Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Heavy Hearted Angry Brown Man, With Love

Today my heart is happy and heavy.

Last night I dreamed of racism and today I had a painful exchange regarding racism. I'm tired of white people chiming in on discussions of racism and taking up more space than anyone else. It's usually in defense of something that is being call out as racist or of being called out themselves.

I listened to President Obama's Inaguration speech today and was moved and sorrowful. This was a happy moment for everyone around me. A happy moment indeed. The tears that nearly escaped my eyes were a blend of sorrow, relief, and somewhere in there: joy. The sorrow was for the total invisibility of American Indians at the "We Are One" show yesterday and of course at the Inaguration its self.

I was annoyed with myself for not being able to feel total elation and joy during our President's speech today. The heart does its own thing though and mine was constricted and weighed down. All of this celebration with an elephant in the room.

Today I argued with someone because when I spoke of the lack of people indiginous to this land in the celebrations, she said that it would have been so powerful to have a ceremonial presence. I wrote back that I wasn't talking about a ceremonial presence, but that I was talking about true representation. Ok, I was more snarky than that. I was annoyed because any time anyone thinks of Indians, they think of feathers and peace pipes and tribal dancing.

What I said was "To be clear...I'm not talking about a cermonial presence. I'm talking about non stereotypical representation of the first people of this nation. Not a romanticized tribal dance or song performed by a "mystical native" minstrel."

She responded in defense saying "They actually do ceremonial dances Storm, it can't that be honored without it being a "minstrel show?""

It went down hill from there. Later she reframed what she was saying in the first response talking about she meant having a presence in the inagural ceremony.

Why can't white people just be accountable? Or even an "oh, I can see how what I said sounded like that. Thanks for pointing that out. What I meant was..."

Instead I sit here thinking about how I'm only perpetuating the "Angry Brown Man" stereotype and what could I have done differently? How do I effectively call shit out without pissing people off and ending up confused myself? Racism does that. Makes folks of color feeling like we stepped out of line.

The thing is, I do step out of line. I say fucked up racist shit and make assumptions and respond to people based on racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, classist, and yes even transphobic and homophobic stereotypes. But shit, you call me out on that and I will shut up and listen. That's not a hard thing for me to do. It's painful, yes. It's embarrasing, yes. But I don't know of any other way we will overcome.

Today was a day to rejoice. President Barack Obama is music to my ears. I truly look forward to what is to come. I know it won't be perfect. But I do know I can hold both the good in the sorrowful in my heart. I look forward to the times when pure joy and love take over. I allow for the times when I'm angry or sorrowful. "Both and" is what my sweetie calls it. "All and" might be more like it.

Blessings on this beautiful day. Heaviness and all.


Marilyn said...

hello.I am a black white and native American woman.I feel so much at times. Some times anger arises from ancestral line creating a person I do not recognize.The energy lost and gained is unknown.Today I to had emotion around what said and not said. I truly believe that the Matrix create such con-fusion to prevent freedom.I completely feel your frustration.Yet I can not allow myself to identify(identity) that this is to be all i am.We must always stay percent with spirit. We are human and spirit first.My deepest love to you my friend.~Blessings~

tierramor said...

Storm - it's good to read your post. Today I read your exchange with your friend with sadness, wondering why, just for one day, we couldn't put it all aside and be awed by the moment...

I also wondered if, aside from ceremony, how do you KNOW there was no Native American presence? If I'm not in my guayabera with my tattoed flags, you wouldn't know I am Cubana. Sure, I look white. Sure, so, sometimes, do you.

So who's to say that Obama's advisors or surrounders are not invigorating him with the presence of the First Nations?

I believe it's crucial in these moments to seize the brief stick of hope offered to us (my GOD, if Aretha Franklin sings the opening song, that's A SIGN) hope for the best, and act as if it were already here.



Amaricon QUEer said...

Thank you both for your responses. There was definitely a presence Miri. http://www.kgun9.com/Global/story.asp?S=9703685

My statement was more about non-representation. It was very obvious to me at the "We Are One" concert. I was surprised at the lack of representation on the stage.

It made me sad too that I couldn't just be in awe today. I chose to write about my sorrow because it was more present than I would have expected. It felt important to honor that space as well as the excitement.

And thank you Marilyn for sharing your words. Yes, it is so necessary to stay present with Spirit through all of this. I continue to learn how to speak out and stay open and loving. It is a challenge.

Sophia said...

Thank you for sharing your heart here, StormMiguel, and for stopping by my blog to say hi. Hope you post more as your voice and perspective are so important.

Singing Owl said...

Oh dear...I was rejoicing at the wonderful diversity at the inaguration and the surrounding events, and I did not note the lack of Native American presence...and how right you are. I'm so sorry that your joy was not quite full.