ‘she could’ take it the wrong way”.

Let that sink in.

‘Cause you know, we women are just that much more sensitive about farm animals and our personal associations with them.

Regardless of that, have we really been found such a delicate gender that we all would automatically adopt that word as a personal affront?  Especially in answer to an innocuous request for one’s password?

I spoke with three different employees at that alarm company. They were all unmoved by my thoughts. They simply reaffirmed that they must take care of their female employees and they have determined that the word ass is harmful, particularly if the word fat precedes it.  Apparently their male employees have larger ass shields and are more able to handle the ‘ass•ault’.

They insisted I change my long-held password, and so I capitulated, stomped down by the hooves of cloven sensitivity.

Or could it be that I am just unaware of my own new level of insensitivity?

RL

 High five 2P.S. I just want to send a quick high five thank you to my new followers.  I really appreciate your support, and I endeavor to meet all of you at your own sites at some point, however I admit to being a slow reader.  Please take no offense.

Posted in Equal Rights, Feminism, Humor, Life, Lighter Side, Political Correctness, Women's Rights, WTF? | Tagged , , , , | 36 Comments

Educate, Not Dominate

(Warning:  usage of full racial epithets in this opinion piece, because I don’t believe one is more important or blatant than the rest in this point of view).
 

Our truths are largely based on what side of a fence we grew up on. One side, one truth is largely equal to merely indoctrination as education, and this is not restricted to religion.  It’s about everything we grew up to believe about the world.

Education is not about only learning more about our side of the fence, it’s supposed to be learning about all the other fences too, or as many as we’re able.  This should be a lifelong effort, and if not, why not?

Education has always been key in resolving conflict and ignorance of intents.  The process gets all muddled up with the yeah buts, if you knew what he/she did, we need this or we need that.

So what’s really needed?  What is really needed to live ably and in relative comfort?  The big questions are, what is worth killing children for?  What is worth demeaning their value as people?

What’s worth a walk up to a child and looking her in the eyes to  call her dirty, a camel jacker, a nigger, a redskin, a chink, a honky, or any other of the demeaning terms we need to make up to dehumanize another person?   Nothing?  Thank the Universe you have not descended into madness.  Yet.

Childrens eyes 2I say ‘yet’ because I wonder how many people wouldn’t be able to do that, but do remark loudly and viciously about the lowness of those children’s parents when in disagreement. These are most noticeable in the comment sections of news stories like those about children dying in the Middle East, resources on someones land, or for the change of an American football team name.

Would these same people kneel down to this child and look her in the eyes and tell her that the purpose of their gain is worth her loss of worth or life?  We know there are some who will, and have.  They have become madness embodied.

This is what’s meant to be feared.  They say they do this on behalf of all the people, their people, and unbelievably, they are believed.   What fear is the madness based in?  Loss?   What fear of loss is so great that it’s worth dehumanizing or killing a child over?

That madness spreads like dust, but dust can be cleaned away.  How do we stop the advent of madmen?  We educate all of our children now.  We all have to stop, whenever it’s made possible, to ask if we’ve truly made an effort to look over the top of our fences.  Have we really searched for the reasons behind our fears and anger about something, or most importantly, someone?

If not, why not? It’s never been easier.

RL

 

 

Posted in Aboriginal Peoples, Discrimination, Education, Humanity, Life, Racism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Fruit Flies Right Up the Spinning Spam

fly 3About a year ago, I took a short break from deep thoughts and posted a short recommendation on how to rid your home of the scourge of fruit flies. For a short spin on homespun remedies (with a touch of evil fun), it did okay on the stats pages.  It apparently also served to attract another ubiquitous pest.

A few published posts later, I found I had a blogging spam folder, and it was filled with hundreds of messages.  Apparently spam is quite fruitful and multiplies like uh, flies.  Of course, I had to go through them to double-check that a real message wasn’t lost.  Hey, I love my readers!  However, by the time I was done, I was ready to eat fruit flies on toast; pretty much anything tastes better on toast, except Vegemite, and maybe tofu.

fly 3As I perused and deleted, I noticed most of them were attached to only a few posts:  any of the linked blogging awards I’d received from fellow writers;  my story called,  “Our Home and Native Braves”, which I figured was more vulnerable because it was also published on the Readers Digest website; and that fruit fly message.

Girl Vacuum WineBecause the point of that post was a mundane chore, it made the comments about it seem even more insane absurd, which actually, made getting through that overwhelming task much easier. I could have worked at it with  bottles a glass of wine, but that likely would have drawn out the experience and have me thinking about fruit fly appetizers more seriously.  So instead, I spent the rest of the time imagining the comments were real and sent by genuinely impressed fans.

In that vein, (employ imaginations now), I share with you some of the excited messages of joy for learning about how to get rid of fruit flies:

I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet viewers, its really really fastidious article.

May I simply say what a comfort to find somebody who really understands what they’re discussing over the internet. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important.

More and more people ought to look at this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular because you most certainly possess the gift.

Wow, this article is good, my sister is analyzing these things, therefore I am going to tell her.

Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you.

“Magnificent publish, very informative. I wonder why the opposite specialists of this sector don’t understand this. You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a huge readers’ base already.

Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful post.

Hi there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends.  I’m sure they will be benefited from this site.

fly 3My personal favorites:

Good post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thank you!

Its like you learn my thoughts! You seem to grasp a lot about this, like you wrote the ebook in it or something.

You need to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest sites on the net.  I am going to highly recommend this site!

Now that I know I have contributed so deeply and meaningfully to society, my work here is done.  At least until after I finish celebrating this auspicious new year in my life on this day.

‘Til next week or so, you have wonderful days too, friends.

RL

Posted in Blogging, Household Tip, Humor, Life, Lighter Side, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments

Cherokee Nation Triples in One Week, & Don’t Call Me a Redskin

We should be impressed with how many people are well versed in Native American culture and history.  It’s been amazing and enlightening to see all kinds of average citizens report and comment so expertly on First Nations and Aboriginal issues lately.  Of course, this post isn’t really about how much is known about Native Americans as much as how deplorably inadequate our education about the culture(s) still is.

The story that has caused all the questionable commentary was the news the U.S. Patent Office revoked the name trademark for football team, the Washington Redskins.  The public response has revealed that a number of people feel immersed enough in Native American culture that they can speak for how Native Americans should or do feel about all kinds of issues.  This includes how to react to the use of a term historically known as racist for the sake of sports team logos and names.

I keep reading things like, as a Native, I’m one of the people who doesn’t really care about this, and so why should anyone else.  I most definitely have feelings about this – I feel hurt, angry, and sometimes surges of the humiliation burn I endured at times throughout my life because I am a Native person. That sting was there when I was a child, and it is there now.

peace is our promiseI’ve read over and over that even if I do care, what I feel is beside the point because there are far more people out there who really matter.  I happen to think it’s the ones who stand against racism and discrimination of any form that matter.  I believe in the ones who say let’s make the world a better place without the cost of that being another human.  I seek those who speak beyond the words that filled so many, too many, of the commentaries like this:

BUT – 90% of the Universe Likes the Name!

“90% of Indians don’t mind the name Redskins.” or sometimes it’s stated as, “90% of Americans like the name”.  These statements refer to the often cited, but academically questioned, National Annenberg Election Survey from 2004. They proudly quote that 90% figure, but that’s 90% of the 768 respondents – 691 people who claimed Native American ancestry, not 90% of all Native Americans. That’s part of why people take exception to this poll.  It also took almost a year to find those 768 respondents, which begs the question, which neighbourhoods were they looking in?

If you want to get technical, according to U.S. Census records for 2004, there were approximately 3,000,000 Native Americans in the U.S. then.  The number needed to statistically represent 90% of Natives (with a 3% +/- error margin) would’ve had to have been at least 1,100 people  – preferably Native Americans who live within the culture, or are well-versed in it.

There is a constantly ignored October 2013 SurveyUSA poll that showed 59% of 500 non-Native American Washington DC residents thought the name was offensive.  79% of them didn’t think changing the name would make them think less of the team.

There was something else I noticed in the comments and that was how many Native American relatives we all have. If the number of self-identified part-Native Americans claiming not to have a problem with the name is true, then Native Americans must really represent close to a third of the overall U.S. population. For sure the Cherokee nation’s population has got to have tripled in the last week.

There is tremendous debate as to the truth of the word’s offensiveness.  This is where the vast in-depth knowledge of Native American history appears most in the comments.  The origin of the word is debated to the nth degree with disagreement about the word being born of racism.  Therefore, no racist beginning, no problem.

Origin is not the point

 noun: etymology
  1. the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.   The origin of a word and the historical development of its meaning.
plural noun: etymologies

A paper by Ives Goddard is often cited as incontrovertible proof that the word did not begin as a slur because he cites English and French notes from 17th-19th century journals where they note a chief and some tribal members called themselves red people. First Nations are hundreds of cultures. Some people take exception to those notes because Native historians  – as in the Native peoples themselves – did not record their history in the same way, and most do not historically refer to themselves as red people, let alone redskins.  In any case, the paper does acknowledge the term evolved into a slur, or “obloquy”.

This may be interesting debate so far, but what isn’t disputed is that the name evolved into a term that evokes centuries of derision, hatefulness, discrimination, and attempted genocide.  It’s this part of history that most resonates with the people who are offended by the images and names that dehumanize them to a cartooned existence, i.e. redskins.

Next, victoriously trotted out are exceptions to the view that most Native Americans are offended and why they shouldn’t be:

  • The first Redskins coach was Native – Disputed as someone who took on a Sioux identity to escape the draft. He also did not name the team.
  • The team was honoring that coach and four Indian players – disputed by redskins owner in a 1933 interview with the Hartford Courant.
  • The Natives have always been proud of these honors – it was Natives who started the trademark revocation in 1992, but overall objections to the name began in the 1950s.
  • Many school teams, even Native ones, call themselves redskins and are damned proud of it.  Most are forgetting when those schools were originally named and by whom, but even so, self identification to claim the name is not the same thing.
  • Oklahoma is Native named and is Choctow for ‘Red People’.  Actually, ˆ“Ogla-ut-homma”, has a different etymology. In the Choctaw language “Homma,” can mean rust, brown, tan, or red. Oklahoma could easily be translated as ‘tan people.’

The reasons given to keep the name run the gamut from derision to the absurd; Natives and white liberals are just whiners and choosing to be victimized. There is simple ignorance of the issue to blaming Obama, who apparently is in need of another distraction.  Some people are very concerned about the expenses this could cost teams if they have to re-tool names or images.  Some people want to cling to tradition, eagerly willing to overlook the horrific and bloody history associated with the term.

Coming to terms with the idea of change can be hard, and for some people, very hard.  Changing something that is eight decades along is even seen as dishonoring “tradition”.  However, if a tradition is based in the highly questionable honor of documentable racism, the time for change is long overdue.

Banning racist slurs may not change everything, but words do have power and standing against words that caused so much damage is the beginning of the end of discriminations, and it says, yes, we do matter.

Besides, there are already cases to show that it can be done without irreparable loss.

  • The University of Utah Redskins became Utah Utes in 1972.
  • The Miami University (of Ohio) Redskins became the RedHawks in 1997.
  • The Southern Nazarene University Redskins became the Crimson Storm in 1998.
  • To date, there were more than 3,000 American Indian mascots and names used in school K-12 athletic programs; more than two-thirds of those have been changed.

Still don’t think any racism underlies the word?  Then why do you suppose that in every single one of those comments – all those stridently opposed to change and steadfastly insistent that the term redskins is really an honor – why did none of them refer to Native Americans as redskins? Not a single one.

RL

Updated July 7, 2014 Washington Redskins PR Hire is a good idea for Native Americans:   2006 Ben Tribbett Proves Washington Team Name Is Slur, 2014 Ben Tribbett Paid To Defend It
Updated June 29, 2014 to include the Oklahoma reference increasingly cited as self-description for entire Native American nations. With thanks for the information provided by Paula Starr,  Executive Director at Southern California Indian Center.
Posted in Aboriginal Peoples, All-Time Top Ten, Native Americans, Racism, WPLongform | Tagged , , , , , , | 34 Comments

An Open Letter to U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill

Originally posted on This Is My Corn:

Dear Senator Claire McCaskill,

While I applaud the accountability for one’s words and actions that was at the center of the Senate hearing on false advertising for weight loss products, I wonder if it didn’t do more harm than good. Specifically, I am concerned about your statement on his victimization:

“I know you feel that you’re a victim, but sometimes conduct invites being a victim. I think that if you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized quite as frequently.”

Those were your words to Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” during the June 17, 2014 hearing held on Capitol Hill.

Sometimes conduct invites being a victim? Since when? If you would be more careful, maybe you wouldn’t be victimized? Since when? When is any type of victimization justifiable? No one has the right to make anyone a victim.

Senator McCaskill, you have been a…

View original 1,019 more words

Posted in Life | 3 Comments

“Alcohol saved my life”, said Recovering Alcoholic Craig Ferguson

craig_ferguson112 soul grabbing minutes of why I love Craig Ferguson, or one of the reasons I love him. I have linked to those 12 minutes at the bottom of this post. It’s part of his story of his return to sanity minus the alcohol. Despite that, at one point in this fantastic monologue about working toward redemption, he says, “Alcohol saved my life”.

I grew up with alcoholism permeating many aspects of my life, but I was lucky to escape becoming personally enslaved by it. Not that I escaped the repercussions of those around me that did.  I grew up hating what it did to various family members, but I didn’t blame the alcohol itself. I was aware that there were far more people able to take a drink without the devastating results, and so what I didn’t understand was why my family couldn’t.

I would come to a greater understanding of that when I, and fortunately, some of my family members, turned to help to deal with this still somewhat mysterious puzzle.  I’ve had the privilege of attending several various group functions where I listened to all kinds of personal journeys from here to hell and back. They are always heartbreaking, but then inspiring, and in the end, uplifting.

I was very taken with another of these stories which is the one Craig Ferguson told on his own TV show, The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson back in 2007.  I didn’t see it then, but I was introduced to it recently via blogger, Vodka & Vows.  It’s pure Craig – brutally honest, warmly compassionate, and funny as hell.

Every story we hear is a path to understanding one another.  I hope you’ll find this one interesting and enlightening while enjoying the entertainment of his delivery. It includes a message that serves anybody really, about how we all need to really see each other and maybe look for a little more compassion within ourselves when it comes to judgment.

So, take a short break, grab a coffee, and watch this video titled, “Craig Ferguson Speaks From The Heart”.

Update:  I’ve been warned that some areas are unable to open the link below.  If that is the case for you, go onto youtube.com and do a search for “Craig Ferguson Speaks From The Heart”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZVWIELHQQY#t=354

RL

 

 

Posted in Alcoholism, Craig Ferguson, Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Pharrell & the Native Headdress – The Mistake Was Demanding Respect

“Did you know”? Did you know that question can reverse a mindset of ignorant insult more effectively in the long run, than a demand to stop insulting or demeaning? When we rear up in great and loud umbrage to something that someone is unaware or uninformed of, it is we who look brutish. So, I respectfully disagree with raising my fist on this issue to ask, why are we sending warriors to do the job of elders?

Pharrell Williams - Grammys stockWas it really the most desired or effective expectation that singer Pharrell Williams apologize over wearing a feathered headdress on the cover of Elle Magazine? Could we have appealed to him to perhaps make a supportive statement instead of castigating him publicly and likely creating embarrassment and resentment where there was none? Could we have found a way to use the opportunity to instead educate and even celebrate our culture?  Could we have simply left it alone?

Whether they are deliberate or not, moments of insult are opportunities to educate. I am surmising here about the effectiveness of taking those opportunities, but I’d be willing to bet everything I own that most people who are taught a little understanding behave more respectfully moving forward. I believe that because if this world wasn’t populated by more decent, caring people than not, we would be living in widespread chaos and savagery.

Did you know that no matter how much we educate, scream at, or protest against something that harm’s a belief, there will still be those few people who work to throw their misery at the rest of us? They will continue to behave in ignorance because that is what they will – willful ignorance, and there is nothing we can do to fight that.

Photo courtesy of Darren Quarin

Photo courtesy of Darren Quarin Photography

I am a status Metis citizen. My people have lived in our homeland for thousands of years, and yet I still find more and more to learn about us every year. It really wasn’t all that long ago that even I discovered the true significance of the feathered headdress. I knew the eagle feathers used in them are sacred to us, but I wasn’t fully versed in why they made the headdress as important as it is to us. Is it our right to demand that everyone else adopt the same belief?

Whenever I read another article about how outraged and appalled my people are with the ignorance of an uneducated or willfully ignorant lot encroaching on First Nations belief systems, I feel a little like asking is this the most valid issue? Was the Elle cover of Pharrell wearing a First Nations headdress worthy of the ensuing cacophony?

I fight for the right to equality, civility and courtesy, clean lands and water, and the right to prosper, but demanding respect isn’t the same as earning it, and as unfair as it is, no matter what we do, we may never get it anyway.  Aren’t our warriors better placed in front of those  rights issues?

Photo Courtesy Robert OToole Photography

Photo Courtesy Robert OToole Photography

I wonder why the healing energy of our traditional humour is lost. Why must we take ourselves so seriously that we are victims of pride instead of its gentle conquerer? When all events are reacted to as the worst insult, then our cases for deliberate transgressions become diluted. This isn’t fair, but by now we understand that not all life is fair. Our belief systems were not the first to be taken down the road of irreverence to outright disdain, nor will they be the last.  Christian crosses, national flags and Scottish clan identifying tartans are just some on the long list that come to immediate mind.

Some people equate the insult to black face.  I think what’s more in line with that racist activity are behavioral uses like face war paint, the gestures of tomahawk chops, and racial epithets like redskin.

I understand the anger, but education is an ongoing behavior. An issue in the news today isn’t an issue tomorrow if we just keep talking with each other simply and honestly. Do we think that because we’ve asked these kinds of questions ten times or even thousands of times, we don’t need to ask them anymore?  Every year thousands of new people are born and will need to hear our stories, is is too demeaning to ask repeatedly:

• Did you know that the feathers on a Native headdress signified great respect, honour, and achievement in the same vein of military medals such as the Medal of Honor?
• Did you know that the term redskin is a slanderous term to describe Native North Americans in the same vein as calling people the ‘n’ word?

The more people who just hear what the headdress means to us, the more there will be to realize those who wear them unjustifiably are simply foolish or in need of some schooling. The point for us is to remember is schooling is never over, so on issues like this, can we just talk about it?

Even if we managed to reach every single being on the planet with our information, it still wouldn’t change everything. No, it wouldn’t. We will never convince everyone, not any more than those who couldn’t care less about medals or crosses.

I do know though, that asking an honest question will reach another heart faster than berating it.

Photo Courtesy Walter Jonasson

Photo Courtesy Walter Jonasson Photography

On the other hand, we are also too attached to things. Symbols like military medals or feathers are still things. We did not create the feather or the metal, we borrow them. They are not the feelings of honour and respect that fill our hearts, but the symbols we chose to emblemize that. If that symbol becomes broken or lost, we are still reverent to the point and purpose of our honoured. We are really the sacred, we feel. What we must remember to hold dear is our true reverence for actions of honour and behaviours of respect and courage and love. It is those feelings that matter and they can never be broken or lost.

I am a Metis mother, and this is a lesson I am learning for, and with, my young son.

RL

Photo Courtesy of Jim Wong Photography

Photo Courtesy of Jim Wong Photography

A thank you to White Wolf for allowing me to share this post about what eagle teaches called Eagle Medicine : http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2011/07/eagle-medicine.html

July 5, 2014: Post updated with cultural examples of crosses and tartans, and to make my position more clear in the need for simple ongoing education.
Posted in Aboriginal Peoples, First Nations, Life, Pharrell Williams, Respect, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments