Saturday, June 18, 2011

Poem: White Women Laughed


White Women Laughed


What a day at the beach,
White women laughed at my bumper stickers,

"Proud to be Anishinaabe,"

"Women are Sacred,
Violence Against Women is Not Traditional,"

And I am angry,
When they laugh,
White women laugh,
Their fine clothes,
Same year vehicle,
But they have made more money over their lifetime,
Than I will,

White women laugh,
Hurts my uterus,
My being,
They always laugh,
The Zhaaganaash,

They don't care if they throw a dagger in your soul,
Although this is the territory of my ancestors,
Sometimes wayfaring stranger,
Hungry for a mate,

I leave,
And blast my strong Native women's music,
I blast it,
Roll down the windows in my truck,
Don't give a fuck,
The lake is home,
She gives me strength,
The tall pines remind me of my connection to spirit,
Gitchi Manitou,
Migizi flies along the shore,
Ancestral memories,
Before colonization,
Before genocide,
Before the land was broken up,
Disjointed,

They don't care,
So they laugh,
White women laugh,
Everything is happy,
Everything is great,
For them,

I kick up the dust,
In my truck,
Proud to be Anishinaabe,
Because although my Euro roots are prevalent to most,
I don't feel this,
I feel Anishinaabekwe,
Proud Anishinaabekwe,

My ancestors on the shore,
Strong Native women's music,
The drum,
The heartbeat,

Off the dirt road,
To pavement,
Blasting my strong Native women's music,

Strength found in the land,
Water,
Lake Michigan,
I love her,

But laughing,
The white women laughing,
Makes the past apparent,
Pushes forward,
I push it back,
Keep pushing,
Hard,

And I am back near the town,
And tears run down my face,
I wipe my tears,
Because,
"Women are sacred,
Violence Against Women is Not Traditional,"
Love,
Bounded,
I cry because these white women laugh,
They do not know the love,
They do not know the violence,
Native women have endured,
And right now,
What is happening,
What happened to me,
I can heal,
But the culture forces pain,
Constantly,
Sometimes there is no place of healing,
Comfort.

11 comments:

CaitieCat said...

That is beautiful and painful, thank you for sharing it.

Painful, I mean, in that your pain at this cruel dismissiveness is stark and clear in it.

I wish I could say that I'd never been responsible for similar pain in someone because of a racist act of mine.

I think your bumper stickers are awesome. I hope, in time, more people come to recognize that.

Anishinaabekwe said...

CaitieCat - Glad you like my bumper stickers. I think they are pretty sweet! So much is uncertain out there in the world, particularly for Native folks. I wear my pride, bravely, in the world but sadly and often not readily accepted. The culture loves dumping its garbage on marginalized people. I sought solace in the lake yesterday, climbed the dune and in the parking lot I am greeted with cackling white women. They just made me feel uncomfortable in their privilege. I wanted peace not disruption/racism.

Ankhesen Mié said...

Oh...they laugh do they?

Until they want your beads, your blood, and your legacy, that is.

*shakes head*

And I am angry,
When they laugh,
White women laugh,
Their fine clothes,
Same year vehicle,

But they have made more money over their lifetime,
Than I will


Anishinabekwe, in addition to mesmerizing me, you never cease to break my heart.

Anishinaabekwe said...

Ankhesen Mié - They always laugh and they think we are paranoid. The world is cruel and white folk always seem to walk blindly in their privileges. This means walking all over someone else to get where they got.

Queen Bee Sorrow said...

I wonder why they were laughing? It would be easy to say that they were mocking. But doesn't laughter explain many other emotions, such as agreement, or wonder, or confusion? I know I have laughed in feeling these.

I admire your connectedness to your culture; I admire that you don't wear it as a hat, but that it is your being. Sharing the knowledge and reverence you have for your people and land with others lovingly will enrichen it far more than to hold it inside with pride.

Ankhesen Mié said...

I wonder why they were laughing? It would be easy to say that they were mocking.

99.9999% of the time, they are.

Sharing the knowledge and reverence you have for your people and land with others lovingly will enrichen it far more than to hold it inside with pride.

99.9999% of the time, that doesn't work. Hence the laughing.

Also, advising someone else on how to enrich their own culture is one of the reasons poems like this get written in the first place.

Anishinaabekwe said...

Queen Bee Sorrow - Regardless if they were laughing at me or laughing at XYZ. It was shocking to go from the calmness of the lake, sand and tall pines to these women. This poem is not just about these women but white women in general who do laugh at the "other" and women of color. As Ankhesen Mié says sometimes sharing my culture with love doesn't work. I have to deal with stereotyping, discrimination, cultural appropriation, etc. What seems as defense and anger is just a form of a protection because Native people have been beaten down so much in this culture. I think I know what I need to do in the face of mocking and laughter. It hurts and so I get anger, wouldn't you be angry?

Ankhesen Mié - Thanks so much for your response and emphasizing the importance of the fact that someone from outside of our culture cannot advise us on how to enrich our very own culture. There is no way that they can, ever.

Ankhesen Mié said...

I have to deal with stereotyping, discrimination, cultural appropriation, etc. What seems as defense and anger is just a form of a protection because Native people have been beaten down so much in this culture. I think I know what I need to do in the face of mocking and laughter. It hurts and so I get anger, wouldn't you be angry?

Exactly. This isn't an "isolated incident." This daily life and it starts to take its toll as early as childhood. You either learn to defend yourself psychologically, or you develop mental and emotional problems.

dmarks said...

I will keep an eye out for these stickers.

Happy Bird said...

Auniin Nimise

Niin Minwaanigozii Binashii nindizhini-kaaz. Nindoh Nisaye dahzhe-eweh Anishininabe.

However, I too am of two worlds as well (say, half breed)and like yourself, have tried to walk the Good Red Way, my whole life. It is a lonely path at times, being 'a world bridge(r)' and so I am compelled to thank you for sharing your poems. In them, i found such release, and then comfort; knowing then, that i am not so alone, and happy to find a person who walks upright, on that path.

Your efforts are very deeply appreciated; and so my feed back is a simple 'thank you' and miigwetch

Happy Bird

Anishinaabekwe said...

Happy Bird - Walking the Red Road is a lonely path indeed. To be a bridger of worlds is a challenging task. I appreciate your comment and miigwech for stopping by!