I reserved today as a perfect day for a writing binge.
I’ve had a short story in the back of my mind for quite some time now and throughout the weeks I’d been jotting characters, quotations, ideas . . . you know, anything that came to my mind randomly that I could squeeze into the story. Some people plan their story, some people just write them, I do both. I scribble a rough skeleton on about seven different pieces of paper, pieces that are usually meant for something else, and occasionally I’ll jot them down on my phone, then when the time comes to write I have to scrounge them up.
I’ve never lost one of those papers. Never. Until now.
I lost one of the most important pieces I could have lost.
That is why I am now blogging. If I were not blogging, I’d be punching a wall or perhaps sitting in quiet rage. I hate loosing things. I do it all the time and I still hate it.
I have a leather bound notebook (100% leather, got it on sale for $70) where I have my most important writing and usually I’ll fold little scraps and slip them in between those pages because I take a great deal of care of that notebook. When I saw my little folded scribbles weren’t in there, it was panic mode. I’ve trashed my room and I’m not putting it back together. Not until I find those pages.
Of course the beautiful thing about the mind is that I can just make up more shit.
I really liked what I started.
Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.
There’s a very strong bond between myself and what I write. Loosing those ideas is like a bank robber dropping three bags of bills while running from the cops. Those are my feelings at this moment.
My memory is also shit when it comes to stuff like this. If I tried to remember what I’d scribbled, I’d pop a brain vessel.
Sigh. Time to think about something else before I blow a gasket.
Last night my professor was telling us about how impoverished the Lakota people’s reservation is. He considered them the poorest people in this country and I’m inclined to believe that. The government has told them time and time again that, as “compensation for our ancestors disrespect and current government’s blatant stupidity” they’d give the people monetary benefits. A bunch of a money. Money, money, money.
The Lakota people refuse. They want their land back. They want to be able to run things how they want; they don’t even mind the white people living there as long as they abide by tribal laws.
Obviously the American government isn’t going to have any of that.
So the Lakota people live in squalor and poverty and probably alcoholism and addiction, with an unemployment rate of about 80% for the sake of integrity and dignity and culture. We talked about how if they let the U.S back them into a corner and succumbed to the monetary relief, it would be an example to reservations everywhere. An example of submission and defeat.
As a community of people, they understand that being together is how you strengthen individuals and strengthening individuals is how you strengthen a community.
I was obviously raised non-traditional. I don’t go to ceremonies (although I’ve always been interested) and I don’t know any stories of creation or morals besides what I’ve learned this semester. I was raised with fried chicken, hot water corner bread, black eyed peas, greens, barbecue rips, James Brown, mayonnaise, and every once in a while a dash of Polish food. Food raised me apparently. James Brown wasn’t food but whatever, you get my point.
However, my father knew a Tsalagi couple who had a giant wolf dog and house in the mountains and that’s where I learned to swim. They gave him hand crafted flutes and they listened to Walela together and watched nature and they designated him the name “EagleHorse”. So he has a bunch of stuff with eagles and horses. And Buffalo. People always gifted me Dream Catchers and I was taught that both God and the power of Dream Catchers protected me and my dreams at night. I understood spirits and interconnection from a young age–ever since I can remember. It’s always been with me. I never liked talking about it because other kids didn’t get it and when people talk about spiritual things around here it’s either tied to the Christian religion or ghosts and it’s never talked about with feeling, just knowledge and “facts”.
I’ve been in the closet for quite some time about my true beliefs. Throughout this class I felt like I was a fake–these things I should have known. I should have been apart of. And now that they’re here I’m suddenly embracing them.
But the truth is it isn’t my fault I wasn’t raised like that. That part of my culture has been desecrated over hundreds of years. How could I expect to be taught anything about it in a country that can’t even acknowledge they’re the reason for it?
If anything, I feel like I’m finally being given the chance to be true to who I am. Yes, I’m Polish and African American but I’m also Tsalagi and I never had a chance to celebrate that part of me. We talk a lot in this class about how Blood Quantum doesn’t matter, the way of life, the belief system, the value system does. I don’t care if the government ever recognizes me as indigenous. I don’t want their handouts or their “benefits” in college. I’m already African American, I’ll fill the diversity quota for all the universities. My professor is English and Irish and Tsalagi–but he was raised Tsalagi and even though he’s white, he’s indigenous. He’s lived it since childhood and I have to say, I’m jealous as hell.
If you go by stereotypes, I look “more Indian” than him.
But stereotypes are the reason white people tell me I’m not black enough to be black, as if they know what it means.
I’ve never met anyone from a Lakota reservation but I stand behind them. Finally, there’s a living example of why I refuse to disgrace my integrity and dignity for a job. You know, the application I ranted about here.
When I talk about that kind of stuff, people are like “wow, that’s stupid, it’s a job. It’s for money. It’s work. Suck it up.”
Yes, it’s a job for money. That doesn’t mean I’m going to dishonor myself. I have the ability to find a job that isn’t degrading. It’s not about ego. It’s not even completely about integrity, it’s about truth and it’s about everyone. If I choose to answer those questions in a way that’s untruthful, in a way that makes me look like 1) a submissive rat or 2) a robot, than I’m saying it’s okay for companies to treat their employees as such and I’m saying it’s okay to let ourselves be treated as such.
And in my mind, none of that is okay. Therefore, if I don’t find it okay for anyone to be treated like that, I don’t find it okay to let myself be treated like that.
Can you tell I’m not a capitalist?
The people who have that sort of thinking that I’m “being ridiculous” have the sort of thinking that is the reason Donald Trump gets away with as much as he does. They have the thought pattern that allows poverty and racism and allows people to never focus on the reasons why poverty and racism exist, other than shallow reasons like “it’s natural for humans to judge”.
It’s the thinking that lets us talk about how racism needs to end but not doing the work in our past and present that needs to be done to end it.
That’s not a personal attack if you find me being ridiculous about the job shit. It’s an attack on the massive, national, illusionary thinking that is in American air today.
I have to find those papers.