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, filthy redskin, 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 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”.
Now, 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 the 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.