Mourning a Loss

Do you remember the first words that fell off your lips?
Or the first thing that caused joy to well up?
I don’t.
Funny, the things we remember.
So important, our first steps.
Yet we never get to see them.
Remember the rush of our chubby baby legs working how we wanted.
Or our first words.
I wonder what mine were?
Maybe it’s better not to know.

So silly, the way we see ourselves.
Lost in memories and thought loops
Experiences we label and poke at (from an unsafe distance).
Staring into mirrors that distort
And ask the wrong questions.
Peering into eyes that hide behind plastic masks,
Use paint to hoodwink reality.

What do you remember?
I get these flashes.
I don’t want them.
My chest breaks in half
Everything is frozen in blazing nausea
And the world goes dark
They color my sleep in muddy hues
Robbing intimate moments of safety.
I got so sick
Sick of paying for others’ sins.
Confused body, still paying with sickly health.

The only things I remember, hurt.
I wish it wasn’t that way.
Wish I could hold happy childhood memories in my thoughts
Like little flakes of gold, suspended
Always there to infuse me with heart swelling snapshots.
The foundation all the healthy people have
The people who don’t fall apart every day.

But protection came at a cost.
My mom bought me gold flakes at a field trip once
I think they’re in storage.

I wish I could remember
The day I was born.
Fresh.
New.
Untouched.

I wonder what it felt like.

But if I tell…
If I tell, you might look at me
Like I’m made of porcelain, so easily broken
Or smothered in slime I can never remove
(Even though I didn’t put it there)
It infuriates me.
Perhaps if I hurt you, you won’t see me as weak
But I’m not a bully, so I’ll wait for you to hurt me first.
Silly memories, telling me you will.

I wish I could remember what I felt the day I was born.
Would I be the same person?
Would there be something at the center of me, holding me up?
Convincing me that I am solid and here and…
I wish I could remember.
What emotions flooded my body, the day I was born?
Can you take me back to the beginning, before everything became broken?

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As Thanksgiving Approaches, I Am Reminded

 

Native Americans are more American than Americans because Native Americans were here before Americans even found America and called it America which was already the Native Americans’ home… America.

 

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And yet, Native Americans are still treated like, “savages”.

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I found all these pictures of Native Americans from history, and yet I have no idea who they are, what they went through. I don’t know their stories. I don’t even know their names.

We are making such magnificent progress with people of color and women’s rights. We’re even talking about how men need to be able to cry and talk about their emotions without being told they’re not a man. Yet, Native Americans are still shuffled to the side, like so much nothingness.

 

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In 2006, Native Americans were 1.5% of our country’s population. That is roughly 4.5 million human beings.

Current sources say there are now 2.9 million Native Americans in the US. That is 0.9%

We went from 4.5 million to 2.9 million. 1.5% to .9%.

 

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In 2004, the Department of Justice found that Native American women are 50% higher in rates of domestic abuse and rape.

That’s not 50% higher than other humans in the US. That is 50% more than the next most victimized demographic!

Meaning, whatever the next group of human beings who rate as #2 highest in rape and domestic abuse… Native Americans are 50% higher than them.

Native American women are also much more likely to be assaulted than other women, of any race.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics, the US Department of Justice,  and Office of
Justice Programs had this finding to report:

at least 70% of the violent victimizations experienced by American
Indians are committed by persons not of the same race— a substantially higher rate
of interracial violence than experienced by white or black victims.”

Meaning Native Americans are typically raped and beaten by races that are not Native Americans.

In case anyone wants to try and blame their pain on themselves. As if the victim is as at fault. Because, hey, we don’t blame victims in this country’s daily chosen culture. (And so no one tries to report this as an alternative fact, this paragraph is sarcasm)

 

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1 out of every 12 Natives are victims of violent crimes, every year.

Native American youth have the highest rate of suicide in all of the youth in our country.

More than 4 in 5 Native men and women have been victims of violence in their lives. That means, in numbers,  730,000 women and  595,000 men.

48.8% of Native women have been stalked in their lifetime. 18.6% of Native men have been stalked.

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has this to say:

“It is significant to note that American Indians/Alaska Natives frequently contend with issues that prevent them from receiving quality medical care. These issues include cultural barriers, geographic isolation, inadequate sewage disposal, and low income.”

Oh, and also:

“American Indians and Alaska Natives have an infant death rate 60 percent higher than the rate for Caucasians.”

 

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Gee, I wonder why they don’t trust the government. We have all these facts. And what are we doing about them?

What can we do?

We can see Native Americans as people. We are all humans. We all deserve respect, love, dignity, human rights, and the same opportunities.

We can talk about what is wrong about the current state of affairs.

We can talk about their beautiful and intriguing cultures.

Cultural awareness comes with stories poking at us until we see the truth. We can spread their stories. We can find them, tell people their names and their histories. We can care. We can love. We can hope.

But more than that. We can be the engine that moves hopes into reality.

 

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Sources:

https://assets.aspeninstitute.org/content/uploads/files/content/images/Fast%20Facts.pdf

http://www.ncai.org/about-tribes/demographics

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/249736.pdf

https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=62