In your youth, if you listened to the ancestors -- your ancestors, those before them, the ancestors of freedom fighters, of rebellions, ancestors of the Earth who resist by living as they always have, ancestors of immigrants with Gaman behind barbed wires, persevering, ancestors, immigrants of borders which moved, who remain and fight por la genre, this is for you! Take heart. Those roots have never died and spring eternal. Poe Tree! Corporate greed, corporate media, corporate pop music, corporate celebrities, corporate food, corporate bought politicians did not get everyone!
I was on a thread started by the mayor tonight about homelessness which quickly went all over the place with opinions and attitudes and philosophical thought. Eugene. The bottom line is that we lose sight of of possibilities. That being said, these young people will play music. I think we need to love the challenge and get out of our individual mire. And dream a society into being that is good and beautiful, simple and built on love.
This is a must see from Winona (LaDuke) Do you know we are in an era where there are such things as National Sacrifice Areas? What is at stake are beautiful rivers, plentiful wild rice lakes, healthy farmlands, sacred wilderness areas which will be turned into devastation, dead zones to extract the dirtiest oil in history if it is allowed to happen. Elected officials, certainly oil corporations, and those with authority are not doing what they are supposed to do by environmental protection law. They are not following process. Instead you have Executive Orders, and secret deals clearing the way to destruction for oil and natural gas extraction, an X-treme process which will hurry us to the end of clean water, good air. Take some time to see this important video and understand why ordinary people, youth to elders, are putting their lives on the line to stop Tar Sands. Winona says we have a covenant with our ancestors and to the next generations to protect the Earth -- and it is not indigenous only who have this responsibility.
I have posted a lot of things recently. I'm on the run, but I do take some time for Facebook and there's been some incredible stuff on Facebook, incredibly good, and incredibly bad. But all causes thought and inspires me to say something. But not now. So I shall get to it soon, and my blog will have all this cool Youtube videos to boot.
Right now, heavily into taking the film to film festivals, Native American Heritage Month events, on the road all the time. Also getting focused on what I volunteer for and what I quit, and what I transition out of. So soon, I see a time of some catching up and rest. Looking forward to all that!
NASU had asked me to prepare a speech for Indigenous Solidarity Week about colonialism but the day of the panel was cancelled. I am happy to see so much activity on Facebook against the Columbus holiday and a drive to change it to Indigenous Solidarity Day. One sad comedian suggested changing it to Bartholome de las Casas Day to honor the higher up Bishop in Spain who criticized the violence of Colombus' voyage. Bu a student of mine researched him further and found he supported the African Slave Trade. A man of very little integrity. I'm posting this here because I wrote it to give.
I am Misa Joo, a third generation immigrant and a tribal member of the Winnemem
Wintu Tribe of northern California.
Outside of this circle in the land of Columbus Day, the Government is
still shut down. Elderly, and people depending
on their federal government are out of luck. Ours government officials don't about food on their table, delivery of warmth to
their homes. For quite awhile, I’ve
been thinking of something Russell Means founder of the American Indian
Movement and historian said, “America, Welcome to the Reservation!” That is my message to you today, on Monday of
NASU”s Indigenous Solidarity Week, because we are in the final phases of
colonization in this country, where our own government now turns its hungry
eyes on their own. Our dependence on
other countries to feed our national addiction to fossil fuel has become
increasingly difficult, embroiling us in war after war from the War in Viet Nam
through those in the Middle East. If you
watched Gasland 2, you know that corporations and government are now focused on
domestic shale deposits and ordinary to wealthy white Americans have been driven
from their homes by fracking with their communities literally becoming ghost
towns. Their rights of life, liberty and
property no longer work for them and their lives have turned to dust. When it comes to what Winona La Duke, Native
American economist and lawyer describes as the X-treme Extraction Industry, an
individual has no rights, and no access to protection. Day by day we read that Congress blatantly
has become a shelter for the wealthy and, at the same time, Congress overturns
programs which helped families, youth, elders, farmers, small businesses, laws
which protected human rights, the right to vote, turning the United States into
a third world country – 2.3 million in prison, the highest number in the world,
drastic growth of numbers homeless and unemployed, over a third of Americans without healthcare,
our public schools gutted, another
generation at war. Welcome to the
I spent most of my adult
life teaching middle school American History and language arts. I grew up in a time of school reform. Outdated textbooks were thrown out, and
multiple perspective, and critical thinking was in. This was an exciting time to teach AND to
learn history and literature from many perspectives, and I took advantage of
that and shared what I learned with my students. I believed then, and still do, that the most
important thing for me was that my students believed that history was in their
hands, and history included their families.
Role models were not exclusively generals, Presidents and capitalists
but more appropriate to prepare for adulthood are role models who fought for
freedom and resisted slavery, who resisted colonization and fought for Mother
Earth, who gave back, served and represented the highest ideals.
All my students will
remember their first spelling list began with the phrase sovereign nations
followed by the names of the Oregon tribes and the tribe of this valley, the
Kalapuyan people of the Confederation of Grand Ronde. The first book they read was
a book by Michael Dorris written for the 500th Year observance of
Columbus, titled Morning Girl which when they come to the end of the book, the
students realize the family they had fallen in love with were Taino and by the
conclusion of the book, it was too late to objectify them when we read about
the giant sails of Christopher Columbus’ ship paused on the horizon.
One of the first history
lessons began with questions. “Does anyone know what third world
means?” The hands go up. “What makes a country third world?” “Can you name some third world countries for
Then followed by the question,
“Does anyone know what a first world country means?”
My students predictably named
the continent of Africa, Mexico and China as third world countries. They described them to be countries with war,
sickness, poverty, illiteracy, environmental destruction, and dictatorships. First World countries named, also predictable: the continent of Europe, the United States
and Canada and described as advanced, good healthcare, educated, abundance of
natural resources. Then the work begins
when I provide my students’ with primary sources from the journals of Columbus,
Marco Polo, Cortez’ conquistadors and abridged portions of Before the Mayflower
of the African Kingdoms. It becomes
apparent that China, Mexico, the kingdoms of Africa were greatly advanced in
every way. They were the First World
Countries before Columbus’ voyages. The
first hand accounts of these countries describe universities with vast
libraries, medicine, art, fantastic markets where wonderful things were
sold. I also provide chapters about
Spain during the time of Columbus and it is clear that the European Nation
States was a Third World region devastated by the environmental crisis of over
used land, famine, a region of continuous war between the European nation
states, all their resources funneled into military and for exploration. Our
study leaves us with this question. What
turned everything upside down?
I give them a
journalizing challenge. “You are a captain sent by Spain to explore
and you have to decide who makes up your crew.
Who will you bring? What will you
bring? Why?” In their journals the
students made these great lists – artists because there were no cameras, a
doctor, a musician because we could learn their music and share ours, a cook, a
poet so he can describe what he sees just right, a botanist so we know what’s
poison and what is medicine, a dancer for cultural exchange. Without exception the young people interpret the
job “to explore” as learning about another country, and sharing with another
Then I gave them
Columbus’ short list – horses, soldiers, sailors and a surgeon. Clearly, this
was a military expedition. Columbus’
journal is illuminating. The goal was to
take land, take slaves and take gold. He
remarked on the beauty of the Taino people who greeted him and his men, and
their peacefulness no evidence of weapons and says “It will not be hard to take them.” The Taino were the first slaves, their hands
cut off if they did not collect their day’s quota of gold, their leaders
violently killed and displayed to keep the people in terror. The Taino were hunted down and killed or
enslaved until their numbers were reduced to almost nothing. This exercise
and research is an introduction to a clear definition of colonization with use
of primary sources.
Columbus’ voyage sets a
pattern for the United States. American
history is about one military incursion after another to become a country from
sea to shining sea using treachery in some cases, and genocidal policies which did
not differentiate between warrior and mothers, elders and babies. The
economic basis of the country was not just gold but also founded upon the slave
trade and an inhuman form of slavery that shocked the world.
We’ve all heard
apologists defend American slavery by saying other countries had slavery too. “Why, even tribes had slaves.” But the system of slavery in the United
States is unique and referred to by Americans as that peculiar institution.
First, the American form
of slavery is the only system in the world that is based on color, not enmity.
This leads us to the
second defining point, the American form of slavery was purely for economic
reasons, for profit. The American slave trade fanned enmity and political
grudges between African tribes. There
were many battles stripping Mother Africa of her people and the Middle Passage
between Africa and America became a road of blood and bones. Two million people died on the Middle Passage
and over ten million enslaved. Those who were enslaved were not the weakest
– they were the strongest, the leaders, the lawyers, the chemists captured by
their enemies and sold for alcohol or gold brought in chains and sold on
To continue what set
American form of slavery apart from other forms is that it is also the only
system of slavery that turned human beings into chattel, beasts of burden,
deprived by LAW of religion, education,
families, humanity. Despite these inhuman laws of the land and violent
consequences, the Slave Narratives show that the People survived. They kept communities, they raised children,
they told their stories, and were undefeated.
It is important to teach this, that no matter how many generations of
never knowing what freedom was, Black people had freedom in their hearts, and
were always first, and still are the first people to stand up and speak out for
freedom, to fight for freedom, even die for it. Slavery must be taught as an American story of
great American Role Models. The point
of the lesson should be how African people kept freedom alive through all means
possible if we are to pass on the love of freedom and the strength to struggle to
the future generation. If not, do we
make this story about the slavers shivering in their beds at night in their
mansions always fearful of uprisings, keeping people down by violence?
The American form of
slavery is uniquely inhuman in that bondage was for one’s whole life. Most
evil of all, the American form of slavery is the only slavery in the world
where babies were born into it, babies left to be naked and fed from troughs to
get that human out of them. But the
African people designated elderly grandmas to take care of the children and to
raise them as long as possible and pray for them that they would not be sold
and separated from their families.
It is important to know
the truth about colonization and slavery so these don’t just become words. It is important to understand that these
powerful countries who were First World nations before Columbus became third
world through aggression and violence and greed. We
must know it and feel it to recognize how the combined legacy of colonization
and slavery plays out in our current lives.
We need to recognize the twin legacies not only in the way one profits
by degrading human beings, but also how one profits by degrading Nature. Presently we live in a time where there is
great divide between human and nature, where an extinction of a species, drying
up of rivers, polluting the air is acceptable if there is profit in it.
It is our duty as human
beings to resist the belief system that a prosperous life, a good life must
come from destruction of other lives and destruction of the Earth; that others must suffer great loss for us to
have what we need. We are the lucky ones
to be born into the time where it is easy to see that such a system based on
the demise of others is not working anymore and that system is precariously on
the brink of self-destruction. That is
what we need to teach to help the next generation survive.
Only the people can
change things. We can still turn things
around from destruction following good leadership with sound ideas. Many of our grandparents emigrated from their
birthplace to come to this land due to traumatic changes. My grandparents left Japan at the turn of the
last century when their country fell into chaos blasted open to the West by
Commodore Perry and his “gunboats from America” to labor in the dusty fields of
southern Idaho. Two generations later, I
have made a similar decision. During
these times of global catastrophe, when it was offered, my husband and I left
the path of destruction set upon by our birth country for a path that supports
life. Since the early 80’s, our family
has followed the Winnemem way of life.
We are the Middle River People.
We are salmon people. Our sacred
responsibility from the beginning of time is to the salmon, water, and sacred
lands from Mt. Shasta to the Delta.
Chief Caleen Sisk always says if we follow the salmon, if we act in a
way that helps their survival, we will have solved climate change. I believe that to survive as a human race, we
must listen to the indigenous peoples of the world. I believe that before the leaders of the country my grandparents and parents made into their home destroys life as we know it, we must follow the message from indigenous leaders around the world to struggle for Mother Earth and resist the X-treme destructive policies of corporate greed. We should not wait until we cannot be part of the solution, but stand up now when indigenous leaders are reaching out to the world with their message. Stand with them. Help spread the message. Share your resources.
Will and I are blessed and honored that due to circumstances, we had the opportunity to stand with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe of Northern California -- a state at the very beginning of an intense water war with a governor bent on making a name for himself by throwing himself in with the X-treme developers of the state and sacrifice the public trust for a "short man's" Napoleonic vision, an Ozymandius, his structure being a freeway- sized twin tunnel to divert the whole Sacramento River system away from the Delta. Like Ozymandius, his structure will deteriorate into sand, but for Brown, first and during his lifetime, it will first destroy the largest estuary of this continent and incubator for many of Nature's species which grow up in the Bay Delta. Instead the river will be diverted to another city to be built in the desert, and to feed the fracking industry and toxify the air and drinking water for populations of his people all through California.
Our Chief is only the fifth Chief since White
contact. Within three generations, in
recent history, her family has survived bounty hunters, massacres, boarding
school violence, loss and drowning of homeland, loss of federal recognition,
loss of human rights, and yet the Winnemem continue to be Winnemem. To be Winnemem is to resist genocide, and resist
participating in the destruction of Mother Earth. To follow her, helps people rather than destroy people. Working and living outside the belly is the only option I see, and following my Issei Grandparents, for the sake of future generations, I am a nature-ized Winnemem.
Beedi Yalumina, We
will never give up! Hee Chala
I am putting this here for school teachers who want to teach the truth about the 15th cy. in Europe and who was third world and who was first. This post AND Beyond the Mayflower, and Marco Polo's supposed journals, and you're ready to roll. I say this because if you ask your students about the meaning of third world, they will list off all the traits which make a country third world. If you ask what countries are third world they will list Mexico, the continent of Africa and in the old days China, but I wouldn't be surprised if China still came out of their mouths after such brainwashing.
But please, even if off the radar, show how advanced Native peoples were in this unit.
They will be shocked at the 3rd world conditions of Europe -- the first wars against each other and their part of Mother Earth. Columbus is an export of death, environmental disaster, violence, war, disease, illiteracy, everything that makes a country a third world. Four hundred nations becoming third world on this land is proof. And that is repeated all over the Americas and the Caribbean. And the African continent suffering still from the unimaginable ravaging of the slave trade. It is important that your students know that the Creator did not make a third world country. The Creator and Nature takes care of us all. If your students do not know what makes a country third world they will have no analysis to know what is happening to them right now, by their own government as corporations strip their own of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness with their endless pursuit of paper money by the destruction of our Mother Earth fueling our addiction to fossil fuel and a lifestyle of waste with the Xtreme fracking industry.
Precious video of Steve Blakeley and Ronee. Steve is a beautiful human being and as a gay man was one of the many martyrs to prejudice during the AID's epidemic. I am so touched by this video, and this is how I choose to remember him. Last time I saw him he was but a middle schooler, and tonight I get to see him grow up into manhood.
I have known Mike Jones for fifty-three years, at first because he was Jones and Joo always came after Jones in seating arrangements and because I was somewhat "smart" in literature and writing. When it came to science and math, I sat behind other folks. Now when I go home and see my classmates, I am still pleased that I sit behind Mike Jones, sharing thoughts, sharing work. Here is his latest -- a student of sumi-ye and an admirer of salmon. Mike is a philosopher and a naturalist and an artist:
I received this from Ricardo Torres, educator, who posted it on my page because he thought I would appreciate it. An understatement. I wept! My heart broke and swelled up at the same time. It inspired me. Every teacher should hear it. This is the beauty which happens when a Good Teacher, and an ELL teacher, talks about her day in school, her kids to her brother and he is a poet.
The Z-Man, acquitted, found to be Not Guilty in Amerika for chasing down in a car Trayvon Martin, who was on foot to share the evening with his brother, now running for his life from a bogey man in the night. The Z Man is found Not Guilty for getting out of the car, taking out his gun and murdering young Trayvon in cold blood. We could hear the terrified scream from this young son of the Martin family rip through our hearts on the 911 operator recording. The Z-Man, the bogey man, the sick bad man goes free for the murder of innocence. One more martyr for bloody Amerika with a slaveholding genocidal soul.
Rest in Peace, Trayvon Martin, in the love of your family and in the tears of a nation that one more beautiful, promising, precious Black youth is martyred. You are precious. You will not be forgotten.
I will say personally, there is a different feeling this year working with the Forest Service for the Coming of Age Ceremony, and I have hope this feeling goes through the complete process. This year Region 5 has provided us with a Tribal Liaison who brought with him the cultural staff for the Forest which oversees our sacred lands. Although Region 5, in the last weeks of our communication yanked the Tribal Liaison from the position of working with us and replaced him with the very next person in rank with the Forest office under a very hateful Forest Ranger, he seems to be open to working with us. His superior has never from the time Chief began to hold the Coming of Age Ceremonies for women where it was supposed to be, never met with us nor acknowledged our need to talk with the Forest about our use of our former homeland. Also involved is the person who is the intermediate Supervisor of several Forests, the original one who refused anything but a voluntary closure of the river, allowing only the haters and drunks to race, and shout, and rubberneck through our ceremony to come through.
We will have something to celebrate together if this new team has come together to help the tribe, or at the least, stop interfering with the tribe to peacefully bring a young girl through her womanhood ceremony in a dignified manner, a beautiful ceremony, Balas Chonos, It will be something that she receives everything she is supposed to from the spirit of the place, the ancestors, surrounded by those who care about her, whether tribal or by a government agency which sees values in such things and she has a chance to grow to be a strong Winnemem woman. I want to share that these ceremonies work in the most contemporary sense in period when it's so hard to grow up. Gangs, drug and alcohol addiction, depression, teen suicide, teen pregnancy so many things that can turn a young life into a downward spiral. In fact, the generations who parented and grandparented this generation have such stories and some survived, many did not. But 100 percent of these young ones who live at the Village, grow up taking care of ceremony, and go through a Coming of Age, are addiction free, are happy, know they are important to the tribe, step up to their traditional roles, or go to college -- some both --get a job. They make good and healthy choices. It is that important. We all want Alicia to have a good life. Babers, Winona, Jessica and even Marisa, our next Chief, came through a ceremony riddled with attacks, especially Marisa. It angered us to see those LEO's in the trees above the young women's camp ogling our youth through binoculars but we were in a ceremonial mode. We did have fears that our young women going through stressful ceremonies would not get those gifts of ceremony. So we prayed harder. And so far, it seems they're all ok, making good decisions. But for Alicia, we would, of course, love for her to have all the attention she should have, and all the blessings of that place.
It is not a small feat, nor is it of narrow importance in the scheme of things to come together -- Forest government bureaucrats and tribe -- so a young person stays on a good path of life. In the context of Indian Country it is phenomenal thing. The Winnemem like most of Native tribes are not materially well off at all with the weight of colonialization and negative governmental policies used against them. But the Winnemem are ceremonially rich and attached just as their ancestors were to their sacred lands keeping the ceremonies alive, therefore keeping the sacredness alive in their sacred places. When Forest and Tribe come together to do this for a young person, one more person who is born into poverty but not stunted by it, and instead who finds goodness in what really matters, and then grows to be an adult who gives goodness and raises the next generation, it is not a small feat and it is not just for this tribe, this region, but for the world. I'm a school teacher of 35 years and I know this to be true. That's what I hope we are accomplishing this time. That's what my prayer has been, that that is our common goal young girl by girl for as long as this sacred river flows. I approach our July 19th meeting between Forest Service and Tribe with cautious optimism.
Watching Gasland 2. Every American should see it. We have political leaders from the very top to local level who really don't care if the fracking industry is killing families in their state, leaving towns ghost towns and, in fact, under Obama and Hilary Clinton's leadership has imported it all over the world. Water has no boundaries -- and nether does the unimaginable destruction the X-treme industry of fracking wreaks all over the world on drinkable water, air and earth stability. The extraction industry --oil, gas Xtreme industries which is destroying water, air, and is responsible for causing earthquakes -- are given the right to sue landowners, even towns of landowners who take them to court -- for example, to sue for the cost of hooking them up to water.
There are studies which show how extraction practices cause earthquakes. In California, the "shale field" which Brown has opened up for fracking has the St. Andreas fault running through it. Very very vulnerable, your water, air and earth that supports you. Brown is no different from the governors of NY, of PA. Or our President. These politicians are living off the Fracking Industry. This ecological hell created by x-treme industries is the "clean natural gas which will mean jobs for 100 years" and moving us off of fossil fuel the President is selling. What has been done to other countries has indeed come to this country, the desecration to feed our insatiable addiction to fossil. fuel That pretty much covers it, doesn't it. Do your leaders care about anyone but themselves. That is a small group to care about if you are considered a world leader.
Are you outraged? Obama also signed into law his first term something which stripped people of the right to express outrage. At first I thought it was a cowardly response to Occupy. Now I know it was that he is in the back pocket of the X-treme fracking industries to stop actions of outrage by Americans whose homes, health, and happiness, the ability to protect their children has been stolen from them.
They are creating a revolution, perhaps a revolution of values because it's about the basics -- food, air, water, health, the stability of the earth. Their language is military. They call Americans insurgents.
See the documentary while we can do something.
June, 1963, #1 on the Top 100 in the USA. Kyu Sakamoto meant so much to me as a sansei, and the fact that #1 was at the top of the charts when I graduated from high school. My last summer vaca going into college had the sweet sound of my language, a language my second grade teacher shamed me out of and the longing for young love, and smelled of cool grassy evenings after a hot summer Idaho day. Kyu Sakamoto's song was the last song of innocence because after that the war came home as classmates became a number of war's body count, Kennedy was assassinated and King, Bobby and Malcolm Our young growing up years were littered with the murdered hopes of our heroes so that by the time we left to become the rest of our future we no longer believed anything good stayed around. And we moved on. Kyu Sakamoto sang me sweetly out of Idaho Days.
Our daughter is out looking for a car within her price range. She's been paying off a debt for awhile so a car loan is out of the question. This is just another blip of the most bumbling clumsy breakup ever. Maki's ex has not had a lot of experience in committed relationships. I believe this was his first. And it looks like breaking up is no more a natural thing for him as building a relationship was. Nice guy, maybe. Incredibly clumsy about things when they are important -- like commitment, and being sensitive to another person's good judgement regarding her future as much as he is interested in his.
The load is not on him. It is also part Maki's. This is also Maki's first real relationship and she wound herself around it as tightly as one can, as soon as one can and learned a huge lesson because of it. I remember as a little girl she was in love with the Littlest Mermaid -- and thinking back on it, she relived it in this relationship, giving up everything for love. She was willing to give up family, culture, voice. Yes, she was spunky and seemed independent, but in reality everything was all about the boy -- family vacations, place to live, when to move in together and that she would give up on her college to do so, what they would spend on, who they hung out with which excluded much of her former relationships including us, her family because of he felt awkward and uncomfortable around all of us. Again, nice boy, but really uncomfortable outside of his box.
He is moving back East, his home area, to go to grad school. It became increasingly a reality to him that he really didn't want the relationship to continue into His Future. That's what he calls it "My Future." And it was over. But did initiative come from him beyond saying it was over? Maki took that on for both their sake. She moved out, stored things in the garage and rented a bedroom for $400 a month with one of their friends because it was too sad to be broken up and still live together.
Broken-hearted, she puts on a carefree face on facebook and moves on the best she can accepting the reality that it's over. He calls for her to take care of his dog while he is in a month-long military maneuver to save him some money two months into the breakup otherwise, poor dog would be in a kennel. She says of course. Breaks down. She wonders if it is going to be like this all the time when she sees him. I say, "Yes, as long as you are doing things for him, it is not a clean breakup where you're going on with your life." So she texts him, "I just can't do it. " He says, "No problem. " And then does what he should have done on his own, which is to send poor Charlee to his sister's farm where he can run free and eat right and be happy.
She moves all her stuff into a storage out of the garage so they don't have to see or talk to each other when he gets back from military maneuvers Friday this week. Her plan to have moved into a condo was dashed because she has been laid off with the 300 Comcast employees who were hired at the same time, ending July 1. She rents a storage unit and moves everything into a storage unit, preparing to move back home for the work of job search. I ask her why she has so much stuff to merit renting a storage unit, offering space at our house. She said, she took a lot of stuff that he did not want to take home to save him the money. I sigh. There's plenty of time to deal with that at another time, but I wish with these emotional ties, she would not have to deal with the stuff that she no more needs than he does. Her last day of work she had called to ask if she could come home to stay from that time. That was great, but then she paused, "Oh, no! I can't! I promised to clean the apartment, at least part of it!"
Shocked, I admit I need some clarification. I asked, "uh . . the apartment you haven't lived in for two months while he has? He can't clean his own apartment?"
"Well, I don't want him to be mad."
"He's moving out and away. He broke up with you."
"Well, yeah, but I told him I'd clean half." (Do these two know that there is no half? And probably, in my opinion, never been a half half relationship?)
"Maki, you know this is a first, right, in the history of women being dropped?"
She texts him and lets him know she couldn't return from Eugene to clean his apartment and he says, "No problem." His dad is flying in to help.
This morning, Maki gives us the news. Adam wants his car back. The company (his mother;s) denied Maki and her father (with his flawless credit rating) the ability to take on the lease.
Surprise! The longest most drawn out and awkward break up continues. She says, "I have learned never to wind up so much of my affairs with another person and wil never ever do it again."
I couldn't resist. "I wonder why you chose to lease a car anyway with your debt?"
She said, "I didn't. He did it for my birthday."
I bit my tongue. An hour later, and looking at Craig's List and turning to the RG for something within the range of what she can afford with our help, $2000, and coming up with "motorbike" I finally said, "so he's taking back the birthday present, and also is going out into the world clueless that we girls like to pick our own cars? Real classy."
He texts her she can just leave the car at his friend's house (where she is renting a room for $400 a month) and leave the key with them, for his dad and him to pick up on their way out to the East Coast where Adam Johnson will finally be at home among his peeps.
I've a chip on my shoulder so I said, "It's kind of a white thing to want to take it with you. His parents probably told him he had to get the car." Maki rose to his defense, of course, saying he didn't want the car, and it was a birthday present. Maki's dad remarks, "hmmmmm. I wonder how his dad knew that the car company wasn't going to accept you before you knew, and knew to fly on over here." I want to say, what kind of guy gives a birthday present that puts you in a "lease situation" where you need your dad to pay it, and then puts you in a situation at the last minute when you have to get a car on his time frame?"
There is a long, awkward pause with her dad's question as she stares without blinking with nothing to say, and we could almost hear the click click click of her brain whirring. Definitely, the longest, most awkward drawn out break up EVER! It should finally end on July 3, 2013, an excruciating nine weeks after it first began.
Postscript: Sigh. It continues with one more accommodation needed by him. He wants the car, with very little notice, tomorrow. Will cannot help make that happen because he is giving up a lot of work and cannot add another day plus we would have to get a motel in Portland. Being a reasonable and kind man, however, we are all willing to get up and out of here by 7 am on Wednesday to make sure we have the car to Adam way before he needs to pick his dad up at the airport at 10 am. Adam has sent a text that he does not intend too accommodate us, and that he needs the car tomorrow night (despite the fact his father does not come in until the next day.) PERIOD. Maki read his text hoping that we might be able to do this. I returned her stare, and turned, laughing. We live in the real world here and in the real world good people work things out the best they can. We were willing to do that. Perhaps being in the army he thinks that people will jump if talked to in that manner, salute and say Yes Sir! However, even if Mr. Adam thinks the WHOLE family should jump to accommodate his whims as Maki too often willingly did, it just is not realistic.
We will keep our mouths shut as Maki washed the car and cleaned it and filled the tank because we probably would take the high road too. We don't say anything as she drives off tomorrow to take care of business and have the car available that evening to accommodate him. Certainly, we will all drive up as soon as we can the next day to pick her up and take off for the next chapter, lesson learned, for her life. Hopefully, she has a few more things to add to her list of traits a man must have and one of them hopefully will be respect for her family because she deserves it.
She's been on a few dates now, and taking it slow, not really thinking of anything serious, but the good news is that all are much more respectful of her. It took this to wake her up to the lesson that she deserves to be valued for her whole self as much as she values her partner, his friends, his family. She should feel supported to bring her whole self in to the relationship, and not just leave everything behind in exchange for his world only. I would say that the people I know she has dated are real men, and very much with their destiny in their hands and ready to treasure or share with someone rather than needing so much accommodation, so much adoration, so much one way. More than that she is surrounded by quality women, including her parents (yes, I know Will is a man but we're a team) -- her Winnemem family, her mom's closest Sisters -- Aunties and her Godmother who are back in her life, now that she is ready to enter this next chapter.
I feel for her. She did give her heart, and because of the kind of person he is, she put her life goals on hold, quitting college to move in with him. I am proud that she learned that giving up one's whole self cannot make a selfish relationship a good relationship. If one treasures, one also should expect to be treasured. To build a relationship, the glue is the shared commitment to make one another happy and be true to one another. Next time, I pray for her, a reciprocal and loving relationship which lasts.
Grandpa said he had Ainu background. Some of my family talked about it from time to time. On of my regrets is I did not pursue it. At the time we as children just knew we were Nihon-jin and wished to be nothing else. The language, the family, the foods, the values, all of it was Home. But we always remember what Grandpa said to us.
Was it Ainu or Shinto which lay behind his teaching us about the ancient rocks which had a spirit, that everything had a spirit and taught us not to take life lightly. I don't know. Was it Ainu or Shinto which follows our ancestors, reveres them? Europeans call it worship like they do their Christ. But their Christ has to be perfect and omniscient. Our ancestors touch our heart as they age, and become weakened in the body, and loving and compassionate and happy in spirit. And they are around us when they leave their bodies behind, our guardian angels when we need them. Is that Shinto or Ainu?
I wish I had enough days of reverence to have asked Grandpa. But I only need to look at the path I am on to know that I know on another level -- not Ainu or Shinto -- but definitely my ancestors throwback girl.
Situations like the trial for the murder of young Trayvon Martin brings racism to the national consciousness and picks at the oozing scabs. Our language, our response, the pain we feel are on two sides of a line, a line which divides us by color. That line treats each of us racially from the time we take our first breath. But we have CHOICE and we can NAME that line (racism) and then denounce it in word, thought and deed. We all experience the national trauma of the country's racist history built on the foundation of cruel slavery, unique among all forms of slavery -- 1) based on color 2) human beings treated as chattel, violently stripped of all humanity 3) for one's whole life and whose babies are born into it and remain for their whole lives from the first moment they draw breath 4) purely economic reason with a recent history; as I told my students, for cold cash, not the passion of enmity. When I say all of us suffer from trauma of this national legacy, I mean all of us. However, the trauma is felt differently on opposite ends, as different as the namecalling which is in the news today: Cracker or slaveowner and the N word or your life is worth nothing; you can be dead by a cracker's whim, rich man or poor man. Racism serves a purpose in our country, so it's never been discarded. It divides us so we don't see who really interferes with this country's ideals that all people have the freedom to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We just get side tracked into Black and White. Black includes all peoples whose work is exploited for the running of things and it's based on pigment or some other physicality which easily sets us apart. And White includes light skinned people, rich or poor, perhaps reviled as part of an immigration wave, definitely exploited, kept poor, but there was the miniscule reward to insure safety and hold out a bit of promise on the basis of pigment if that race line is kept in place. For the sake of their grandchildren's safety, they felt they had to hide their northern or eastern European last names, hide or allow ancestry to be forgotten and inside in the hidden part of the heart that seed of slavery planted its seed as well as resentment and shame for having to give up one's cultural identity.
This murder trial and the way the defense is waging it is a flashpoint, a button which brings that sensitivity to the racist underpinning of our society out in each of us. I feel it. I don't want to even hear the news. I see others feel it reading the threads on Facebook, the defensive postures of some. The flash of impatience of others. As a teacher I spent most of my adult life with young people, middle schoolers, a time when one really begins to be interested in who they are, where they fit, do they fit and a time where fairness is a big deal. I have to say, even now, retired over ten years, I think the most beautiful people in the world are young people, beginning their journey, second only to the adults they have become.
I disown the national perception of racializing. I reject that it is human nature. I believe it is brainwashing and manipulation, an opiate to some and for others, a loose noose, a cocked pointed gun. Russian roulette if you're lucky. I believe that the human being is good, strong and intelligent and has a great capacity to give, tend and risk with great courage: I have examples: even after being born into slavery for generations and never experiencing it, African Americans still loved freedom, yearned for it and were the first to stand and give their lives to freedom and still do. To be able to muster up Hope and Commitment deplete of any in their surroundings is unimaginable courage and love. Being Human must be about courage and love. Then there were the Garretts who lost everything they owned at the age of 60, Quakers, part of the Underground Railroad. Losing all of ones material possessions was the punishment levied. And Thomas Garrett, being sentenced, said he would do it again until this evilness is done. The Garretts are just one of many people on the underground who chose spiritual and what was right over material and physical comfort. Anyone who is 60 knows how long it takes to own a home, how important it is to secure an elderly life. I have to believe that it is Being Human to choose right over evil, and the spirit over material safety. So, yes, I choose not to see us as divided and I do not credit racial consciousness as human nature. That is not to say, that the United States, in reality, is not based on racializing, because it certainly is but that's a choice made by unquestioning it at its foundation. We are traumatized by it by a long history, we are traumatized by our social upbringing in school systems, dealing with other systems in order to have shelter, food, health, education and pursuit of happiness, daily. And these flashpoints, like the murder case of Trayvon Martin, and the racist defense tactic touches a nerve and brings it up for painful discussion, each of us experiencing it as a great division.
We can reject that system which relies on that division and the glorious beauty of all our differences as human beings will be evident -- like my classrooms in Snoqualmie Middle, Cherry Valley Elementary, Monroe Middle, Madison Middle, Jefferson Middle, Roosevelt Middle and Sheldon High School, and the UO College of Education became for me.
Most of my students, if we are looking at the racialized paradigm are, in racialized language, white. Being young, and intelligent, and open they went through some exercises which made sense to them, and then bloomed in front of my eyes.
In Madison, Troy Shawn and Eddy came up to me handing me these green tickets saying, "here's our pass."
"We're doing a simulation about South Africa in Mandelblatt's room and we have to show you our pass because we're Black South Africans,"
It just popped out of my mouth, "You don't need those. You're in Angola now."
The gleam in their eyes and the grin on their faces can only be described as wicked! We looked at each other. I made a bargain. "Not in my class this period. I get to teach this class, but my prep?"
A revolution was born. Out of my portable every morning five young students began to wage a Free South Africa Movement. Every day I would call Mandelblatt and assured him they were working hard on South Africa, researching what to do in the case of dismanteling Apartheid with their own twist. They convinced the students and the whole faculty to begin to divest and boycott. They had a freedom song. They wrote a constitution for a free South Africa. Admittedly, I happened to have a poster in my classroom of a constitution which I intended to hang until South Africa was free. It was torn and raggedy but it still hung there. They even called the tv news. Oh, no! But they did, and they sang their freedom song for the newssteam.
The librarian took her equipment out of Mndelblatt's room. The office wouldn't talk to him. I did not know this until I checked in that night and he responded with, "I really don't want to talk today, Misa. I've got a headache. It's getting out of hand."
"Hey Mandelblatt," I joked, "Do you think Peter Botha has a headache too? I thought it was just the tv camera person interviewing him.
He listed all the things that happened to him that day, dictionaries taken out, the media equipment, can't even get someone to type his stuff and mimeo it. (Yes, this was all pre-xerox and computers.)
He told me to send the revolutionaries back. The simulation over. He needed his film projector back.
I asked how we can make this a win-win for the boys. He argued, the reality is that South Africa is not free. The reality is what the simulation teaches. I argued, asking "what is it we want the boys to learn" and that we could not teach that South Africa would never be free. But we agreed on one thing. This was his class. And for the purpose of this class he was trying to teach how bad it was in South Africa under Apartheid. He was not trying to teach a hope but the reality. That is another simulation. I honored him for allowing the boys to wage their rebellion within the simulation and he agreed he did feel a lot of pride for them but also felt hurt.
It was his class after all. It broke my heart to give them the bad news. I met the kids and explained Mandelblatt's position and in real school reality they had succeeded to shut his classes down. He was proud of them but with the grades, he felt he had to be fair to those who played within the simulation rules. I told them that he will be consequenting them and told them to understand that heroism against a system as huge and evil and global as apartheid, sometimes heroes are punished, martyred, like Nelson Mandela, in prison but yet free and very much part of the anti-apartheid movement as a leader. Whatever grade they were given, they should see it as being one with Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko. They understood, and sobered, they went to class. The South Africa simulation was over. They received a "C" for the simulation and an "A" for revolution in their heart. In the long run, David and I celebrate that the future really is in the Troys and the Eddys -- in their hands. Apartheid ended in 1991, less than a decade later and Nelson Mandela was elected President in 1994.
About that time, I was teaching in Jefferson Institute of Multicultural and International Education, eighth grade. That is the setting of my next example. I wanted to make the writing of the Constitution more interesting than the deadly lesson it becomes with a textbook. I decided to do a simulation with this, dividing all the students into colonial delegates representing their colony during the writing of the Constitution. They all memorized the preamble of the Declaration of Independance including 'That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute
new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing
its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect
their Safety and Happiness" to set the tone. They all researched their speeches. They all researched their special interest which would inform which speech they would be giving -- or so I thought.
On the day of speeches, Sari Gomez, who was giving a speech against slavery stood up. I don't remember the words right now but it was all about her real heart and her belief. Her voice was confident and passionate. The rest of the delegates spurred her on. And when it came time for the vote, I had my Mandelblatt moment. Unanimously obliterating the institution of slavery every one of them from Rhode Island to Georgia stood up and proudly announced, We the delegates from _____ Colony cast all votes to end slavery in our new country!" Although one part of me thought What was I going to do? the other part was moved to tears. The thundering applause from my 32 students, mostly white, made it clear that they were very aware of the triumph they made out of the simulation. Hannah Ames had a big smile, having made the motion to demolish slavery, standing, and waving her arms about in a victory wave for sure. (She went on to integrate the wrestling team for the school district, first girl wrestler).
I was choked up.
I took the podium and told them "today, you did something incredible. You took history,( I pointed at the textbook,) and you molded it into your own hands. You are different than that first Continental Congress." And I gave them the statistics of the makeup, all male, all European, many lawyers. "Together, women and men, many backgrounds and upbringing, all of you served your country well and with honor today. Because of your choice, your country and your descendants will not have to go through a Civil War which would break your nation apart. You have prevented Jim Crow Segregation and the brutality and inequality of it. There does not have to be a Great Civil Rights Movement because by now, the country would live up to the ideals of freedom for all you brought here with your vote. Because of you there will not be racism and our school would be a regular school instead of special because of our Racism Free Zone. We have a lot to celebrate today because of what you accomplished."
This being said, I hope that these moments they gifted me with -- just a tip of the iceberg of many many moments when each student molded my classroom with their own hands, bringing their families in, their stories, their dreams, stood up for someone whether it was at the State House for school funding, in front of the city council to save their rec center, or make sure someone was safe on the bus who had been tormented day after day. They made of my drama class a Gay Straight Alliance center, something one of my students let me in on years after I was retired and had said with regret, we should have and we didn't even think of it even with all the culture clubs, and was assured there always was a GSA in school and they called int Drama. All this and more were transforming and healing not just the classroom but sometimes the whole community. We mourned Cesar Chavez death, memorialized King each with a re-dedication to justice, welcomed home the Viet Nam vet (these were student inspired and led events) and quietly sat in the little theater where one of the vets took that time to wheel his chair back and forth on the stage, and put to rest what has haunted him his whole life, his buddy's death while 100 middle schoolers witnessed in silent respect. We took 30 students and parents on the road each year, each year guests of a tribe. It was the students' idea, at each place, to give back to our hosts. It was planned, like taking the Shakespeare production there and act it for the little children, or an impromptu gesture when they saw anti-Indian graffiti in the bathrooms, immediately painting of the rec center so that the little kids wouldn't see it. I learned as much as I taught. I received as much as I gave. More, I think. My students come from all hues of the beautiful human rainbow -- none of them colored white, flesh, or black. Their eyes flash if there is something unfair which needs to be dealt with. Their grins widen when they can do something awesome as one. Their coloring flashes or glows when they make their mark, count their coup, turn things so upside down, right side up. That's what color they are. Can you visualize it?
I believe it is from 35 and still going years I have spent in the company of youth White, Black Brown, Red and Yellow that I have hope, and that I have love in my heart, and I believe it is because of the younger generation (some now in their 40's now) that I always will drop the "prejudice bruise" the pain I carry from the national trauma of racism to grasp a beautiful, precious relationship, a glimpse of a future in another generation's hands or the past made right by them. A lot of them became teachers, I mean A LOT, so the future is definitely in good hands. And for those who didn't, many of them my Facebook friends, they are still educating, and touching the next generation reaching way out to all the directions and far into the future.
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.