After writing my last article, Racism: Shhh You're White, and as if to shut me up in the very place I stood, I got bombarded by the reality of what many white people are really like. Something which I will apparently will never be: intolerant, ignorant and racist. Truth is though that it really isn't a 'white problem'. We're all taught to hate what we don't understand or what doesn't fit into the societal narrative. If you are a threat to society and it's constructs then you are one of the hated.
As ridiculous as it sounds, maybe I'm offended because I don't identify with my own people...I can't be the same as they are...no they don't like me either...
I sit here confused all too often about how people come to the conclusions that they do. I don't look at any one race and think, 'What a bunch of assholes.' It just doesn't cross my mind to make one culture lesser than myself or greater than myself.
Then I listen a little closer to what people are saying. White Canadians in this country talking about how immigrants should 'go back home'....so when are we packing and who's hiring the captain to ship us all back? Do you all truly forget how it was you got here in the first place? Do you have any idea how bigoted and racist you sound when you say such things? Dear Canada: Got Land? Thank an Native! But no, don't thank them! Apologize to them for believing the trite story told to you in school where they just gave us their land and the government didn't give them small pox. Where children weren't stripped from their parents and grandparents and sent away into schools where they were force fed English language, culture and a religion (a religion that was never an English religion in the first place) to the Native children. Apologize to them for the fact that you actually think that your 'civilized society was worth the murder of so many Natives, the rapes of the children by clergy and government...no not some type of metaphorical rape, actual physical, sexual rape. These people were never seen as humans to the original settlers of this land! They were and for many, still are, looked upon as 'savages' or wild things that have no place! This is still going on today.
White people everywhere actually think Natives have some sort of 'free ride' in this country.
I visit one of the Reservations near us about twice a month and let me tell you, there is no free ride for them. Anyone one of them that might be seen as getting a free-ride is in the back pocket of the government and are causing harm to their own people.
Yes how free they were as they were pushed from the hunting grounds, forced from their lodges and pushed onto lands where there was little growth. Pushed them away from their lakes, away from their homes because don't you know, white people figured out how society is just so much better than living peacefully with the land around them. Now of course I am not suggesting in any way that there was no animosity among the different tribes or within tribes. They did have their own way and own form of governing that was seen as savage and small minded compared to the big dreams of incredible wealthy members of church and state.
Yet, white Canadians all across this country truly believe that have some sort of advantage to the rest of the country!
That's right, it's not just the Red Nations they loathe! It's not the Black Nations and Yellow Nations alone! They hate their own just as much! They hate anything that does not conform to the society they wish to create and maintain.
As a child of mix descent I got to see first hand what it meant to be of mixed blood and how people treat those not 'pure'. I am Scotch/Welsh/Hungarian on my father's side and Slovak/Romanian/Jewish on my mother's side. I got ostracized by so many neighborhood families as a child and was even called a mutt, a dog, not pure. How's that!?! What does that matter? Is it not the fruits I bear that make me what I am? Am I not the same as you? How do think I felt as a child being ostracized by every other white European who thought themselves better than I?
I remember getting close to a Hungarian family that would speak the language and giggle while talking about me...whenever they didn't want me to understand what they were saying. They would look right at me while speaking and give a host of different disapproving looks, but somehow managed to put up with me for the sake of the fact that I was friends with their child. I imagine that didn't last very long because I was not truly Hungarian through and through because after those few visits to the house I was never invited back.
Now some may see this as off topic but don't you see? This is so similar to what is done to other cultures but they do it to their own! I have often wondered if any white European nation has ever actually liked any other white European nation...ever! All I see is one nation always thinking it's better than every other nation and they seem to ALL be guilty of this.
Once upon a time very long ago, before Roman conquerors and the like, although there were many wars among the many different peoples they were all tribal and did things in a tribal way, just like the Natives of this land. And what happened to the people of this land happened to us but we cannot remember this! No one sits and sees our intense connection to our brothers and sisters of every culture! We are truly all the same in our fears, our dreams, our ways, our songs, our joys and pains. Someone at some point came to us and fed us a nightmare, sold to us as a dream. Automation, industry, laziness, lack of connection to this planet that sustains us, absolute denial of how sacred each of us really is and how powerful we can be. Anything that goes again society and toward nature is deemed 'savage' when what it really should be seen as is natural. We are not naturally meant to be living the life that we are. Everyone who sees this becomes the enemy.
What I see is a people spoiled from lies and trusting their government to teach them what's right, true and just. How do you not know these things for yourself? Where is your moral compass?
Why do I have to prove myself to not be a white monster? More so, why do my children and my husband? When we visit the Reservation I am treated much differently than the rest of my family. Some would deny this but it is true. My skin is darker than my children's and my husband's. I get asked for my gas card for the discount to which I always reply that I am not Native and I get chuckled at and told, 'Sure you are'. I'm not making this up! I go into some healing shops and while walking around, my children and husband get glares and looks of disapproval while I get quality service and good conversation, advice and guidance. They have stopped coming into these shops with me. They feel uncomfortable and like they have done something wrong. We as a family have done countless hours of volunteer work with these peoples. We have brought them clothing and food and sat among their meetings. We have, as a family been invited into situations that most white people wouldn't be allowed to attend. Still they are treated like they are less than.
After a speaking engagement at a gathering of all nations that I attended last year I was asked by a Native man if I was mixed with Cree. I remember feeling some amount of sadness and caution for my response, "no, I'm white". He replied "Oh, you're and occupier, a settler." Shame washed over me as I heard those words and my spirit sunk within myself. I could only get quiet. The woman he was with put him instantly in his place. "She is European Tribal! She is no occupier!"
It was that moment I stopped identify as white and began identifying as tribal.
I think what I'm trying to say is that we all feel that we have to prove ourselves to one another. All of us. None of us trusts any of us. White people have to prove themselves to everyone and I understand why but I do not identify with any of it because I have never been the way that is being shunned with good reason.
There are more than just me out there that feels this way. I am not racist! I judge people by their fruits! Anything that can be said derogatory of one culture can be said for another. My skin color means nothing. My culture is so close to everyone's! Our cultures are so similar in so many ways. Just look at some of our drums!
I have so much gratitude for what was awakened in me through my relationship with the Native Peoples of this land. I remember who I am at the core of it all because these people, their pain, their suffering and their ways, so close to nature and the rhythm of life, the seasons, the Sun the Moon the Stars, they taught me to remember.
At one point I was just some silly, confused, sad, displaced white girl looking to find herself because she didn't fit in anywhere! This piece of me I am realizing shows me I don't fit in anywhere! No slot can hold me! Where do I fit in? Where do so many of us fit in?
Now though, I am reawakened to who I am meant to be. Not what society wants me to be. Now I am the enemy as much as anyone who does not 'fit' is.
I do not want to witness anymore of the rise of the rich white man's idea of progress. I will not enable it. I never have. I don't believe in further separation from our natural ways of life. I do not see me as better or worse than anyone. Only in my intention am I to be judged. I am absolutely tired of being lumped in with the rest of the people who are intolerant and dehumanizing. Forgive me for being angry with continually being told I am part of the problem when I have never done anything less than work with people like me. The outcasts, the hippies, the people of colour, the godless, the naturalists, the spiritual without religion, the ones who wish to be symbiotic with this earth instead of a cancer ravaging her without care.
I am not the sins of my ancestors and I will not pay the price for them when I have never adhered to their ways. Long ago the ways of the Original Peoples of this land spoke to me and ignited a fire within my blood that burns brighter than any flame could bare. Many of us are chastised for wanting to be Native, or trying to steal more from them. It's truly not this way. We do not remember what it means to be tribal and white. It was wiped from our memories, from our history, from our culture. It was replaced by the ways of a conquering nations of those unwilling to love and live the ways of the earth. We were taught self-loathing and given a religion that was never meant for us and then for good measure enough of our own tribal customs were added to keep us at bay...we were pacified and domesticated and now we in turn do the same to every culture we meet because we think it's perfectly normal. We think it's civilized! That word has got to be the worst, most disgusting word to my ears and my heart: 'civilized'. Civilized means genocide. Civilized means destroying the Earth. Civilized means men raping children and women. Civilized means men raping each other. Civilized means there is no true equality. Civilized means women are no longer nurtures who grow and love their families. That women are put into a place of disrespect and men are put in a place being used and tossed aside. Where children are not allowed their innocence and the connection to the natural world is destroyed.
The conquerors taught us that they live and die by the sword, the money, the gold, the power. There is no connection to the beauty of nature and all life in this state of being.
When so many of us witness Native culture we have something awaken within us. I can remember my first Pow-Wow. I will never forget it. I heard the drums and the cries of song and I was dropped to the ground in tears. Something moved inside of me that day that I will never be able to replicate nor do I need to. Something awoke in me! At first I thought, well maybe this is a past life thing. Who knows and laugh at me all you wish, I felt so connected to the drumming, the dancing, the prayers, the songs and the respect. What awakened in me over time was not a desire to be Native. It was the desire to find my own way. It was the memory coming forth in my blood for my own tribal existence. I desperately want to find the tribal beauty of all of my relations, all of my ancestors and I am teaching a new way to my children so that they do not feel as I have. They get to add Irish/Norse to their already very eclectic mix. I don't see them as being less than, I see them being able to embody so much and then, like me, act like a bridge instead of a barrier. I will not have them feeling guilty for who they are. I will not have them hating others because they don't understand their ways. We are not hateful creatures.
I will end this with a poem, some spoken word if you will. Something to share my thanks to those who tended my fires to make them burn bright. I am not the enemy. I am not a white devil set out to destroy all that is beautiful and bright. That is what the rich, spoiled white families do (and this is no longer just a rich 'white' thing either...I see it on reservations with Chiefs owning regal homes and possessing so much material where their people starve in poverty and despair). They are the ones so far disconnected from what truly matters and they are dragging so many other cultures with them. How many greased palms in order to have people turn on their own? If it can happen to the White Nations it IS happening to the other nations.
This is not a war of colours, it is a war of the civilized. I would rather be a savage.
Author: Cari-Lee Miller
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I am a seed burst forth from its shell. I have mingled and fought in the dirt. I am ready to kiss the Sun. *CLM
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Your medicine is in the woods.
Your pharmacy is in your kitchen.