In the face of mortal threats
I believe when you write like this it reminds me why we write in the first place. This is what I’m here to read, along with your poetry, along with your noticings, along with every other word you string together. My favorite thing about you is that you are able to hold all of it. So few can.
I think that writing like this is so much a part of why writing matters. 💜
All of this is so rage inducing and I struggle daily knowing where to put that anger. It's this that I've been thinking a lot about lately and you put it in words perfectly: "their casual indifference to learning." I increasingly have so little ability to deal with people who have no interest or awareness of the lands and history they live with, of the people who are repeatedly impacted by legacies of colonization. It's so rampant up here too, that history, that idea (and I love that you point out how using the word "myth" is a similar type of erasure). I will never understand the willful cruelty of people who insist on this kind of crap. Keep writing friend--we need to all join in the outrage.
Friend, thank you for taking up the pen to share your experience and perspective. I'm sorry you encountered such harm and aggression.
Your story today puts me in mind of something Pádraig Ó Tuama wrote: "Myth is not something false, but a myth is something with so much truth that it needs a fantastical container." We walk in days where lies speak so loudly that truth can't find a pocket of air to breathe. When lies like manifest destiny and the noble cavalry are marketed as unimpeachable myth and then allowed as much historical weight ("all aspects of history," barf) as the truth of the deliberate genocide of Indigenous people, reality becomes a matter of opinion. I wonder if maybe this is why the writing of people like Octavia Butler and Toni Morrison and Jim Welch and Deb Earling and any number of true myth-expanding poets feels like such an essential antidote to that poison... push the myth container to its edges and truth becomes evident and lies become ridiculous on their face.
(FWIW and apropos of nothing, I am fed up to the hind teeth with the term, "misinformation," as though these things are good-faith oopsies when it's really a passel of manipulative bullshit and lies.)
I'm glad you wrote this. No one benefits from silence except the oppressors.
Oh, geez. First a LECTURE from the Concerned Face, which shows she will stay on top, not open her heart. And then a magnanimous offer to remove the picture, which instantly turns the issue into YOUR problem, which she can then solve as a bestower of Grace. Just how many supremacy sleights-of-hand in that 1 minute? It’s a master class. In all senses of the word. Thanks for writing about it.
I feel so much of the pain that you described, Chris. I’m sorry that you even had to bring up the offensive picture in your room, to someone who clearly didn’t get it. People see what they need to see in order to get through life, I think. Most people don’t have a very muscular empathy to see what others cannot deny. But in their weakness, they do damage and resent being called in on it.
This human condition is sometimes a very rough trip. I’m glad to have met you on it, though. I mean that.
Thank you for not being silent about the things that break your heart. Your boldness in sharing helps others grow courage to speak, too.
"We are all haunted and we must listen to each other. We must."
ᑐᑊᐁᐧᐃᐧᐣ - tapwewin - truth!
It alarms me how few people are aware of the paradox of tolerance, that we must never tolerate intolerance. I also wish more people could be honest about what different depictions of history mean within a context, because context is everything. A sketch of cavalry on a museum wall in an exhibit about the violence of colonialism is a very different one to a sketch of cavalry hanging on the wall of a hunting themed cabin. A blurb about a colonial or confederate general in a book explaining the white supremacist roots of a country is very different to a plaque on the base of a statue of that general. And so on.
“It’s pretty, the flag, but as an Indigenous person trying to return to my roots, I find it a gross symbol that I can’t summon any emotion for that isn’t, at best, cynical.”
Or even as a white person.
"important to show ALL aspects of the history of the region": What the actual fuck. No. Just no. No way you should have had to even see that picture, and how she responded is unconscionable. You shouldn't have to deal with any of it, ever. Nobody should.
I think I'd still be sick about it, or in rage, or both. ❤️🔥
I just came back from watching a documentary by a Brazilian filmmaker about Indigenous fights against extraction in Brazil and Peru. It's really good and enraging and I have no words to say except burn it all down.
I grew nauseous at the sight of the U.S. Calvary troop. I'm so sorry you had to see that as soon as you entered your room on what was supposed to be a promising weekend of "awareness". It isn't just a picture, it is a literal representation of genocide. They don't get a pass because the artist happened to leave out the body that was often dragging behind the horse.
Your passion, fortitude, and hope for a different world is beautiful, Chris.
Thank you for this. Thank you for the reminder of Rev. Dr. King's wisdom, too; that quote always slaps me back into reality in the most necessary way possible. And thank you for not giving up your gumption for a better world, even though the onus to do this work lies on privileged white folks. May the next 500 years be more peaceful and respectful than the last 500.
It's become probably too common to refer to a person as a truth-teller, but every word of this piece felt like you were slashing through bullshit with a sharp blade of clarity. It's why, in a too cluttered email inbox, I always read your newsletters.
Taking a stand feels like something risky, these days more than ever maybe - becoming vulnerable to misinterpretation, to a different kind of visibility. And yet taking a stand is exactly what's needed, in part to maintain a sense of personal integrity in a system that makes no sense, in part to communicate (no dialogue without speaking up - no possibility of relation without dialogue), and in part for solidarity with all the other voices that cannot stay silent. Thank you as always for the honesty.
Chris, Thank you so much for your courage and honesty in expressing your pain and outrage. I'm glad you can share those things in this virtual community. I appreciate your deep, ongoing commitment to writing and working toward better understanding and action. But 364 days is a lot of exhausting resistance. Maybe take more than one day off to rest and regenerate. I agree that "Colonialism is a cruel and bloody business that affects us all in so many cruel, cruel ways." Keep nourishing your spirit on those walks in the wild.