being butthurt is part of the process.

If you’re following events and people at Standing Rock closely right now, you may have seen a post going around from Mia Ritter-Whittle, addressing white women. It is not easy reading, and she does not mince words.

The most important part, and the part that I keep seeing come back at me from my fellow white women, is this:

Unless you actively support Indigenous women and two-spirit people in your own damn lives, unless you’re working to undo the power structures that allow you to be a ‘donor’, unless you’re selflessly following Indigenous leadership when it comes to Indigenous movements, I personally don’t care too much about your solidarity. Unless you’re working to DECOLONIZE and not RECOLONIZE, your solidarity ain’t real.

OUCH.

Suffice it to say it’s caused a lotta butthurt on Facebook as people face this.

I get it. No one wants to be told their Facebook “I Stand with Standing Rock” profile photo is worthless and whatnot, or that the money they’ve sent, or the posts they’ve forwarded, the solidarity marches they’ve attended, or the all-pervasive white guilt, is worthless.

There’s a whole lotta butthurt on the PLANET right now though, and some of this is coming from people with 500+ straight up years of dealing with genocide and cultural theft, which is still happening to them. And somehow you’re surprised you’re getting the cold shoulder?

I’m not an expert on decolonization (it’s a learning process). I’m getting that this is not my struggle, that no matter how many tipi ceremonies i’ve been in, how many peyote songs I can remember, or the fact that I own a couple of pendleton blankets, a flute and a frame drum , that great-grandpa was from Pine Ridge and I know a bunch of native people does not make me a good ally. Neither does showing up at Standing Rock unless I can come prepared with more to share, keep my mouth shut unless i’m asked for my opinion, don’t get butthurt when i’m not invited to ceremony, do what I’m told, and remember that first and foremost, it’s their struggle for their sovereignty and protection of their sacred. That the rest of us may benefit from the indigenous concept that land and water is sacred, and that water is life, is a bonus, for sure. These indigenous ideas, well, they’re on to something, and they always have been. I hope that when the day finally comes that they’re responsible for the land again, they’ll let me stay.

 

 

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oh the times…

Suffice it to say I feel so far removed from new york these days. I have never had the chance (or desire, really) to see what sprung up out of the giant hole where the world trade center once stood. I never went back there.

Here is what i do remember: it was an ordinary day, a sunny day at the beginning of fall, and i was getting ready to ride my bike into manhattan and go to work. Instead, i left my bike flat in the hallway and ran to the roof, moments before a collective, citywide scream as the second plane plowed into a building, knowing i was standing on my rooftop watching thousands of people die, then watching the towers fall and knowing something wasn’t right – the way they fell was far too similar to the way the Purina plant in Brooklyn fell during its planned implosion just a few months prior.

The flag-waving frenzy that ensued, the free air conditioners, vacuums and air purifiers FEMA provided while telling us that air was “safe to breath”, the “missing” posters of suburban husbands in their white button-downs and ties, the exhaustion and sadness on the faces of first responders and rescue teams – it was a lot. It was intense. It was hard for me to express what I was feeling. What i saw looked like something out of a Hollywood movie. It was hard to believe it was real. When does anyone ever witness a plane flying into the side of a huge skyscraper and exploding? It has taken me years to sort this out.

New Yorkers slowed down for a minute tho, and suddenly everyone was kind. For a minute, we were a people united in a horrible, shared experience and that New Yorker way of dealing with shit: we took to the streets, expressed ourselves, and got stuff done.

9/11/01 was the death of thousands, and the birth of my full, acknowledged disillusion in so much. It was the day “we the people” took on a whole new meaning, a day a new faith was born in me, a deeper compassion, and a righteous indignation and rage that has been growing and refining itself since then as i learn how to be a true, peaceful warrior and how to use these potent expressions of power in an effective way.

There are people in this world who suffer these terrors and tragedies daily. Like so many of the New Yorkers that died on this day 15 years ago, they are everyday people with wisdom, lives, loves, and families, at the mercy of governments and war machines (aka “terrorists”). They are, daily, watching their worlds crumble around them and feeling the kind of horror, pain, sorrow and loss we got that one massive glimpse of so many years ago.

Never forget. Power to the people. More compassion. More love.