Law Of Conversation Of Oppression

In yesterday’s post, I established my footing in why constantly seeking control in a world powered by chaos effectively leads to a vain existence. Today I will establish my footing in why we are only as free as our most oppressed members of society.

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My heart lies with many societies with factions of people held down under tyranny and dictatorship and religious ideologies that restrict general rights. Being that I consider myself a mental health blogger, I’d like to talk specifically about stigmas and the oppression those of us with such issues might encounter.

Let’s just not forget there are people out there in the world suffering through levels of oppression that keep them from simply having a life.

At any rate, stigma is a huge topic these last few years. Everyone is gunning for the big guys: the media that shows serial killers with voices in their head, or the OCD Target sweater scandal, e.t.c. I’ve advocated for a few years now that rather than force people to view us as regular people, we should group together, support each other, and show them that we’re just regular people wanting just as much respect and trust as any other human being.

My view today is no different. It was, however, squashed a bit today. I want to give my apologies beforehand out to the mental health community, my peers, as I’ve let us all down a bit today.

Walking through a market my boyfriend and I were mesmerized by some gift boxes and sets. I ran off towards the candles and soaps which I often sniff until I get a headache, and he bolted off with his eyes on the gift baskets of food and popcorn and hot sauce. As we walked side by side, a woman in the aisle over stood with another man. He was slender, tall, dark hair, but very pale and skittish. He held behind him one of the market baskets. The woman seemed boisterous, an attitude mirrored by the frizz in her hair.

Suddenly she blurted words from her mouth that I didn’t catch over the music of the market. She then spun, faced the man, and shouted very blatantly: “No! You have a MENTAL DISORDER, you don’t think right!” 

There were a few words after that crucial line I didn’t catch. My boyfriend and I stared at each other. The man she’d shouted at muttered a tentative “oh”. He fiddled with the basket in his hands. By the time we turned around the aisle, they’d wandered off.

I watched her across the store floor. She talked and talked. The man followed, silent, carrying the basket. I couldn’t guess their relation or age if I tried; it didn’t matter anyhow. 

Driving away, my boyfriend and I both agreed we should have spoken up. I’m not sure why he felt he didn’t, but as I drove home I thought heavily on why I didn’t. I’ve spoken up in situations like that before. I’ve stopped to help strangers and I always say hello to the people in society others won’t make eye contact with.

But for some reason I froze in this situation, and I believe it has much to do with being used to the abuse. I’m used to people thinking the way that woman thinks: you have mental issues, you can’t do things normally. I’m even used to myself telling myself those words.

8fc0a3d3374a8dd7f78114e206f79305And the more I came to this realization, the more I regretted my silence. He needed support. He needed a reminder that words like that were opinion and not truth. He needed someone in his corner in a world where many people are in the corner of the woman.

He was oppressed by a simple sentence, and in turn I was as well; he wasn’t free so I couldn’t be free. That’s how my subconscious reacted in the moment.

I don’t like playing by the rules of the bystander effect. I never have in the past and now that I have, I feel filthy for it. I don’t think I’ll ever do it again.

As I always have, and always will, I encourage you: we’re all in this together. Don’t freeze like me. If someone speaks to you in a manner as blatantly (or subtly) disrespectful as that woman did because of a mental health struggle, a physical health struggle, your religious preference, your attire, whatever is a part of you, don’t mutter “oh”. Don’t fiddle. And remember, an opinion is an opinion. No matter how many times people beat you with words, you can always beat them back with class and intelligence; chances are if they’re using a bunch of words to hurt, they don’t understand the magic of language and in my book if you don’t understand the magic of language then there’s probably a lot of other things your small brain can’t understand.

If you see someone being obviously verbally/mentally abused or disrespected, forget the weird notion that “it’s not your business”. Allowing someone to be hurt in any way possible means you’d be willing to let yourself be hurt in the same way–would you? If not, than it is your business. Not your obligation of course, by all means take out your cell phone and post a video to Facebook. You might go viral and get on the news and everyone will treat you as a hero instead of a bystander. 

As for me, I won’t step back next time, particularly for my peers who I care deeply about.

We’re only as free as our most oppressed members of society.

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We’re Gunna Free The Shit Out Of You

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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.

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Dramatic, right?

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.

However.

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.

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Yes, This Is Completely Irrelevant

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.

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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.

_DSC0284 (2).JPGHowever, 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.

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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?

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Capitalism In One Picture

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.

Ugh.

I have to find those papers.

Rant: END.

 

 

Grape Soda, Fried Chicken, and Mayonnaise

If there’s one thing that really, really just grinds my gears, it’s when people split my ethnicity up as if my genes are “half black” and “half white”.

That’s . . .

I . . .

Genes don’t do that. They don’t split up and say, well, the left side of her body will be black, the right side of her body will be white, and we’ll make her feet a little Cherokee.

So when I found a new hip hop artist who happened to be “half” Cherokee who I liked, I was happy and exclaimed this fact to my boyfriend. His response was a frown and a “you know you’re not full native american, right?”

Totally killed my vibe, bro.

I know I’m not “full” Native American, does it look like I was born on a reservation or anywhere near any tribes? I’m especially not Native American by government standards (why should that matter?). And I know a lot of Native Americans now get frustrated when there are people who aren’t full Native American claiming scholarships and claiming Native American blood and getting recognized by the government but I agree with the Apache man I quoted a while ago “are you free people or will you let a government tell you who you are?”

I think you should need a card if your family came from Europe. Yeah, get a card and a blood test that tells you your family is from Poland. I’d have to get half of one, my mother’s side is full Polish.

Anyway, I don’t claim to be a Native going to Pow-Wow’s and drinking Acorn soup. But I respect their ways, I respect their writings, I respect their culture, and I respect my ancestors who went through hell so that I could be alive at this computer right now. I don’t practice any Native American practices or know any tribal phrases, but I love their connection to each other, to the earth, to themselves, and to the rest of the universe. It’s something I admire and it’s a part of my ancestry that I have the opportunity to embrace and learn more about.

So no shit I’m not “full” Native American. By those shallow standards, I’m not full Polish, or Danish, or Irish, or African American. If you keep splitting me up into parts, there’s not going to be any me left. What am I supposed to be? What would make you fucking people happy? If my entire family was descended from one little town in England for the last two hundred years? You want me to have Hemophilia or some shit? You want my entire family to come from Nigeria so I’m fucking BLACK ENOUGH for you? You want my entire family to be Cherokee? Then I probably wouldn’t fucking exist. My would-be mom would have been secretly sterilized before I could be conceived.

I’m so sorry my mixed “race” is so offensive. Let me just put on some black-face and make everyone a little more comfortable.

Fuck off with that shit.

Discrimination doesn’t have to be “get out of here blacky, before you steal my bike” or “stop being such a cracka, Bob, you’re making all white people look bad”. It can be subtle, so subtle the person doing it might not even realize the amount of offense in their language. It’s not easy being mixed race, especially in a town where the majority population is Hispanic. They all have their families and their cultures and traditions. Both my boyfriend’s parents are Mexican, so by those shallow standards he’s “full” Mexican. He doesn’t understand when you’re of mixed race, you have to struggle to find your identity and which culture of your family you prefer to identify as. You have to struggle when people say “What, you’re black? You don’t look black. You look Mexican. You only have an accent when you’re angry.” Or “Ha, you’re white-washed”.

Fuck off with that shit.

On top of that,  I’m also the not black enough, kind of southern-accented when I’m angry (the “black/Cherokee half” of my family is from Mississippi) but white-washed quiet girl who whispers to herself in the middle of class but can’t speak when she needs to.

There are a lot of campaigns going around now to bring attention to stigma against those of us that struggle with our mental health. You know, people taking selfies with their medication (Big Pharma thanks you for your advertisement) and people writing things like #StepFoward on their hands.

Sorry to burst your bubble ya’ll, but writing on your hands and taking pictures of your anxiety medication isn’t helping anyone. I think social media is one of the most powerful ways to bring forth a movement. However, it needs to be done correctly and that is not the correct way. What does writing on your hands tell people? It doesn’t give you websites to support, campaigns to support, it doesn’t even tell you why people are stepping forward. Just #StepForward.

Okay, I just took a step. I stepped from my desk to my fan. Does . . . what do I get? Do I get a prize?

Sure, there’s meaning behind the hash-tag but not everyone knows the severity of that meaning. It’s like reading a book in a literature class. You can read the words, you know what happens in the story, but do you understand the depths of motifs? Do you understand why there was foreshadowing? Do you understand how syntax of particular scenes represents a particular feeling? Do you even know what Motif, foreshadowing, and syntax is?

Hashtags and medication pictures don’t talk about what we as a society don’t talk about. It puts mental health in the back of everyone’s mind but there’s a lot of junk in the back of people’s minds today, I’m pretty sure mental health is buried underneath all that other shit. In this article, this woman in New Zealand explains her own reasons for why #StepForward and other such campaigns might not be doing what it intends to do.

I can’t speak for New Zealand, but here in America I would apply her same points. Campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter I hesitate to consider useless, only because the subject of Race has been a topic in American society since . . .well, the settlers. We’re not “open” about racial discrimination like we should be, we don’t talk about why it still exists in our society. At least we (Well, most of us) recognize that it does. We don’t talk about the fact that “Race” itself is a social construction; it changes with time. For example, Hispanic didn’t used to be a race. I remember when it wasn’t. I remember when all the state standardized tests in my area had “White, African American, Asian , and ‘other’ ” as your “race” options. I always put other, ever since first grade. Fuck your categories, California. Fuck off with that shit. Then they made a separate column for “Hispanic” or “Not Hispanic”. Now it’s a government-recognized race. We made it that way.

So our discrimination tactic is based upon something we made up.

Seems like it would be easier to see how dumb it is if people realized “black” or “white” could eventually change to “fried-chicken people” and “Mayonnaise people” and it would all be the same.

Just like the people who want to change “Schizophrenia” to something else. We stigmatize the behavior and the symptoms. You could call that disorder “Happy-Fucking-Sunshine-rainbows-and-Unicorn” disorder and you know what? As soon as people learn what the disorder entails, they’ll go right back to discriminating. And as soon as they read “Happy-fucking-sunshine-rainbows-and-unicorn disorder, otherwise known as Schizophrenia” then they’ll go right back to discriminating.

Yes, our language needs to change. But we created language. We created the words we use today and therefore those words describe our understanding of the world and how we view others. As long as we continue to misunderstand severe mental disorders, as long as we as a society fail to recognize the issues in our past that have created the issues of our present, we will continually call people “Crackas”, we’ll continually say all black people love fried chicken and grape soda (Grape soda tastes like straight up ass to me. But then again, I‘m not “full black”, am I?), we’ll continually say people with schizophrenia are dangerous, and we’ll continually use “race” to describe a person’s appearance before anything else.

Our language will change with our understanding, our compassion, and our realization that we’ve created the mess we’re in.

Facts are facts.