Poem: Mad Libs of Anti-Social Media

 My obsession with rotary phones is real. More real than your smartphone. Rotary phones are elegant and regal. Decolonize today! When I run for Ogema in 2029 it will be mandatory to have a rotary phone in your home if you live on the reservation. Sincerely, real olde school Generation X-er.

My obsession with rotary phones is real. More real than your smartphone. Rotary phones are elegant and regal. Decolonize today! When I run for Ogema in 2029 it will be mandatory to have a rotary phone in your home if you live on the reservation. Sincerely, real olde school Generation X-er.

My Instagram left me running,
For myself,
In my own mirror,
Of self-absorption,
I knew I made it big on facebook with a clown,
That in town,
Ran away,
Like a king of a fling,
Ohhhh I am sure that stings,

The TRUTH,
You get the boot,
From the Russian bot,
Watching your activity,
Cuz youse is Indigenous on the internets,

I know you thinkin’ youse is wise,
Decolonizing with tons of hashtags,
You are so a millenilal,

Get a rotary phone,
Listen to the tone,
This is a poem,
So quit the roam,
Of your soul,

Phew!
Thank the God of Two-Spirit God’s,
Decolonial God’s in the Ojibwe night sky,
Alien cat God’s,
Alien angel human God’s prayin’ ya to thee decolonial JESUS,
All caps cuz he was a radical brown man,

What were you in your past life,
A lump on the log of anti-social media,
Smoke smoke smokin’ those likes up,

The world has taken the drug,
This is the smart plan,
To manipulate your soul,

Get out while you can,
Don’t bury your heard in the sand,

Delete,
Uninstall,
Roll it back,
Cuz youse is loosing track,
Of who you is,
In this world,

They will manipulate your mind,
So you think you are fine,
Why in fact you are not free,
Just let the app,
Tap,
Go,
Just be,
Like it was 1982,
With the talkin’ on the steps,
In the hood,
Before the corruption,
Disruption of the dial tone,
Phone.

Halloween, Colonization, and Hypersexualization of Native American Women

As a preface everyone needs to understand that the majority culture is vacuous and this is why this type of assault exists in the world. The colonial culture is incredibly shallow and runs a narrative of strip malls, bad food, homogenization, cultural appropriation, and consumerism. Deep thinking, empathy, listening, and intellectualism is discouraged. In addition to those attributes that are required for true decolonial community work we need to prioritize Native, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit voices. The majority culture doesn’t and has no plan in sight to do so. This work of centering our people comes from us. What is emphasized is a superficial way of life that prioritizes marginalization and oppression of Native people through stereotypes, mascots, systemic racism, settler colonialism, and violent occupation. This is one of the reasons why cultural appropriation flourishes around Halloween because the majority culture system is one of continued assault on our lives and communities. Halloween costumes and racist and sexist. More so, they are continuing colonization through the extremely harmful sexualization of Native American women. Through this another girl, women, or Two-Spirit will go missing and will not get the same attention as a White girl from the suburbs.

October is month that causes stress and anxiety for Native American people. It is a stressful time because misrepresentations of our culture are everywhere. Combatting this doesn’t mean that colonials will listen to us because this is how colonization maintains itself through systemic oppression. Don’t pay attention to the bots in the comment sections in anti-social media. There are supporters but we need more people to make larger national change to end this harmful racism.

Invisible Minority

“A majority of Americans (62 percent outside of Indian Country) reported being unacquainted with Native Americans.” – Report: Reclaiming Native Truth

Over a decade ago when I still had my facebook page my Indian-American friend had a Halloween party at her house in suburban Ferndale, Michigan. When I was scrolling through her pictures I saw her White male friend dressing up as an “Indian,” in the stereotypical brown and fringe garb. I called her out on it and asked her why she didn’t say anything. She wasn’t one to take action and call people out. We aren’t friends anymore because of her refusal to support her friend.

I’ve seen white people and non-white dress up as “Indian.” If you search on YouTube you will find numerous makeup tutorials for Native American Halloween makeup. You can also take your time searching images on the internet and see that it is people from many backgrounds who dress up as the stereotypical Native in fringe, face paint and headdresses. We are rendered invisible which makes addressing the issue of sexist and racist Halloween costumes difficult.

 Image created by Danielle Miller - https://twitter.com/xodanix3

Image created by Danielle Miller - https://twitter.com/xodanix3

Hypersexualization and Festishization are Colonization

The majority colonial culture believes that racist costumes honor Native people. White supremacy is the foundation of cultural appropriation. However, please note that this is not only white people who uphold this system. Non-whites are invested in settler colonial cultural appropriation as in the case with my former Indian-American friend who cowed to addressing racism. We are rendered invisible in a colonial system that is obsessed with maintaining a Black and White racial binary for the sake of “choosing one” race. This harms people of all backgrounds who may be very dark or very light and having a few tribes in their ancestry. As a racist social construct we need to move beyond this binary as an intentional social construct to maintain settler colonialism through erasure. How does this maintain settler colonialism? By making Native people hyperinsivible and providing no platform for our issues because… psssht… colonialism never ended.

When Halloween rolls around the corner you can expect racism and that sick feeling in your belly that a vacuous culture creates. Colonials don themselves in racist and sexist Halloween costumes somewhere in suburban sprawl land, urban hipster gentrification land, or white border town near the rez that is incredibly racist. They purchase racist Halloween costumes and go to their really exciting suburban party or college party. It is there where stereotypes abound and racism is rubber stamped okay. A night of fun you won’t remember when you are married with children at age 42 and following the normal life of life, liberty, and the pursuit of colonial happiness.

Costumes have racist and sexist names such as Reservation Royalty and Tribal Princess. Sickening to think of the people who came up with these names have most likely never met a Native person in their entire life. Racist and bigots don’t care to be sensitive our issues and apologize as they benefit every day from settler colonialism. We have had amazing people try to take on the issue and they are ignored or told they will have the police called on them. This is colonialism working to maintain oppression and systemic racism.

Finally, as we exist these sexist stereotypes exist as a form of colonial erasure and domination. Native American women experience the highest rates of sexual violence out of any group of women in the US.

”Many remain ignorant or apathetic towards the disproportionate amounts of sexual violence Indigenous women face, while denying the causation of violence and fetishization. Is the trauma endured by Indigenous women quantifiable? “More than 60% of American Indian and Alaska Native women have been physically assaulted and 1 in 3 have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. Nearly all (97%) of these women have experienced at least one act of violence committed by a non-Indian” according to the DOJ’s National Institute of Justice.” - Yandy’s Native American Costumes Perpetuate Violence Against Indigenous Women

  Photo credit: America Tonight

Photo credit: America Tonight

All the racist and sexist Halloween costumes contribute to this by normalizing these stereotypes of the “sexy squaw.” We don’t exist to the colonial majority culture. We are their racist mascots, stereotypes, fictional cartoon characters, and burdens.

Concerns Not Take Seriously

Diné Mother, Social Worker, and Writer, Amanda Blackhorse has boldly challenged a disguting company called Yandy. Amanda and many other of our awesome community workers took it into their hands to not only create a petition but take action to directly by going directly to the company headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. She was threatened with arrest when she presented a petition with 14,000 signatures to the Yandy CEO, Jeff Watton. Native women have protested Yandy in previous years and this company maintains itself as a sexist and racist company ignoring the voices of Native American women.

Here is the colonial kicker that shows how settler colonialism and violent occupation is maintained by denial, avoidance, and dismissal by perpetrator.

“In September, Yandy bowed to criticism over its “sexy” Handmaid’s Tale costume — a mini-skirted version of the outfits worn by the surrogate sex slaves in the hit Hulu show — and removed the item from its website. It took only a few hours for online outrage to force the company to pull the costume and issue an apology. “It has become obvious that our ‘Yandy Brave Red Maiden Costume’ is being seen as a symbol of women’s oppression, rather than an expression of women’s empowerment,” the company wrote in a statement. “This is unfortunate, as it was not our intention on any level.”

And yet the company continues to sell costumes that disparage Native women and reduce us to sexual objects, despite protests from Indigenous communities nationwide. A company spokesperson tried to justify this, telling the Phoenix New Times that “the costumes are influenced by powerful fashion elements derived from the culture and are intended to pay homage to the Native American community, not to mock or offend.” – Stop selling costumes that sexualize Indigenous women by Amanda Blackhorse

Beautiful Resistance

Not to mock of offend, eh? Yandy and many other companies perpetuate oppression in the form of costumes as well as headdresses. I have ancestral Chiefs in my lineage and I take being crane clan very seriously. In my Ojibway culture this is about leadership and chieftainship. It is about being speakers for the community. Headdresses should never be worn by non-natives under any circumstance. All headdresses from the 573 federally recognized tribes in the US are different. All have meaning. Each feather has a significant meaning and are presented by either being gifted or earning them. The complete disrespect of hipsters, hippies, and everyone else in between wearing headdresses are “playing Indian,” and contributes to colonial erasure.

Our mere existence is resistance. We are rising and taking action every single moment across Turtle Island. We face daily racism that is all around us and negative stereotypes that perpetuate our pain. However, we are doctors, professors, counselors, social workers, community organizers, construction workers, telephone workers, truck drivers, writers, journalists, poets, artists, and singers. Colonialism wants to paint us in a negative light while we are healing, walking a sober road, attending cultural events, and learning our own languages.

In order to reclaim, decolonize, and create larger social change we need more support from folks in the majority culture to tow the line so we don’t have the burden as the invisible minority to constantly challenge colonialism as it maintains sexualization and festishization of Native American women. We need you do to this for the healing, visibility and voice of our people and communities on Turtle Island.

Resources

An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses

Choosing a culturally appropriate Halloween Costume

Forgotten Women: The conversation of murdered and missing native women is not one North America wants to have - but it must

Invisibility is the Modern Form of Racism Against Native Americans

Native women call for end to sales of 'hottie' costumes

Pocahontas Is Not a Sex Symbol

Report: Reclaiming Native Truth - RESEARCH FINDINGS: COMPILATION OF ALL RESEARCH

Stop selling costumes that sexualize Indigenous women

Yandy’s Native American Costumes Perpetuate Violence Against Indigenous Women


Take Action!

Petition – Stop Yandy From Using Our Culture As A Costume

Petition – The Spunky Squaw Change Your Business Name

Make a Phone Call to Yandy and Clog Their Phone Lines

Poem: Pasta

I’ve been trying to ease the pain of generational trauma,
Through prevention,
As I stand on my track in 48067 in 1997,
I gaze at the clouds,
The trains in the distance fill my soul with a fire,
To run and fly,

I am destined to be great,
But generational trauma takes a toll at age 20,

I’ve towed the line with some of the best,
My bourgeoisie White track friends let me not shave my legs,
They honor my heritage,

But what they don’t see is the pain or sorrow,
Yet to percolate to the surface,
In the suburbs everything appears to be alright,
With do gooder white liberalism,
Supporting my dreams,

But down in the dorm in Oshkosh, Wisconsin,
I am feeling the sorrow of Chief Oshkosh,
The looming darkness envelopes me,
I am in my darkest days,

Once the picture perfect role model,
I am now surveying the darkness of my soul,
Haunts of old,
Demons surround,
I don’t know what self-care means,

I am towing the line of self-mutilation,
Internalized grief eats away at my body,
Which gets funneled into running when I was supposed to be done,
With those competitive days of glory chasing my Timex dreams,

I am running on the land of a sorrowful place,
A sign of suicide awareness in the community,
Beauty has left my face,
I am physically gray,

From 2002-2006 I struggle to maintain my equilibrium,
I wanted to run away but where?

Pasta and perfection,
Measuring cups of Allure magazine direction,
Plastic beauty that I never wanted,

As a Two-Spirit my soul is torn,
Paint your nails,
Go out on the town,
Breathe the fumes of environmental racism of the sorrow of smoke,
Numb the pain in a bar off Cass Avenue before gentrification,

The Androgynous Man in Brown Pants,
Yes he is me,

I am the worker from my past lifetimes,
Holding onto that bread that is stifling my soul,
I’ve released that bread to the sea,
From the top of the Tower Bridge in my dreams,

This time in 2018 I finally heal and I can eat pasta again,
No longer do plastic measuring cups define my existence,
No longer does the dorm room eating disorder smell haunt my existence,
No longer does the current of unknown generational grief haunt me with every turn I make,
No longer does the perfection of athleticism and “stars of track and field” win,

My soul is more free and so are we,
The relations,
Ancestors,
Community,

It may take 12 years to crumple up that trauma and toss into the fire,
The smoke cleanses out and out and out,

They were listening to our prayers.

Poem: Sobriety Creates Beauty

Floral designs extend from my fingers,
To circle around mitig,
To mitigong,
Up to migizi,
And back to nigig,

Floral designs from my feet,
Rooted like mitig into the Earth,
Pause,
Breath,
Zaagidewin,
Zaagidewin,
Zaagidewin,

Otter carries floral designs,
With the medicines,
Across the water,
To Anishinaabe,

The message,
In the teaching,
In the prophecy,
In the healing of our people,

The floral designs,
Travel between worlds,
To the ancestors,
To the ones to come,
Debwewin,
Debwewin,
Debwewin,

Anung,
Our spirits as big as the night sky,
With all that wisdom,
In your body,
My body,
The Anishinaabe body,

Empathy,
As the nibish that nigig feels,
Delicate,
Cleansing,
Fresh,
Sometimes,
You cry for others who can't feel,

Floral designs,
On baskets,
On clothes,
In dreams,

Recovery has created,
This beauty.

- - - - - - - - - -

Translations

Anung = Star
Debwewin = Truth
Migizi - Eagle
Mitig = Tree
Mitigong = Trees/Forest
Nibish = Water
Nigig = Otter
Zaagidewin = Love

Traverse City: The Dangerous Intersection of Bourgeoisie White Liberalism and Colonial “Land Conservation”

Traverse City, Michigan is a dangerous place.  White liberalism is dangerous.  White liberalism is colonization and therefore Traverse City, Michigan is full of the bourgeoisie colonial White liberals.  If the folks in Traverse City want to poke fun at Manistee, Michigan then at least the folks in the sticks down by the river are outright racist rather than pretending they are “do gooder White liberals.”  If there is a hierarchy in racism – pretending you are not racist is far worse.

The disease of colonization has White liberals believing that their hands aren’t dirty.  Go to Africa and bring colonial help instead of empowering Native folks right in your own backyard.  Open a co-op in a so called working class neighborhood in lily White Traverse City and please don’t feel good about yourself.  Do bike lanes make you feel even better?  Too bad your liberal city is the most sprawled out in Northern Michigan.  Conservatives pretty much run Grand Traverse County so liberals really don’t have power. 

ThrasedbyALadyCyclist.jpg

Bourgeoisie White Liberalism

Liberalism wants to not identify with conservatism.  If you are talking about the majority culture colonial politics in the United States then these are two sides to the same coin.  Good luck challenging the system by believing in the system.  Therefore, bourgeoisie White liberalism is colonialism and believes in the current system.  

Shut down Line 5?  What about help others choose recovery in your own backyard as environmental justice?  Or bringing a migrant farm worker family some clothes or decent housing that isn’t filled with mold?  If you drive a car then there is no reason to fight big oil?  Have plastic in your home?  Then get rid of everything that is associated with oil.  A partial list of products made from oil.  I am pro-industry but I believe the patriarchal industry needs to change.  I am pro-industry for the working class people.  I am pro-industry for the workers and the bread on the table.  I am from a working class family with UAW and CWA roots.  We need to change our ways but change and transformation takes time.  This downplaying of the poor and working class (who are mostly Native and People of Color) degrades the wealth and time of labour.  I am akin to the worker because it is in my blood and soul.  The sweat and tears for family and community instills a pride in labour.  Bourgeoisie White liberalism wants to end this labour without many solutions and doesn’t take into consideration colonial resource extraction in Indigenous communities to make their so called “environmental friendly,” Prius.

“Eco-consciousness” and “green living” are centrepieces of product branding for the Toyota Prius. But that feel-good packaging has rapidly worn thin for members of the Algonquin Nation and residents of Kipawa, Quebec, who are now fighting to protect traditional Algonquin territory from devastation in the name of hybrid car battery production.
In 2011, after nearly two years of negotiations, Matamec Explorations, a Quebec-based junior mining exploration company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Toyotsu Rare Earth Canada (TRECan), a Canadian subsidiary of Japan-based Toyota Tsusho Corporation. The memorandum confirmed Matamec’s intention to become “one of the first heavy rare earths producers outside of China.” In pursuit of this role, the company plans to build an open-pit Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE) mine directly next to Kipawa Lake, the geographical, ecological, and cultural centre of Kipawa.” - Toyota Prius Not So Green After All

Water is life but that sounds like pro-life.  How about water is love?  Water is healing?  Water is scary!  Have you ever seen 15 foot waves on Gitchee Gumee (Lake Superior) in November?  That is life but it is also death.  See story on the Edmund Fitzgerald

Colonial Land Conservation

There are White environmental groups who plague the city.  This money is funneled from White conservation foundations who grant to White environmental organizations to save the bay or save the bike lane.  There is an outright discrimination in philanthropy towards Native led groups as well.

“Over the past decade, U.S. foundation support benefiting Native Americans declined from 0.5 percent to 0.3 percent of total foundation giving. According to Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples, total grant dollars targeting Native Americans dropped 30.8 percent in the latest year, compared to a 14.1 percent overall downturn in foundation giving. This report was prepared by the Foundation Center with Native Americans in Philanthropy.” – Report: Foundation Funding for Native American Issues and Peoples, by Native Americans in Philanthropy & the Foundation Center (2011)

You don’t see White environmental groups prioritizing Indigenous communities or talking about that colonization is still taking place through their work.  They just tokenize Indigenous people and usually Indigenous men to maintain the stereotype of the strong Indian man warrior.  Because warriors aren’t women or Two-Spirits, right? 

Summer Tourism

The worst place to go in the summer is Traverse City swimming with a sea of tourists from Midwestern cities fleeing their colonial suburban homes. They want their taste of northern Michigan with easy access to overpriced shops and food snobbery.  What you get is people who want easy access to consumption tourism.  They don’t want to be where there is nobody or no sound – that’s too frightening.   

Take Off the Mask

You might as well take off the mask Traverse City.  Your true colors don’t have much color.  You look a little peeked, pale, and famished.  You have a problem and that is your provincial bubble of so called “liberalism.” But you are surrounding by red as a beet conservatism in Grand Traverse County. 

The attitude from Traverse City to Manistee or any place else is arrogance.  Just because the White road of success was laid out so you can have a cozy White life doesn’t mean you bash the folks who were born in dire poverty down by the river in Manistee.  Your bourgeoisie Whiteness makes you a racist asshole.  Many of those folks born down by the river happen to be Odawa Native American.   

Racial Justice

White liberals in Traverse City don’t care about addressing racism.  Having a “Human Rights Commission,” doesn’t mean much when there is discrimination in housing, work, and other areas in your city.  Nothing to pat yourself on the back about.  You have a lot of work to do.  Tokenizing minorities in the workplace is racism. 

Bad Medicine in Traverse City

I am pointing the finger at you and your nasty city.  Most every person I have ever met from Traverse City with the exception of a very few has bad medicine.  Every meeting I have gone there from work has turned to shit because the people are shit.  I’ve heard “Manistee-tucky,” and “we are better than Manistee,” from mostly White hillbillies who think they are somehow above the realness of Manistee.  I was there one time for work on my car and a White guy said, “you don’t look Native American, you look Pakistani.”  Do you get out much from your White town?  Then he went on to say, “the Native people around here are fat.  They are lazy.  They don’t live the culture.”   The town is so full of racism that my list could go on and on. 

From my point of view, the excessive amount of money (i.e. – Old Mission Colonial Peninsula) taints the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians.  Members of this tribe are influenced by the gentry and bourgeoisie White liberalism that taints the land.  The culture is not strong nor is it intact.  The patriarchal Christian White influence has infiltrated the tribe.  Money is driving the band and if you have money before culture you lose the people.  My tribe is very poor but the culture is intact.  There are many many many sober community members who do the work and help other community members heal across Anishinaabe Aki.  This bad medicine in Traverse City has tainted any sort of centering Anishinaabe people in the region.  I will not do work in Traverse City and avoid that place like the plague.  If we have a meeting you can meet me in real salt of the Earth places such as Manistee or the anywhere in the UP! 

Defending Manistee

Not revealing too much about who we are one thing I can know is Manistee is real.  Manistee is far more diverse being inside the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians reservation.  My friend visited from Detroit and was happy to see Black and mixed families in Manistee.  We are real and not fake.  Manistee is not without problems.  Conservatives in Manistee here have encouraged my work on racial justice.  They are acquaintances at the park and friends.  When I first moved to Manistee I was impressed with Odawa kids playing with mixed race and Polish kids.  There is racism here too and White liberals who deny there is a problem.  Some have gone to Africa to paternalistically “help.”  Some who say they are Christians when they find the biggest sand dune and bury their head in it when racism is in their own backyard.  Manistee is working class and real.  Thank you Manistee for creating allies with conservatives and doing community work with people that is truly inclusive.