Erasing History

I really don’t want to hear one more exclamation about the erasing of “our history” with statue/monument removal.

I remember well the disturbing, pathetic, shameful lack of information in my school textbooks.

Slave auction
Slave auction: Forcibly dividing families, willful dehumanization of people based on skin color and origin.
The summarized paragraph or two of Native and African American history versus chapters upon chapters of European history. I knew more about the French Revolution, the Spanish Inquisition, as a youth in the US education system, yet “Roots” and the forced sterilization of Native American women was a vacant slot until older.

Girl by tipi
Young girl stands beside tipi.
There is no need to continue to honor symbols of oppression. Put the damn things in a museum, because let’s not be doomed to repeat. Recall that these are things that venerate those who erased literal human beings.

If you complain about erasure, you don’t know what erasure means. So, yeah. Just have a seat.

Sound of Silence

MLK - Silence is Betrayal
“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemy, but the silence of our friends.”
(On so many levels this applies.😐)
After Friday’s markers in the sand, I wish to bring your attention again to the image (above). While it continues to apply on multiple levels, this time, allow me to narrow the focus.

Montana is My Home. My very name is part of Montana’s maps. My children are born and raised Montanans. I pay taxes, I own property. I travel Montana’s roads and highways with joy and appreciation for its vast, spiritual and magical places. I get to view cattle, sheep, horses, bison and the Crazy Woman Mountains, on my way to visit loved ones in just one of Montana’s other towns. I don’t have to be told “good luck” – I live it daily. I am blessed 406 ways and counting and I am ever grateful.

That said, I am done with enablers.

I am done with putting up with passive-aggressive, contemplative side looks from strangers in my own community.
The last 8 months brought more people showing racist and supremacist colors (in particular, the last few weeks) direct and sidelong to me than in the decade I’ve lived in Lewistown, the more than 20 years I’ve lived in Montana, and the more than 40+ years I’ve been alive.

If you don’t like it but don’t know who to ask, ask me. I’m happy to take your sincere question to help evolve positive growth and change. I won’t write you off as racist just because you seek true knowledge and hope to gain understanding, strengthen your empathy.

Recognize and Evaluate your Empathy, because I appreciate those who put forth genuine effort to at least try. Recognize that my opinions are my own and I do not speak for all Black people (because that would be ridiculous); I can only share based on my own direct and indirect experiences. While I am in no way anyone’s “token,” I do recognize the reality that PoC (and LGBTQ, for that matter) are few and far between in our Big Sky state with its 1 million people. I can see how it could be difficult to have a fair discussion amongst people without having some sort of representation of said people.

However, I am done with lip-service.

“Talk is cheap and bullshit runs a marathon.”

You are all supposed to be my friends in our community. I should be able to rely on your support as you should be able to rely on mine.

I should NOT have to fear walking my dog alone on the trail because I don’t know whether friend or foe approaches.
I should NOT feel I need anonymity, strip my car of all personalization because I don’t want those who feel I’m not human because my skin is brown to recognize me and mine by vehicle.
I should NOT feel grateful for being able to park my car in my garage because it hides my family’s brown identity from those who would do us harm.
Those I call “Friend” should NOT be okay or complacent with ANY of those above-mentioned items.

Small towns should be havens, not hell.

Let me be clear:
I am not now nor ever have been Prey.

Whether skin color, LGBTQ, religion, financial status, political affiliation, it is un-American for others to even think that it’s acceptable to make people feel that way.

No true alpha Leader allows others of their nation to feel as Prey.

On Friday and these last few weeks, Trump and his administration showed their hand. He made his stance on skin color, sexual identity, religious preference and the very laws that make up America’s fabric unequivocally clear. He removed any possible common ground. And his rigid, divisive, racist-supremacist stance is absolutely unacceptable in anyone, in particular the President of the United States.

I hope that this post will help cut through any confusion and bring it a level you all can relate to personally; imagine if you were brought to the point where you felt this post was necessary. How would you feel?

I am glad for my friends and neighbors and the relationships I’ve nurtured over the years. I want to stay that way. Let’s make it so. 😊

Make America Respectful Again

Original draft:
Yesterday, whilst perusing the Twitter feed on my phone, I came across an article about indigenous people seeking to make cultural appropriation illegal. I do not agree. Cultural appropriation simply should not be done. Making cultural appropriation illegal, would only further negative feelings and create another useless, unenforced law like the laws against United States flag desecration (U.S. Code Title 4, Chapter 1, Β§ 8, “Respect for flag” https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/4/8 and U.S. Code Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 33, Β§ 700, “Desecration of the flag of the United States; penalties” https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/700).

USA Flag
U.S.A. – RESPECT: Is. Not. Optional.

On Memorial Day, various groups held flag-retiring ceremonies in Central Montana and this past Wednesday, June 14, Flag Day was celebrated in the U.S. People should not don garments of honor or culture they haven’t earned or been a part of, just as people shouldn’t cut up a flag for clothing accents and other purposes. Flags are retired with honor for a reason, and are done so with special ceremony – as appropriate – just as when a dropped eagle feather is retrieved during a powwow. That military person’s flag is considered sacred, a sanctified representation of that person, by that person’s family, friend and peers – among others – and should not be worn on the backs of those who haven’t earned the right to do so, especially under the guise of “patriotism.”

Make America Respectful Again
“Make America πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Respectful Again” (published version, Lewistown News-Argus, June 21, 2017)
There will always be those few who’ll be childish and selfish and seek to demean others via cultural appropriation. That said, it would be un-American to seek law to enforce what human beings should be doing anyway; treating others how they would like to be treated themselves. Making cultural appropriation illegal could cause more harm than good. There are those who unwittingly appropriate a culture in genuine (hopefully) ignorance (example: children wearing Blackface for their school’s wax museum “exhibit,” or who dress as a Native American “princess” for Halloween), and those who appropriate culture out of a moment of stupidity (example: Katy Perry dressing as a geisha in 2013). Such examples of cultural appropriation would be better corrected if used as a teachable moment – an opportunity to create dialogue and understanding, and hopefully, empathy. Making cultural appropriation a crime would have the opposite effect – and likely encourage defensiveness, hate and spite, which – I hope – is not the goal sought.

There will always be assholes. I’d like to think however, that there are more good people than disrespectful, malicious bigots in our community, our state and our nation. Educate instead of prosecute. Knowledge is power, and that power can be used for the good of all. I would hope that with understanding, education and empathy, there will be more support for various cultures instead of appropriation; discussion instead of dismissal, should bounds be overstepped. Communities need to come together to show bullies and other small-minded people that their level of intolerance and entitlement will not be tolerated. We are stronger united. #UnitedStrengthsOfAmerica πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ