Yes, this writer gets to say this. Just as people of a culture who are offended by appropriation that trivializes or distorts something they personally live and breathe, get to say. What this writer doesn't get to do is have the last word as an OBJECTIVE VIEW because in this article, the writer's lens reveals itself. The title "cultural cops" gives the lens away also. This article is bias just as the so-called culture cops. The writer's relationship to "culture" is the same as the artists who pick and choose from other cultures to make their art and all are very different from those who live and breathe their culture and call it life. As a Nikkei, I found the writer's pronouncements of what is Geisha as if she knew something was off-putting. I can't help it. That cultural knowledge is part of me as any other part of my life. The writer does understand that cultural appropriation hurts diversity. I think she says more than she realizes. If you live in a society with a white supremacist world view, diversity is just a word rather than an integral part of everyone's experience. So when that WORD pops up in art and entertainment, it seems to be out of place. It's not. It is very much expected to be there. Where there is white supremacy there will be push back -- the push back of those who live a separate reality from white supremacy. How could there not be. It's an oppositional world view.
I do yearn for a reality in this society because it is possible in my opinion, which is not white supremacy but rather . . diversity and it is possible to live in that world. Wouldn't it be refreshing if white supremacy was just a word and could be isolated from any experience if we choose. I've lived in Eugene a few decades, and carved out a place for myself which is very diverse. And I know many who also have. I remember when Jim Garcia, a good friend, got a job in New Mexico. We were happy for him, to be teaching Chicano studies! But he came back because he missed the rest of us. That's what he said. I know exactly what he meant because the mix of cultures he and I and many others grew up in here in the 70's on the UO campus is what we lived and made together with our cultures and ancestors, our stories, songs poetry, our shared beliefs, our uniqueness and raised our children in. With this, together, we changed the campus from white to diverse and as we went into the work places, we had that same passion. We also supported one another's endeavors, celebrations, and stood side by side in the battles. That is how you mix with each other -- a respectful integrating into each of our individual lives what it is to be familia with many peoples of intact cultures. In the context of art, wouldn't that kind of sense of diversity create beautiful and exciting art just as one can say it created a school? A spirit. Not a thing. Something that reached the world, not just an audience of white people or those who don't live culture (except as a word) in the audience, but reach them all. How can people get so defensive protecting a poor copy of a people passing for art.
So expect pushback. It's as constant part of our reality just as cultural appropriation is money in the bank. When culture or diversity is just a word, not a shared experience, you can pick and choose bits and pieces and interpret and cheapen, and commodify. It becomes a catchy phrase for advertising, a new hairdo, a Halloween costume, Miley Cyrus.
Will and I are making our next big move as we enter (I have completely entered) our senior years. Our move is to move from our home of our adult years. We have been in Eugene, Oregon, since 1969, coming separately from different places. I came with my ex-first husband because he was transferred from the Seattle area to be a Scott Paper salesman here. I had to quit my teaching job at Redmond, WA, Cherry Valley Elementary, and take a job with Monroe Middle School. We lived in an apartment across the Ferry Street Bridge. The Vietnam war was raging, and we had moved to one of the key places in the nation for the Anti-War Movement. Will was part of the radical edge of the movement having hitchhiked from Rhode Island to join a movement and I was a school teacher by day, married to a tax man by then, working in the federal government and we were anti-war protestors after work.
In 1976, the war had ended with a whimper, the Watergate Hearings had brought down Richard Nixon a few years before years before, and I was no longer a teacher but a graduate student and actively part of the Asian American movement when our marriage ended in 1976. We had moved into a decrepit house that year, on the market for two years just the year before. I could see why it had not sold. There was a colony of carpenter ants in the back toilet, a dried up cheese sandwich in the dark, extra room off of the living room, the paved floor sitting right on top of dirt, cold in the winter with little insulation. Every carpet and curtain was oily and grimy and had to be thrown away. The house cost 20,000, with monthly payments of $135 a month. Amazing as it may sound, we could barely pay for it. And when my ex gave it up to move into a condo, I took it one and moved back to take on the payments. Without a job that was challenging. Bob Flor, first Filipino PhD student in the School of Ed came to the rescue and moved in paying for the house payment. I will always be so grateful to him. Then I was so grateful I would listen for as long as he needed about his travails with his committee, and about his dissertation which was about gasp! statistics and the Asian population in Education.
During the 70's and 80's I had many many young roommates coming through the house, at first to help me with the rent, and later just because we were family. In Eugene during these decades it was very difficult to get housing as an Asian, Native American, African American or Latino. So especially with AASU and NASU students, they would eventually end up with me whether it was the three weeks after giving notice before going home or for the school year. This house was also the party house. Hardly any furniture cluttered the house so it was easy to push the few against the wall and have a dance floor. So many stories these walls could tell -- stories of crazy multicultural parties, stories of work, struggle and change around justice anti-racism anti white supremacy issues., stories of friendships turning into family, still going on, we raising our kids together to call each other cousins, Uncle and Auntie. I had remarried Will in 1987 and until we had adopted and fostered Maki and Margaret we lived with Greg Archuleta. We also housed the "outlawed Klamath family" put in our home by CALC, the infamous Charles family, the father and three of his youngest sons where we learned more about police profiling and street life than we wanted.
Between 1987 and 1997 the house was basically a family home. No more housing students, or street people. These were tough years. A lot of unhappiness since our little girl did not want to be with us, nor want to be raised. Our foster daughter joined us and she had a playmate and it normalized a little. We went a lot to California for the real normalcy. Our home was always an intense place whether changing the community or trying to make a family, and raise children for a healthy lifestyle. During this period of time, I would say that Will and I pretty much treaded water the best we could. These years we learned we could do nothing, absolutely nothing without the help of the Creator, of elders. During the early 1980's Marvin Stevens, my Kickapoo father image put a sacred fire out in our back lot and literally it and that big Douglas Fir who witnessed everything was all that we could really depend upon. Definitely our closest friends had moved away or turned out to not be able to help us because of the challenge of our daughters. My so-called "best friend" and her family made it known that we weren't friends anymore. My life was pretty much my job and taking my children to California, and Will's life was his office and business.
From about 2002 and 2010 we came up with the corollary for our children that they would never live with us again their having moved in and out several times. Now they are happy in their own homes in their 30's, happy with their independence and Maki is very helpful with the house coming in to help her aging mother with things. Other adults have come and lived with us for awhile, but not for long. These had changed from the early days of this house. It was now a house of two seniors who went to bed by 9 am and had their own way of doing things. We have been here for about 45 years and about that many people -- 45 people have called it home for a few years of their lives. In the past five years this house has become an outpost for the Winnemem Wintu tribe. In the past decade two sets of twin fawn have been born in a deer bed
When I talk about moving, I am talking about something that is not only a major lifestyle change for us but maybe a shift for many people for whom this old house is a symbol of their youthful ideals, their first community, the time they took the power in their own hands, where two young women grew up and to which they returned to grow a little more and find their backbone, their stance. We are praying that this old house will go to a family who will value the sacred Fire, know the Winnemem tribe and will continue being a stopping place, will value our Doug fir tree and will allow the back to be uncultivated enough that deer can be born there and take their first wobbly steps safely. I hope a garden will always grow here and I pray that this home will still be a haven for the people who live here as it has been with us, as it has grown with us.
I never thought I would leave. I never thought I would leave all it has meant. There is some sadness in this leave-taking. But sometimes as one ages they live in one place so long that all they had worked to accomplish, they witness it fall apart, or friendships conclude, or beloved people move away or pass away. My home was where my mother took her last breath, and looked up to the ceiling in amazement as if she saw a legion of angels and ancestors coming to greet and welcome her. So I am leaving a lot behind.
Will and I are looking on-line even before we can afford to move getting used to the market in Talent, Oregon, Phoenix, Oregon, or Ashland, Oregon. My first choice is Talent, a little town close to the city of Ashland, bee friendly, with many ranch houses (we want a single story), and flat land which are easily made into garden area. We have fought the rock soil at our home for decades. Will makes the most beautiful fertilizer and compost soil and has grown a beautiful garden nonetheless in this clay soil. In Talent, I would be able to garden too! I dream of a place close enough to the little town of Talent, the Asian antique store, the coffeehouses, the bookstore. Or perhaps there will be an affordable home in Ashland! South Ashland would be nice, quicker to California where the Winnemem Village is. It is certainly a draw that we have cut a 6 hour drive to a 2 hour drive. We can go to the Halloween Party! Birthday parties. We can get to ceremony quickly. We can go into action for our Chief with little warning from her. It makes sense that we move to where our work is and leave the town where our work has become more and more finished. There is much to do to stop the raising of Shasta Dam and protect our sacred Mountain, and sacred places. There will be more and more ceremonies. It also makes sense to move where the youth still stand alongside their elders as a rule, not as an exception. Getting older in Indian Country is nothing like getting older outside of it. It makes sense to go where the parties and dinners which include our participation is happening. Of course that exists here too, but it seems at the Village someone is always sending out an invitation on Facebook to gather together for a movie, for dinner, for planning an action. Finally, but not less important at all, my little sister and her husband lives there. We see them as we drive back and forth from CA, their home our refuge for the night. But it would just be nice to be close to family. She is already helping us find good places to put down our roots.
For all of the above, Will and I are moving toward Life, another adventure. This home, I dream, will be like a "vacation place" as the Winnemem Village is our place of work. My initial plan is not to become burrowed into the work of Talent or Ashland, add on no new obligations, not start anything new. Obligation enough with Winnemem. We will definitely be a stopping place for Eugene friends who come to Ashland, the area being a nice destination point. We are blessed to have this chance because of Will's family's circumstance to make this kind of change. I am full of gratitude -- for our home on Jefferson Street and its care and security and for the ability to move forward.
If you think deeply about wanting to be equal to Chief Sisk, here is a slice of her life. You heard her, you saw her. You know she's a leader who should be heard about others, that she knows what she's talking about regarding her sacred territories. So if you want to be equal to the Winnemem you must give up what you have. You may think there are many inequities in your life now. You will have to take on more if you want to be equal to Winnemem. You must do all this work for Winnemem wage -- what we call working for less than nothing. You will be criminalized for practicing your ceremonies on your sacred lands. As the leader, you will have to give up a "real job" with retirement and health benefits to bring your people back to the Village life ways and live a couple of months without electricity because somethings gotta' go and during summer, heavy ceremony time when you must host the ceremonies -- definitely electricity takes a back seat. Then there are all the meetings and actions you will have to take on. You will have to fight every day corporations, government, USFS, BIA, for your basic human and civil rights because no document, and no law works for you. Yes, you, even if you are put upon now, will have to give up even more protection under the law. Oh, yes, and you can't get sick because you are taking care of everyone else and protecting your precious sacred sites from corporations, government, USFS and from large gatherings and people who think of the sacred as something to use, rather than protect, created for their individual wants, not sacrifice an easier life for a life dedicated to protecting these sites by following the sacred responsibilities modeled by the ancestors. I follow the Winnemem way of life so I also know from experience as you do your own ideas. I have learned from experience that the Winnemem way is the hardest life, but the best if I follow the traditional leadership who follows the Sacred. I have had to give up almost everything because when offered the opportunity to follow good leadership, to follow a leader with the ability and the experience and the vision of how to turn around this mass planetary destruction other leaders are gravitating for for immediate profit, to follow indigenous, truly follow indigenous, rather than just mimic what you think it is, one must give up a lot more than they get.
I remember doing this exercise with Keisha Scott from Grinnell at a UO workshop for administrators and some professors. We, of course, were not admitted but went anyway. Keisha was there. In the final thoughts section there is an Asian brother who felt awkward of not fitting in the front or the back. I hope that helps him understand his role in society. I was lucky -- if one is to look at it from the point of view of "Clueless at the Top," meaning the higher you are in status the less clearly you see what is happening, what is the societal problems, and I would say, "which side are you on." The view is very clear at the bottom. So in that way I was lucky, stepping back step after step with questions regarding my parents, my grandparents plight as immigrants, their sacrifices making me the lucky one to become certified by higher education, "one step forward" but discriminated by my administrator, "one step back"; punished for speaking another language "one step back"; grandparents and parents labored for less than minimum wage "one step backward"; teased for being who you are "one step back." In real life, with that step forward which opened some opportunities to connect with college students with like background to me, it put us in the position of "change agents" which is a clear cut, powerful position for a youth to be in. We built a safer world for our children and grandchildren but be sure to pass on the legacy so they have clarity. Don't hide it. Don't "protect" them from the struggle. Stay in it. You owe it to your ancestors. And if you are lucky you may gain in tools, but stay put with the clued. No one wants to be clueless at the top. If you are a person who had a life of privilege, no guilt necessary. Just make those connections so your vision is clear. On my Facebook friend list is a generation of young white clear seeing people who are change agents, happy and courageous as well as a generation with such wisdom early because of the struggles of generations, and love which nourished them, a teacher, a parent a grandparent, a community who are also magnificent change agents. With the Winnemem tribe, my last and greatest teachers, it is by being true to self, ancestors and spiritual responsibilities where I have experienced the most clarity. I have great hope that together we will see the last of white supremacy with the double shame of racism and colonialism, stamp out useless guilt, and move beyond it. White Supremacy of the Earth and all its inhabitants must be left in the past for us to survive.
I would like to go to Isla de la Juventud, where the largest community of Nikkei Cubans are (Japanese immigrants and their descendants). It is an 1.5 hour ferry crossing to a beautiful place! Here is a story dear to my Nikkei heart. During the war, Batista was pressured as other Caribbean and Latin American leaders by the US government to do a parallel effort of imprisoning their Japanese citizens. The US plan, especially in Peru, was to use those kidnapped Latin American citizens as prisoner exchange. They succeeded in doing one boat load, but when Japan realized they were not getting Japanese but immigrants to another land they refused to do further negotiation and these kidnapped Japanese Latin Americans were put into Crystal City (TX) prison camp and became people without a country, separated from their families. That is not the heartwarming story, though. Batista imprisoned men 15 years old and older at Presidio Modelo on the island. They were crammed in, and their families also suffered because women and children were left to take care of subsistence farming. The difference between the Cuban Nikkei experience and the experience of US Nikkei in WW2 concentration camps was that when the Cuban neighbors finished plowing their fields, they came over and plowed the fields of these families, for the most part mono-lingual Japanese. They remained Neighbors rather than become part of a national environment of hatred. When Cuban Nikkei are asked if they felt more Cuban or Japanese, they are puzzled at that question. "We're Cuban!" they say. When they are asked if there is a baseball game between Cuba and Ja- before the words came out they shouted "Japonaise!" They are proud of their roots but they experience more inclusion in Cuba than many other places. My main reason that I personally wish the end of the blockade is because my country, the US, does not allow our cultural exchange and oral history exchange with Japanese in Cuba. They allow art exchanges, Christian exchanges, but not us. That is discriminatory! The blockade discriminates against Nikkei!
Sharon Elise posted this. Chinosole lived here in the 80's - 90's. And the time she spent in Eugene she spent passionately. A friend of Audre Lourde, she continued the hard conversation which had opened up with the great author's visit between women of the LGBTQ community and women of color. It was painful but necessary. She and Professor David Henry Anthony also started the Free Africa Movement here. When the Bijou brought the South African imported film, "The Gods Must be Crazy" breaking an international boycott against South Africa, Chinosole was leading the protest line outside the Bijou and as the theater continued to show the film to crowds for weeks, moviegoers, many of them our friends, crossed the line. It was disheartening. Chinosole moved to CA, during that all too long run, but before she went she was on the line and encouraged us not to give up no matter what. I bring this up because that line served as the place where lifelong respect and friendships were made between the Anglo women of the LGBTQ community and women of color because on that line, as temperatures dropped and the rain poured down on us, people began to leave the line except us women, every show night. That commitment served as the foundation for a long friendship between the women in this community. That's just two of the many things she did for Eugene. But just for me, Chinosole and a group of us were having lunch. I had been pink-slipped and not called back to teaching. Chinosole asked some questions and learned that my principal had said several racist things to me, and then had also called me in for answering my students' questions about how I voted on Prop 13 which prohibited Gay and Lesbian people from rights, basically criminalizing homosexuality, honestly. He thought that it was wrong for me to take a teachable moment as my students hatefully said all Gay people should be put inconcentration camps to talk about witch hunts and the bill of rights, and my own family's experience during WW2. She got very angry and told me I needed to fight for that job. I was pretty naive about my rights. Frankly the anxiety blocking me from facing the School District Personnel Clique shrank before the thought of making Chinosole any madder! It was not difficult for me to stick up for my students, or take a stand for what I believed in but it was hard for me to stick up for myself and Chinosole held that mirror up to me and gave me the directional push and kick in the butt I needed. After 30 plus years of teaching I could not imagine giving up on something that gave me so much and I owe her so much for that. I also echo what Sharon said, "Chinosole, you left without saying goodbye." Rest in Peace and Power, Sister.
Here is more powerful writing from Lyla. The first lines really resonated with me. I've always felt I was born in a war zone. As a 5 year old just starting school, first time among others than my grandparents, mother and uncles, the only brown spot in a classroom of 12 children in Marsing, Idaho, speaking another language, looking like the enemy back then in 1950, I remember the clues which made me realize it. As Sharon Anderson, my playground friend said, explaining why I was the only one not invited to her birthday party, "my mom said you can't come because you killed my brothers." How does a 5 year old digest that one?
In 1937 my indigenous grandmother attended Rehoboth,
a Dutch Reformed Church school near Gallup, New Mexico. She tells me stories of children writing one hundred times on a piece of paper:
I will only speak English. I will only speak English. I will only speak English. ...
To be born into this body--this beautiful brown body--is to be born into a warzone. The world will never stop telling you that you are inferior.
I know who I am. I am equal to the sun, to the grass.
Beautiful children like my grandmother with smiles so pure and hearts so loving were told they were a broken form of human with every word and action.
Beautiful people, who held the cure for cancer in their songs, and lived in harmony with one desert for so much longer than any archaeologist or anthropologist could ever detect, were called uncivilized.
Can I get real about the LBJ part of the film? I do not get all this whitewashing of history -- that the march was LBJ's idea? Why did I go through the 60's and 70's thinking that the highest office of government wanted MLK to go away and indeed they may very well have been in some way responsible on some level for his assassination then. I appreciated that the director chose to put that chilling scene where LBJ picks up the phone to call FBI director Hoover in the movie. It left that real question that was being thought and the dread that people of color and white anti racist allies recognized and truly felt then. I appreciated that it was made clear to the audience that being able to talk to the President, having access to powerful people made King vulnerable not more protected because that's a truth that people of privilege do not know but many people of color who have been in similar situations know to be true -- that King's life choice was as dangerous and isolated as could be. That, in fact, King was safer with the grassroots peoples -- who all faced violence together -- than he was by himself in the white marble halls of power with suited men with handshakes and smiles. I liked it when the film showed King and his other national organizers going into towns, received by the local organizers -- like in the breakfast scene, so real that many people of color could feel that welcome and camaraderie and the smell of breakfast, as well as the scene when the local organizers were guarded about King and other national organizers sweeping in and the consequences they may be left with when the national organizers returned to Atlanta. Who hasn't been there if they are people of color and organizing. There were so many truths captured by this film and shared with those who could not know, no fault of their own, the back story, the inside story, the feelings. It's hard to tolerate these critics, whining because of some whitewashed factoid experienced by them from their own corner of reality is left out and in doing so are blind to what jewels have been included that they didn't know? Please! It's a big enough story; make your own film. Make that film that puts the clergy who answered King's call the center of a film. Hell, if you want to make LBJ the hero of the Civil Rights Movement rather than a President trying not go faster than he's ready and failing because even a President cannot control the extent of HATE and VIOLENCE Alabama police meted out, and a President cannot control the decent folks who stood up when called to put their lives on the line, many from clergy, fine. Make that film. It deserves to be told -- (about the clergy, I mean). But dammit, so does Du Vernay have the right to tell this one. If you are going to be swine missing the pearls which the wonderful director of this movie chose to include, I feel sorry for you, but please stop your damn complaining. Let us enjoy the sweet moment of a two hour film which actually captured what we remember and which transformed a nation.
I am from the generation that was
greatly influenced by Malcolm X, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz.Though he was assassinated before I knew of
him, he was as alive as any teacher in my life.And years later when I met Yuri Kochiyama at a pilgrimage held at Tule
Lake Concentration Camp, as facilitator to the circle of Japanese speaking
participants, Malcolm X was very much still as influential as any living person
in our lives.When I met her, I said, “I
love Malcolm X” and she grabbed my hands and said, “OH, you love Malcolm
also!”I told her that Malcolm X reached
down from the other side, and lifted up my students when they needed help and
saved their lives – save them from the potential violence of police harassment
and the constant harassment he faced at school.Eleven years old.Black Lives
Tonight, I’d like to share with you
the back story to a film filmed and edited by an 11 or 12 year old young Black
man Cochise Moore during the first term of his seventh grade year.I first saw Cochise in the entry-way of
Jefferson Middle School in 1992.Who
could miss him – a burst of anger, running out the door with a student teacher chasing
and pleading, “Cochise!Come back.It’ll only be worse if you leave!”He was already gone off the school grounds
but hearing her voice, he turned briefly, and I swear there was a bright flash
of light as the sun seemed to catch the white X in the middle of his cap and it
shown as if it were made of gold metal.At that moment a thought flashed through me, “He turned around!”
The student teacher shared that
Cochise had gotten in trouble in the 7th grade hall again for
fighting.She said he was always
erupting when the other students said racist things to him just to see him blow
up.His teachers have given up.They say he’s a thug.
“He turned around!” kept echoing in my mind
and with that I marched into principal Dr. Bolden’s office.Dr. Bolden was the young new principal of
this troubled school which he had turned into a Multicultural International
Middle School along with a new staff who gravitated to the school to have the
opportunity to teach with him and turn everything around.I asked Dr. Bolden if I could have Cochise
during my morning prep.The seventh
grade team didn’t want him, but I could take him as his seventh grade teacher
during that period.Unlike any other
principal I’ve taught for before then and after, he went with it.He
cleared the way.
First meeting, I took Cochise out to
a nearby fast food place and we sat and talked about his interests.In that meal together I learned how
irritated he was at people wearing the Malcolm X clothing which came into
fashion before Spike Lee released his film “ they don’t even know what the X
stands for,” he criticized.Having learned his interest in filmmaking I
suggested, “Why don’t you tell these
kids what the X stands for by making a film.”His eyes sparked.I told him I
was married to a filmmaker, and I thought he would be fine coming in to teach
some classes.“The camera is a great
tool to say what you want to say, Cochise.It’s powerful. “
I was up to something for sure.A close family friend of ours was Abas
Ansari.His sister Bahati and I were
sisters from another mother, as close as sisters could be.They were Muslim.Abas was also a Vietnam Vet and strict father
of another student, eighth grader, Nadirah.I had plans to bring together a strong male role model with Cochise, a
strong parental role model.I also
strategized to have Abas’ spunky daughter and no nonsense Iquo Udosenata, a
Nigerian American student eighth grader into my morning prep too.Nothing like eighth grade peers to talk some
sense into a hot headed seventh grader. Cochise did not have a chance.No choice except to get stronger and more
disciplined from the inside out.
My husband Will came in and trained
Cochise.Eric Schiff from across the
hall, a strong anti-racist Jewish man who was cooler than cool replete with his
tech lab, his editing lab, his cameras and lights, backed the training up as Cochise’s
day to day coach.I also asked Cochise
to check in with Dr. Bolden, also cooler than cool from time to time about the
project, some alone time with him in his office for other than disciplinary
action.I brought out every book and
calendar with Malcolm X with images.Cochise spent days with the film camera and a table pedestal taking shots
carefully.He told me he had chosen the
shots and perfect songs already – “they’re about Malcolm X” he said proudly
about the Arrested Development piece.Nadirah and Iquo were his crew – and I overheard a lot of conversations about
how to deal with stupid racism.They
told him what for in no nonsense language.
Then came the day Abas visited,
dressed as he did when he was Fruit of Islam for the temple in Chicago. Cochise was definitely impressed and subdued.It cracked me up to watch Cochise as he
listened and listened and listened some more.He would fidget, but not too much under Abas’ strict gaze.His face flushed with stress, but he listened
and listened and squirmed and listened for the whole period.In earlier days, Cochise had told me he was probably
going to grow up and go to prison like
his dad.But now there was were role
models he could not deny in his life – Vietnam Vet, Fruit of Islam Abas Ansari
and Dr. Bob Bolden.
Nadirah, Iquo, Schiff and I will
never forget the day that Cochise finally played his film for his whole
school.Schiff had helped us become the
first Channel One School in the District, very controversial because it brought
Coca Cola into the school.At the same
time it gave us equipment so that the young people could produce and show their
own news programming, and films.And
Cochise was the first one to play.All
the classrooms stayed tune after the student news program as the words Malcolm
X came across the screen.Schiff came
from across the hall to watch with us.Everything was hushed out in the hallways except for Cochise’s film.And when it ended, there became the sound of
applause down the hall.“Cochise, come
here!Listen!” I said as the young ones
came to the door, and he could hear that building wide instantaneous
applause.I shall never forget
Malcolm X, the film, shot by Cochise
Moore, shown just weeks before Spike Lee’s film opened at the downtown McDonald
Theater, changed this young man’s life.Malcolm X changed his life.His
team,the Spirit of Malcolm X, a few
teachers, a principal, new Sisters, a filmmaker, changed his life and Cochise
changed ours.Please enjoy the film.Cochise, the professor in Seattle Washington,
who rescues young people from hopelessness and anger himself, found the VHS and
sent this to us, but in the process the color could not transfer so you will
see it in Black and White.Then I’d like
to say just a few words of what happened next.
Like all good things, goodness leads
to another blessing.The next September,
the eighth grade Cochise Moore, on the first day of school said, “Ms. Kawai
Joo, what film are we going to make this year?”I said, Bahati always wanted the four remaining Black Pioneer women of
Eugene to be honored someday, Cochise.You could do an oral history project with no editing:Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Mims, and
Mrs. Reynolds.Cochise said he would
bring a team together: Cory Mainor, Michael Kay or Michael Klindt, Marcus
Nettles and Trayvon Cooks.Their project
was called the African American History Project, and they won honor from the
State and community for it.That’s
another story, another team.What the
four elders did to smooth out these young men, to fill them with pride and love
was a beautiful thing.Cory, Cochise and
Michael are all teachers.Michael Klindt
is teaching at Springfield High School and is the archivist and the local
expert on this story.
So I say, Thank you, Minister El
Hajj Malik El Shabazz.Thank you,
Malcolm X for reaching out to every generation for as long as there is
injustice, violence and the colonial yoke of white supremacy.
This summer, I went back to the village for a week to learn as much of Winnemem as I could from the teacher who was there for the summer from Germany. We met in the Chief's trailer and for hours, Stefan tried to teach us Winnemem. He succeeded with many. Rick and his mother Helene were definitely stars. Staying in the house with Stefan every day was lesson day. Stefan was working on the next lessons in his room, and Helene was on a phone call in her room. I was in the kitchen getting lunch ready. I nicked my hand with a sharp knife and it was bleeding a lot even with cold water pouring on it, so I took of to the bathroom and yelled to Helene for a bandaide. She was in her room, and I realized she was on the phone, so still bleeding quite a bit, I had my arm up trying not to drip and asked our linguist friend Stefan for help and he kept yelling from his room, "Ch'uqut!" "Ch'ugut!" He was trying to encourage me to say it in Winnemem. Then he saw me dragging the first aide kit out in the bathroom with one hand trying to open the band aid box, and realized I really needed help. Luckily Helene ran in with a phone to her ear, and waving a band aid in the other. I rinsed off the blood and Stefan helped me put the band aid on and all was ok. I had to run to the kitchen to "stir the food" and when I ran back to clean up the bit of blood splattered around the sink and found he had already cleaned it up. Thanking Stefan for heeding my Ch'uqut then. Because I'm on Granny's herbs, my nicks heal up very quickly and I can't even remember where I cut myself because there is no sign of the cut at all. That's my Winnemem language story for today.
My sister, Bahati Ansari, posted this on my Facebook timeline. It gives me an opportunity to say something I've been thinking about Black Lives Matter. And Indigenous Lives Matter. Brown Lives Matter. I believe the State represented by the police and their violence targeting Black, Brown and Indigenous youth reveal starkly the underpinnings of the wealth of this country -- a wealth which is enjoyed by only the few and oppresses many. The underpinnings are the twin evils -- institutionalized slavery for profit by color and colonization by genocide.
This critter you see Killing the snake for pretty boots without a blink of an eye or a thought is called "Man" but it is not a Being at all. It is Mr. White Supremacy who created himself. Human Nature is not greed and violence. Human Nature is to care for, to care about, to tend. That is what we were made for. Check you heart. What do you know about yourself. This aberration that this animation shows we have become is new and it is without rules, regulations, unbound in destruction.
Everything in the way of the destruction is destroyed and bottom line is Black Lives, Indigenous lives, Indigenous resistance to cultural genocide is in "Progress" way. Everything is topsy turvy now in this world. Progress is destruction, death. And nature is backwards. Progress is profit for the few and nothing for many.
Why is making waste so important? Because as we acquire THINGS and turn our backs and turn off our hearts on what is REAL in Life, (can't even use the word Reality any more because reality means some horrible screaming drama ridden thing on tv) we become like this animation guy who represents Man.
Well, he does not represent me. I am a being who is part of the Circle of Creation. I have a sacred responsibility just as the other beings do, innately. We have choice, but the choice is to be always for Life not Death. Sadly the human being has broken out of that sacred circle of life for a long time and we live in the destruction. But we still can choose at any point to be Human. Like the ChiefSisk said this weekend, we might not see the end of this destruction, but we must do our part during our lifetime at least for the young ones to build upon. As for the ending of this animation, I don't believe in aliens, even aliens who've come to destroy the destroyer, but I believe in indigenous ways of life. Follow indigenous out of this mess. Don't allow projects which destroy their way of life. Don't put up with the killing of innocent Black. Brown and Indigenous lives. It is all related. And we are all part of the whole, if we choose to be. This little animation is an interesting way to show how we look to the rest of the world, out of control and so destructive that the universe sends out the universe cops. It's a same sad storyline. But we can change it movement by movement, action by action, prayer by prayer, ceremony and commitment to Mother Earth, for Life and for all Beings.
George PriceWell-said, Misa. I agree that this way of being is an aberration, and not the true nature of humanity. It is just so dominant and prominent to us that it is normalized in our consciousness, because we have forgotten the first ways, the Indigenous Earthways. So, what I also see as incorrect in this film is that this wrong way or "upside down" way, as you say, and the wetiko way, as Jack Forbes called it in his book, Columbus and other Cannibals, does NOT go back 500,000 years. It is actually a very recent aberration in the time scale of homo sapiens sapiens (which is actually estimated to be a little less than 200,000 years). Vast destructive empires and megasocieties in human history only go back about 4,000 years (or 2% of modern human history) and the more intensely-destructive modern industrial capitalist and state socialist empires only go back less than 200 years. I also agree with you that sustainable, Indigenous lifeways have the guidance to a new direction that we need. I don't depend on space aliens or politicians.
My sister and I had chores -- probably by age, but not
in a checklist of course. It felt like from our perspective, we were pitching
in to help. No allowance. We were doing this "for the family" was
what mom always said. Allowance was definitely a foreign concept to us. They
inculcated in us an attitude that still is a big influence today -- to do
because we're part of a group. We have to make it happen. And "on"
had to do with it, which is a concept that doesn't really exist in the English
language without imposition of another way to look at what is simply respect.
"On" is a little deeper because it lasts a lifetime; maybe I'll learn
when I transition out, it lasts beyond a lifetime. It's the "debt"
one owes their parents, grandparents, ancestors which cannot be paid back. The
ones who gave you life; raised you. All we can do is be good human beings.
feel that feeling for Granny too. When she said she was my mother, I may have
felt puzzlement, but only for a moment, accepting the gift offered during a rather
confusing time in my life where I had come to her for help with our daughter
and later a foster daughter with all my faith. Besides the spiritual doctoring
and teachings, chores of daily life played a big part -- helping with the
water, the wood (everything had to be brought in), the garden, the animals,
getting ready for ceremony, spring cleaning, -- going up to Dekkas, cleaning
the trailer out after the winter, uprooting the mice, assessing the bear
damage, starting the sacred fire, doing Granny's bid when she was in bed,
cooking, canning, making feasts, all of it. Two months a summer we lived chores
together. They still look back at those days as their happiest times. Chores
does not have a bad connotation in our daughter's mind anymore now that she's an
adult. She said in Utah, her girlfriends (probably girls who didn't HAVE to do
chores) looked to her for advice because she knew how to do everything having
grown up with us and at the village.
Although she never did it, she even knows
how to build a fire. At the LCC pig roast, she looked at the scattered wood on
what was to roast the pig, squatted down from her 6-inch heels and quickly
rearranged them, saying "There! It'll start now." An orange flame
leaped up, and I secretly smiled at the girl with the eyelashes, manicure, who
came to a pig roast in a little dress and 6 inch heels, dusting off the dirt
from her hands unconcernedly, who the Village raised with chores.
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.